Now a severe famine struck the land, as had happened before in Abraham's time. So Isaac moved to Gerar, where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived.
The LORD appeared to him there and said, "Do not go to Egypt.
Do as I say, and stay here in this land. If you do, I will be with you and bless you. I will give all this land to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father.
I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed.
References for Genesis 26:4
I will do this because Abraham listened to me and obeyed all my requirements, commands, regulations, and laws."
So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
And when the men there asked him about Rebekah, he said, "She is my sister." He was afraid to admit that she was his wife. He thought they would kill him to get her, because she was very beautiful.
But some time later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out a window and saw Isaac fondling Rebekah.
Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, "She is obviously your wife! Why did you say she was your sister?" "Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me," Isaac replied.
"How could you treat us this way!" Abimelech exclaimed. "Someone might have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin."
Then Abimelech made a public proclamation: "Anyone who harms this man or his wife will die!"
That year Isaac's crops were tremendous! He harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the LORD blessed him.
He became a rich man, and his wealth only continued to grow.
He acquired large flocks of sheep and goats, great herds of cattle, and many servants. Soon the Philistines became jealous of him,
and they filled up all of Isaac's wells with earth. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.
And Abimelech asked Isaac to leave the country. "Go somewhere else," he said, "for you have become too rich and powerful for us."
So Isaac moved to the Gerar Valley and lived there instead.
He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham's death. Isaac renamed them, using the names Abraham had given them.
His shepherds also dug in the Gerar Valley and found a gushing spring.
But then the local shepherds came and claimed the spring. "This is our water," they said, and they argued over it with Isaac's herdsmen. So Isaac named the well "Argument," because they had argued about it with him.
References for Genesis 26:20
Isaac's men then dug another well, but again there was a fight over it. So Isaac named it "Opposition."
References for Genesis 26:21
Abandoning that one, he dug another well, and the local people finally left him alone. So Isaac called it "Room Enough," for he said, "At last the LORD has made room for us, and we will be able to thrive."
References for Genesis 26:22
From there Isaac moved to Beersheba,
where the LORD appeared to him on the night of his arrival. "I am the God of your father, Abraham," he said. "Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant."
Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the LORD. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug a well.
One day Isaac had visitors from Gerar. King Abimelech arrived with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander.
"Why have you come?" Isaac asked them. "This is obviously no friendly visit, since you sent me from your land in a most unfriendly way."
They replied, "We can plainly see that the LORD is with you. So we decided we should have a treaty, a covenant between us.
Swear that you will not harm us, just as we did not harm you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace. And now look how the LORD has blessed you!"
So Isaac prepared a great feast for them, and they ate and drank in preparation for the treaty ceremony.
Early the next morning, they each took a solemn oath of nonaggression. Then Isaac sent them home again in peace.
That very day Isaac's servants came and told him about a well they had dug. "We've found water!" they said.
So Isaac named the well "Oath," and from that time to this, the town that grew up there has been called Beersheba -- "well of the oath."
References for Genesis 26:33
At the age of forty, Esau married a young woman named Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite. He also married Basemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
But Esau's wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah.