Genesis 26:26
Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army.
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(26) Abimelech went to him.—The return of Isaac to Beer-sheba was a matter of serious importance also to Abimelech. The Philistines were themselves an alien race, and an alliance between Isaac and Ishmael, and others of the Semitic stock, might end in their expulsion from the country. Abraham had also been confederate with the Amorites (Genesis 14:13), and on friendly terms with the Hittites (Genesis 23:6), the two most powerful races of Canaan, and they might be ready to aid his son. When, then, Isaac thus retraced his steps, Abimelech, uncertain of Isaac’s purpose, deter mined to offer peace and friendship, and to propose the renewal of the old covenant which had existed between Abraham and the people of Gerar.

Ahuzzath.—This is one of several points peculiar to this narrative; but it is uncertain whether it be a proper name, or whether, with the Targum and Jerome, we are to understand by it a company, that is, an escort of friends. If it be a proper name, the rendering should be, Ahuzzath, his friend, that is, his confidant and privy counsellor.

Phichol.—See Note on Genesis 21:22.

26:26-33 When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him, Pr 16:7. Kings' hearts are in his hands, and when he pleases, he can turn them to favour his people. It is not wrong to stand upon our guard in dealing with those who have acted unfairly. But Isaac did not insist on the unkindnesses they had done him; he freely entered into friendship with them. Religion teaches us to be neighbourly, and, as much as in us lies, to live peaceable with all men. Providence smiled upon what Isaac did; God blessed his labours.The treaty with Abimelek. This is an interview similar to what Abraham had with the king of Gerar; and its object is a renewal of the former league between the parties. Besides Phikol, the commander-in-chief, he is now accompanied by Ahuzzath, his privy counsellor. Isaac upbraids him with his unkindness in sending him away, and his inconsistency in again seeking a conference with him. "We clearly saw." His prosperity was such as to be a manifest token of the Lord's favor. Hence, they desired the security of a treaty with him by an oath of execration on the transgressor. "Do us no hurt." The covenant is one-sided, as expressed by Abimelek. "As we have not touched thee." This implies the other side of the covenant. "Thou art now blessed of Yahweh." This explains the one-sidedness of the covenant. Isaac needed no guarantee from them, as the Lord was with him. Abimelek is familiar with the use of the name Yahweh. Isaac hospitably entertains and lodges the royal party, and on the morrow, after having sworn to the treaty, parts with them in peace. On the same day Isaac's servants report concerning the well they had digged Genesis 26:25 that they had found water. This well he calls Sheba, "an oath," and hence the town is called Beer-sheba, "the well of the oath." Now the writer was aware that this place had received the same name on a former occasion Genesis 21:31. But a second well has now been dug in like circumstances in the same locality. This gives occasion for a new application of the name in the memories of the people. This is another illustration of the principle explained at Genesis 25:30. Two wells still exist at this place to attest the correctness of the record.26-33. Then Abimelech went to him—As there was a lapse of ninety years between the visit of Abraham and of Isaac, the Abimelech and Phichol spoken of must have been different persons' official titles. Here is another proof of the promise (Ge 12:2) being fulfilled, in an overture of peace being made to him by the king of Gerar. By whatever motive the proposal was dictated—whether fear of his growing power, or regret for the bad usage they had given him, the king and two of his courtiers paid a visit to the tent of Isaac (Pr 16:7). His timid and passive temper had submitted to the annoyances of his rude neighbors; but now that they wish to renew the covenant, he evinces deep feeling at their conduct, and astonishment at their assurance, or artifice, in coming near him. Being, however, of a pacific disposition, Isaac forgave their offense, accepted their proposals, and treated them to the banquet by which the ratification of a covenant was usually crowned. Phichol may be either,

1. The title of an office; for the word signifies, the mouth of all, or he by whom all the people were to present their addresses to the king, and receive the king’s commands. Or,

2. The name of a man; and then this might be the son of him mentioned Genesis 21:32, called by his father’s name, as Abimelech also was. Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar,.... After Isaac was settled at Beersheba, and was still increasing in his family and substance, of which Abimelech very probably was informed; and fearing lest he should resent his being sent out of his country by him, and the ill treatment he met with afterwards from the herdmen of Gerar in the valley about the wells, and should employ his riches and power against him, and fall upon him, and take his kingdom from him, he took a journey from Gerar to Beersheba, to pay Isaac a visit, and make a covenant with him: and

Ahuzzath one of his friends; Jarchi and Jonathan take Ahuzzath for an appellative, and interpret it of a collection or company of his friends, which the king took along with him to attend him in his journey: but it seems rather to be the proper name of a man, who was very intimate and familiar with the king, and always kept him company, and so went along with him to Beersheba:

and Phichol the chief captain of his army; his general, as the other was his principal counsellor or prime minister. There was one of this name, and in the same office, in the days of Abraham, and who attended the then present king, who also was called Abimelech on a like account as here, Genesis 21:22; but as the one affair was at the distance of an hundred years or more from the other, it is probable, that as this Abimelech might be the son of that Abimelech that lived in the times of Abraham, so this Phichol might be the son of him that lived then, and who succeeded his father in his office; though some think that Phichol is the name of an office, and signifies "the mouth of all", by whom the addresses of the people were made to the king; but this is not likely, since he is described by his office as general of the army; which is very different from the master of the ceremonies, or anything of that kind, and plainly shows it to be the name of a man.

Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army.
26–33 (J). Abimelech’s Covenant with Isaac

26. Then Abimelech] The king of Gerar discerns that Isaac’s prosperity can only be explained by the special blessing of Jehovah his God (Genesis 26:29). He deems it wise policy to make terms with so powerful a person. Abimelech is accompanied by his two officers of state.

Ahuzzath his friend] This proper name has a termination like that of the Philistine name “Goliath” (1 Samuel 17:4). The king’s “friend” was probably his chief favourite and councillor; cf. 2 Samuel 15:37; 1 Kings 4:5; 1 Chronicles 27:33. The LXX strangely renders by νυμφαγωγός, “the friend of the bridegroom” (cf. Jdg 14:11; Jdg 14:20; Jdg 15:2; Jdg 15:6), i.e. “the intimate friend.”

Phicol] See Genesis 21:22. Possibly also a Philistine name. Phicol represented the army, Ahuzzath the court.Verse 26. - Then (literally, and) Abimelech went to him from Gerar, - the object of this visit was to resuscitate the alliance which had formerly existed between the predecessor of Abimelech and Abraham (Genesis 21:22-32); yet the dissimilarity between the two accounts is so great as to discredit the hypothesis that the present is only another version of the earlier transaction - and Ahuzzath one of his friends, - מֵרֵעֵהוּ; neither ὁ νυμφαγωγὸς αὐτοῦ (LXX.), nor a suite or number of his friends (Onkelos), nor one of his friends (A.V.); but his friend, and probably his privy councilor (Keil, Kalisch, Murphy), whose presence along with the monarch and his general marks the first point of difference between the present and the former incident - and Phichol (vide Genesis 21:22) the chief captain of his army. Reopening 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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