In this chapter we have,
I. Isaac in adversity, by reason of a famine
in the land, which,
1. Obliges him to change his quarters,
Genesis 26:1. But,
2. God visits him with direction and comfort,
3. He foolishly denies his wife, being in distress and is reproved
for it by Abimelech,
II. Isaac in prosperity, by the
blessing of God upon him,
Genesis 26:12-14. And,
1. The Philistines
were envious at him,
2. He continued industrious
in his business,
3. God appeared to him, and encouraged
him, and he devoutly acknowledged God,
4. The Philistines, at length, made court to him, and made a
covenant with him,
5. The disagreeable marriage of
his son Esau was an alloy to the comfort of his prosperity,
|Removal of Isaac to Gerar.
||B. C. 1804.|
1 And there was a famine in the
land, beside the first famine that
was in the days of Abraham. And
Isaac went unto Abimelech king of
the Philistines unto Gerar.
the LORD appeared unto him, and
said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell
in the land which I shall tell thee of:
3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be
with thee, and will bless thee; for unto
thee, and unto thy seed, I will give
all these countries, and I will perform
the oath which I sware unto Abraham
4 And I will make thy
seed to multiply as the stars of heaven,
and will give unto thy seed all these
countries; and in thy seed shall all
the nations of the earth be blessed;
5 Because that Abraham obeyed my
voice, and kept my charge, my commandments,
my statutes, and my laws.
I. God tried Isaac by his providence.
Isaac had been trained up in a believing dependence
upon the divine grant of the land
of Canaan to him and his heirs; yet now
there is a famine in the land,
Genesis 26:1. What shall he think of the promise when the promised
land will not find him bread? Is such
a grant worth accepting, upon such terms,
and after so long a time? Yes, Isaac will
still cleave to the covenant; and the less
valuable Canaan in itself seems to be the
better he is taught to value it,
1. As a
token of God's everlasting kindness to him;
2. As a type of heaven's everlasting
blessedness. Note, The intrinsic worth of
God's promises cannot be lessened in a believer's
eye by any cross providences.
II. He directed him under this trial by
his word. Isaac finds himself straitened by
the scarcity of provisions. Somewhere he
must go for supply; it should seem, he set
out for Egypt, whither his father went in the
like strait, but he takes Gerar in his way,
full of thoughts, no doubt, which way he had
best steer his course, till God graciously appeared
to him, and determined him, abundantly
to his satisfaction.
1. God bade him
stay where he was, and not go down into
Egypt: Sojourn in this land,
Genesis 26:2,3. There was a famine in Jacob's days, and God bade
him go down into Egypt
(Genesis 46:3,4), a famine in Isaac's days, and God bade him
not to go down, a famine in Abraham's days,
and God left him to his liberty, directing him
neither way. This variety in the divine procedure
(considering that Egypt was always a
place of trial and exercise to God's people)
some ground upon the different characters
of these three patriarchs. Abraham was a
man of very high attainments, and intimate
communion with God; and to him all places
and conditions were alike. Isaac was a very
good man, but not cut out for hardship;
therefore he is forbidden to go to Egypt.
Jacob was inured to difficulties, strong and
patient; and therefore he must go down
into Egypt, that the trial of his faith might
be to praise, and honour, and glory. Thus
God proportions his people's trials to their
2. He promised to be with him,
and bless him,
Genesis 26:3. As we may go any where
with comfort when God's blessing goes with
us, so we may stay any where contentedly
if that blessing rest upon us.
3. He renewed
the covenant with him, which had so often
been made with Abraham, repeating and
ratifying the promises of the land of Canaan,
a numerous issue, and the Messiah,
Genesis 26:3,4. Note, Those that must live by faith have
need often to review, and repeat to themselves,
the promises they are to live upon,
especially when they are called to any instance
of suffering or self-denial.
4. He recommended to him the good example of his
father's obedience, as that which had preserved
the entail of the covenant in his family
(Genesis 26:5): "Abraham obeyed my voice; do thou
do so too, and the promise shall be sure to
thee." Abraham's obedience is here celebrated,
to his honour; for by it he obtained
a good report both with God and men. A
great variety of words is here used to express
the divine will, to which Abraham was obedient
(my voice, my charge, my commandments,
my statutes, and my laws), which may intimate
that Abraham's obedience was universal; he
obeyed the original laws of nature, the revealed
laws of divine worship, particularly
that of circumcision, and all the extraordinary
precepts God gave him, as that of quitting
his country, and that (which some think is
more especially referred to) of the offering
up of his son, which Isaac himself had reason
enough to remember. Note, Those only
shall have the benefit and comfort of God's
covenant with their godly parents that tread
in the steps of their obedience.
|Isaac's Denial of His Wife.
||B. C. 1840.|
6 And Isaac dwelt in Gerar:
7 And the men of the place asked him
of his wife; and he said, She is my
sister: for he feared to say, She is my
wife; lest, said he, the men of the
place should kill me for Rebekah;
because she was fair to look upon.
8 And it came to pass, when he had been
there a long time, that Abimelech king
of the Philistines looked out at a window,
and saw, and, behold, Isaac was
sporting with Rebekah his wife.
9 And Abimelech called Isaac, and said,
Behold, of a surety she is thy wife:
and how saidst thou, She is my sister?
And Isaac said unto him, Because I
said, Lest I die for her.
Abimelech said, What is this thou hast
done unto us? one of the people might
lightly have lien with thy wife, and
thou shouldest have brought guiltiness
11 And Abimelech
charged all his people, saying, He that
toucheth this man or his wife shall
surely be put to death.
Isaac had now laid aside all thoughts of
going to Egypt, and, in obedience to the
heavenly vision, sets up his staff in Gerar,
the country in which he was born
(Genesis 26:6), yet there he enters into temptation, the same
temptation that his good father had been
once and again surprised and overcome by,
namely, to deny his wife, and to give out
that she was his sister. Observe,
I. How he sinned,
Genesis 26:7. Because his wife
was handsome, he fancied the Philistines
would find some way or other to take him
off, that some of them might marry her; and
therefore she must pass for his sister. It is
an unaccountable thing that both these great
and good men should be guilty of so strange
a piece of dissimulation, by which they so
much exposed both their own and their wives'
reputation. But we see,
1. That very good
men have sometimes been guilty of very
great faults and follies. Let those therefore
that stand take heed lest they fall, and those
that have fallen not despair of being helped
2. That there is an aptness in us
to imitate even the weaknesses and infirmities
of those we have a value for. We
have need therefore to keep our foot, lest,
while we aim to tread in the steps of good
men, we sometimes tread in their by-steps.
II. How he was detected, and the cheat
discovered, by the king himself. Abimelech
(not the same that was in Abraham's days,
Genesis 20:1-18, for this was nearly 100 years after
that, but this was the common name of the
Philistine kings, as Cæsar of the Roman
emperors) saw Isaac more familiar and
pleasant with Rebekah than he knew he
would be with his sister
(Genesis 26:8): he saw him
sporting with her, or laughing; it is the
same word with that from which Isaac had
his name. He was rejoicing with the wife of
Proverbs 5:18. It becomes those in
that relation to be pleasant with one another,
as those that are pleased with one another.
Nowhere may a man more allow himself to be
innocently merry than with his own wife and
children. Abimelech charged him with the
(Genesis 26:9), showed him how frivolous his
excuse was and what might have been the
bad consequences of it
(Genesis 26:10), and then, to
convince him how groundless and unjust his
jealousy of them was, took him and his family
under his particular protection, forbidding
any injury to be done to him or his wife
upon pain of death,
Genesis 26:11. Note,
1. A lying
tongue is but for a moment. Truth is the
daughter of time; and, in time, it will out.
2. One sin is often the inlet to many, and
therefore the beginnings of sin ought to be
3. The sins of professors shame
them before those that are without.
can make those that are incensed against his
people, though there may be some colour of
cause for it, to know that it is at their peril
if they do them any hurt. See
|Isaac's Removal to Beersheba.
||B. C. 1804.|
12 Then Isaac sowed in that land,
and received in the same year an hundredfold:
and the LORD blessed him:
13 And the man waxed great, and
went forward, and grew until he became
14 For he had possession
of flocks, and possession of
herds, and great store of servants:
and the Philistines envied him.
15 For all the wells which his father's
servants had digged in the days of
Abraham his father, the Philistines
had stopped them, and filled them
16 And Abimelech said
unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art
much mightier than we.
17 And Isaac
departed thence, and pitched his tent
in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.
