Darby's Bible Synopsis
And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.
Here (chap. 26) Isaac replaces Abraham as heir upon the earth. It is a new revelation, when Isaac is himself in a strange land, like the one made to Abraham at the first; only that Isaac was already in connection with the calling of God, but not in enjoyment of the promise. There was a famine in the land, and Isaac could not dwell in it, and he goes to those who had part of the land in possession, but had no title the future enemies and oppressors of his people. But God appears to him there, and tells him not to return into the world, but to dwell in the land which He should tell him of. He is maintained in the heavenly places, but still as a place of promise, though not now seeking it as unknown, but still as an object of faith. It was a fresh calling under different circumstances (the Lord appearing to him anew), not indeed to journey to a land, but to dwell where He should shew him, and not to seek natural resources (Egypt). He was not to go back, but to live by faith. But the land is also shewn and the promises renewed, both as to Israel, and the nations, and the land. For the moment he was to sojourn in the land where he was, that is, where the Philistines were. Thus the whole land, Philistines and all, was given to him, and he dwelt in Gerar.
This is the position of Isaac; as the first half of chapter 12 is the position of Abraham. From Verse 7 to the end we have his personal walk as to faith, as Abraham's in the latter part of chapter 12; and the settlement of what should be his portion in his posterity according to the faith that he had. He fails like Abraham, and yet more as to energy. He denies his wife, as Abraham had done, and he leaves in the hand of the enemy the wells which Abraham had dug: he had failed in faith in God before Abimelech, and, though God had said to him "Sojourn in this land," he has to recede before the will of Abimelech, then driven from well to well, and has room only where the Philistine has room. In Beersheba he meets with God, where he has pitched his tent, where Abraham had set his bounds with Abimelech when Isaac was born. But Abraham had not received direction as to sojourning in the land, and had reproved Abimelech, whose servants had taken the well and Abimelech had given it up. Abraham had dug all these wells as he needed, as a stranger, and they were not taken away: the only one contended for was Beersheba, and that Abimelech gave up. However Beersheba was, in divine providence, the limit of the land according to the faith of Israel. The Philistines did remain till David came, the representative of Christ. The otherwise heirs of the land possessed it not fully. There the Lord appeared and blessed Isaac: there Israel reposed and worshipped. This chapter is Isaac's history; it answers to Abraham's (chaps. 12, 20).
Esau's ways were as careless, as his thoughts as to the birthright were profane. He marries with the women of the land.
And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
And Isaac dwelt in Gerar:
And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.
And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife.
And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her.
And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us.
And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.
Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.
And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:
For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.
For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.
And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.
And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.
And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.
And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.
And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him.
And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.
And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.
And he went up from thence to Beersheba.
And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake.
And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well.
Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army.
And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?
And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;
That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD.
And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink.
And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.
And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water.
And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.
And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite:
Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.