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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 26

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary



Isaac, by God's command, sojourns in Gerar. He conceals his marriage there. The Philistines contend with him about the wells he had digged. Abimelech makes a covenant with him. Esau marries wives of the Canaanites.

Before Christ 1805.

Verse 1

Genesis 26:1. Isaac went unto Abimelech The Abimelech here mentioned, is thought by some to have been the son of him to whom Abraham went, Abimelech being, as we have observed, a common name of the kings of Palestine; but as the same friend (viz. Phichol the chief captain) Gen 26:26 is mentioned as in ch. Genesis 21:22. it is not unlikely that it was the same king.

Verse 2

Genesis 26:2. And the Lord, &c.— I should be for rendering the vau here, for, instead of and, as the French version has it, car; because this second verse gives the reason why Isaac went to Gerar, and not to AEgypt, FOR the Lord HAD appeared to him, &c. To pretend to assign reasons why the Lord would not permit him to go to AEgypt, is fruitless and absurd.

Verse 4

Genesis 26:4. In thy seed, &c.— The temporal and the spiritual covenant, respecting the land of Canaan, and the Messiah, were thus established and confirmed with Isaac. The Rabbins have assigned various senses to the words used in Gen 26:5 to express Abraham's obedience; but it is most reasonable to believe, that they unitedly express "his complete and entire performance of the Will of God." Abraham, says Mr. Chais, having thus completely obeyed the Divine will, God perpetuates his family: not that, to speak with strictness, the patriarch merited by his obedience; for by that obedience what did he more than his duty? but because God is always the same, always good, always merciful.

Verse 7

Genesis 26:7. She is my sister, &c.— The same remarks are to be made on this transaction, as on the similar one upon which we have commented, ch. Genesis 20:2, &c. It was wrong, it was very wrong. But it deserves notice again, from what is said by Abimelech, Gen 26:10 in how great detestation the crime of adultery was held, even by these people, among whom little sense of religion was expected to be found either by Abraham or Isaac. They regarded adultery as so peculiarly offensive to Heaven, that the bare commission of it was sufficient to involve a nation in calamities. How will many of these less enlightened kingdoms rise up in judgment, and condemn some evangelized states of Europe?

Verse 11

Genesis 26:11. He that toucheth i.e.. defiles. See Genesis 20:6. Proverbs 6:29.

REFLECTIONS.—We have here,

1. A famine, which obliges Isaac to remove from Canaan into the land of the Philistines. He must, like his father before him, learn to suffer, ere he receive the promise.
2. God's appearing to him. He forbids his journey to AEgypt. Note; We are always right, when given up to the Divine guidance.

3. The promise made him. As Abraham's chosen son, he is his successor in the covenant, and God confirms it to him for Abraham's sake. Note; They who have God's favour need not fear famine or any thing else.

4. Isaac's dissimulation. Fear is one of the most dangerous passions which Satan works upon. To have got over the fear of death, is to be a great way towards heaven.
5. The discovery of his dissimulation, and the rebuke of Abimelech. Isaac is seen using some freedoms, which, however innocent in a husband, had been evil in a brother; and with reason he is reproached with the danger to which he exposed his wife, and the sin to which he might have tempted his hospitable friends. Note; When we lay snares in the way of the innocent, their sins will light upon our own heads.

Verse 12

Genesis 26:12. Then Isaac sowed, &c.— Continuing a long time in the land, Gen 26:8 he applied himself to husbandry, for his own and his family's support; and that God, whose blessing maketh rich the hand of the diligent, crowned his labours with very great increase, in proof of his regard to his promise, and to shew Isaac that he lost nothing by not going into AEgypt. The expression of an hundred fold is indefinite, and expresses a very great increase. Indeed God's benediction was not confined to the fruit of his fields: in every respect the Divine Providence prospered him; insomuch that the Philistines, among whom he sojourned, saw and envied his felicity: an emblem of human life! And to indicate their malice, as much as was in their power, they stopped up all the wells which his father had digged, and which was an act of high inhumanity in those dry countries, where wells were of so great consequence.

Verse 16

Genesis 26:16. Go—for thou art much, &c.— In consequence of the envy arising from Isaac's prosperity, Abimelech desired him to leave his country. That this envy was joined with fear, is evident as well from the expression, for thou art much mightier than we, as from Genesis 26:28-29. See Exodus 1:9. We are to remember, that princes and princedoms in those days were but petty and inconsiderable: and if Abraham so many years before could arm three hundred and eighteen of his own domestics, ch. Genesis 14:14. we may well believe that Isaac's family was much more extensive.

Verse 18

Genesis 26:18. Isaac digged again, &c.— Many reasons might induce Isaac to open these wells again: 1st, Because he was sure to find water there: 2nd, Because he could open them more easily than dig new ones: 3rdly, Because thus he would give less umbrage to his neighbours: 4thly, Because he had the right of ancient possession: 5thly, Because thus he would perpetuate the memory of his father.

Verse 19

Genesis 26:19. Springing water In the Hebrew, living, an expression for spring or fountain water, when applied to water in the Old or New Testament; which is opposed to the cisterns of rain-water, often used by the Arabians. See Jeremiah 2:13.

