Chapter 26

  1. The Promise Reaffirmed to Isaac

    • Another famine struck the land as had happened in Isaac’s father’s time, and Isaac went to Abimelech, the king of the Philistines in Gerar.

      • “The ruler of Gerar was called Abimelech as a title, not as a personal name. This is why both Abraham and Isaac dealt with Abimelech (Genesis 20, Genesis 26).” (Guzik)

    • The Lord came to Isaac and said, “Don’t go to Egypt. Remain in this land that I have told you to stay in. I will be with you and bless you. I will confirm the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I will give all these lands to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and all the nations on earth will be blessed by them because Abraham listened to Me and obeyed Me.

-Guzik points out, “God said that He kept the covenant with Isaac because of Abraham’s obedience. A close look at Abraham’s life shows that his obedience wasn’t complete or constant; yet God recognized it…God could say this of Abraham because Abraham was declared righteous by faith (Genesis 15:6), and as far as God was concerned, all He saw in Abraham was the righteousness of Jesus.”

    • Isaac stayed in Gerar.

2. Isaac’s Deception

    • Isaac lied to the men in Gerar when they asked about Rebekah because he was afraid they would kill him for his beautiful wife. He told them she was his sister.

      • I know what you’re thinking…Again!?! This is literally the third replay of the exact same scenario. Here’s what Matthew Henry has to say about it, “There is nothing in Isaac’s denial of his wife to be imitated, nor even excused. The temptation of Isaac is the same as that which overcame his father, and that in two instances. This rendered his conduct the greater sin. The falls of those who are gone before us are so many rocks on which others have split; and the recording of them is like placing buoys to save future mariners. This Abimelech was not the same that lived in Abraham’s days, but both acted rightly. The sins of professors shame them before those that are not themselves religious.”

    • Some time later, Abimelech happened to see Isaac caressing Rebekah- so he sent for Isaac.

      • What exactly did Abimelech see? The King James translation says that Isaac was “sporting with” Rebekah. Many other translations say “caressing”. NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The word for ‘caressing’ (Hebrew metsakheq) is the same as the word used for Ishmael’s ‘making fun of’ Isaac (21:9); the word is related to the name Isaac (Hebrew yitskhaq). It is as though Isaac’s lapse of faith made fun of Abimelech and made a mockery of Rebekah and the great promise embodied in Isaac’s name.”

      • Clarke’s commentary says, “Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife – Whatever may be the precise meaning of the word, it evidently implies that there were liberties taken and freedom used on the occasion, which were not lawful but between man and wife.”

    • Abimelech said to Isaac, “She is obviously your wife! Why have you claimed that she was your sister?”

    • Isaac said that he had been afraid someone would kill him for Rebekah.

    • Angry, Abimelech responded, “What if someone had slept with your wife and brought guilt upon himself unknowingly? He then proclaimed to everyone, “Anyone who harms Isaac or Rebekah will be killed.”

      • Ok, time out! Does anyone find it extremely odd that this is literally the third time this exact same narrative (the deception of claiming that your wife is your sister because you are afraid that you may be killed so that someone may take your wife as their own) has occurred?!? If so- you are not alone. You would not believe the tomes of dry, uninteresting, over-analyzed, plain old boring literature that has been written in reference to this very question. In an effort to not bore you into oblivion I will give you a super short version of the opinions.

              1. Some believe that these three narratives are actually a repetition of an incident that occurred one time.

            • In this view, the repetition of the same narrative is used as a literary tool the author “coherently and artfully” uses to highlight a theme of deception as well as foreshadowing the future famine, deceptions, and plagues to come in Egypt.

            • My only response to this view, is that if this is indeed the case- the literary technique has been lost on a very many (if not most) people reading the Bible.

              1. Some believe that indeed these three similar stories did in fact occur three separate times, and are in fact different episodes in the lives of Abraham and Isaac.

          • Those who ascribe to this view point out that the episodes do indeed have enough differences between them to make it difficult to claim that they are merely three versions of the same story. The episodes are also spread out over the course of a very many years.

            • Honestly, I am more inclined to agree with this view. When you put it into perspective these events are not quite as far fetched as they may seem- though certainly still odd.

              • For example, the second time that Abraham pulls this stunt, he actually explains that this was indeed their policy everywhere that he and Sarah traveled. (Genesis 20:13) Abraham flat out says- this is the story that we use when we travel. So, it may have happened several times and these two are recorded due to their relevance to the story. Admittedly- he never suffers for this deception. On the contrary, both times he profited.

            • Regarding Isaac’s incident, would it really be that hard to believe that a son acted in the same way that his father did in a very similar circumstance? Not really. We don’t know for sure if Isaac knew that his father had done the same thing or not. But if he did then it’s even more likely that he would behave in the same way. Especially since this ploy had worked out so well for his father in the past.

3. Conflict Over Wells

    • Isaac planted crops that year and God blessed him. He harvested 100 times what he had planted.

    • He became so rich, owning many sheep, cattle, and slaves that the Philistines envied him.

    • The Philistines filled all of his wells up with dirt and Abimelech ordered Isaac to leave because he had become too powerful for them.

    • Isaac left and lived in the valley of Gerar.

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes that where Isaac moved was “away from the city of Gerar itself, but probably still within 10 miles.”

    • He reopened the wells that had belonged to his father that the Philistines had filled in after his death. He even called the wells by the same names that his father had named them. In addition, Isaac’s slaves found a well from a running spring.

    • The other herdsman in Gerar argued with Isaac claiming that they owned the spring, so Isaac named that well “Esek” which means “quarrel”.

    • Isaac moved on and dug another well but the herdsman argued over that one also, so Isaac named it “Sitnah” which means “hostility”.

    • Isaac moved yet again and dug another well. The herdsmen left him alone this time, so Isaac named the well “Rehoboth” which means “open spaces” because he said the Lord had given them an area to be prosperous in that land.

4. Theophany at Beer-sheba

    • From there, Isaac went to Beer-sheba and the Lord appeared to him saying, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Don’t be afraid because I am with you. I will bless you and give you many descendants because of My servant Abraham.”

      • “Isaac’s father Abraham had many personal appearances of the Lord. This seems to be the first such experience for Isaac.” (Guzik)

    • Isaac pitched his tent there, dug a well, built and altar and worshiped the Lord.

5. Covenant with Abimelech

    • Abimelech came from Gerar with his advisor, Ahuzzath, and the commander of his army, Phicol, to meet with Isaac.

    • Isaac asked Abimelech, “Why have you come? You disliked me enough to send me away.”

    • Abimelech said, “Since we have seen how the Lord clearly blesses you, we want to make a treaty between us: You will not harm us, just as we haven’t harmed you- we sent you away peacefully.”

    • So Isaac prepared a banquet and they all ate and drank together. Early the next morning they swore an oath not to trouble each other, then Abimelech and his men left peacefully.

    • That day Isaac’s slaves reported to him that they had found water and dug a new well, so Isaac named the well “Silbah” which means “oath”.

    • To this day, the town around that well is called Beer-sheba which means “well of the oath”.

6. Esau’s Wives

    • At the age of 40 Esau married two Hittite women: Judith and Basemath. They made Isaac and Rebekah’s life difficult.