Genesis 26

1 There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, to Gerar. 2 The LORD appeared to him, and said, “Don’t go down into Egypt. Live in the land I will tell you about. 3 Live in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you. For I will give to you, and to your offspring, all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of the sky, and will give all these lands to your offspring. In your offspring will all the nations of the earth be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my requirements, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” 6 Isaac lived in Gerar. 7 The men of the place asked him about his wife. He said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say, “My wife”, lest, he thought, “the men of the place might kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to look at.” 8 When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was caressing Rebekah, his wife. 9 Abimelech called Isaac, and said, “Behold, surely she is your wife. Why did you say, ‘She is my sister?’” Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘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 you would have brought guilt on us!” 11 Abimelech commanded all the people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife will surely be put to death.” 12 Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year one hundred times what he planted. The LORD blessed him. 13 The man grew great, and grew more and more until he became very great. 14 He had possessions of flocks, possessions of herds, and a great household. The Philistines envied him. 15 Now all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped, and filled with earth. 16 Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go from us, for you are much mightier than we.” 17 Isaac departed from there, encamped in the valley of Gerar, and lived there. 18 Isaac dug again the wells of water, which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father. For the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham. He called their names after the names by which his father had called them. 19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20 The herdsmen of Gerar argued with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” He called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. 21 They dug another well, and they argued over that, also. He called its name Sitnah. 22 He left that place, and dug another well. They didn’t argue over that one. He called it Rehoboth. He said, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.” 23 He went up from there to Beersheba. 24 The LORD appeared to him the same night, and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you, and will bless you, and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 He built an altar there, and called on the LORD’s name, and pitched his tent there. There Isaac’s servants dug a well. 26 Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath his friend, and Phicol the captain of his army. 27 Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me, and have sent me away from you?” 28 They said, “We saw plainly that the LORD was with you. We said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, even between us and you, and let us make a covenant with you, 29 that you will do us no harm, as we have not touched you, and as we have done to you nothing but good, and have sent you away in peace.’ You are now the blessed of the LORD.” 30 He made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 They rose up some time in the morning, and swore to one another. Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. 32 The same day, Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had dug, and said to him, “We have found water.” 33 He called it Shibah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day. 34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as wife Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They grieved Isaac’s and Rebekah’s spirits.

(Previous Chapter)    •    (Next Chapter)

Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

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, Pr 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.

Back to Top