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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 26

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2200. B.C. 1804.

Here we have,

(1,) Isaac in adversity, by reason of a famine in the land; which obliges him to change his quarters, 1. But God visits him with direction and comfort, Genesis 26:2-5 . He denies his wife, and is reproved for it by Abimelech, Genesis 26:6-11 .

(2,) Isaac in prosperity, by the blessing of God upon him, Genesis 26:12-14 . Genesis 26:1 , The Philistines were envious at him, Genesis 26:14-17 . Genesis 26:2 , He continued industrious in his business, Genesis 26:18-23 . Genesis 26:3 , God appeared to him, and encouraged him, and he returned to his duty, Genesis 26:24-25 . Genesis 26:4 , The Philistines at length made court to him, and a covenant with him, Genesis 26:26-33 .

(3,) The disagreeable marriage of his son Esau was an allay to his prosperity, Genesis 26:34-35 .

Verse 2

Genesis 26:2. Go not down into Egypt Whither, it is likely, Isaac had intended to go, it being a very fruitful country, and he being encouraged to go thither by his father’s example, on a similar occasion. No doubt God had wise reasons for prohibiting his going; but as he has not been pleased to acquaint us with them, to spend time in conjecturing what they were, would be giving ourselves trouble to no purpose.

Verse 4

Genesis 26:4. I will make thy seed to multiply Here we find a renewal to Isaac of all God’s promises made to Abraham; and the great fundamental mysterious promise is renewed exactly in the same words in which it had been given to Abraham. When God said to Abraham, In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed Perhaps Abraham might, at first, suppose God spake of his immediate seed, namely, of Isaac; but when he came upon the stage of life, he brought no such blessing with him; and when the promise was renewed to him in the very same words, it became evident that the seed which was to be this universal blessing was still to come.

Verse 5

Genesis 26:5. My voice, my charge, my commandments This variety of expression seems to be designed to show the universality and exactness of Abraham’s obedience, that he readily complied with every intimation of the divine will. He obeyed the original laws of nature, the revealed laws of divine worship, particularly that of circumcision, and all the extraordinary precepts God gave him, as that of quitting his country, and that (which some think is more especially referred to) respecting the offering up of his son, which Isaac himself had reason enough to remember. Those only shall have the benefit of God’s covenant with their parents that tread in the steps of their obedience. It must be observed, however, as the covenant made with Abraham, and God’s promises to him, were made by God of his mere grace and mercy, so the blessings promised and conferred were so very great, that it is idle to imagine they could be merited by so mean a compensation as Abraham’s obedience which obedience was a debt that he would have owed to God, if there had been neither covenant nor promise made by God, and which was the effect of God’s grace to and in him.

Verse 7

Genesis 26:7. She is my sister So Isaac enters into the same temptation that his father had been once and again surprised and overcome by, namely, to deny his wife, and to give out that she was his sister! It is an unaccountable thing, that both these great and good men should be guilty of so odd a piece of dissimulation, by which they so much exposed both their own and their wives’ reputation.

Verse 8

Genesis 26:8. This Abimelech was not the same that was in Abraham’s days, (chapter 20.,) for this was near a hundred years after; but that was the common name of the Philistine kings, as Cesar of the Roman emperors.

Verse 10

Genesis 26:10. Lightly Here, means perhaps. The heathen considered fornication either as no sin, or a very little one; but they had a different idea of adultery, considering it as heinous. Therefore, with a reference to it, Abimelech says, Thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us Probably it might be fresh in his memory how sorely God had punished his predecessor and all his family in the days of Abraham (chap. 20.) for only an intention of adultery. It is very observable here, that Abimelech takes it for granted, that their ignorance of Rebekah’s being Isaac’s wife would not have been a sufficient excuse for their sin.

Verse 12

Genesis 26:12. Isaac sowed in that land Either in grounds which he had hired of the right owners, or in some which lay neglected, and therefore were free to the first occupier. That this should be the case, in that age of the world, is not strange, considering how few the inhabitants, even of Canaan, then were, in comparison of what they were three hundred years after, when the Israelites came out of Egypt. He received a hundred-fold A hundred times as much as he sowed. The same degree of increase is spoken of Matthew 13:8; and affirmed sometimes of other places by heathen writers. But then it was in a better soil and season than this was; for this was in a time of famine. Accordingly an emphasis is laid upon the time; it was the same year when there was a famine in the land; while others scarce reaped at all, he reaped thus plentifully, through the divine blessing.

Verse 16

Genesis 26:16. Go from us: for thou art much mightier than we It seems Isaac’s increasing riches and power caused envy, jealousy, and fear among Abimelech’s subjects, and he was afraid that unpleasant consequences might follow should Isaac continue in that neighbourhood.

Genesis 26:20-21 . Esek means contention; and Sitnah, hatred.

Verse 22

Genesis 26:22. He digged a well, and for that they strove not Those that follow peace, sooner or later shall find peace. Those that study to be quiet, seldom fail of being so. This well they called Rehoboth, enlargement, room enough.

Verse 24

Genesis 26:24. Fear not, I am with thee, and will bless thee Those may remove with comfort that are sure of God’s presence with them wherever they go.

Verse 28

Genesis 26:28. The Lord is with thee, and thou art the blessed of the Lord As if he had said, Be persuaded to overlook the injuries offered thee, for God has abundantly made up to thee the damage thou receivedst. Those whom God blesses and favours have reason enough to forgive those that hate them, since the worst enemy they have cannot do them any real hurt. Let there be an oath betwixt us Whatever some of his envious subjects might mean, he and his prime minister, whom he had now brought with him, designed no other but a cordial friendship. Perhaps Abimelech had received by tradition the warning God gave to his predecessor, not to hurt Abraham; (Genesis 20:7;) and that made him stand in such awe of Isaac, who appeared to be as much the favourite of Heaven as Abraham was. It appears from this verse that a strong sense still prevailed, in that part of the world, of God’s superintending providence, and of his ordering the affairs of men so that blessings might come on the righteous. These Philistines not only observe this with regard to Isaac, but desire to enter into a covenant with him on that account. Would to God there was as much faith in general in regard to thin point in our days, as there seems to have been then, even among the Philistines!

Verse 34

Genesis 26:34. He took to wife Contrary to the command of his father, mother, and grandfather, he marries Canaanites, who were strangers to the blessing of Abraham, and subject to the curse of Noah.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 26". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/genesis-26.html. 1857.
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