Genesis 26

Listen to Genesis 26

God's Promise to Isaac

1 Now there was a famine in the land, besides 1the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to 2Abimelech king of the 3Philistines.
2 And the LORD appeared to him and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell 4in the land of which I shall tell you.
3 5Sojourn in this land, and 6I will be with you and will bless you, for 7to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish 8the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.
4 9I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And 10in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,
5 because 11Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."

Isaac and Abimelech

6 So Isaac settled in Gerar.
7 When the men of the place asked him about his wife, 12he said, "She is my sister," for 13he feared to say, "My wife," thinking, "lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah," because 14she was attractive in appearance.
8 When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with[a] Rebekah his wife.
9 So Abimelech called Isaac and said, "Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, 'She is my sister'?" Isaac said to him, "Because I thought, 'Lest I die because of her.'"
10 Abimelech said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and 15you would have brought guilt upon us."
11 So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, "Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."
12 And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD 16blessed him,
13 and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy.
14 He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines 17envied him.
15 (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells 18that his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.)
16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, "Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we."
17 So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there.
18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And 19he gave them the names that his father had given them.
19 But when Isaac's servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water,
20 the herdsmen of Gerar 20quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, "The water is ours." So he called the name of the well Esek,[b] because they contended with him.
21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah.[c]
22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth,[d] saying, "For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land."
23 From there he went up to Beersheba.
24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, 21"I am the God of Abraham your father. 22Fear not, for 23I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham's sake."
25 So he 24built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac's servants dug a well.
26 When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and 25Phicol the commander of his army,
27 Isaac said to them, "Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and 26have sent me away from you?"
28 They said, "We see plainly that the LORD has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you,
29 that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. 27You are now the blessed of the LORD."
30 So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank.
31 In the morning they rose early and 28exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace.
32 That same day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, "We have found water."
33 He called it Shibah;[e] therefore the name of the city is 29Beersheba to this day.
34 When Esau was forty years old, he took 30Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite,
35 and 31they made life bitter[f] for Isaac and Rebekah.

Genesis 26 Commentary

Chapter 26

Isaac, because of famine, goes to Gerar. (1-5) He denies his wife and is reproved by Abimelech. (6-11) Isaac grows rich, The Philistines' envy. (12-17) Isaac digs wells God blesses him. (18-25) Abimelech makes a covenant with Isaac. (26-33) Esau's wives. (34,35)

Verses 1-5 Isaac had been trained up in a believing dependence upon the Divine grant of the land of Canaan to him and his heirs; and now that there is a famine in the land, Isaac still cleaves to the covenant. The real worth of God's promises cannot be lessened to a believer by any cross providences that may befall him. If God engage to be with us, and we are where he would have us to be, nothing but our own unbelief and distrust can prevent our comfort. The obedience of Abraham to the Divine command, was evidence of that faith, whereby, as a sinner, he was justified before God, and the effect of that love whereby true faith works. God testifies that he approved this obedience, to encourage others, especially Isaac.

Verses 6-11 There is nothing in Isaac's denial of his wife to be imitated, nor even excused. The temptation of Isaac is the same as that which overcame his father, and that in two instances. This rendered his conduct the greater sin. The falls of those who are gone before us are so many rocks on which others have split; and the recording of them is like placing buoys to save future mariners. This Abimelech was not the same that lived in Abraham's days, but both acted rightly. The sins of professors shame them before those that are not themselves religious.

Verses 12-17 God blessed Isaac. Be it observed, for the encouragement of poor tenants who occupy other people's lands, and are honest and industrious, that God blessed him with a great increase. The Philistines envied Isaac. It is an instance of the vanity of the world; for the more men have of it, the more they are envied, and exposed to censure and injury. Also of the corruption of nature; for that is an ill principle indeed, which makes men grieve at the good of others. They made Isaac go out of their country. That wisdom which is from above, will teach us to give up our right, and to draw back from contentions. If we are wrongfully driven from one place, the Lord will make room for us in another.

