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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The Promise Reaffirmed to Isaac
1There was another famine in the land in addition to the one that had occurred in Abraham’s time.#Gn 12:10 And Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, at Gerar.#Gn 20:2 2The Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt. Live in the land that I tell you about; 3stay in this land as an alien, and I will be with you and bless you.#Gn 12:2; 26:24; 28:15; 31:3 For I will give all these lands to you and your offspring,#Gn 12:7; 13:15; 15:18 and I will confirm the oath that I swore to your father Abraham.#Gn 22:16–18; Ps 105:9 4I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed#26:4 Or will consider themselves blessed by your offspring,#Gn 12:3; 18:18; Ac 3:25; Gl 3:8 5because Abraham listened to me and kept my mandate, my commands, my statutes, and my instructions.”#Lv 18:30; Dt 11:1 6So Isaac settled in Gerar.
7When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,”#Gn 12:13; 20:5 for he was afraid to say “my wife,” thinking,#Pr 29:25 “The men of the place will kill me on account of Rebekah, for she is a beautiful woman.”#Gn 24:16 8When Isaac had been there for some time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from the window and was surprised to see#26:8 Or and he looked and behold — Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah.
9Abimelech sent for Isaac and said, “So she is really your wife! How could you say, ‘She is my sister’?”
Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might die on account of her.”
10Then Abimelech said, “What have you done to us? One of the people could easily have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.”#Gn 20:8–10 11So Abimelech warned all the people, “Whoever harms this man or his wife will certainly be put to death.”
Conflicts over Wells
12Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in that year he reaped#26:12 Lit found a hundred times what was sown. The Lord blessed him,#Gn 24:1,35 13and the man became rich and kept getting richer until he was very wealthy. 14He had flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, and many slaves, and the Philistines were envious of him. 15Philistines stopped up all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham,#Gn 21:30 filling them with dirt. 16And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Leave us, for you are much too powerful for us.”#26:16 Or are more numerous than we are
17So Isaac left there, camped in the Gerar Valley, and lived there. 18Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and that the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died. He gave them the same names his father had given them. 19Then Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found a well of spring#26:19 Lit living water there. 20But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek#26:20 = Argument because they argued with him.#Gn 21:25 21Then they dug another well and quarreled over that one also, so he named it Sitnah.#26:21 = Hostility 22He moved from there and dug another, and they did not quarrel over it. He named it Rehoboth#26:22 = Open Spaces and said, “For now the Lord has made space for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”
The Lord Appears to Isaac
23From there he went up to Beer-sheba, 24and the Lord appeared to him that night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham.#Gn 17:7–8; 24:12; Ex 3:6; Ac 7:32 Do not be afraid, for I am with you.#Gn 21:17; Ex 20:20; 2Kg 6:16; Is 41:10; 43:1,5 I will bless you and multiply your offspring because of my servant Abraham.”
25So he built an altar there,#Gn 8:20; 12:7; 13:18; 35:7; Ex 17:15; Jos 8:30 called on the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there. Isaac’s servants also dug a well there.#Gn 26:32
Covenant with Abimelech
26Now Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army.#Gn 21:22 27Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me? You hated me and sent me away from you.”
28They replied, “We have clearly seen how the Lord has been with you. We think there should be an oath between two parties — between us and you. Let us make a covenant with you: 29You will not harm us, just as we have not harmed you but have done only what was good to you, sending you away in peace. You are now blessed by the Lord.”#Gn 24:31; Ps 115:15
30So he prepared a banquet for them, and they ate and drank. 31They got up early in the morning and swore an oath to each other.#26:31 Lit swore, each man to his brother#Gn 21:31 Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace. 32On that same day Isaac’s servants came to tell him about the well they had dug, saying to him, “We have found water!” #Gn 26:19 33He called it Sheba.#26:33 Or Shibah Therefore the name of the city is still Beer-sheba#26:33 = Well of the Oath#Gn 21:30–31 today.
34When Esau was forty years old, he took as his wives Judith daughter of Beeri the Hethite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hethite.#Gn 28:9; 36:2–3 35They made life bitter#26:35 Lit And they became bitterness of spirit for Isaac and Rebekah.#Gn 27:46
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