Genesis 26:2
And the LORD appeared to him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell you of:
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(2) The Lord appeared unto him.—Only once besides does Jehovah manifest himself to Isaac (Genesis 26:24), and sixty years had now passed since the revelations recorded in Genesis 22. Excepting to Abraham, it was only at rare and distant intervals that God spake to the patriarchs. The greater part of their lives was spent under the control of the same ordinary Providence as that which governs our actions now; but on special occasions God was pleased to confirm their faith in Him in a way not necessary now that we have had made known to us the whole counsel of God.

Genesis 26:2. Go not down into Egypt — Whither, it is likely, Isaac had intended to go, it being a very fruitful country, and he being encouraged to go thither by his father’s example, on a similar occasion. No doubt God had wise reasons for prohibiting his going; but as he has not been pleased to acquaint us with them, to spend time in conjecturing what they were, would be giving ourselves trouble to no purpose.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.Isaac is now the heir, and therefore the holder, of the promise. Hence, the Lord enters into communication with him. First, the present difficulty is met. "Go not down into Mizraim," the land of corn, even when other lands were barren. "Dwell in the land of which I shall tell thee." This reminds us of the message to Abraham Genesis 12:1. The land here spoken of refers to "all these lands" mentioned in the following verses. "Sojourn in this land:" turn aside for the present, and take up thy temporary abode here. Next, the promise to Abraham is renewed with some variety of expression. "I will be with thee" Genesis 21:22, a notable and comprehensive promise, afterward embodied in the name Immanuel, "God with us. Unto thee and unto thy seed." This was fulfilled to his seed in due time. All these lands, now parcelled out among several tribes. "And blessed in thy seed" Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:18.

This is the great, universal promise to the whole human race through the seed of Abraham, twice explicitly announced to that patriarch. "All the nations." In constancy of purpose the Lord contemplates, even in the special covenant with Abraham, the gathering in of the nations under the covenant with Noah and with Adam Genesis 9:9; Hosea 6:7. "Because Abraham hearkened to my voice," in all the great moments of his life, especially in the last act of proceeding on the divine command to offer Isaac himself. Abraham, by the faith which flows from the new birth, was united with the Lord, his shield and exceeding great reward Genesis 15:1, with God Almighty, who quickened and strengthened him to walk before him and be perfect Genesis 17:1. The Lord his righteousness worketh in him, and his merit is reflected and reproduced in him Genesis 22:16, Genesis 22:18. Hence, the Lord reminds Isaac of the oath which he had heard at least fifty years before confirming the promise, and of the declaration then made that this oath of confirmation was sworn because Abraham had obeyed the voice of God. How deeply these words would penetrate into the soul of Isaac, the intended victim of that solemn day! But Abraham's obedience was displayed in all the acts of his new life. He kept the charge of God, the special commission he had given him; his commandments, his express or occasional orders; his statutes, his stated prescriptions, graven on stone; his laws, the great doctrines of moral obligation. This is that unreserved obedience which flows from a living faith, and withstands the temptations of the flesh.


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).

To Egypt it seems Isaac intended to go, it being a very fruitful place, and being encouraged to do so by his father’s example upon the same occasion. But God saw good reasons to forbid Isaac to go thither, which it is needless to inquire, and not difficult to conjecture. And the Lord appeared unto him,.... In a vision or dream, when he was at Gerar:

and said, go not down into Egypt; as his father had done in the like case, and where Isaac thought to have gone, and the rather, as that was a fruitful country; and so the Targum of Jonathan,"and it was in the heart of Isaac to go down into Egypt, and the Lord appeared unto him, &c.''and charged him not to go thither; partly to try his faith in him, and dependence on his providence for support in this time of famine, and partly lest he should think of continuing there, and be unmindful of the promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham's seed:

dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of; even the land of Canaan, which he was now about to give him on account of the promise of it to Abraham and his seed, and to renew it to him and to his seed.

And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, {b} Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:

(b) God's providence always watches to direct the ways of his children.

2. appeared] The promises here made to Isaac are, for the most part, reiterated from Genesis 12:2-3, Genesis 15:5, Genesis 17:6-8, Genesis 22:15-18.

which I shall tell thee of] Cf. the similar phrase in Genesis 12:1, Genesis 22:2.Verse 2. - And the Lord (Jehovah, i.e. the God of the covenant and of the promise) appeared unto him, - only two Divine manifestations are mentioned as having been granted to the patriarch. Either the peaceful tenor of Isaac s life rendered more theophanies in his case unnecessary; or, if others were enjoyed by him, the brief space allotted by the historian to the record of his life may account for their omission from the narrative. Though commonly understood as having occurred in Gerar (Keil, Lange, Murphy), this appearance, is perhaps better regarded as having taken place at Lahai-roi, and as having been the cause of Isaac's turning aside into the land of the Philistines (Calvin) - and said, Go not down into Egypt - whither manifestly he had been purposing to migrate, as his father had done on the occasion of the earlier dearth (Genesis 12:10). Jacob in the later famine was instructed to go down to Egypt (Genesis 46:3, 4); Abraham in the first scarcity was left at liberty to think and act for himself. Dwell in the land which I will tell thee of (i.e. Philistia, as appears from the preceding verse). 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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