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Genesis 26

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Isaac and Abimelech. 1#The promise of land and numerous descendants given to Abraham (12:1–3; 15; 17; 22:17–18) is renewed for his son Isaac. The divine blessing to Isaac is mentioned also in vv. 12, 24, and 29. #Gn 12:10–20. There was a famine in the land, distinct from the earlier one that had occurred in the days of Abraham, and Isaac went down to Abimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar.#Gn 12:10. 2The Lord appeared to him and said: Do not go down to Egypt, but camp in this land wherever I tell you. 3Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands, in fulfillment of the oath that I swore to your father Abraham.#Gn 12:7; 15:18; Ex 32:13; Ps 105:9; Sir 44:22; Heb 11:9. 4I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and I will give them all these lands, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth will find blessing—#Gn 12:3; 22:17–18; 28:14; Ex 32:13. 5this because Abraham obeyed me, keeping my mandate, my commandments, my ordinances, and my instructions.
6#This scene is the third version of the wife-in-danger story (cf. chaps. 12 and 20). The mention of the famine in 26:1 recalls the famine in 12:10; the name Abimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar, recalls 20:2. The deception, according to all the stories, is the claim that the wife is a sister. This story (from the Yahwist source) departs from the two previous accounts in that the wife is not taken into the harem of the foreign king. So Isaac settled in Gerar. 7When the men of the place asked questions about his wife, he answered, “She is my sister.” He was afraid that, if he called her his wife, the men of the place would kill him on account of Rebekah, since she was beautiful. 8But when they had been there for a long time, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out of a window and saw Isaac fondling his wife Rebekah. 9He called for Isaac and said: “She must certainly be your wife! How could you have said, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac replied, “I thought I might lose my life on her account.” 10“How could you have done this to us!” exclaimed Abimelech. “It would have taken very little for one of the people to lie with your wife, and so you would have brought guilt upon us!” 11Abimelech then commanded all the people: “Anyone who maltreats this man or his wife shall be put to death.”
12#The dispute is over water rights. In a sparsely watered land, wells were precious and claims on water could function as a kind of claim on the land. Scholars generally judge the account of the dispute over water rights and its settlement by a legal agreement between Isaac and Abimelech to be a Yahwist version of the similar story about Abraham in 21:22–34. Here, Abimelech realizes that Isaac has brought blessing to his people and thus desires a covenant with him. The feast in v. 30 is part of the covenant ceremony. Isaac sowed a crop in that region and reaped a hundredfold the same year. Since the Lord blessed him, 13#Jb 1:3. he became richer and richer all the time, until he was very wealthy. 14He acquired flocks and herds, and a great work force, and so the Philistines became envious of him. 15#Gn 21:25–31. The Philistines had stopped up and filled with dirt all the wells that his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham. 16So Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us; you have become far too numerous for us.” 17Isaac left there and camped in the Wadi Gerar where he stayed. 18Isaac reopened the wells which his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham’s death; he gave them names like those that his father had given them. 19But when Isaac’s servants dug in the wadi and reached spring water in their well, 20the shepherds of Gerar argued with Isaac’s shepherds, saying, “The water belongs to us!” So he named the well Esek,#Esek: “quarrel.” because they had quarreled there. 21Then they dug another well, and they argued over that one too; so he named it Sitnah.#Sitnah: “opposition.” 22So he moved on from there and dug still another well, but over this one they did not argue. He named it Rehoboth,#Rehoboth: “wide spaces,” i.e., ample room to live; site is probably SW of modern day Beer-sheba. and said, “Because the Lord has now given us ample room, we shall flourish in the land.”
23From there Isaac went up to Beer-sheba. 24The same night the Lord appeared to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, your father. Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for the sake of Abraham, my servant.#Gn 46:3. 25So Isaac built an altar there and invoked the Lord by name. After he had pitched his tent there, Isaac’s servants began to dig a well nearby.
