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Genesis Twenty Six

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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:

the Lord appeared. This is apparently the first time in over fifty years that God had appeared to Isaac; here He confirmed the covenant made with Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. It was also the first famine in the land of promise since Abram had gone down to Egypt over a century earlier. Isaac, unused to such testings, now needed special assurance.

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

my laws. Long before Moses, there were divine commandments and laws, and Abraham obeyed them. Certain law codes found among the Babylonians, the Hittites and others also antedate Moses and agree in many respects with the Mosaic laws, perhaps reflecting a primeval system given by God (possibly only verbally) that disappeared after Babel except for those, like Abraham, who retained and obeyed the truth. Note also the same implication in Job 23:12.

Genesis 26:6 And Isaac dwelt in Gerar:

Genesis 26:7 And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.

my sister. Critics allege that this is merely another version of the story of Abraham's experience in Gerar (Genesis 20:1-8). This is not possible; the scribal “redactors” whom these same critics think brought the different components of Genesis together would have been far too shrewd to deliberately create such an obvious barrier to its acceptance by their readers. The event must have taken place as described. Isaac and Rebekah repeated the same fabrication that Abraham and Sarah had attempted over a century earlier, for essentially the same reasons, and with essentially the same results—human rebuke for their deception, but God's protection in spite of this.

Genesis 26:8 And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife.

Genesis 26:9 And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her.

she is thy wife. The Nuzi tablets, from northern Mesopotamia and describing life and customs in the patriarchal age, indicate that it was possible for a man to adopt a woman as his sister, then later also take her as his wife. It is thus at least possible that Rebecca was both wife and sister to Isaac—the same for Abraham and Sarah.

Genesis 26:10 And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us.

Genesis 26:11 And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.

Genesis 26:12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.

hundredfold. This is the first mention of seed-sowing in the Bible. Throughout the Bible, seed-sowing is commonly symbolic of Christian witnessing, and this aspect is paramount in the first mention of seed-sowing in the New Testament (Matthew 13:23). In both cases, it is providentially significant that the good seed brought forth a hundredfold.

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 26:15 For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.

Genesis 26:16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.

Genesis 26:17 And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.

Genesis 26:18 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.

Genesis 26:19 And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.

Genesis 26:20 And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him.

Genesis 26:21 And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.

Genesis 26:22 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.

Genesis 26:23 And he went up from thence to Beersheba.

Genesis 26:24 And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake.

Genesis 26:25 And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well.

builded an altar. According to records, this is the only altar built by Isaac. God appeared to him again after he was back at Beer-sheba (“well of the covenant”), where he had lived in his closest fellowship with God. The well had belonged to Abraham, and it was accepted as such by the Philistines (still a relatively small body of settlers that had come from their own homeland in Crete), so Isaac knew he was now justified in staying there. The ancient town of Beer-sheba has been partially excavated, and visitors today are shown a well claimed to be that of Abraham and Isaac.

Genesis 26:26 Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army.

Genesis 26:27 And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?

Genesis 26:28 And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;

Isaac loved Esau. In spite of God's commandment (Genesis 26:23) and Jacob's merits (Genesis 26:27), Isaac showed strong partiality to Esau, and for the most carnal of reasons. He loved the venison Esau would bring home from his hunt. But God said: “Jacob have I loved” (Malachi 1:1-3; Romans 9:10-13).

Genesis 26:29 That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD.

Genesis 26:30 And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink.

Genesis 26:31 And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.

betimes. An archaic expression meaning “promptly.”

Genesis 26:32 And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water.

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

sold his birthright. Legal tablets found at Nuzi in Syria stipulate that an heir could sell any or all of his inheritance to a brother.

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

grief of mind. Here is further proof of God's wisdom in choosing Jacob. Esau disregarded both God's primeval principle of monogamy and the need to marry a wife who believed in the true God. Instead he married two pagan Hittite women, whose idolatry and ungodliness grieved his parents. Even more tragically, Isaac seems to have made no attempt to prevent this, and was still resolved to give Esau his patriarchal blessing.