Genesis  ◦   Chapter 26

1There was another famine in the land, as serious as the famine during Abraham’s life. So Isaac moved to Gerar in the territory of Abimelech king of the Philistines. 2The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go to Egypt, but live where I tell you to stay. 3Stay here in this land for a while, and I will watch over you and bless you. My plan for your descendants – to possess this land and be the avenue for the Messiah – will go forward just as I promised your father Abraham. 4I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your descendant (the promised ’Seed’), the human race – all the peoples of the earth – will be blessed, 5because Abraham trusted me and listened to me, and followed my instructions, and lived in harmony with my methods and principles.” 6So Isaac stayed in Gerar.

7When the men of that place asked him who his wife Rebekah was, he allowed fear and selfishness to dictate his response, and he said, “She is my sister.” He was afraid to speak the truth and say, “She is my wife,” thinking the men of that place would kill him and take Rebekah, because she was incredibly beautiful.

8One day, after Isaac had lived in the area a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out his window and saw Isaac romantically caressing his wife Rebekah. 9Immediately, Abimelech summoned Isaac to appear before him and said, “The truth has come out – she is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”

Isaac answered him, “Because I was afraid for myself – afraid that someone would kill me and take her, because she is so beautiful.”

10Then Abimelech exclaimed, “Don’t you realize what you did to us? You put us at terrible risk. One of my men might have taken your wife and had sex with her, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”

11So Abimelech ordered his people, “Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be put to death.”

12The Lord blessed Isaac; that year, Isaac planted crops in the land and reaped one-hundredfold in return, 13and then continued to prosper and became very wealthy. 14He had so many flocks, herds and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him, 15and all the wells his father Abraham’s servants had dug, they filled with dirt.

16So Abimelech instructed Isaac, “It’s time for you to move away from us, as you have outgrown us and become too numerous for us.”

17So Isaac moved from there and set up his tents in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18Isaac reopened the wells his father Abraham had dug but which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. He gave the wells the same names Abraham had given them.

19Later, Isaac’s servants were digging in the valley, when they discovered a freshwater spring. 20But the local herdsmen argued with Isaac’s servants, claiming the water was theirs. So he named the well Esek (which means ‘argument’), because they argued with him over it. 21But Isaac trusted God and moved on and dug another well, but they opposed him over that one also; so he named it Sitnah (which means ‘opposition’). 22Again he trusted God and moved on and dug another well, and no one quarreled with him over it. He named it Rehoboth (which means ’to make room’), saying, “The Lord has made room for us and we will prosper here.”

23He traveled to Beersheba, 24and while there, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not live in fear, for I am with you; I will bless you and increase your descendants in fulfillment of the promise to save humanity, that I made to my faithful servant Abraham.”

25Isaac built an altar there and proclaimed God’s character of love. He moved his family there and had his servants dig a well there.

26Now Abimilech, along with his advisor Ahuzzath and his military commander Phicol, had come from Gerar to see Isaac. 27Isaac was a little surprised, and said, “Why have you come to see me? When you sent me away, you made it clear that you don’t like me and don’t want me around.”

28They answered, “We have plainly seen how the Lord blesses you; so we said, ‘we need a formal agreement between us’ – between us and you. So, make a treaty with us 29that you will not harm us, just as we have not harmed you but always treated you well and sent you away in peace. For we see that you are blessed by the Lord.”

30 Isaac held a formal feast and ate and drank with them to celebrate their agreement. 31Early the next morning, each man made a vow to not harm the other’s interests. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace.

32Later the same day, Isaac’s servants told him that they had dug another well. They said, “We have found water!” 33Isaac called the well Shibah (which means ‘oath'), just like the town Beersheba that is still there.

34 When Esau was forty years old, he did not consult his parents but married two Hittite women: Judith daughter of Beeri, and Basemath daughter of Elon. 35These women were a source of great heartache to Isaac and Rebekah.