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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Genesis 26

 

 

Verses 1-5

God's Divine Call to Isaac to Dwell in the Land - The second major division of the book of Genesis ( Genesis 11:27 to Genesis 50:26) will place emphasis upon the second phase of God's plan of redemption for mankind after the Flood. Both before and after the Flood His divine calling to mankind is multiply and fill the earth with righteousness. God will implement phase two of His divine plan of redemption by calling out one man named Abraham to depart unto the Promised Land ( Genesis 12:1-3), and this calling was fulfilled by the patriarch. Isaac's calling can also be found at the beginning of his genealogy, where God commands him to dwell in the Promised Land ( Genesis 26:1-5), and this calling was fulfilled by the patriarch Isaac ( Genesis 26:6-33). Jacob's calling was fulfilled as he bore twelve sons and took them into Egypt where they multiplied into a nation. The opening passage of Jacob's genealogy reveals that his destiny would be fulfilled through the dream of his son Joseph ( Genesis 37:1-11), which took place in the land of Egypt. Perhaps Jacob did not receive such a clear calling as Abraham and Isaac because his early life was one of deceit, rather than of righteousness obedience to God. Therefore, the Lord had to reveal His plan for Jacob through his righteous son Joseph. In a similar way, God spoke to righteous kings of Israel, and was silent to those who did not serve Him. Thus, the three patriarchs of Israel received a divine calling, which they fulfilled in order for the nation of Israel to become established in the land of Egypt. Perhaps the reason the Lord sent the Jacob and the seventy souls into Egypt to multiply rather than leaving them in the Promised Land is that the Israelites would have intermarried with the cultic nations around them and failed to produce a nation of righteousness. God's ways are always perfect.

Genesis 26:1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.

Genesis 26:2 And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:

Genesis 26:3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;

Genesis 26:4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

Genesis 26:4Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - The phrase "and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" in Genesis 26:4 is quoted in Acts 3:25, "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed."

Genesis 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Genesis 26:5Comments- In Genesis 26:5 God commends Abraham for his obedience. This is historically a challenging passage to both Jews and Christians in that the Mosaic Law was not given until the time of Moses, and the collection of terms used in this verse (charge, commandments, statutes, and laws) are typically associated with the Law. We might ask to what exact "charges, commandments, statutes and laws" was the Lord referring to in this statement to Abraham. We know that the Lord God did speak to Abraham on numerous occasions, but the book of Genesis does not indicate that Abraham had any written laws. Sailhamer gives a brief, historical, exegetical summary of this verse. 228] He tells us that some early rabbis attempted to associate each term with a particular "act of obedience of Abraham." Their attempt to associate these words with Abraham's life was weak at best, and failed to gain widespread acceptance in their community. Other Jewish rabbis of this early period used the Talmud's teachings on "Noahic laws," which refers to laws handed down since the time of Noah. 229] This view found its way into early Protestant scholarship. Such a view is seen in The Book of Jubilees Genesis 21:10, which suggests that Abraham did have access to written laws, saying, "for thus I have found it written in the books of my forefathers, and in the words of Enoch, and in the words of Noah." Medieval Jewish scholarship understood Genesis 26:5 to refer to "a form of general revelation of moral and ethical principles," a view that also found its way into Christian scholarship. With the rise of source and literary criticism, many modern scholars attribute this verse to later editing by Jewish scribes. Modern, conservative, evangelical scholarship accepts this verse as a part of the inspired, authoritative, inerrant Word of God, whether it was a part of later redaction or a part of the original source text.

228] John H. Sailhamer, Introduction to Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, c 1995), 260-5.

229] Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vols. VII and III (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), xvii.

Some commentators have tried to give specific definitions to each of these terms in relation to Abraham's life. Sailhamer shows that these attempts have not been convincing.


Verses 1-33

Isaac Dwells in Canaan - Genesis 26:1-33 records the events of Isaac's life as he obeyed God's command to dwell in the land of Canaan. This chapter contains the only lengthy record of Isaac's life, the other passages mentioning his name only briefly, and not as a major emphasis.


Verses 6-11

Abimelech Takes Rebekah as His Wife - Genesis 26:6-11 gives us the account of King Abimelech taking Rebekah, Jacob's wife, as his own.

Genesis 26:7 — "And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister" - Comments- Even in African culture, it is common to call a person who is a dear friend and even a close relative, as your father, mother, brother, or sister. It is a term of endearment, and not just a word of kinship. When extended families move in together, due to loss of parents, the children of the relatives become sons and daughters of uncles and aunts.

Genesis 26:7Comments- Because of Rebekah beauty Isaac told the men of that place that she was his sister. We can imagine how many times he must have heard the story of how God delivered Sarah from the hands of Pharaoh ( Genesis 12:14-20) and from Abimelech ( Genesis 20:1-18) and returned her to Abraham. Therefore, Isaac said the same thing that his father had told the men of Pharaoh, believing that God would intervene for him the same miraculous way.