Verses 18-25 Isaac met with much opposition in digging wells. Two were called Contention and Hatred. See the nature of worldly things; they make quarrels, and are occasions of strife; and what is often the lot of the most quiet and peaceable; those who avoid striving, yet cannot avoid being striven with. And what a mercy it is to have plenty of water; to have it without striving for it! The more common this mercy is, the more reason to be thankful for it. At length Isaac digged a well, for which they strove not. Those that study to be quiet, seldom fail of being so. When men are false and unkind, still God is faithful and gracious; and his time to show himself so is, when we are most disappointed by men. The same night that Isaac came weary and uneasy to Beer-sheba, God brought comforts to his soul. Those may remove with comfort who are sure of God's presence.

Verses 26-33 When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him, ( Proverbs 16:7 ) . Kings' hearts are in his hands, and when he pleases, he can turn them to favour his people. It is not wrong to stand upon our guard in dealing with those who have acted unfairly. But Isaac did not insist on the unkindnesses they had done him; he freely entered into friendship with them. Religion teaches us to be neighbourly, and, as much as in us lies, to live peaceable with all men. Providence smiled upon what Isaac did; God blessed his labours.

Verses 34-35 Esau was foolish in marrying two wives together, and still more in marrying Canaanites, strangers to the blessing of Abraham, and subject to the curse of Noah. It grieved his parents that he married without their advice and consent. It grieved them that he married among those who had no religion. Children have little reason to expect God's blessing who do that which is a grief of mind to good parents.

Cross References 31

  • 1. Genesis 12:10
  • 2. Genesis 20:2
  • 3. Genesis 21:34
  • 4. Genesis 12:1
  • 5. Genesis 20:1; Hebrews 11:9
  • 6. Genesis 28:15
  • 7. See Genesis 13:15
  • 8. [Micah 7:20]; See Genesis 22:16-18
  • 9. Cited Exodus 32:13; See Genesis 15:5
  • 10. See Genesis 12:3
  • 11. Genesis 22:18
  • 12. Genesis 12:13; Genesis 20:2, 13
  • 13. [Proverbs 29:25]
  • 14. Genesis 24:16
  • 15. Genesis 20:9
  • 16. ver. 3; Genesis 24:1, 35
  • 17. [Ecclesiastes 4:4]
  • 18. Genesis 21:30
  • 19. Genesis 21:31
  • 20. Genesis 21:25
  • 21. Genesis 17:7; Genesis 24:12; Genesis 28:13; Exodus 3:6
  • 22. Genesis 15:1; See Psalms 27:1-3
  • 23. Genesis 28:15; Genesis 31:3; [Genesis 21:22, 23]
  • 24. Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:18
  • 25. Genesis 21:22
  • 26. ver. 16
  • 27. Genesis 24:31
  • 28. Genesis 21:31
  • 29. Genesis 21:31; Genesis 22:19
  • 30. [Genesis 28:9; Genesis 36:2, 3]
  • 31. Genesis 27:46

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Hebrew may suggest an intimate relationship
  • [b]. Esek means contention
  • [c]. Sitnah means enmity
  • [d]. Rehoboth means broad places, or room
  • [e]. Shibah sounds like the Hebrew for oath
  • [f]. Hebrew they were bitterness of spirit

Chapter Summary


This chapter treats of Isaac's removal to Gerar, occasioned by a famine, Ge 26:1; of the Lord's appearance to him there, advising him to sojourn in that place, and not go down to Egypt; renewing the covenant he had made with Abraham, concerning giving that country to him and his seed, Ge 26:2-6; of what happened unto him at Gerar on account of his wife, Ge 26:7-11; of Isaac's great prosperity and success, which drew the envy of the Philistines upon him, Ge 26:12-15; of his departure from hence to the valley of Gerar, at the instance of Abimelech; and of the contentions between his herdsmen, and those of Gerar, about wells of water, which caused him to remove to Beersheba, Ge 26:16-23; of the Lord's appearance to him there, renewing the above promise to him, where he built an altar, pitched his tent, and his servants dug a well, Ge 26:24,25; of Abimelech's coming to him thither, and making a covenant with him, Ge 26:26-31; which place had its name from the oath then made, and the well there dug, Ge 26:32,33; and lastly, of the marriage of Esau, which was a great grief to Isaac and Rebekah, Ge 26:34,35.

Genesis 26 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.