Lectionary Calendar
Monday, May 27th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 26

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-33

Isaac and Abimelech (26:1-33)

When a famine created hardship in Canaan, Isaac proved his faith and obedience by refusing to leave the land. He remained in the Palestine region on the south coast of Canaan, believing that God would provide for him and his household in the land God promised him. But he lacked the faith to trust God to protect him from violence and, like his father, he lied to protect himself (26:1-11; cf. 12:10-20, 20:1-18).
God blessed Isaac as he had promised, but Isaac’s farming successes stirred up the envy of the Philistines. He and his men were forced to flee from place to place as the Philistines either seized their wells or filled them in (12-22). Gradually he was pushed out of the best Philistine pastures, but God was still with him. Though he was forced back eventually to Beersheba, God reassured him of his presence and encouraged him to persevere (23-25).
The Philistine king, fearful of the power of Isaac’s God, thought it wise to renew the treaty made previously with Abraham. In spite of the Philistines’ hostility and arrogance, Isaac renewed the treaty (26-31; cf. 21:22-24). That same day Isaac’s men found water, having redug Abraham’s well that the Philistines had apparently filled in (32-33; cf. 21:25-34).

Note: Abimelech (meaning ‘father-king’) was not a person’s name, but a Philistine royal title (cf. the Egyptian royal title, Pharaoh). The Abimelech of Abraham’s day was a different Abimelech from the one of Isaac’s day. The Abimelech of David’s day was named Achish (cf. the title of Psalms 34:0 with 1 Samuel 21:10-15). Likewise Phicol was not a person’s name, but the title of the army commander (cf. 21:32; 26:26).

Verses 34-35

Jacob receives Isaac’s blessing (26:34-28:9)

The custom in ancient times was for the father of the household to confirm the birthright on his firstborn son by giving his special blessing just before he died. People considered this blessing to be more than just a promise; they saw it as a prophecy that carried God’s favour. Isaac knew that God’s will was for Jacob, not Esau, to receive the firstborn’s blessing (see 25:23). Yet he was determined to give the blessing to Esau, even though Esau, by taking wives from among the Canaanites, confirmed his own position as being outside God’s covenant blessings (26:34-27:4).
Rebekah and Jacob were also at fault, because of their deceit and lack of trust in God (5-24). In spite of these failures, Jacob received the blessing that God intended for him. He was to be the head of God’s promised people, who would live in a prosperous land and have victory over their enemies (25-29).

On finding that his scheme had not worked, Isaac accepted the fact that God’s will for the blessing of Jacob could not be changed (30-37). The only blessing Isaac could give Esau was the promise that he too would be father of a nation (to be known as Edom; cf. 25:30); but that nation would live in a barren region where it would be in constant conflict with its neighbours, particularly Israel (38-40; cf. Numbers 24:18; 1 Samuel 14:47; 1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:13-14; 2 Samuel 8:13-14; 1 Kings 11:15-16; 1 Kings 11:15-16; 2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Kings 14:7,2 Kings 14:22).

In bitterness Esau planned to kill Jacob, so Rebekah decided to send Jacob to her brother Laban for safety (41-45). However, knowing Isaac’s feeling concerning Jacob’s deceit, she gave Isaac a different reason for sending Jacob away. Jacob needed a wife, and Rebekah knew that Isaac would not want a third Canaanite daughter-in-law, as Esau’s existing Canaanite wives created enough trouble (46; cf. 26:34-35). Isaac therefore agreed to Rebekah’s suggestion to send Jacob north to find a wife among Rebekah’s relatives. He sent Jacob off with the blessing of the covenant, this time giving his blessing knowingly and willingly. As for Rebekah, she gained what she wanted, but as far as we know she never saw her favourite son again (28:1-5).
When Esau learnt that his parents did not approve of his Canaanite wives, he married again, this time to one of Ishmael’s daughters. By such a marriage, Esau gave further confirmation that he was outside God’s covenant blessings (6-9).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 26". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/genesis-26.html. 2005.
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