18 And Isaac digged again the wells
of water, which they had digged in the
days of Abraham his father; for the
Philistines had stopped them after the
death of Abraham: and he called their
names after the names by which his father
had called them.
19 And Isaac's
servants digged in the valley, and
found there a well of springing water.
20 And the herdmen of Gerar did
strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying,
The water is ours: and he called the
name of the well Esek; because they
strove with him.
21 And they digged
another well, and strove for that also:
and he called the name of it Sitnah.
22 And he removed from thence, and
digged another well; and for that they
strove not: and he called the name
of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now
the LORD hath made room for us, and
we shall be fruitful in the land.
23 And he went up from thence to Beer-sheba.
24 And the LORD appeared
unto him the same night, and said, I
am the God of Abraham thy father:
fear not, for I am with thee, and will
bless thee, and multiply thy seed for
my servant Abraham's sake.
he builded an altar there, and called
upon the name of the LORD, and
pitched his tent there: and there
Isaac's servants digged a well.
Here we have,
I. The tokens of God's good-will to Isaac.
He blessed him, and prospered him, and made
all that he had to thrive under his hands.
1. His corn multiplied strangely,
Genesis 26:12. He had no land of his own, but took land of
the Philistines, and sowed it; and (be it observed
for the encouragement of poor tenants,
that occupy other people's lands, and are
honest and industrious) God blessed him
with a great increase. He reaped a hundred
fold; and there seems to be an emphasis laid
upon the time: it was that same year when
there was a famine in the land; while others
scarcely reaped at all, he reaped thus plentifully.
Isaiah 65:13, My servants shall
eat, but you shall be hungry,
Psalms 37:19, In the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
2. His cattle also increased,
Genesis 26:14. And then,
3. He had great store of servants,
whom he employed and maintained. Note,
As goods are increased those are increased
that eat them,
II. The tokens of the Philistines' ill-will to
him. They envied him,
Genesis 26:14. It is an
1. Of the vanity of the world that
the more men have of it the more they are
envied, and exposed to censure and injury.
Who can stand before envy?
Proverbs 27:4. See
2. Of the corruption of
nature; for that is a bad principle indeed
which makes men grieve at the good of others,
as if it must needs be ill with me because it is
well with my neighbor.
(1.) They had already
shown their ill-will to his family, by stopping
up the wells which his father had digged,
Genesis 26:15. This was spitefully done. Because
they had not flocks of their own to water at
these wells, they would not leave them for
the use of others; so absurd a thing is
malice. And it was perfidiously done, contrary
to the covenant of friendship they had
made with Abraham,
Genesis 21:31,32. No bonds will hold ill-nature.
(2.) They expelled
him out of their country,
Genesis 26:16,17. The king
of Gerar began to look upon him with a
jealous eye. Isaac's house was like a court,
and his riches and retinue eclipsed Abimelech's;
and therefore he must go further off.
They were weary of his neighbourhood,
because they saw that the Lord blessed him;
whereas, for that reason, they should the
rather have courted his stay, that they also
might be blessed for his sake. Isaac does
not insist upon the bargain he had made with
them for the lands he held, nor upon his occupying
and improving them, nor does he offer
to contest with them by force, though he had
become very great, but very peaceably departs
thence further from the royal city, and perhaps
to a part of the country less fruitful.
Note, We should deny ourselves both in our
rights and in our conveniences, rather than
quarrel: a wise and a good man will rather
retire into obscurity, like Isaac here into a
valley, than sit high to be the butt of envy
III. His constancy and continuance in his
1. He kept up his husbandry, and continued
industrious to find wells of water, and
to fit them for his use,
Genesis 26:18, &c. Though he
had grown very rich, yet he was as solicitous
as ever about the state of his flocks, and still
looked well to his herds; when men grow
great, they must take heed of thinking
themselves too big and too high for their
business. Though he was driven from the
conveniences he had had, and could not follow
his husbandry with the same ease and advantage
as before, yet he set himself to make
the best of the country he had come into,
which it is every man's prudence to do.
(1.) He opened the wells that his father
(Genesis 26:18), and out of respect to his
father called them by the same names that
he had given them. Note, In our searches
after truth, that fountain of living water, it is
good to make use of the discoveries of former
ages, which have been clouded by the corruptions
of later times. Enquire for the old
way, the wells which our fathers digged,
which the adversaries of truth have stopped
up: Ask thy elders, and they shall teach thee.
