Genesis 26:1
And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines to Gerar.
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(1) Isaac went . . . unto Gerar.—Following the stream of Semitic migration (Genesis 12:15), Isaac had originally purposed going to Egypt, but is commanded by God to abide in the land, and upon so doing he receives the assurance that he will be confirmed in the inheritance of the promises made to his father. Isaac was now dwelling at the well Lahai-Roi, and though the exact site of this place is unknown, yet it lay too far to the south for Isaac to have gone to Gerar on his direct way to Egypt.

26:1-5 Isaac had been trained up in a believing dependence upon the Divine grant of the land of Canaan to him and his heirs; and now that there is a famine in the land, Isaac still cleaves to the covenant. The real worth of God's promises cannot be lessened to a believer by any cross providences that may befall him. If God engage to be with us, and we are where he would have us to be, nothing but our own unbelief and distrust can prevent our comfort. The obedience of Abraham to the Divine command, was evidence of that faith, whereby, as a sinner, he was justified before God, and the effect of that love whereby true faith works. God testifies that he approved this obedience, to encourage others, especially Isaac. - The Events of Isaac's Life

5. משׁמרת mı̂shmeret, "charge, ordinance." מציה mı̂tsvâh, "command," special order. חק choq, "decree, statute," engraven on stone or metal. תירה tôrâh, "law," doctrine, system of moral truth.

10. עשׂק ‛êśeq, 'Eseq, "strife."

21. שׂטנה śı̂ṭnâh, Sitnah, "opposition."

22. רחבית rechobôt, Rechoboth, "room."

26. אחזת 'ǎchuzat, Achuzzath, "possession."

33. שׁבעה shı̂b‛âh, Shib'ah, "seven; oath."

34. יהוּדית yehûdı̂yt, Jehudith, "praised." בארי be'ērı̂y, Beeri, "of a well." בשׂמת bāśemat, Basemath, "sweet smell." אילן 'êylon, Elon, "oak."

This chapter presents the leading events in the quiet life of Isaac. It is probable that Abraham was now dead. In that case, Esau and Jacob would be at least fifteen years of age when the following event occurred.

Genesis 26:1-5

Renewal of the promise to Isaac. "A famine in the land." We left Isaac, after the death of Abraham, at Beer-lahai-roi Genesis 25:11. The preceding events have only brought us up to the same point of time. This well was in the land of the south Genesis 24:62. The present famine is distinguished from what occurred in the time of Abraham Genesis 12:10. The interval between them is at least a hundred years. The author of this, the ninth document, is, we find, acquainted with the seventh document; and the famine to which he refers is among the earliest events recorded in it. There is no reason to doubt, then, that he has the whole history of Abraham before his mind. "Unto Abimelek unto Gerar." The Abimelek with whom Abraham had contact about eighty years before may have been the father of the present sovereign. Both Abimelek and Phikol seem to have been official names. Gerar Genesis 10:19 was apparently on the brook of Mizraim Numbers 34:5, the Wady el-Arish, or the Wady el-Khubarah, a northern affluent of the former, or in the interval between them. It is on the way to Egypt, and is the southern city of the Philistines, who probably came from Egypt Genesis 10:14. Isaac was drawing toward Egypt, when he came to Gerar.


Ge 26:1-35. Sojourn in Gerar.

1. And there was a famine in the land … And Isaac went unto … Gerar—The pressure of famine in Canaan forced Isaac with his family and flocks to migrate into the land of the Philistines, where he was exposed to personal danger, as his father had been on account of his wife's beauty; but through the seasonable interposition of Providence, he was preserved (Ps 105:14, 15).A famine in the land; Isaac goes to Gerar, Genesis 26:1. God directs him to abide there, and promises to be with him: the covenant with Abraham also made with Isaac, Genesis 26:2-5. Through fear he denies Rebekah, Genesis 26:7. Abimelech, seeing Isaac and Rebekah together, concludes her to be his wife; charges him with it; he confesses it, Genesis 26:8,9. Abimelech reproves him, charging his people not to touch them on pain of death, Genesis 26:10,11. Isaac blessed with great plenty, Genesis 26:12-14. The Philistines envy him; stop his wells, Genesis 26:15; desire him to depart, Genesis 26:16. He removes to the valley of Gerar, Genesis 26:17. There he digs wells, but the herdsmen strive with him about them, Genesis 26:18-21. He hath rest, Genesis 26:22; removes to Beer-sheba, Genesis 26:23. The Lord renews his covenant, Genesis 26:24. He calls on the name of the Lord, Genesis 26:25. Abimelech, convinced that the Lord was with Isaac, desires to make a covenant with him, Genesis 26:26-29. They make a feast, and swear to one another, Genesis 26:30,31. Esau being forty years old, taketh to him wives of the Canaanites, Genesis 26:34. Isaac and Rebekah grieved hereat, Genesis 26:35.

cir 1804 Abimelech is not he mentioned Genesis 20:2, but most probably his son and successor, called by his father’s name.

