26:1 There was a famine in the land, subsequent to the earlier famine that occurred 1 in the days of Abraham. 2 Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines at Gerar. 26:2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; 3 settle down in the land that I will point out to you. 4 26:3 Stay 5 in this land. Then I will be with you and will bless you, 6 for I will give all these lands to you and to your descendants, 7 and I will fulfill 8 the solemn promise I made 9 to your father Abraham. 26:4 I will multiply your descendants so they will be as numerous as the stars in the sky, and I will give them 10 all these lands. All the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another using the name of your descendants. 11 26:5 All this will come to pass 12 because Abraham obeyed me 13 and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” 14 26:6 So Isaac settled in Gerar.
26:7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he replied, “She is my sister.” 15 He was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” for he thought to himself, 16 “The men of this place will kill me to get 17 Rebekah because she is very beautiful.”
26:8 After Isaac 18 had been there a long time, 19 Abimelech king of the Philistines happened to look out a window and observed 20 Isaac caressing 21 his wife Rebekah. 26:9 So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, “She is really 22 your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac replied, “Because I thought someone might kill me to get her.” 23
26:10 Then Abimelech exclaimed, “What in the world have you done to us? 24 One of the men 25 might easily have had sexual relations with 26 your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us!” 26:11 So Abimelech commanded all the people, “Whoever touches 27 this man or his wife will surely be put to death.” 28
26:12 When Isaac planted in that land, he reaped in the same year a hundred times what he had sown, 29 because the Lord blessed him. 30 26:13 The man became wealthy. 31 His influence continued to grow 32 until he became very prominent. 26:14 He had 33 so many sheep 34 and cattle 35 and such a great household of servants that the Philistines became jealous 36 of him. 26:15 So the Philistines took dirt and filled up 37 all the wells that his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham.
26:16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Leave us and go elsewhere, 38 for you have become much more powerful 39 than we are.” 26:17 So Isaac left there and settled in the Gerar Valley. 40 26:18 Isaac reopened 41 the wells that had been dug 42 back in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up 43 after Abraham died. Isaac 44 gave these wells 45 the same names his father had given them. 46
26:19 When Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well with fresh flowing 47 water there, 26:20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled 48 with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water belongs to us!” So Isaac 49 named the well 50 Esek 51 because they argued with him about it. 52 26:21 His servants 53 dug another well, but they quarreled over it too, so Isaac named it 54 Sitnah. 55 26:22 Then he moved away from there and dug another well. They did not quarrel over it, so Isaac 56 named it 57 Rehoboth, 58 saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we will prosper in the land.”
1 tn Heb “in addition to the first famine which was.”
2 sn This account is parallel to two similar stories about Abraham (see Gen 12:10-20; 20:1-18). Many scholars do not believe there were three similar incidents, only one that got borrowed and duplicated. Many regard the account about Isaac as the original, which then was attached to the more important person, Abraham, with supernatural elements being added. For a critique of such an approach, see R. Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 47-62. It is more likely that the story illustrates the proverb “like father, like son” (see T. W. Mann, The Book of the Torah, 53). In typical human fashion the son follows his father’s example of lying to avoid problems. The appearance of similar events reported in a similar way underscores the fact that the blessing has now passed to Isaac, even if he fails as his father did.
4 tn Heb “say to you.”
5 tn The Hebrew verb גּוּר (gur) means “to live temporarily without ownership of land.” Abraham’s family will not actually possess the land of Canaan until the Israelite conquest hundreds of years later.
6 tn After the imperative “stay” the two prefixed verb forms with prefixed conjunction here indicate consequence.
sn I will be with you and I will bless you. The promise of divine presence is a promise to intervene to protect and to bless.
sn To you and to your descendants. The Abrahamic blessing will pass to Isaac. Everything included in that blessing will now belong to the son, and in turn will be passed on to his sons. But there is a contingency involved: If they are to enjoy the full blessings, they will have to obey the word of the
8 tn The Hiphil stem of the verb קוּם (qum) here means “to fulfill, to bring to realization.” For other examples of this use of this verb form, see Lev 26:9; Num 23:19; Deut 8:18; 9:5; 1 Sam 1:23; 1 Kgs 6:12; Jer 11:5.
9 tn Heb “the oath which I swore.”
sn The solemn promise I made. See Gen 15:18-20; 22:16-18.
10 tn Heb “your descendants.”
11 tn Traditionally the verb is taken as passive (“will be blessed”) here, as if Abraham’s descendants were going to be a channel or source of blessing to the nations. But the Hitpael is better understood here as reflexive/reciprocal, “will bless [i.e., pronounce blessings on] themselves/one another” (see also Gen 22:18). Elsewhere the Hitpael of the verb “to bless” is used with a reflexive/reciprocal sense in Deut 29:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 65:16; Jer 4:2. Gen 12:2 predicts that Abram will be held up as a paradigm of divine blessing and that people will use his name in their blessing formulae. For examples of blessing formulae utilizing an individual as an example of blessing see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11. Earlier formulations of this promise (see Gen 12:2; 18:18) use the Niphal stem. (See also Gen 28:14.)
12 tn The words “All this will come to pass” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied for stylistic reasons.
13 tn Heb “listened to my voice.”