(2.) His servants dug new wells,
Genesis 26:19. Note, Though we must use the light of former
ages, it does not therefore follow that we
must rest in it, and make no advances. We
must still be building upon their foundation,
running to and fro, that knowledge may be increased,
(3.) In digging his wells he met with
Genesis 26:20,21. Those that open
the fountains of truth must expect contradiction.
The first two wells which they dug
were called Esek and Sitnah, contention and
hatred. See here,
[1.] What is the nature of
worldly things; they are make-bates and
occasions of strife.
[2.] What is often the
lot even of the most quiet and peaceable men
in this world; those that avoid striving yet
cannot avoid being striven with,
Psalms 120:7. In this sense, Jeremiah was a man of contention
(Jeremiah 15:10), and Christ himself, though
he is the prince of peace.
[3.] 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 we have to be
thankful for it.
(4.) At length he removed to a quiet
settlement, cleaving to his peaceable principle,
rather to fly than fight, and unwilling to
dwell with those that hated peace,
Psalms 120:6. He preferred quietness to victory. He dug
a well, and for this they strove not,
Genesis 26:22. Note, Those that follow peace, sooner or
later, shall find peace; those that study to be
quiet seldom fail of being so. How unlike
was Isaac to his brother Ishmael, who, right
or wrong, would hold what he had, against
all the world!
Genesis 16:12. And which of
these would we be found the followers of?
This well they called Rehoboth, enlargements,
room enough: in the two former wells we
may see what the earth is, straitness and
strife; men cannot thrive, for the throng of
their neighbours. This well shows us what
heaven is; it is enlargement and peace, room
enough there, for there are many mansions.
2. He continued firm to his religion, and
kept up his communion with God.
graciously appeared to him,
Genesis 26:24. When the Philistines expelled him, forced him to
remove from place to place, and gave him continual
molestation, then God visited him, and
gave him fresh assurances of his favour. Note,
When men are found false and unkind, we
may comfort ourselves that God is faithful
and gracious; and his time to show himself so
is when we are most disappointed in our expectations
from men. When Isaac had come to Beer-sheba
(Genesis 26:23) it is probable that it
troubled him to think of his unsettled condition,
and that he could not be suffered to stay
long in a place; and, in the multitude of these
thoughts within him, that same night that
he came weary and uneasy to Beer-sheba
God brought him his comforts to delight his
soul. Probably he was apprehensive that
the Philistines would not let him rest there:
Fear not, says God to him, I am with thee,
and will bless thee. Those may remove
with comfort that are sure of God's presence
with them wherever they go.
(2.) He was
not wanting in his returns of duty to God;
for there he built an altar, and called upon the
name of the Lord,
Genesis 26:25. Note,
we go, we must take our religion along
with us. Probably Isaac's altars and his
religious worship gave offence to the Philistines,
and provoked them to be the more
troublesome to him; yet he kept up his duty,
whatever ill-will he might be exposed to by
[2.] The comforts and encouragements
God gives us by his word should excite and
quicken us to every exercise of devotion by
which God may be honoured and our intercourse
with heaven maintained.
|Isaac's Covenant with Abimelech.
||B. C. 1760.|
26 Then Abimelech went to him
from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his
friends, and Phichol the chief captain
of his army.
27 And Isaac said unto
them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing
ye hate me, and have sent me
away from you?
28 And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was
with thee: and we said, Let there be
now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt
us and thee, and let us make a covenant
29 That thou wilt
do us no hurt, as we have not touched
thee, and as we have done unto thee
nothing but good, and have sent thee
away in peace: thou art now the
blessed of the LORD.
30 And he
made them a feast, and they did eat
31 And they rose up betimes
in the morning, and sware one
to another: and Isaac sent them away,
and they departed from him in peace.
32 And it came to pass the same day,
that Isaac's servants came, and told
him concerning the well which they
had digged, and said unto him, We
have found water.
33 And he called
it Shebah: therefore the name of the
city is Beer-sheba unto this day.
We have here the contests that had been
between Isaac and the Philistines issuing in
a happy peace and reconciliation.
I. Abimelech pays a friendly visit to Isaac,
in token of the respect he had for him,
Genesis 26:26. Note, When a man's ways please the Lord he
makes 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.
