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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Genesis 26

 

 

Verse 1

1. A famine — Abraham’s, Isaac’s, and Jacob’s history are each distinguished by a famine, that frequent plague of the East. Besides the first famine — Our historian was not so obtuse, as some critics have assumed, as not to know that Abraham’s life had passages very much like Isaac’s. But he knew, what some critics seem unable to comprehend, that two men’s lives may be largely the one a repetition of the other. Thus history has often repeated itself in less than a century.

Abimelech — Possibly the same Abimelech as that of Genesis 20:2. For if he had been aged forty at the time of Abraham’s visit, he would have now been about one hundred and twenty-five — no very unsupposable age for that time, when men lived, as we have seen, to be one hundred and seventy-five years old. But it is altogether probable that this was the son and successor of the Abimelech of Abraham’s time, for both this name and that of Phichol (Genesis 26:26) were official titles rather than personal appellations. See notes on Genesis 20:2; Genesis 21:22.


Verse 2

2. The Lord appeared — In a dream or vision of the night. Comp. Genesis 26:24. “The last recorded vision was at the sacrifice of Isaac, more than sixty years before. These revelations were not so frequent as they seem to us, as we read one event rapidly after the other; but just sufficient to keep up the knowledge of God and the faith of the patriarchs in the line of the chosen people, and of the promised seed.” — Speaker’s Commentary.


Verse 4

4. All these countries — All the different districts or territories of the different Canaanitish tribes.


Verse 5

5. Voice… charge… commandments… statutes… laws — A comprehensive summary of all the various revelations of the divine will. God’s voice denotes more particularly the spoken revelations; his charge the special trusts of promise he had given Abraham to guard; his commandments the occasional precepts given from time to time; his statutes the more permanent prescriptions of his will; his laws the everlasting and unchangeable expressions of his righteousness. Already had God spoken “at sundry times and in divers manners,” (Hebrews 1:1,) and we note that the son is blessed because of his father’s obedience.


Verse 7

7. Should kill me — Comp. Genesis 12:12; Genesis 20:11, notes; and for the agreement and differences of these narratives the note at the beginning of this chapter.


Verse 8

8. Sporting — See note on Genesis 21:8.


Verse 12

12. Isaac sowed — He now added agriculture to the pursuits of nomadic life.

Received — Hebrews, found.

A hundredfold — Or, a hundred measures. Some (Sept., Syr.) read, שׂערים, barley, instead of שׁערים, measures, or fold. The letters of the two words are the same. A hundredfold is a very large increase, but Herodotus (i, 193) writes of the Babylonian territory as “so fruitful in the produce of corn, that it yields continually two hundredfold, and when it produces its best, it yields even three hundredfold.”


Verse 13

13. Went forward — Hebrews, went going; that is, kept on growing. Three degrees are here expressed — great, greater, very great.


Verse 14

14. Flocks… herds… servants… envied — These four words speak volumes. Prosperity and abundance excite the envy of ignoble natures.


Verse 15

15. Wells… filled — The wells dug by Abraham gave Isaac a sort of title to the land, and filling them up was equivalent to a declaration of war. Comp. 2 Kings 3:25; Isaiah 15:6.


Verse 16

16. Go from us — The Philistine king perceives that such a rich and prosperous chief as Isaac cannot peaceably dwell in Gerar. The strife between the different herdmen would be likely to be more bitter than that of the herdmen of Abram and Lot. Genesis 13:7. So while Abraham was invited to stay and settle anywhere, (Genesis 20:15,) Isaac is invited to leave.


Verse 17

17. Valley of Gerar — Some writers speak of a district el-Gerar south of Beer-sheba, but that country has not been sufficiently explored to confirm their statements. Isaac withdrew from Gerar, but not from the Philistine land.


Verse 18

18. Digged again the wells — Abraham’s long residence (comp. 21:34) in the districts of Gerar and Beer-sheba had left its traces in many a valley, and after his death the Philistines seem to have hastened to obliterate the witnesses of their treaty with him. Hence the repetition of oaths, treaties, and names like Beer-sheba. Genesis 26:33.


Verses 20-22

20-22. Esek… Sitnah… Rehoboth — These appear to have been new wells digged, in addition to the old ones re-opened, and the names mean, respectively, Strife, Opposition, (from the same root as Satan,) and Broad Places, Room. The name of Rehoboth still lingers in the wady er-Ruhaibeh, some twenty-three miles south of Beer-sheba, where Robinson found extensive ruins. Later travellers claim to have found the well, but their reports are conflicting.


Verse 24

24. The Lord appeared — Immediately on Isaac’s return to Beer-sheba Jehovah renews to him the promises, and there he builds an altar in acknowledgment of his mercy.


Verse 25

25. Altar… tent… well — Mark the order; first the altar, God’s worship before all else; next his tent, and then the well.


Verse 26

26. Ahuzzath — The king and his chief captain now take with them a third person, one of the king’s friends. Comp. Genesis 21:22.


Verse 27

27. Wherefore come ye — Isaac receives them coldly, as well he might after their breach of an old treaty of peace with his father. But the king was anxious to be on friendly terms with Isaac, even though the latter was not welcome to settle in his land.


Verse 28

28. We saw certainly — The signal favour bestowed on Isaac, (Genesis 26:12,) and the memory of his father, convinced these Philistine lords that their God Jehovah was mighty to help his worshippers. Twice in this address the name Jehovah is used, showing that Isaac’s piety had magnified that name among the heathen.


Verse 29

29. Not touched thee… nothing but good… sent thee away in peace — Three falsehoods; for his servants had assailed Isaac’s, they had filled up his wells, and really persecuted him out of all the region of Gerar. And yet, perhaps, Abimelech was ignorant of these wrongs, as his father had before claimed to have been to Abraham. Genesis 21:26.


Verse 30

30. Made them a feast — Thus returning good for evil, and overcoming evil with good.


Verse 33

33. Called it Shebah שׁבעה, Shibhah; which means both seven and oath. Compare Genesis 21:28-31. “Now the writer was aware that this place had received the same name on a former occasion. But a second well had now been dug in like circumstances in the same locality. This gives occasion for a new application of the name in the memories of the people. This is another illustration of the principle explained at Genesis 25:30. Two wells still exist at this place, attesting the correctness of the record.” — Murphy.


Verse 34

ESAU’S MARRIAGE, Genesis 26:34-35.

34. Judith… and Bashemath — Two wives, and both Hittites, and both married in the same year, was polygamy equal to Lamech’s, (Genesis 4:19,) and led an apostle to call him a fornicator, (Hebrews 12:16,) and might well have caused his parents a great “grief of mind,” (Genesis 26:35,) and bitterness of spirit. See further on Genesis 28:9; Genesis 36:2-3.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 26:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/genesis-26.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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