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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1Forsooth for hunger rose on the land, after that barrenness that befelled in the days of Abraham, Isaac went forth to Abimelech, king of Palestines, in Gerar.
2And the Lord appeared to him, and said, Go not down into Egypt, but rest thou in the land which I shall say to thee,
3and be thou a pilgrim therein; and I shall be with thee, and I shall bless thee; for I shall give all these countries to thee, and to thy seed, and I shall [ful] fill the oath which I promised to Abraham, thy father.
4And I shall multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and I shall give all these countries to thine heirs, and all folks of the earth shall be blessed in thy seed,
5for Abraham obeyed to my voice, and kept my behests, and my commandments, and my ceremonies, and my laws.
6And so Isaac dwelled in Gerar.
7And when he was asked of [the] men of that place of his wife, he answered, She is my sister; for he dreaded to acknowledge that she was fellowshipped to him in matrimony, and he guessed lest peradventure they would slay him for the fairness of her.
8And when full many days were passed, and he dwelled there, Abimelech, king of Palestines, beheld by a window, and saw him playing with Rebecca, his wife.
9And when Isaac was called, the king said, It is open, that she is thy wife; why saidest thou, that she was thy sister? Isaac answered, For I dreaded, lest I should die for her.
10And Abimelech said, Why hast thou deceived us? Some man of the people might do lechery with thy wife, and thou haddest brought in grievous sin on us.
11And the king commanded to all the people, and said, He that toucheth the wife of this man shall die by death.
12Forsooth Isaac sowed in that land, and he found an hundredfold increase in that year; and the Lord blessed him.
13And the man was made rich, and he went profiting and increasing, till he was made full great.
14Also he had possessions of sheep and of great beasts, and full much of menials. For this thing Palestines had envy to him,
15and they stopped in that time and filled with earth all the pits or wells which the servants of Abraham his father had digged,
16in so much that Abimelech himself said to Isaac, Go thou away from us, for thou art made greatly mightier than we.
17And he went away, that he should come to the strand of Gerar, and dwelled there.
18And he digged again other wells, which the servants of Abraham his father had digged, and which the Philistines had stopped sometime, when Abraham was dead; and he called those pits by the same names, by which his father had called before.
19They digged in the strand, and they found quick, or welling up, water.
20But also strife of [the] shepherds of Gerar was there against the shep-herds of Isaac, and they said, The water is ours; wherefore of that strife that befelled, Isaac called the name of that well False Challenge, or Esek, or Quarrel.
21And they digged another well, and they strived also for that, and Isaac called that well Enmities, or Sitnah, or Enmity.
22And he went forth from thence, and digged another pit, for which they strived not, [and] therefore he called the name of that well Breadth, either Largeness; and said, Now God hath alarged us, and hath made us to increase on [the] earth.
23Isaac forsooth went up from that place into Beersheba,
24where the Lord appeared to him in that night; and said, I am [the] God of Abraham, thy father; do not thou dread, for I am with thee, and I shall bless thee, and I shall multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham.
25And so Isaac builded there an altar to the Lord; and when the name of the Lord was inwardly called, he stretched forth a tabernacle; and he commanded his servants that they should dig pits.
26And when Abimelech, and Ahuzzath, one of his friends, and Phicol, [the] duke of knights, had come from Gerar to that place,
27Isaac spake to them, What came ye to me, a man whom ye have hated, and putted away from you?
28Which answered, We saw that God is with thee, and therefore we said now, An oath be betwixt us, and make we a covenant of peace,
29that thou do not any [thing of] evil to us, as we touched nothing of thine, neither did that that hurted thee, but with peace we let go thee increased by the blessings of the Lord.
30Therefore Isaac made them a feast; and after meat and drink,
31they rose early, and swore each to other; and Isaac let go them peaceably into their place.
32Lo! forsooth in that day the servants of Isaac came, telling to him of the pit which they had digged, and said, We have found water.
33Wherefore Isaac called that pit Abundance or Shebah; and the name of the city was set Beersheba till into this present day.
34Esau forsooth forty years eld [or old] wedded two wives, Judith#26:34 She is also known as Oholibamah or Aholibamah., the daughter of Beeri Hittite, and Bashemath#26:34 She is also known as Adah., the daughter of Elon, of the same place;
35which both offended the soul of Isaac and of Rebecca.
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