Genesis 26:18
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.
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(18-22) Isaac digged again the wells . . . —This activity of Isaac called forth anew the opposition of the Philistines, His first well was in the wady of Gerar, and was the more valuable because it was not the mere remains of the water of the torrent, but was fed by a spring, as we learn from its being called “a well of living water.” But though Isaac had a right to these wells by reason of the old covenant between his father and the king, yet when his claim was resisted he abandoned the well, but in token of displeasure called it Esek, contention. When compelled to resign his next well he called it by a harsher name—Sitnah, enmity; for their opposition was developing into bitter persecution. And now, wearied with the strife, he withdrew far away, and the Philistines, having gained their end, followed him no farther. In quiet, therefore, he again dug a well, and called it Rehoboth, wide open spaces. It has been identified with one in the wady Ruhaibeh now stopped up, but originally twelve feet in diameter and cased with hewn stone. It lies to the south of Beer-sheba, at a distance of 8⅓ leagues, and about forty miles; away from Gerar.

26:18-25 Isaac met with much opposition in digging wells. Two were called Contention and Hatred. See the nature of worldly things; they make quarrels, and are occasions of strife; and what is often the lot of the most quiet and peaceable; those who avoid striving, yet cannot avoid being striven with. And what a mercy it is to have plenty of water; to have it without striving for it! The more common this mercy is, the more reason to be thankful for it. At length Isaac digged a well, for which they strove not. Those that study to be quiet, seldom fail of being so. When men are false and unkind, still God is faithful and gracious; and his time to show himself so is, when we are most disappointed by men. The same night that Isaac came weary and uneasy to Beer-sheba, God brought comforts to his soul. Those may remove with comfort who are sure of God's presence.Isaac retires, and sets about the digging of wells. He retreats from Gerar and its suburbs, and takes up his abode in the valley, or wady of Gerar. These wadys are the hollows in which brooks flow, and therefore the well-watered and fertile parts of the country. He digs again the old wells, and calls them by the old names. He commences the digging of new ones. For the first the herdmen of Gerar strive, claiming the water as their property. Isaac yields. He digs another; they strive, and he again yields. He now removes apparently into a distinct region, and digs a third well, for which there is no contest. This he calls Rehoboth, "room" - a name which appears to be preserved in Wady er-Ruhaibeh, near which is Wady esh-Shutein, corresponding to Sitnah. "For now the Lord hath made room for us." Isaac's homely realizing faith in a present and presiding Lord here comes out.18-22. Isaac digged again the wells of water—The naming of wells by Abraham, and the hereditary right of his family to the property, the change of the names by the Philistines to obliterate the traces of their origin, the restoration of the names by Isaac, and the contests between the respective shepherds to the exclusive possession of the water, are circumstances that occur among the natives in those regions as frequently in the present day as in the time of Isaac. Though there might be a brook there, probably it was but little, and soon dried up.

And Isaac digged those rather than new ones, partly to keep up his father’s memory, and partly because he had most right to them, and others less cause of quarrel with him about them.

And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father,.... This seems to refer to the same wells made mention of in Genesis 26:15, since it follows:

for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham; these were what Abraham's servants had dug, when he lived at Gerar, and which the Philistines durst not stop during his life; but when he was dead and particularly out of envy to Isaac his son, whom they observed to prosper much, they stopped them up, that he might have no benefit by them; for otherwise they would scarcely have stopped them, if he had not been upon the spot, but would have made use of them themselves. The opening of them again by Isaac seems to be done, as Jarchi observes, before he removed from Gerar to the valley, though it is here related; unless it can be thought that Abraham dwelt in the valley also, and had dug wells there, which the Philistines stopped up after his death, and Isaac opened when he came there; and if so one would think he should have had no occasion to have dug other new wells, as we find he afterwards did; besides, this seems to be out of the jurisdiction of the Philistines, and not in their power to have stopped them here; it seems therefore most probable that these were Abraham's wells at Gerar, and not in the valley. Origen (k) makes mention of wonderful wells being dug in the land of the Philistines by righteous men, meaning Abraham and Isaac; and particularly in Askelon which, according to some, is the same with Gerar; See Gill on Genesis 20:1,

and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them; which he did out of respect to his father, to preserve the memory of his name, as well as to make his title and claim to them the more dear and certain.

(k) Contr. Cels. l. 4. p. 193.

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.
18–22 (J). Isaac’s Wells

18. in the days of Abraham] Instead of “in the days,” Sam., LXX, and Lat. read “the servants,” i.e. “which the servants of Abraham his father had digged.”

Verse 18. - And Isaac digged again - literally, returned and digged, i.e. re-dug (cf. 2 Kings 20:5) - the wells of water, which they (the servants of Abraham) had digged in the days Of Abraham his father; - from which it appears that Abraham had digged other wells besides that of Beersheba (Genesis 21:31) - for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: - which was a violation of the league into which Abimelech had entered with the patriarch (vide Genesis 21:23) - and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them - and with which Isaac was sufficiently acquainted. Genesis 26:18Reopening and Discovery of Wells. - In this valley Isaac dug open the old wells which had existed from Abraham's time, and gave them the old names. His people also dug three new wells. But Abimelech's people raised a contest about two of these; and for this reason Isaac called them Esek and Sitnah, strife and opposition. The third there was no dispute about; and it received in consequence the name Rehoboth, "breadths," for Isaac said, "Yea now (כּי־עתּה, as in Genesis 29:32, etc.) Jehovah has provided for us a broad space, that we may be fruitful (multiply) in the land." This well was probably not in the land of Gerar, as Isaac had removed thence, but in the Wady Ruhaibeh, the name of which is suggestive of Rehoboth, which stands at the point where the two roads from Gaza and Hebron meet, about 3 hours to the south of Elusa, 8 1/3 to the south of Beersheba, and where there are extensive ruins of the city of the same name upon the heights, also the remains of wells (Robinson, Pal. i. 289ff.; Strauss, Sinai and Golgotha); where too the name Sitnah seems to have been retained in the Wady Shutein, with ruins on the northern hills between Ruhaibeh and Khulasa (Elusa).
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