26#Gn 21:22–31; Prv 16:7. Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath, his councilor, and Phicol, the general of his army. 27Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have driven me away from you?” 28They answered: “We clearly see that the Lord has been with you, so we thought: let there be a sworn agreement between our two sides—between you and us. Let us make a covenant with you: 29you shall do no harm to us, just as we have not maltreated you, but have always acted kindly toward you and have let you depart in peace. So now, may you be blessed by the Lord!” 30Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31Early the next morning they exchanged oaths. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace.
32That same day Isaac’s servants came and informed him about the well they had been digging; they told him, “We have reached water!” 33He called it Shibah;#Shibah: the place name Shibah is a play on two Hebrew words, shebu‘ah, “oath,” and shwebaa‘, “seven.” In v. 31, they exchanged oaths. hence the name of the city is Beer-sheba to this day. 34#These verses from the Priestly source introduce the next section on Esau’s loss of his right as firstborn by suggesting a motivation for this in Isaac’s and Rebekah’s dislike for Esau’s Canaanite wives. When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hivite.#Gn 27:46. 35But they became a source of bitterness to Isaac and Rebekah.
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1 AND THERE was a famine in the land, other than the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines.
2 And the Lord appeared to him and said, Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I will tell you.
3 Dwell temporarily in this land, and I will be with you and will favor you with blessings; for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.
4 And I will make your descendants to multiply as the stars of the heavens, and will give to your posterity all these lands (kingdoms); and by your Offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, or by Him bless themselves, [Gen. 22:18; Acts 3:25, 26; Gal. 3:16.]
5 For Abraham listened to and obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commands, My statutes, and My laws.
6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
7 And the men of the place asked him about his wife, and he said, She is my sister; for he was afraid to say, She is my wife–[thinking], Lest the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah, because she is attractive and is beautiful to look upon.
8 When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah his wife.
9 And Abimelech called Isaac and said, See here, she is certainly your wife! How did you [dare] say to me, She is my sister? And Isaac said to him, Because I thought, Lest I die on account of her.
10 And Abimelech said, What is this you have done to us? One of the men might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt and sin upon us.
11 Then Abimelech charged all his people, He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.
12 Then Isaac sowed seed in that land and received in the same year a hundred times as much as he had planted, and the Lord favored him with blessings.
13 And the man became great and gained more and more until he became very wealthy and distinguished;
14 He owned flocks, herds, and a great supply of servants, and the Philistines envied him.
15 Now all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had closed and filled with earth.
16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we are.
17 So Isaac went away from there and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.
18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham; and he gave them the names by which his father had called them.
19 Now Isaac's servants dug in the valley and found there a well of living [spring] water.
20 And the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, The water is ours. And he named the well Esek [contention] because they quarreled with him.
21 Then [his servants] dug another well, and they quarreled over that also; so he named it Sitnah [enmity].
22 And he moved away from there and dug another well, and for that one they did not quarrel. He named it Rehoboth [room], saying, For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.
23 Now he went up from there to Beersheba.
24 And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will favor you with blessings and multiply your descendants for the sake of My servant Abraham.
25 And [Isaac] built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac's servants were digging a well.
26 Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzah, one of his friends, and Phicol, his army's commander.
27 And Isaac said to them, Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?
28 They said, We saw that the Lord was certainly with you; so we said, Let there be now an oath between us [carrying a curse with it to befall the one who breaks it], even between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you
29 That you will do us no harm, inasmuch as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed or favored of the Lord!
30 And he made them a [formal] dinner, and they ate and drank.
31 And they rose up early in the morning and took oaths [with a curse] with one another; and Isaac sent them on their way and they departed from him in peace.
32 That same day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well they had dug, saying, We have found water!
33 And he named [the well] Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba [well of the oath] to this day. [Gen. 21:31.]
34 Now Esau was 40 years old when he took as wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
35 And they made life bitter and a grief of mind and spirit for Isaac and Rebekah [their parents-in-law].