II. Isaac prudently and cautiously questions
his sincerity in this visit,
Genesis 26:27. Note,
In settling friendships and correspondences,
there is need of the wisdom of the serpent,
as well as the innocence of the dove; nor is
it any transgression of the law of meekness
and love plainly to signify our strong perception
of injuries received, and to stand
upon our guard in dealing with those that
have acted unfairly.
III. Abimelech professes his sincerity, in
this address to Isaac, and earnestly courts
Genesis 26:28,29. Some suggest that
Abimelech pressed for this league with him
because he feared lest Isaac, growing rich,
should, some time or other, avenge himself
upon them for the injuries he had received.
However, he professes to do it rather from a
principle of love.
1. He makes the best of
their behaviour towards him. Isaac complained
they had hated him, and sent him away. No,
said Abimelech, we sent thee away in peace.
They turned him off from the land he held
of them; but they suffered him to take away
his stock, and all his effects, with him. Note,
The lessening of injuries is necessary to the
preserving of friendship; for the aggravating
of them exasperates and widens breaches.
The unkindness done to us might have been
2. He acknowledges the token of
God's favour to him, and makes this the
ground of their desire to be in league with
him: The Lord is with thee, and thou art the
blessed of the Lord. As if he had said, "Be
persuaded to overlook and pass by the injuries
offered thee; for God had abundantly
made up to thee the damage thou receivedst."
Note, Those whom God blesses and favours
have reason enough to forgive those who hate
them, since the worst enemy they have cannot
do them any real hurt. Or, "For this reason
we desire thy friendship, because God is with
thee." Note, It is good to be in covenant
and communion with those who are in covenant
and communion with God,
1 John 1:3; present address to him was the result of
mature deliberation: We said, Let there be
an oath between us. Whatever some of his
peevish envious subjects might mean otherwise,
he and his prime-ministers of state,
whom he had now brought with him, designed
no other than a cordial friendship.
Perhaps Abimelech had received, by tradition,
the warning God gave to his predecessor not
to hurt Abraham
(Genesis 20:7), and this made
him stand in such awe of Isaac, who appeared
to be as much the favourite of Heaven as
IV. Isaac entertains him and his company,
and enters into a league of friendship with
Genesis 26:30,31. Here see how generous the
good man was,
1. In giving: He made them
a feast, and bade them welcome.
(2.) In forgiving.
He did not insist upon the unkindnesses
they had done him, but freely entered
into a covenant of friendship with them, and
bound himself never to do them any injury.
Note, Religion teaches us to be neighbourly,
and, as much as in us lies, to live peaceably
with all men.
V. Providence smiled upon what Isaac
did; for the same day that he made this
covenant with Abimelech his servants brought
him the tidings of a well of water they had
Genesis 26:32,33. He did not insist upon the
restitution of the wells which the Philistines
had unjustly taken from him, lest this should
break off the treaty, but sat down silent
under the injury; and, to recompense him
for this, immediately he is enriched with a
new well, which, because it suited so well to
the occurrence of the day, he called by an old
name, Beer-sheba, The well of the oath.
|Esau's Foolish Marriage.
||B. C. 1760.|
34 And Esau was forty years old
when he took to wife Judith the daughter
of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath
the daughter of Elon the Hittite:
35 Which were a grief of mind
unto Isaac and to Rebekah.
1. Esau's foolish marriage--foolish,
some think, in marrying two wives together,
for which perhaps he is called a fornicator
(Hebrews 12:16), or rather in marrying Canaanites,
who were strangers to the blessing of
Abraham, and subject to the curse of Noah,
for which he is called profane; for hereby he
intimated that he neither desired the blessing
nor dreaded the curse of God.
2. The grief
and trouble it created to his tender parents.
(1.) It grieved them that he married without
asking, or at least without taking, their
advice and consent: see whose steps those
children tread in who either contemn or contradict
their parents in disposing of themselves.
(2.) It grieved them that he married
the daughters of Hittites, who had no religion
among them; for Isaac remembered his
father's care concerning him, that he should
by no means marry a Canaanite.
should seem, the wives he married were provoking
in their conduct towards Isaac and
Rebekah; those children have little reason
to expect the blessing of God who do that
which is a grief of mind to their good parents.