And there was a famine in the land,.... In the land of Canaan, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it:

besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham; of which see Genesis 12:10; which was an hundred years before this:

and Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines, unto Gerar; where his father Abraham had sojourned before he was born; and therefore the present king of this place can scarce be thought to be the same Abimelech that was king of it in Abraham's time; but it is highly probable that this Abimelech was the son of the former king, and that this was a common name to the kings of Gerar or the Philistines, as Pharaoh was to the kings of Egypt. Isaac came to this place from Lahairoi, where he had dwelt many years, see Genesis 24:62; which was at or near Beersheba, and was about eight miles from Gerar (a).

(a) Bunting's Travels, p. 70.

And there was a famine in the {a} land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.

(a) In the land of Canaan.

1. beside the first famine] Referring to the famine mentioned in Genesis 12:10. This clause is probably added by the Compiler (R).

Abimelech king of the Philistines] This can hardly be the Abimelech mentioned in Genesis 20:2. Possibly we ought to regard Abimelech as the dynastic name of the Philistine rulers. Strictly speaking, this portion of Palestine having not yet been occupied by the Philistines, their name is here used by a not unnatural anachronism on the part of the Hebrew writer, to whom the Philistines were well known on the S.W. of the Israelite territory1[23]. See notes on Genesis 10:14, Genesis 21:32.

[23] See The Philistines, Their History and Civilization, The Schweich Lectures, 1911, p, 39, by Professor R. A. S. Macalister. (1913.)

Gerar] On the road from Palestine into Egypt: evidently a town of some importance; see Genesis 10:19, Genesis 21:1.Verse 1. - And there was a famine in the land (of Canaan), beside the first (i.e. first recorded) famine that was in the days of Abraham - at least a century previous (vide Genesis 12:10). And Isaac - who, since his father's death, had been residing at Hagar's well in the wilderness of Beersheba (Genesis 25:11) - went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar (cf. Genesis 20:1, 2; Genesis 21:22). Seventy or eighty years having elapsed since Abraham's sojourn in Gerar, it is scarcely probable that this was the monarch who then reigned. The difference in the characters of the two brothers was soon shown in a singular circumstance, which was the turning-point in their lives. Esau returned home one day from the field quite exhausted, and seeing Jacob with a dish of lentils, still a favourite dish in Syria and Egypt, he asked with passionate eagerness for some to eat: "Let me swallow some of that red, that red there;" אדם, the brown-red lentil pottage. From this he received the name Edom, just as among the ancient Arabians persons received names from quite accidental circumstances, which entirely obscured their proper names. Jacob made us of his brother's hunger to get him to sell his birthright. The birthright consisted afterwards in a double portion of the father's inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17); but with the patriarchs it embraced the chieftainship, the rule over the brethren and the entire family (Genesis 27:29), and the title to the blessing of the promise (Genesis 27:4, Genesis 27:27-29), which included the future possession of Canaan and of covenant fellowship with Jehovah (Genesis 28:4). Jacob knew this, and it led him to anticipate the purposes of God. Esau also knew it, but attached no value to it. There is proof enough that he knew he was giving away, along with the birthright, blessings which, because they were not of a material but of a spiritual nature, had no particular value in his estimation, in the words he made use of: "Behold I am going to die (to meet death), and what is the birthright to me?" The only thing of value to him was the sensual enjoyment of the present; the spiritual blessings of the future his carnal mind was unable to estimate. In this he showed himself to be βέβηλος (Hebrews 12:16), a profane man, who cared for nothing but the momentary gratification of sensual desires, who "did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way, and so despised his birthright" (Genesis 25:34). With these words the Scriptures judge and condemn the conduct of Esau. Just as Ishmael was excluded from the promised blessing because he was begotten "according to the flesh," so Esau lost it because his disposition was according to the flesh. The frivolity with which he sold his birthright to his brother for a dish of lentils, rendered him unfit to be the heir and possessor of the promised grace. But this did not justify Jacob's conduct in the matter. Though not condemned here, yet in the further course of the history it is shown to have been wrong, by the simple fact that he did not venture to make this transaction the basis of a claim.
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