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Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 26

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-35

Genesis 26:1. Abimelech was a name common to the kings of Gerar, and the Philistines were of African descent. Genesis 10:14.

Genesis 26:2. The Lord appeared unto him. The infancy of the patriarchal family was the infancy of the church, which needed the fostering care of God. A removal to Egypt at this period might have been eventful to Isaac. The Egyptians might have seized his substance for the supply of bread. If Abimelech was jealous of Isaac, Pharaoh might have been so too. Besides, God had in view a far more auspicious occasion of bringing the Hebrews into Goshen than at this juncture of temporary scarcity. Happy the man who is thus under the eye and care of the Lord, and who in the time of trouble enjoys the tokens of his presence.

Genesis 26:7. She is my sister. Augustine in his City of God, book 16. chap. 36, undertakes to justify Abraham, and consequently Isaac, in the use of this precaution. But the Holy Ghost having recorded Abimelech’s reproof of Sarah, we ought to admit its equity.

Genesis 26:11. He that toucheth this man shall be put to death. Perhaps this Abimelech recollected the judgment of God on one of his predecessors for the detention of Sarah, chap. 20. And if a heathen prince did not think death too severe a punishment for known and studied adultery, the guilty may tremble at the sentence which God is ready to pronounce against them: his revenge against murder and adultery has often been remarked in the course of providence.

Genesis 26:12. A hundredfold. Herodotus says, that the land about Babylon yielded two hundredfold. Gentlemen distinguished by agricultural science and their patronage of husbandry, are the best friends of the nation. Veteres siquem virum bonum colonum appellassent, amplissime laudasse extimabant. Cicero. The ancients thought it a very high encomium to be a good agriculturalist.

Genesis 26:23. He went to Beersheba, where the Lord again appeared to him, and where he built an altar, and called on the name of the Lord in regular acts of prayer and devotion, with all his camp. Men are bound to attend public worship, or to stay in their houses on the sabbath; to wander abroad is to live like the beasts, and to forget the God who made them.

Genesis 26:26 . Phichol; that is, the mouth of all. The word therefore may indicate his office of speaker, as well as express his proper name. A man of the same name had come, and with another Abimelech to contract a covenant with Abraham, nearly a century before. Phichol was, it would seem, a military title.

Genesis 26:28. Let there be now an oath, &c. The wicked having driven Isaac from wells which his servants had dug, and grounds which he had cleared, were afraid of war from Isaac’s angry camp. A good man’s word is as his bond; yet the wicked want an oath.

Quo teneam vultus mutantum Protea nodo?



The covenant so often renewed to Abraham, we see confirmed to Isaac, and in the same words. Hence the children of the righteous, to whom in like manner the promises are positively made, should be careful to enter into the covenant of their fathers, and personally to renew it with God. If they neglect this, and devote themselves to vanity and the world, they may forfeit all its benefits, and the day may come when they shall see their parents in glory, and themselves excluded from the kingdom.

Was Isaac, notwithstanding the gift of much of his father’s property to seven sons, made rich in cattle and patriarchal wealth; and did he receive in harvest a hundred measures for one? Then we have farther proof, that God will keep covenant and promise to the seed of the righteous. All ages have afforded evidence of this. The good man beginning the world with but a small capital, rises by industry and temperance, by fidelity and economy to affluence and honour. This is the blessing of God on the work of his hands. But alas, riches have their snares, and being therefore the nether gift, they are scarcely named in the new covenant. They generally draw families into a conformity to the world, and often tarnish the piety of good men with the excess of parsimony. And what is still worse; though many have a pious Isaac, yet those branches of the family whose passions are unrestrained by regeneration, dash away in the circles of gaiety and dissipation. In this sad case, a merchant had better throw his riches into the sea, than hoard them up for the corruption of his children.

The prosperity of Isaac, so evidently a sign that God was with him, provoked the envy of the Philistines. In the hundred and twelfth Psalm we have a remark to the same effect. David speaking of the prosperity of the righteous man, and the establishment of his sons, says, the wicked shall see it and be grieved, yea he shall gnash with his teeth: the desire of the wicked shall fail. Oh what blessings and comforts they forfeit by not being on the Lord’s side.

Did the Lord appear to Isaac a second time after Abimelech had driven him away; and did Isaac, following the example of his father on the like occasion, raise an altar to God; may we therefore learn to improve all the calamities and vicissitudes of life for devotion, to live by faith, and be the more prepared for a state of unchangeable felicity.

On a review of Isaac’s mercies and the divine protection afforded him, we cannot overlook the great condescension of Almighty God. Though he had called Abraham by his grace, and blessed him according to his good pleasure; yet he is pleased to say, that he had done it because Abraham had obeyed his voice. So also at the day of judgment, our Saviour, overlooking the whole of his redeeming love, will invite the saints to glory, because they gave meat to his hungry members. Oh how happy, how inconceivably happy must the society of the blessed be, where this endearment reigns between Christ and the church! But at the same time let us obey like Abraham, and be liberal according to our power, for the Lord will not applaud the saints in lying words.

But do we find a farther complaint against Esau, for having grieved both Isaac and Rebekah by his double and polluted marriage. Let all young men be warned to act in obedience to their righteous parents; and especially in not being unequally yoked with unbelievers, for this is an evil of which they will scarcely ever hear the last.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 26". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/genesis-26.html. 1835.
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