Verses 11-25

Isaac's Prosperity and Promise from God - In Genesis 26:11-25 the Scriptures record the blessings of Isaac. The Lord appears to Isaac and asks him to dwell in the Promised Land so that he might be blessed.

Genesis 26:12Comments- We know that God gave Isaac divine wisdom in how to farm and produce a large harvest even during times of drought. I do not believe that these crops grew abundantly out of dry ground without a good supply of water. But rather, the context of this passage indicated that Isaac was able to dig wells. He faced the same circumstances that everyone else faced during such a famine. But he learned how to prosper during such times by divine inspiration and favour. His neighbours must have marvelled at his wisdom and realised that the God he served was a great God.

Genesis 26:13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:

Genesis 26:14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.

Genesis 26:12-14Comments- Isaac's Prosperity - Genesis 26:12-14 discusses the prosperity that Isaac achieved during this period in his life. In this year of famine ( Genesis 26:1) he sowed and reaped a hundredfold. This does not imply that he sat down and did nothing with his crop. I believe the following passage ( Genesis 26:15-33) reveals that God inspired him to dig wells and develop the land for agriculture. In a similar manner today, the people of Israel are developing amazing techniques to develop agriculture in their land.

We can imagine Isaac's harvest was more than enough for himself. He would have sold a part of this harvest, and received possessions of flocks and herds and servants.

Genesis 26:18 — "for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham" - Comments- Why did the Philistines stop up these wells? Perhaps because these wells could become a source of life and substance to marauding bands of men and armies that could attack the Philistines.

Genesis 26:20Word Study on "did strive" - Strong says the Hebrew word "strive" ( רִיב) (H 7378) is a primitive root that means, "to toss, to grapple, to wrangle."

Genesis 26:20Word Study on "Esek" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Esek" ( עֵשֶׂק) (H 6230) means, "strife," and is derived from the primitive root ( עָשַׂק) (H 6229), which means, "to press upon, quarrel, strive with."

Genesis 26:20Comments- Today, in the Tana River District in Kenya, the Ormas, who are pastoralists, still clash with the Polomo farmers over access to water and grazing land. In arid regions of Africa, watering holes are still a common source of conflicts. Here is an excerpt from a local newspaper, "Three more people have been killed in Tana River District as the land and water conflict escalated to the Lamu border. The deaths brought to 15 those killed since fighting began between pastoralists- in this case Ormas- and Pokomo farmers over access to water and grazing land." 230]

230] The Daily Nation, March 10, 2001, Nairobi, Kenya.

Genesis 26:21Word Study on "Sitnah" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Sitnah" ( שִׂטְנָה) (H 7856) is derived from the primitive root "satan" ( שָׂטַן) (H 8753), which means, "to attack, to accuse."

Genesis 26:22Word Study on "Rehoboth" - Strong says the Hebrew "name" ( רְחֹבֹת) (H 7344) means, "streets," and is derived from the primitive root ( רָחַב) (H 7337), which means, "to broaden."

Genesis 26:22Word Study on "hath made room" - Strong says the Hebrew word "made room" ( רָחַב) (H 7337) means, "to broaden."

Genesis 26:25Comments- In building an altar unto the Lord, Isaac was following in the footsteps of his father Abraham ( Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4.).

Genesis 12:8, "And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD."

Genesis 13:4, "Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD."


Verses 26-33

The Covenant Between Isaac and Abimeleck - Genesis 26:26-33 gives the account of the covenant made between Isaac and Abimeleck.

Genesis 26:30Comments- A feast was a part of ratifying the covenant in this ancient oriental culture. It is seen repeatedly throughout the Old Testament and New Testament. In fact, the feast of the Passover was important part of the Old Testament Mosaic covenant. We also see that a love feast was a part of the New Testament church, which has a spiritual meaning ( 1 Corinthians 5:8, 2 Peter 2:13, Jude 1:12).

1 Corinthians 5:8, "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

2 Peter 2:13, "And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;"

Jude 1:12, "These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;"

A feast, which ratifies a covenant, will also be preformed when we enter heaven ( Revelation 19:9).

Revelation 19:9, "And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God."

Genesis 26:33Word Study on "Shebah" - Strong says the Hebrew word "Shebah" ( שִׁבְעָה) (H 7656) means "an oath," and is derived from the primitive root ( שָׁבַע) (H 7650), which means, "to be complete, to seven oneself, i.e, to swear." This meaning fits the context of the passage, which tells us that it is the place where Isaac and Abimeleck both swore an oath to one another.