Verse 24

Genesis 26:24. And the Lord appeared, &c.— It is pleasing to observe the propriety and goodness of this gracious appearance of the Lord to Isaac, when he returned to Beer-sheba, where his father had dwelt, after the envy and insults which he had met with from Abimelech and his people.

REFLECTIONS.—Isaac, under God's blessing, in the land of his sojourning, still abounds. His land produces a hundred fold, his servants increase, his cattle multiply. This produces,

1. The envy of the Philistines. They could not look on him but with an evil eye. Note; It is the tribute which genuine worth pays, to be envied.

2. Their ill-usage and expulsion of him: for what can stand before envy? They should rather have shared his blessings, by seeking to his God: but, led by their wicked hearts, they stopped the wells Abraham had digged. Note; The envious man will put himself to expence and trouble, rather than not gratify his ill-will. Still unable to bear him, they at last desired him to be gone.

3. He consents, and quietly removes farther off. Note; It is generally wise rather to yield for peace' sake, than quarrel.

4. His care to find other wells. He opens old ones, and digs new. Note; In searching for the waters of truth, we may use the labours of those who digged before us; and add our diligence still to improve upon them.

5. The Philistines followed him with disputes from well to well, while he quietly recedes from his right, and retires farther. At last he finds another well, and there they left him in peaceable possession, and he calls it Rehoboth, in token of the enlargement he enjoyed there. Note; They who follow peace, will find it at last. If perverse men will strive with them in this world, at least they will find Rehoboth, a place of enlargements, and peace in heaven.

6. God's appearing to him with encouraging promises. Note; The season of most comfort with God, is frequently when we are most beset with the perverseness of men.

7. His grateful acknowledgment. He built an altar, and perpetuated thus in his family the good ways of his father Abraham. Such is the gracious effect of bringing up a son in the way he should go.

Verse 28

Genesis 26:28. Let there be now an oath, &c.— An oath confirming the covenant and alliance, as was the case between Abraham and Abimelech: this covenant was made in due form; and, as was always usual, by the due ceremonies of a feast, most probably upon the sacrifice, Genesis 26:30.

Verse 29

Genesis 26:29. Done unto thee nothing but good, &c.— It does not appear that Abimelech had done any real injury towards Isaac, while he was within his dominions; nor can the contentions of their herdsmen be reasonably urged as a contradiction to what the king here advances.

Verse 33

Genesis 26:33. He called it Sheba, &c.— As the wells which Abraham dug had been stopped up, most probably the names of them also had been forgotten. Isaac, therefore, in similar circumstances, and from a similar event, revives that name of the well, Sheba, which his father had given it many years before. See ch. Genesis 21:31. The Authors of the Universal History observe ingeniously, that it is not improbable, but the discovery of this new well might lead Isaac into an allusion to a third meaning of the word שׁבע shebang, which signifies not only to swear, and seven, but likewise to satisfy, or satiate; whereby he might intimate, that he had wells enough, and would rest satisfied. Houbigant is strongly for this sense, translating sheba abundantiam, abundance, sufficiency, and in this he also follows the Vulgate. From what is contained between Genesis 21:16; Genesis 21:23, &c. it seems evident, that Beer-sheba did not lie in the land of the Philistines, but near it.

REFLECTIONS.—They who had sent Isaac away through envy, are now come to court his friendship. We have here, 1. Isaac's questioning the purpose of their visit. From the injuries he had received by the herdsmen of Abimelech, he had reason to be on his guard. Note; Though we must love our enemies, we must watch against their devices.

2. Their business: to invite him to reconciliation, and to a solemn league. They profess sincerity, acknowledge their conviction of God's favour to him, and therefore would fain make him their friend. Note; When the offending party seeks reconciliation, we should be ever ready to grant it.

3. Isaac consents, entertains them generously, confirms the league by oath, and they part in peace. Note; We must not insist upon past ill usage, when there is a prospect of present peace, but gladly embrace the favourable opportunity.

4. That day a new and copious well is found; so that all he parted with, is amply made up to him. Those who for peace' sake, or the truth's sake, lose a little, find perhaps at the end of the year, that they are gainers by the increase which God's blessing hath brought.

Verse 34

Genesis 26:34. And Esau, &c.— There are numberless places in which it is easy to point out the impropriety of the divisions in our chapters, &c. It is palpable that this chapter should end at Genesis 26:33. In the rendering of particles, much of the perspicuity of a translation, and more of its elegance, consist: perhaps the present would be better rendered, Now Esau was forty years old, and he took, &c. So it is in the French. Esau's intermarriage with the devoted Canaanites gave great pain and affliction to his parents; not only because of the knowledge they had of the curse hanging over those people, but probably because they saw the women given to levity and folly, and unfit for a connection with a holy and religious family. This seems to be the meaning of Rebekah's words in Gen 27:46 of the next chapter, such as those which are of the daughters of the land. In espousing two women to satisfy his passions, in contempt of what he owed to his religion, Esau shewed himself wholly impure and profane.

REFLECTIONS.—Esau's profaneness appeared before, but it is aggravated here. He takes two wives at once, both bad ones, and of a different religion from himself; not only without the consent, but to the great grief of his parents. Note; In choosing a wife, it is a principal concern, 1. That we agree in religious opinions. 2. That it be done with consent of parents.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 26". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/genesis-26.html. 1801-1803.
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