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Genesis 26

26
The Adventures of Isaac in Gerar
1Now, another famine struck the land, like the one in Abraham’s time. Isaac traveled to Gerar # 26:1 Gerar means “lodging place” and was directly on the route to Egypt. Isaac and Rebekah were apparently on their way down to Egypt. where Abimelech was the Philistine king. 2Yahweh appeared before Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt. Stay in the land that I will reveal to you. 3Live there as a foreigner, and my presence will be with you. I promise to bless you, # 26:3 God blessed Isaac even in a time of famine. See vv. 12–14. for I will give all these lands to you and your descendants. I will fulfill the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven, and I will one day give them all these lands. I will bless all the nations of the earth through your offspring 5because Abraham was faithful to me. He listened to my voice and yielded his heart to follow my direction. He kept my commandments, my instructions, and my teachings.” # 26:5 Or “my laws.” The laws of Moses for Israel had not yet been given. Abraham had no Bible; therefore, he depended on hearing Yahweh’s voice and followed his revelation in all its forms. Yahweh commends Abraham for his faithfulness. The Hebrew word for “teachings” is a plural form of torah. Many years later, Yahweh revealed the Torah to Moses, who set it down in the books we know as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (see Ex. 34:27). The universe of meaning for the Hebrew word torah includes direction, instruction, rules, etc.
6So Isaac settled in Gerar. 7The men of the land noticed Rebekah’s beauty and asked Isaac about her. “Oh, she’s just my sister,” he replied. Rebekah was indeed very beautiful, and he was afraid to tell them, “She’s my wife,” for he thought that the men of the land would kill him and take his wife.
8One day, after Isaac had lived there awhile, the Philistine king Abimelech looked out his window and saw Isaac affectionately caressing # 26:8 Or “fondling.” Perhaps we would say, “They were making out.” This Hebrew word in its consonantal form is a play on words with the name Isaac. his wife Rebekah. 9So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, “So, this woman is your wife! Why did you say that she was your sister?”
“Because I thought the men of the land would kill me and take her,” Isaac said.
10“Don’t you realize what you’ve done to us?” Abimelech asked. “One of our men might have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt and punishment upon us!” 11So Abimelech issued a stern warning to all the people, saying, “Whoever lays a hand on this man or his wife shall be put to death!”
Isaac Becomes Very Wealthy
12Isaac planted crops in that land, and in the same year # 26:12 Isaac did not hoard his seed in a time of famine but sowed it in the enemy’s land and reaped great blessing. See Deut. 28:1–14. reaped a hundred-fold harvest, for Yahweh greatly blessed him! # 26:12 God transformed a land of famine into a land of abundant harvest. If you sow your seed in the day of famine, watch God multiply it into an abundant harvest. See 2 Cor. 8:1–5; 9:6–11. 13Isaac grew richer and richer # 26:13 Or “greater and greater.” until he was extremely wealthy. 14He acquired so many flocks and herds and so many servants that the Philistines grew jealous, 15so the Philistines stopped up all of Isaac’s wells and filled them with dirt—the same wells his father’s servants had dug in the time of Abraham. # 26:15 In the culture of the day, to dig a well on unclaimed land was a proof of title to the land. To stop the wells of someone else was considered an act of war. Isaac refused to war against the people and chose instead to move away. 16Eventually Abimelech’s jealousy got the better of him, and he said to Isaac, “You must leave us! You have become too rich and powerful for us!” 17So Isaac departed from Abimelech’s domain and camped near the Wadi of Gerar, where he settled.
Isaac Digs New Wells
18Isaac reopened and restored the wells his father Abraham had originally dug—the wells the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham’s death. And Isaac gave these wells the same names that his father had given them.
