Genesis 26

Isaac and Abimelek

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.
2 The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.
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.
4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring[a] all nations on earth will be blessed,[b]
5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.”
6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him.
13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy.
14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.
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.
16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled.
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.
19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there.
20 But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek,[c] because they disputed with him.
21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.[d]
22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth,[e] saying, “Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”
23 From there he went up to Beersheba.
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.”
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.
26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces.
27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”
28 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
29 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.”
30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank.
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.
32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!”
33 He called it Shibah,[f] and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.[g]
34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.
35 They were a source of grief to 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 64

  • 1. S Genesis 12:10; S Deuteronomy 32:24
  • 2. S Genesis 10:14; Judges 10:6
  • 3. S Genesis 20:1
  • 4. S Genesis 12:7; Genesis 17:1; Genesis 18:1
  • 5. Genesis 46:3
  • 6. S Genesis 12:1
  • 7. Genesis 20:1; Genesis 28:15
  • 8. S Genesis 21:20; Genesis 27:45; Genesis 31:3,5; Genesis 32:9; Genesis 35:3; Genesis 48:21; Exodus 3:12; Exodus 33:14-16; Numbers 23:21; Deuteronomy 31:23; Joshua 1:5; Isaiah 43:2; Jeremiah 1:8,19; Haggai 1:13
  • 9. ver 12; S Genesis 12:2; Genesis 22:16-18
  • 10. S Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:18; Acts 7:5
  • 11. S Genesis 17:19
  • 12. ver 24; Genesis 48:4
  • 13. S Genesis 12:2; S Numbers 10:36; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17; Exodus 32:13
  • 14. S Genesis 12:7
  • 15. S Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:18; Acts 3:25*; Galatians 3:8
  • 16. S Genesis 18:19; Genesis 22:16
  • 17. Psalms 119:80,112; Ezekiel 18:21
  • 18. Lev 18:4,5,26; Leviticus 19:19,37; Leviticus 20:8,22; Leviticus 25:18; Leviticus 26:3; Numbers 15:40; Deuteronomy 4:40; Deuteronomy 6:2; Deuteronomy 11:1; 1 Kings 2:3
  • 19. S Genesis 20:1
  • 20. S Genesis 12:13; Genesis 20:2,12; Proverbs 29:25
  • 21. S Genesis 10:14
  • 22. S Genesis 12:19
  • 23. S Genesis 12:18; Genesis 20:9
  • 24. 1 Samuel 24:6; 1 Samuel 26:9; Psalms 105:15
  • 25. S Genesis 20:3
  • 26. Matthew 13:8
  • 27. S ver 3; Job 42:12
  • 28. S Genesis 13:2; S Deuteronomy 8:18; Proverbs 10:22
  • 29. S Genesis 12:16; S Genesis 24:36; Genesis 32:23
  • 30. Genesis 37:11
  • 31. S Genesis 21:30
  • 32. S Genesis 21:25
  • 33. ver 27; Judges 11:7
  • 34. Exodus 1:9; Psalms 105:24-25
  • 35. S Genesis 20:1
  • 36. S Genesis 21:30
  • 37. S Genesis 13:7
  • 38. Genesis 21:25
  • 39. S Genesis 13:7
  • 40. Genesis 36:37
  • 41. Psalms 18:19; Isaiah 33:20; Isaiah 54:2; Amos 9:11
  • 42. S Genesis 17:6; Exodus 1:7
  • 43. S Genesis 22:19
  • 44. S Genesis 24:12; Exodus 3:6
  • 45. S Genesis 15:1; S Joshua 8:1
  • 46. S Genesis 21:20
  • 47. S ver 4
  • 48. ver 4; Genesis 17:7; S Genesis 22:17; Genesis 28:14; Genesis 30:27; Genesis 39:5; Deuteronomy 13:17
  • 49. S Genesis 8:20; Genesis 12:7,8; Genesis 13:4,18; Psalms 116:17
  • 50. S Genesis 4:26; S Acts 2:21
  • 51. S Genesis 21:30
  • 52. S Genesis 21:22
  • 53. S ver 16
  • 54. S Genesis 21:22
  • 55. S Genesis 21:27; Joshua 9:6
  • 56. Genesis 31:29,52
  • 57. S Genesis 24:31; Psalms 115:15
  • 58. Genesis 31:54; Exodus 18:12; Exodus 24:11; 1 Samuel 20:27; Genesis 19:3
  • 59. S Genesis 21:23,27; Genesis 21:31
  • 60. S Genesis 21:30
  • 61. S Genesis 21:14
  • 62. S Genesis 25:20
  • 63. S Genesis 10:15; Genesis 28:9; Genesis 36:2; Joshua 3:10; 1 Samuel 26:6; 1 Kings 10:29
  • 64. Genesis 27:46; Genesis 28:8; Job 7:16

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Or "seed"
  • [b]. Or "and all nations on earth will use the name of your offspring in blessings" (see 48:20)
  • [c]. "Esek" means "dispute."
  • [d]. "Sitnah" means "opposition."
  • [e]. "Rehoboth" means "room."
  • [f]. "Shibah" can mean "oath" or "seven."
  • [g]. "Beersheba" can mean "well of the oath" and "well of seven."

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

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