Front Page

Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Genesis

(Return to Old Testament Contents)


FRAMEWORKS: Genesis 26: Blessings, Disputes & Covenant


v.1-6 Famine & the Lord Promises Isaac His Blessing

v.7-11 Isaac's deceit & Abimelek's rebuke

v.12-14 Isaac Prospers

v.15-19 Isaac Digs Again the wells of his Father

v.20-22 Ongoing disputes over Water

v.23,24 At Beersheba the Lord reassures him and confirms His blessing

v.25-33 A New Covenant between Isaac & Abimelek

v.34,35 Esau Marries two Foreigners


v.1-6 Famine & the Lord Promises Isaac His Blessing


v.1 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.

v.2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.

v.3 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.

v.4,5 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.”

v.6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.


[Notes: There is a serious case of deja-vu about to occur. A famine occurs in the land and, as he already lives in the south, Isaac goes to king Abimelek [who had previously had dealings with Abraham] in the land of the Philistines. The Lord intervenes and tells Isaac not to go to Egypt but to remain where he was in Canaan, the Land He had promised to Abraham and which would be his as well. The Lord would bless his descendants who would be many, for the sake of his father. So Isaac remained in the Philistine town of Gerar.]



v.7-11 Isaac's deceit & Abimelek's rebuke


v.7  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.”

v.8 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.

v.9 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.”

v.10 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.”

v.11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”


[Notes: It is now that Isaac repeats the behaviour of his father (in both Gen 12 & 20) pretending Rebekah was his sister until Abimelek finds out and rebukes him.]



v.12-14 Isaac Prospers


v.12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him.

v.13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy.

v.14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.


[Notes: Isaac appears to have continued arable farming in that area of the south and greatly prospered which made the Philistines jealous.]



v.15-19 Isaac Digs Again the wells of his Father


v.15 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.

v.16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”

v.17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled.

v.18 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.

v.19 Isaac's servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there.


[Notes: Out of spite and jealousy the Philistines filled in the wells Abraham had dug and Abimelek told him to move away from them. Isaac opened up the wells of his father as well as digging a new one.]



v.20-22 Ongoing disputes over Water


v.20 But the herders of Gerar quarrelled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, [Esek means dispute] because they disputed with him.

v.21 Then they dug another well, but they quarrelled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. [Sitnah means opposition]

v.22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarrelled over it. He named it Rehoboth, [Rehoboth means room.] saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”


[Notes: The Philistine herders argued over this well, even when he dug another one and it was only when he dug a third new one that the arguing stopped.]



v.23,24 At Beersheba the Lord reassures him and confirms His blessing


v.23 From there he went up to Beersheba.

v.24 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.”


[Notes: Eventually Isaac moved north to Beersheba where the Lord came to him and reiterated His promise to increase his numbers.]



v.25-33 A New Covenant between Isaac & Abimelek


v.25 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.

v.26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces.

v.27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”

v.28,29 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 .”

v.30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank.

v.31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.

v.32 That day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We've found water!”

v.33 He called it Shibah, [Shibah can mean oath or seven] and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba. [Beersheba can mean well of the oath and well of seven]


[Notes: Shortly after digging another new well, Abimelech came to him demanding a peace treaty to ensure security between them, recognising that the Lord was clearly blessing him and making him strong. They thus enter into a new covenant – history repeating itself again [see Gen 21 with Abraham]



v.34,35 Esau Marries Two Foreigners


v.34  When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.

v.35  They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.


[Notes: A second sign of the sort of man Esau was, is seen as he marries two foreigners. [contrast this with the way Abraham had viewed being God's chosen people – Gen 24:7]. Isaac and Rebekah still have something of that sense and grieve over his behaviour.]



Lessons or Challenges to Ponder from Genesis Chapter 26


1. In this chapter we see the opening up of the relationship of the Lord with Isaac. If we haven't seen it before, we should now realise that God is always the initiator, the One who reaches out to us.

2. Isaac, as he keeps on opening up the wells his father had dug, is an example of perseverance in the face of enemy hindrances.



Continue to Chapter 27