19One day, when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, they uncovered a spring-fed well. # 26:19 Or “living water,” that is, an unfailing spring of water flowing beneath the surface. Isaac not only reopened ancient wells but also went on to open his own. God’s spiritual “Isaacs” will always be those who not only respect the wisdom of the elders but also go on to dig their own wells. 20But the herdsmen of Gerar picked a fight # 26:20 There is an implication of physical violence over the well, for the same Hebrew word is found in Ex. 21:18 concerning a fistfight. with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “That’s our well!” So Isaac named the well Argument # 26:20 Or “Esek,” which means “contention,” “dispute,” “quarrel,” or “argument.” because of the sharp contention. 21They dug a second well, and it also caused a quarrel, so Isaac named that well Hostility. # 26:21 Or “Sitnah,” which means “accusation,” “hostility,” or “enmity.” 22Then he pulled up stakes from there and dug a third well, but this one was dug without any quarreling, so Isaac named it Spacious, # 26:22 Or “Rehoboth,” which means “broad places,” “room [roomy],” or “spacious places.” This place was later known as Wadi Ruhebe and is located about twenty miles (thirty kilometers) southwest of Beersheba. saying, “Finally, Yahweh has made ample room for us and we will become prosperous # 26:22 Or “fruitful.” in the land!”
23From there, Isaac moved his camp to Beersheba. 24That very night, Yahweh appeared before him # 26:24 In Beersheba, God dug a well in Isaac. The strife with others had taken its toll on Isaac, leaving him hungry for a fresh encounter with God. When others were jealous, continually harassing him, faithful Isaac was visited by God. and said:
“I am the God of Abraham your father.
You will never need to fear a thing for I am with you
and I will greatly bless you.
Your children will flourish and succeed
because of the promises I gave my servant Abraham.”
25So Isaac built an altar, # 26:25 That Isaac built an altar implies that he offered sacrifices upon this altar, remembering the altar he once was placed upon by his father (see Gen. 22). prayed, and worshiped Yahweh there. He pitched his tent there, and his servants started digging another well. # 26:25 The altar, the tent, and the well—each one points to an aspect of the lives of the patriarchs: the altar of worship, the tent of temporary sojourn, and the deep well of satisfaction in God.
26Then King Abimelech came to Isaac from Gerar with his adviser # 26:26 Although the Hebrew word can be translated “friend,” Ahuzzah was a counselor who had the ear of the king. The names Abimelech and Abraham are both found seven times in this chapter. Ahuzzath and his army commander Phicol. 27Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me now, since you hated me and sent me away?”
28They answered, “We have witnessed firsthand how powerfully Yahweh’s favor has been with you, so we say, let there be a peace treaty among us. Let us make a covenant 29to do each other no harm. Swear to us that you will not trouble us, just as we have not troubled you and have always treated you well and sent you away in peace. Now look at how Yahweh has blessed you!” 30So Isaac prepared a wonderful feast for them, and they all ate and drank together. 31Then the next morning, they got up early and exchanged oaths. Isaac said goodbye to them, and they left Isaac in peace.
32Later that same day, Isaac’s servants came with wonderful news about the well they had dug, saying, “We’ve just found water!” # 26:32 Yahweh truly smiled on what Isaac had done in forgiving and feeding his enemies, for on the same day he made this covenant with Abimelech, his servants brought him the news of a fresh well of water they found. Since Isaac had remained silent over the offense of losing wells, God honored him with a new one. 33So he named it Oath. # 26:33 Or “Shibah,” which means “oath” or “seven.” The triliteral Hebrew root can also be interpreted as “abundance” and is translated in this way by Syriac, Vulgate, Aquila, and Symmachus. The preferred translation is “oath” (LXX) or “vow.” This is why the city where they dug the well is called Beersheba # 26:33 Or “Well of the Oath.” Isaac’s name is associated with wells seven times in Genesis. to this day.
The Hittite Wives of Esau
34When Esau was forty, he married two Hittite women, Judith # 26:34 Judith means “praised.” the daughter of Beeri # 26:34 Beeri means “my well.” and Basemath # 26:34 Basemath means “fragrance” or “spice.” the daughter of Elon. 35They made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah. # 26:35 Isaac failed to deal with Esau concerning his Hittite wives. Remember how much care Abraham gave to finding a wife for Isaac (see Gen. 24)? Why didn’t Isaac now give great attention to finding the proper wife for his son? The Targums say that Esau and his wives rebelled against Isaac and Rebekah’s instruction.

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