- Locate the passage
Isaac settled in Gerar and the Lord blessed him. Like his father before him, the people of the land became threatened by his blessing. The passage records three responses of the people of Gerar. The king asked him to leave their territory, the people contended with him, and, finally, the king offered to make a treaty with him.
The passage is narrative. It records the conversations between the king to Isaac, the Lord and Isaac, and Isaac and the king.
- Determine the structure of the passage
26:13-16 – Threatened by blessing
26:17-22 – The Lord has made room for us
26:23-25 – A covenant with the King
26:26-33 – A covenant with the king
- Exegete the passage
This passage reveals more parallels between the Isaac and Abraham accounts. The recognition of Divine blessing (cf. 21:22), the quarreling over wells (cf. 21:25-30), the covenant with the king of Gerar (cf. 21:31-32), and calling on the name of the Lord at Beersheba (cf. 21:33).
26:13-15 – The man began “to prosper” and continued “prospering”
- The Hb. “gadal” literally means “was great” and occurs 3X in the verse
- The repetition and addition of the modifier “ma od” or “very” indicates the significance of his blessing
- Thus, verse 16 – “you are much greater than us.”
- The people of the land responded to Isaac’s prosperity by becoming envious and took measures to cut off Isaac’s supply of water to provide for his flocks and herds.
26:16 – Go away from us
- This instruction contrasts the king of Gerar’s offer to Abraham in 20:15 – “my land is before you, dwell where it pleases you.”
- It also puts in conflict with God’s instructions to Isaac to “dwell in this land” (26:3).
26:17-21 – Isaac listened to the king and left the area, but not the land of Gerar (since God told him to dwell there).
- He re-dug the well that the people stopped, but the people quarreled with him over the wells. Despite that Abraham dug them first and he re-dug them, the people of the land claimed ownership of the water (similar to claiming mineral rights of the land).
- Isaac, instead of contending with the people, kept moving until he found a place where the people did not quarrel with him over the water rights.
26:22 – The Lord has made room for us
- This passage reflects the joy over securing a place that is not contested by the people of the land.
- The uncontested well is named, “Rehoboth,” which means, “wide spaces;” or “spacious.”
26:23 – The going to the land of Beersheba does not constitute Isaac leaving the land that he just recognized God gave him, but demonstrates his familiarity with the similarity of his life with that of his father and he returns to the place where he father “called on the name of the Lord.”
26:24 – The Lord appeared to him
- See note above on 26:2
- The theophany here reminds Isaac who the Lord is, instructs him not to fear, reminds him of the Lord’s presence with him, and reaffirms His blessing of Isaac.
26:25 – “Called on the name of the Lord”
- The exact same phrase is used here as in Gen. 21:33 (cf. Ex. 34:5)
- וַיִּ֙קְרָא־שָׁ֔ם בְּשֵׁ֥ם יְהוָ֖ה
- “and there, he called on the name of the Lord”
26:26-29 – Since asking Isaac to leave their area and the efforts to stop their water supply did not work to diminish God’s blessing of Isaac, Abimelech offers to make a covenant with Isaac.
- Isaac expresses his surprise at Abimelech’s presence reminding the king that “you hate me and have sent me away from you.”
- Abimelech has already acknowledged that Isaac is “much mightier” than he, so his explanation of mutual protection seems self-interested.
- The recognition of Divine blessing (26:28) echo’s the king of Gerar’s recognition of Divine blessing on Abraham (21:22).
26:30-33 – The discovery of another productive well in another indication of the Lord’s blessing on Isaac.
- The naming of the well, “Beersheba” (see note above on 21:31) presents a double meaning for this well. It can mean “well of seven” (perhaps from the seven animals sacrificed in 21:31) or “well of oath” (reflecting both passages). Perhaps the double entendre is intended to reflect both events.
- Let the structure of the text drive the sermon
- God keeps His promises
- The Lord has made room for us
- Both Abimelech and Isaac recognized where his blessings came from
- Fulfilling God’s mandate (Gen. 1:28)
- “We will be fruitful” (26:22)
- “I will … multiply your descendants”
- Others may not celebrate God’s blessing on your life
- Well-fighting instead of well-wishing
- When the opposition comes, keep digging wells
- Isaac responded to God’s blessings with faithfulness
- He listened to the Lord (26:3), even though others tempted him to disobey
- He recognized where his blessings came from (26:22)
- He remembered God’s blessings on his family (26:23, 33)
- He worshiped the Lord (26:25)
- How do I respond to God’s blessings on others?
- Am I going to listen to others or the Lord?
- Do others see God’s blessings on my life?
- When God blesses me, do I bless Him?