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Genesis 26:15-22

Context
26:15 So the Philistines took dirt and filled up 1  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, 2  for you have become much more powerful 3  than we are.” 26:17 So Isaac left there and settled in the Gerar Valley. 4  26:18 Isaac reopened 5  the wells that had been dug 6  back in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up 7  after Abraham died. Isaac 8  gave these wells 9  the same names his father had given them. 10 

26:19 When Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well with fresh flowing 11  water there, 26:20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled 12  with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water belongs to us!” So Isaac 13  named the well 14  Esek 15  because they argued with him about it. 16  26:21 His servants 17  dug another well, but they quarreled over it too, so Isaac named it 18  Sitnah. 19  26:22 Then he moved away from there and dug another well. They did not quarrel over it, so Isaac 20  named it 21  Rehoboth, 22  saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we will prosper in the land.”

1 tn Heb “and the Philistines stopped them up and filled them with dirt.”

2 tn Heb “Go away from us.”

3 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).

4 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 Lord, for the men of the region knew this too, but did not have the same results.

5 tn Heb “he returned and dug,” meaning “he dug again” or “he reopened.”

6 tn Heb “that they dug.” Since the subject is indefinite, the verb is translated as passive.

7 tn Heb “and the Philistines had stopped them up.” This clause explains why Isaac had to reopen them.

8 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the wells) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 tn Heb “called names to them according to the names that his father called them.”

11 tn Heb “living.” This expression refers to a well supplied by subterranean streams (see Song 4:15).

12 tn The Hebrew verb translated “quarreled” describes a conflict that often has legal ramifications.

13 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

14 tn Heb “and he called the name of the well.”

15 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.”

16 tn The words “about it” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

17 tn Heb “they”; the referent (Isaac’s servants) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

18 tn Heb “and he called its name.” The referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

19 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.

20 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

21 tn Heb “and he called its name.”

22 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.



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