Genesis 26


‘Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and did everything, I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.’ Genesis 26:1-5

Famines are very popular in the Scriptures, Genesis 12:10, and here there seems to be another one, which forced Isaac and his household to move to the territory of Abimelek, this is the same king which Abraham dealt with earlier, Genesis 20, although it’s possible that this is his son.

It seems that Isaac needed some kind of reassurance so, God reminds him of the promise he made to Abraham, that is his seed would be a blessing to all nations, Genesis 17:19. Although Abraham didn’t do what was right all the time, his obedience became a great encouragement to his son, Isaac who also followed in his father’s example of obedience to God.

‘So, Isaac stayed in Gerar. When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, ‘She is my sister,’ because he was afraid to say, ‘She is my wife.’ He thought, ‘The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah because she is beautiful.’ When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, ‘She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?’ Isaac answered him, ‘Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.’ Then Abimelek said, ‘What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.’ So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: ‘Anyone who harms this man, or his wife shall surely be put to death.’ Genesis 26:6-11

Someone once said that ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’, of which the meaning is obvious. Isaac repeats the sin Abraham his father did, Genesis 12:10-20 / Genesis 20:1-17. The customs of the day would actually make Rebekah, Isaac’s ‘sister’ in terms of the family lineage. Although we would use the word ‘cousin’.

Abimelek obviously didn’t understand any of this and knew that Isaac was lying. Just like his father Abraham, Isaac seems to care more about his own life than he does for his wife. Remember that Isaac is a stranger in the land of a foreign king and he knew that this king could claim any woman to be his wife, even to the point of killing the husband in order to take the woman to be his wife.

Isaac claiming that Rebekah was his sister is clearly a lie, which shows his lack of faith and a weakness of the flesh. As a result, Isaac is rebuked like Abraham was by a pagan king and Abimelek ordered that no one was to touch either of them.

‘Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold because the LORD blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. So, all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth. Then Abimelek said to Isaac, ‘Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.’ Genesis 26:12-16

Isaac was truly blessed by God and becomes very wealthy, he was blessed in his hard work, but it seems that this wealth which was a sign of power and influence, really bothered Abimelek. It bothered him and intimidated him to the point where he asks Isaac and his household to leave the land because he was afraid of being taken over.

‘So, Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them. Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of freshwater there. But the herders of Gerar quarrelled with those of Isaac and said, ‘The water is ours!’ So, he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. Then they dug another well, but they quarrelled over that one also; so, he named it Sitnah. He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarrelled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, ‘Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land.’ From there he went up to Beersheba. That night the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham. ’Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.’ Genesis 26:17-25

Abraham was known for building altars and Jacob is known for pitching tents and building wells, God’s blessings were seen as wells. As Isaac continued to dig wells, the problem was that the Philistines filled them in so that they would force Isaac to move away from their land.

Notice that Isaac doesn’t make a big deal about this and simply moves on, but he does leave a reminder of the digging of the well and the trouble it caused by those who came along and stole them. God tells Isaac not to be afraid and reminds him of the promise he made to his father, Abraham. Isaac moves to Beersheba, Genesis 21:30-31, where God encouraged him to stay and fear no more. In Beersheba, he builds an altar to God.

‘Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. Isaac asked them, ‘Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?’ They answered, ‘We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so, we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the LORD.’ Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully. That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, ‘We’ve found water!’ He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.’ Genesis 26:26-33

Abimelek was wise enough to recognise that the Lord was with Isaac and so, he took the initiative to establish a covenant with Isaac, knowing that Isaac was much stronger than he was. To establish a covenant, promises were made, and a feast was given in order to celebrate the covenant.

‘When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.’ Genesis 26:34-35

Esau marries Judith and Basemath, pagan women, the very women he knew would upset his parents, which again shows us the real character of Esau. He had no real respect for his parents or his parent’s heritage and because of this, he has slowly drifted away from God and His will, 2 Corinthians 6:14.

Go To Genesis 27



"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."