Isaac and Abimelech, 1-34

Gen 26:1 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the earlier famine of Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar.

King of the Philistines – There are isolated references to the Philistines in the Pentateuch (Gen 10:14; 21:32–34; 26:1, 6; Ex 13:17).  Since there is no evidence from outside the Bible for the use of the term ‘Philistines’ until around 1200 BC, most scholars think that these are anachronisms, having crept into the text much later.  With some of them (for example, Gen 21:32-34) we might readily understand the author as meaning, ‘in the country now known as “of the Philistines”‘).  In the present case, however the matter is not so easily resolved.  K.A. Kitchen thinks that the ‘Philistines’ of the Pentateuch are a different people group from the ‘Philistines’ of Judges and Samuel:-

Those [Philistines] in Genesis live around Gerar, and under a king, not in the “pentapolis” (i.e., Gath, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron) under “lords.” … [T]hey are relatively peaceable, not forever waging wars, despite having an army commander. It is therefore, more prudent to compare the Philistines of Abraham and Isaac with such people as the Caphtorim of Deuteronomy 2:23, and to view the term itself as a thirteenth-to twelfth-century term used of an earlier Aegean group such as the Caphtorim by the narrator.

F.L. Jost, from whom this quote from Kitchen comes, adds that there is plenty of archaeological evidence of Aegean contact with the lands of the eastern Mediterranean (Dictionary of Old Testament: Pentateuch, art. (Abimelech).

Gen 26:2 The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.

Gen 26:3 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.

Gen 26:4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,

Gen 26:5 because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.”

The Mishnah’s third division Kiddushin (4.14) interprets Genesis 26:5 such that ‘we find that Abraham our father had performed the whole law before it was given, for it is written, “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”‘

Gen 26:6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.

Gen 26:7 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.”

Gen 26:8 When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah.

Gen 26:9 So Abimelech 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.”

Gen 26:10 Then Abimelech 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.”

Gen 26:11 So Abimelech gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

Gen 26:12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him.

Gen 26:13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy.

Gen 26:14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.

Gen 26:15 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.

Gen 26:16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”

Gen 26:17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there.

Gen 26:18 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.

Gen 26:19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there.

Gen 26:20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarrelled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him.

Gen 26:21 Then they dug another well, but they quarrelled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.

Gen 26:22 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.”

Gen 26:23 From there he went up to Beersheba.

Gen 26:24 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.”

Gen 26:25 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.

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

Gen 26:27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”

Gen 26:28 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

Gen 26:29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not molest you but always treated you well and sent you away in peace. And now you are blessed by the LORD.”

Gen 26:30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank.

Gen 26:31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace.

Gen 26:32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!”

Gen 26:33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.

Gen 26:34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.

Gen 26:35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.

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