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Thursday, July 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 26

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5


Verses 1-5:

Since Abraham’s death, Isaac had lived at the well Lahairoi in Beersheba. During his residence there, a famine occurred in the land. It became necessary that Isaac seek sustenance elsewhere. Jehovah forbade him to go to Egypt, as had Abraham on a previous occasion. He instructed him to move to Gerar and take up temporary residence there. The king of that territory was Abimelech. This was not a proper name, but a title.

It was necessary that Isaac continue to be identified with the Land which Jehovah had promised Abraham’s seed. To assure Isaac that the Covenant blessings and promises would indeed be his, the Lord renewed the Covenant with Isaac. The reason for these promises was the relationship between Jehovah and Abraham.

Verses 6-16

Verses 6-16:

Verses 6-11: Isaac made the same mistake his father Abraham had made in Gerar almost a century earlier (Ge 20:2). He feared for his own safety, and tried to pass off Rebekah as his sister rather than his wife. This deception was revealed, however, one day when Abimelech saw him "sporting" tsachaq, literally laughing and playing with Rebekah and using liberties which clearly showed she was a wife and not a sister.

Abimelech was highly indignant at Isaac’s deception. The Philistine rebuked the man of God for his sin, an experience that must have been humiliating for Isaac. It is shameful when those who do not claim to be God’s people manifest a higher moral code than do those who claim to belong to God.

Isaac readily admitted his duplicity, but sought to excuse himself by claiming fear for his life. Isaac’s deception was a mark of lack of faith. He should have trusted God to keep His word assuring Divine protection in the land of his temporary sojourn.

Abimelech’s order forbidding any of his subjects to attempt to harm Isaac or his family implies faith in the God of Isaac. The Philistines generally were notorious for their immorality. But Abimelech manifested a high degree of respect for the moral principles of God.

Verses 12-16: In spite of his deception, Jehovah blessed Isaac during his final year’s sojourn in Gerar. His harvest for that year was an hundredfold, literally a hundred measures for each measure sown. In addition his livestock multiplied. This prosperity aroused the envy of the natives of the land. They filled the wells he depended on to water his livestock. This was almost an act of war. Certainly it was a strong hint that Isaac was no longer welcome in that land. There is implication that Abimelech himself instigated the opposition to Isaac. He soon asked Isaac to leave. There was apprehension that Isaac and his household would grow strong enough to unite with Abimelech’s enemies and take his territory.

Verses 17-25

Verses 17-25:

Isaac offered no resistance to Abimelech’s demand that he move from the land. This reminds of the New Testament principle of non­resistance to certain violent acts (Mt 5:5; Ro 12:17, 18; Heb 12:14; 1Pe 3:9). He camped in the valley of Gerar, a site identified as a few miles southeast of Gaza. There he re-opened the wells which Abraham had Jigged many years earlier. The Philistines had violated the treaty between Abimelech and Abraham by stopping up these wells (Ge 21:23). The first of these was an artesian well.

The men of Gerar envied this well, and they picked a quarrel with Isaac’s servants. They lay claim to the well, even though there was no legal justification for their doing so. Isaac named the well "Esek," which means "strife." The strife was on the part of the men of Gerar, not Isaac. He and his servants moved on from the flowing well Esek to another site.

At the next site there was a repetition of events. The herdmen of Gerar again picked a quarrel with Isaac’s servants. And again the man of God moved on rather than to enter into strife. He named this second well "Sitnah," which means "confusion," the same root word from which "Satan" comes.

Finally, Isaac found a spot where the herdsmen of Gerar would not trouble him. He dug another well, and named it Rehoboth, "wide spaces," for it was here the Lord made "room" for him. The strife and contention which Isaac experienced at the various wells was the means God used to move him to the place He wanted him to be. Isaac was not to dwell permanently in the land of the Philistines, in and around Gerar. He must be in the Land God had promised and the only way he would go there was the way God employed: to make his situation so uncomfortable that he would move to where God wanted him to be.

How long Isaac remained in Rehoboth we are not told. When he left there, he journeyed to a site where Abraham had spent many years: Beer-sheba. Here Jehovah renewed with him the covenant He had formerly made with his father, and which He had affirmed before Isaac had gone to Gerar.

Verses 26-33

Verses 26-33:

After Isaac moved to Beer-sheba, he had visitors from Gerar. Abimelf5ch, his friend Ahuzzath, and Phichol (see Ge 21:22) came to request a non-aggression treaty. This treaty was ratified at a solemn feast, after which Abimelech and his companions returned to their homeland.

When the treaty was ratified, the servants of Isaac reported that they had cleared out the debris in the well. And as Abraham had done earlier, Isaac renamed the place Beer-sheba, the "well of the covenant."

Verses 34-35

Verses 34. 35:

At age forty, Esau married two wives. The Scriptures do not indicate how much if any time elapsed between these two weddings. Isaac and Rebekah were grieved because of Esau’s actions, partly because the women were Canaanites, and party because in this Esau became a polygamist. Esau appears to have not been concerned over the attitude of his parents toward his family affairs.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 26". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-26.html. 1985.
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