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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1And there is a famine in the land, besides the first famine which was in the days of Abraham, and Isaac goeth unto Abimelech king of the Philistines, to Gerar.
2And Jehovah appeareth unto him, and saith, ‘Go not down towards Egypt, tabernacle in the land concerning which I speak unto thee,
3sojourn in this land, and I am with thee, and bless thee, for to thee and to thy seed I give all these lands, and I have established the oath which I have sworn to Abraham thy father;
4and I have multiplied thy seed as stars of the heavens, and I have given to thy seed all these lands; and blessed themselves in thy seed have all nations of the earth;
5because that Abraham hath hearkened to My voice, and keepeth My charge, My commands, My statutes, and My laws.’
6And Isaac dwelleth in Gerar;
7and men of the place ask him of his wife, and he saith, ‘She [is] my sister:’ for he hath been afraid to say, ‘My wife — lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, for she [is] of good appearance.’
8And it cometh to pass, when the days have been prolonged to him there, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looketh through the window, and seeth, and lo, Isaac is playing with Rebekah his wife.
9And Abimelech calleth for Isaac, and saith, ‘Lo, she [is] surely thy wife; and how hast thou said, She [is] my sister?’ and Isaac saith unto him, ‘Because I said, Lest I die for her.’
10And Abimelech saith, ‘What [is] this thou hast done to us? as a little thing one of the people had lain with thy wife, and thou hadst brought upon us guilt;’
11and Abimelech commandeth all the people, saying, ‘He who cometh against this man or against his wife, dying doth die.’
12And Isaac soweth in that land, and findeth in that year a hundredfold, and Jehovah blesseth him;
13and the man is great, and goeth on, going on and becoming great, till that he hath been very great,
14and he hath possession of a flock, and possession of a herd, and an abundant service; and the Philistines envy him,
15and all the wells which his father's servants digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines have stopped them, and fill them with dust.
16And Abimelech saith unto Isaac, ‘Go from us; for thou hast become much mightier than we;’
17and Isaac goeth from thence, and encampeth in the valley of Gerar, and dwelleth there;
18and Isaac turneth back, and diggeth the wells of water which they digged in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines do stop after the death of Abraham, and he calleth to them names according to the names which his father called them.
19And Isaac's servants dig in the valley, and find there a well of living water,
20and shepherds of Gerar strive with shepherds of Isaac, saying, ‘The water [is] ours;’ and he calleth the name of the well ‘Strife,’ because they have striven habitually with him;
21and they dig another well, and they strive also for it, and he calleth its name ‘Hatred.’
22And he removeth from thence, and diggeth another well, and they have not striven for it, and he calleth its name Enlargements, and saith, ‘For — now hath Jehovah given enlargement to us, and we have been fruitful in the land.’
23And he goeth up from thence [to] Beer-Sheba,
24and Jehovah appeareth unto him during that night, and saith, ‘I [am] the God of Abraham thy father, fear not, for I [am] with thee, and have blessed thee, and have multiplied thy seed, because of Abraham My servant;’
25and he buildeth there an altar, and preacheth in the name of Jehovah, and stretcheth out there his tent, and there Isaac's servants dig a well.
26And Abimelech hath gone unto him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath his friend, and Phichol head of his host;
27and Isaac saith unto them, ‘Wherefore have ye come unto me, and ye have hated me, and ye send me away from you?’
28And they say, ‘We have certainly seen that Jehovah hath been with thee, and we say, ‘Let there be, we pray thee, an oath between us, between us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;
29do not evil with us, as we have not touched thee, and as we have only done good with thee, and send thee away in peace; thou [art] now blessed of Jehovah.’
30And he maketh for them a banquet, and they eat and drink,
31and rise early in the morning, and swear one to another, and Isaac sendeth them away, and they go from him in peace.
32And it cometh to pass during that day that Isaac's servants come and declare to him concerning the circumstances of the well which they have digged, and say to him, ‘We have found water;’
33and he calleth it Shebah, [oath,] therefore the name of the city [is] Beer-Sheba, [well of the oath,] unto this day.
34And Esau is a son of forty years, and he taketh a wife, Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite,
35and they are a bitterness of spirit to Isaac and to Rebekah.
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