14 sn My charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. The language of this verse is clearly interpretive, for Abraham did not have all these laws. The terms are legal designations for sections of the Mosaic law and presuppose the existence of the law. Some Rabbinic views actually conclude that Abraham had fulfilled the whole law before it was given (see m. Qiddushin 4:14). Some scholars argue that this story could only have been written after the law was given (C. Westermann, Genesis, 2:424-25). But the simplest explanation is that the narrator (traditionally taken to be Moses the Lawgiver) elaborated on the simple report of Abraham’s obedience by using terms with which the Israelites were familiar. In this way he depicts Abraham as the model of obedience to God’s commands, whose example Israel should follow.
15 sn Rebekah, unlike Sarah, was not actually her husband’s sister.
16 tn Heb “lest.” The words “for he thought to himself” are supplied because the next clause is written with a first person pronoun, showing that Isaac was saying or thinking this.
17 tn Heb “kill me on account of.”
18 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
19 tn Heb “and it happened when the days were long to him there.”
20 tn Heb “look, Isaac.” By the use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”), the narrator invites the audience to view the scene through Abimelech’s eyes.
21 tn Or “fondling.”
sn The Hebrew word מְצַחֵק (mÿtsakheq), from the root צָחַק (tsakhaq, “laugh”), forms a sound play with the name “Isaac” right before it. Here it depicts an action, probably caressing or fondling, that indicated immediately that Rebekah was Isaac’s wife, not his sister. Isaac’s deception made a mockery of God’s covenantal promise. Ignoring God’s promise to protect and bless him, Isaac lied to protect himself and acted in bad faith to the men of Gerar.
22 tn Heb “Surely, look!” See N. H. Snaith, “The meaning of Hebrew ‘ak,” VT 14 (1964): 221-25.
23 tn Heb “Because I said, ‘Lest I die on account of her.’” Since the verb “said” probably means “said to myself” (i.e., “thought”) here, the direct discourse in the Hebrew statement has been converted to indirect discourse in the translation. In addition the simple prepositional phrase “on account of her” has been clarified in the translation as “to get her” (cf. v. 7).
24 tn Heb “What is this you have done to us?” The Hebrew demonstrative pronoun “this” adds emphasis: “What in the world have you done to us?” (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118).
25 tn Heb “people.”
26 tn The Hebrew verb means “to lie down.” Here the expression “lie with” or “sleep with” is euphemistic for “have sexual relations with.”
27 tn Heb “strikes.” Here the verb has the nuance “to harm in any way.” It would include assaulting the woman or killing the man.
28 tn The use of the infinitive absolute before the imperfect makes the construction emphatic.
29 tn Heb “a hundredfold.”
30 tn This final clause explains why Isaac had such a bountiful harvest.
31 tn Heb “great.” In this context the statement refers primarily to Isaac’s material wealth, although reputation and influence are included.
32 tn Heb “and he went, going and becoming great.” The construction stresses that his growth in possessions and power continued steadily.
33 tn Heb “and there was to him.”
34 tn Heb “possessions of sheep.”
35 tn Heb “possessions of cattle.”
37 tn Heb “and the Philistines stopped them up and filled them with dirt.”
38 tn Heb “Go away from us.”
39 sn You have become much more powerful. This explanation for the expulsion of Isaac from Philistine territory foreshadows the words used later by the Egyptians to justify their oppression of Israel (see Exod 1:9).
40 tn Heb “and he camped in the valley of Gerar and he lived there.”
sn This valley was actually a wadi (a dry river bed where the water would flow in the rainy season, but this would have been rare in the Negev). The water table under it would have been higher than in the desert because of water soaking in during the torrents, making it easier to find water when digging wells. However, this does not minimize the blessing of the
41 tn Heb “he returned and dug,” meaning “he dug again” or “he reopened.”
42 tn Heb “that they dug.” Since the subject is indefinite, the verb is translated as passive.
43 tn Heb “and the Philistines had stopped them up.” This clause explains why Isaac had to reopen them.
44 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
45 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the wells) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
46 tn Heb “called names to them according to the names that his father called them.”
48 tn The Hebrew verb translated “quarreled” describes a conflict that often has legal ramifications.
49 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
50 tn Heb “and he called the name of the well.”
51 sn The name Esek means “argument” in Hebrew. The following causal clause explains that Isaac gave the well this name as a reminder of the conflict its discovery had created. In the Hebrew text there is a wordplay, for the name is derived from the verb translated “argued.”
52 tn The words “about it” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
53 tn Heb “they”; the referent (Isaac’s servants) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
54 tn Heb “and he called its name.” The referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
55 sn The name Sitnah (שִׂטְנָה, sitnah) is derived from a Hebrew verbal root meaning “to oppose; to be an adversary” (cf. Job 1:6). The name was a reminder that the digging of this well caused “opposition” from the Philistines.
56 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
57 tn Heb “and he called its name.”
58 sn The name Rehoboth (רְהֹבוֹת, rehovot) is derived from a verbal root meaning “to make room.” The name was a reminder that God had made room for them. The story shows Isaac’s patience with the opposition; it also shows how God’s blessing outdistanced the men of Gerar. They could not stop it or seize it any longer.