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Genesis 26:7-11

Context

26:7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he replied, “She is my sister.” 1  He was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” for he thought to himself, 2  “The men of this place will kill me to get 3  Rebekah because she is very beautiful.”

26:8 After Isaac 4  had been there a long time, 5  Abimelech king of the Philistines happened to look out a window and observed 6  Isaac caressing 7  his wife Rebekah. 26:9 So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, “She is really 8  your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac replied, “Because I thought someone might kill me to get her.” 9 

26:10 Then Abimelech exclaimed, “What in the world have you done to us? 10  One of the men 11  might easily have had sexual relations with 12  your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us!” 26:11 So Abimelech commanded all the people, “Whoever touches 13  this man or his wife will surely be put to death.” 14 

1 sn Rebekah, unlike Sarah, was not actually her husband’s sister.

2 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.

3 tn Heb “kill me on account of.”

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

5 tn Heb “and it happened when the days were long to him there.”

6 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.

7 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.

8 tn Heb “Surely, look!” See N. H. Snaith, “The meaning of Hebrew ‘ak,” VT 14 (1964): 221-25.

9 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).

10 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).

11 tn Heb “people.”

12 tn The Hebrew verb means “to lie down.” Here the expression “lie with” or “sleep with” is euphemistic for “have sexual relations with.”

13 tn Heb “strikes.” Here the verb has the nuance “to harm in any way.” It would include assaulting the woman or killing the man.

14 tn The use of the infinitive absolute before the imperfect makes the construction emphatic.



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