Genesis 26:33Word Study on "Beersheba" - TWOT says the Hebrew name "Beersheba" ( בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע) (H 884) means "well of seven," or "well of an oath." Gesenius also interprets this name to mean, "the well of the oath." Strong tells us that the name "Beersheba" comes from two Hebrew words, ( בְּאֵר) (H 875) which means, "well, pit, spring," and ( שֶׁבַע) (H 7651), which means, "seventh." However PTW interprets this name to means, "well of oaths" with the second part of the word coming from ( שָׁבַע) (H 7650), which means, "to swear, to adjure, to take an oath." BDB translates this word to means, "well of the sevenfold oath." Smith tells us that this place still retains its ancient name today where there are found "two principle wells and five smaller ones" which are still in use today. Gesenius refers to Seetzen, who says "that there are found there five or seven wells called Szabça, with a valley of the same name."

Comments- We find that the place was named Beersheba because Abraham made a covenant with Abimelech there, and because Isaac made a covenant with him as well ( Genesis 26:26-33).

Genesis 26:33, "And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day."

Genesis 26:34 And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite:

Genesis 26:34"And Esau was forty years old" - Comments- The Hebrew literally reads, "And Esau was the son of forty years," a construction used frequently throughout the Old Testament when referring to a person's age. Esau was the same age as Isaac, his father, when he married, both at the age of forty ( Genesis 25:40). Isaac would have been one hundred years old at this time, being sixty years old at Esau and Jacob's birth ( Genesis 25:26).

Genesis 25:20, "And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian."

Genesis 25:26, "And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau"s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them."

Genesis 26:34 — "when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite" - Word Studies on Judith - Strong and PTW say the Hebrew name "Judith" "yeh- Hosea -deeth"" ( יְהוּדִית) (H 3067) means, "Jewess." This name is only mentioned once in the Old Testament ( Genesis 26:34).

Word Studies on Beeri - Strong says the Hebrew name "Beeri" "be-ay-ree"" ( בְּאֵרִי) (H 882) means "fountained." This name is used twice in the Scriptures, once as the Hittite father of Judith ( Genesis 26:34), and a second time as a different individual, who was the father of Hosea the prophet ( Hosea 1:1).

Word Studies on Bashemath- Strong says the Hebrew name "Bashemath," or "Basemath," or "Basmath," "bos-math"" ( בָּשְׂמַת) (H 1315) means "fragrance." This name is used seven times in the Old Testament Scriptures. Six times the name refers to Esau's wife in his genealogy, and one time it refers to a daughter of King Solomon.

Word Studies on Elon - Gesenius says the Hebrew name "Elon" ""Eylown" ( אֵלֹון) (H 356) means, "oak." Strong says it means "oak grove." This name is used seven times in the Old Testament, referring to three individuals and one town by this name. Elon, the father of Bashemath, is only mentioned two times in Esau's genealogy ( Genesis 26:34; Genesis 36:2).

Comments- Genesis 26:34-35 tells us that Esau married two Hittite wives. The Hittites were the descendants of Heth ( Genesis 23:3). Esau will later take a third wife named Mahalath when he saw that his two Canaanite wives did not please his parents. His third wife will come from the descendants of Ishmael, of the family of Abraham, in an effort to please them.

Genesis 23:3, "And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,"

Genesis 28:8-9, "And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham"s Song of Solomon , the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife."

Esau's three wives are listed again in his genealogy ( Genesis 36:1-43). However, there are a number of differences. In this genealogy Judith will be called Aholibaman, Bashemath will be called Adah, and Mahalath will be called Bashemath.

Genesis 36:1-3, "Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; And Bashemath Ishmael"s daughter, sister of Nebajoth."

Keil-Delitzsch attempt to explain this discrepancy by saying that Moses, as the author, used genealogical documents that reflected these differences in names and chose to record them without changes. He believes the difference in names arose as a part of the ancient oriental custom of giving surnames to people based upon important events. 231] Thus, one genealogy represents an original name, the other a surname of Esau's wives. However, Gordon Wenham notes that scholars have been unable to reconcile these two conflicting traditions in Esau's genealogy. 232]

231] C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Pentateuch, vol 1, in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, trans. James Martin, in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), comments on Genesis 36:1-8.

232] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 16-50, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans , vol 2, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comments on Genesis 26:34.

Genesis 26:35 Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.

Genesis 26:35Comments- Rebekah's grief because of Esau's marriage to two Canannite wives sets the stage for the narrative story that follows, explaining her unusual actions. This mother's grief led her to bring Isaac's blessing into Jacob's lineage, and deprive Esau, by deceiving her own husband Isaac. Thus, the author will come back to this issue of Rebekah's grief over Esau's wives in Genesis 27:46.

Genesis 27:46, "And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?"

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 26:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/genesis-26.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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