Genesis 26:7
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.
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(7) He said, She is my sister.—We have already seen that Abraham at Gerar showed no consciousness of having done wrong in denying his wife (Genesis 20:2); and we now find Isaac imitating his example with even less reason for his conduct. The circumstances are, however, different. It is the people who inquire about Isaac’s relation to Rebekah, and though she was “fair to look upon,” yet no annoyance followed upon his denial of her. The king after “a long time” detects their intimacy; but there are no presents, and no marks of respect to Rebekah, and no friendship. It is only after long quarrels, during which Isaac is obliged to withdraw to a long distance from Gerar, that finally peace is made between them.

Genesis 26:7. She is my sister — So Isaac enters into the same temptation that his father had been once and again surprised and overcome by, namely, to deny his wife, and to give out that she was his sister! It is an unaccountable thing, that both these great and good men should be guilty of so odd a piece of dissimulation, by which they so much exposed both their own and their wives’ reputation.

26:6-11 There is nothing in Isaac's denial of his wife to be imitated, nor even excused. The temptation of Isaac is the same as that which overcame his father, and that in two instances. This rendered his conduct the greater sin. The falls of those who are gone before us are so many rocks on which others have split; and the recording of them is like placing buoys to save future mariners. This Abimelech was not the same that lived in Abraham's days, but both acted rightly. The sins of professors shame them before those that are not themselves religious.Rebekah preserved from dishonor in Gerar. Gerar was probably a commercial town trading with Egypt, and therefore Isaac's needs during the famine are here supplied. "The men of the place" were struck with the appearance of Rebekah, "because she was fair." Isaac, in answer to their inquiries, pretends that she is his sister, feeling that his life was in peril, if she was known to be his wife. Rebekah was at this time not less than thirty-five years married, and had two sons upwards of fifteen years old. She was still however in the prime of life, and her sons were probably engaged in pastoral and other field pursuits. From the compact between Abraham and Sarah Genesis 20:13, and from this case of Isaac about eighty years after, it appears that this was a ready pretence with married people among strangers in those times of social insecurity.CHAPTER 26

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).

No text from Poole on this verse.

And the men of the place asked him of his wife,.... The inhabitants of Gerar inquired of Isaac who she was, whether she was his wife or not, or in what relation she stood in to him; this was not a mere civil inquiry, but what arose from the prevalence of lust in them towards her; and yet it was under some restraint, they being not so abandoned to their lusts as to exercise them upon any; not upon a man's wife, the sin of adultery being detestable to them, though that of fornication was made no account of by them:

and he said, she is my sister; herein imitating his father Abraham in his infirmity and unbelief, who in the same place had made such an answer to a like question concerning Sarah, Genesis 20:1; and which if Isaac knew of, as probably he did, one would wonder that he should fall into the same evil, and especially when he had not so much to say to support his assertion as Abraham had; for Rebekah was not so near akin to him as Sarah was to Abraham; and though cousins might be called sisters, yet this was mere dissimulation to call his wife sister, and was done with an intention to deceive, and therefore not justifiable:

for he feared to say, she is my wife; which was the real truth; but the fear of men, which brings a snare, led him to this, and from which good men are not always free:

lest, said he, that is, within himself, in his own mind; and so the Targum of Jonathan, he thought in his heart:

the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; that they might marry her, one or other of them; for, it seems, they had not so great a sense of the sin of murder, as of adultery:

because she was fair to look upon; which he feared would be a temptation to them, and stir up their impure desires after her, in order to gratify which he was afraid they would kill him; Rebekah retaining her beauty still, though she had been married in all probability forty years or more, see Genesis 24:16.

And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: {d} 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.

(d) By which we see that fear and distrust is found in the most faithful.

7. my sister] See Genesis 12:12-13, Genesis 20:5.

7–11 (J). Isaac and Rebekah at the Court of Abimelech

In this narrative Isaac from motives of fear tells the inhabitants of Gerar that Rebekah is his sister. The resemblance to the similar narratives in the story of Abraham (1) in Egypt, Genesis 12:13, (2) at Gerar, chap. 20, is obvious.

The plea of the relationship of a half-sister could be made for Sarah, but not for Rebekah. The same story was repeated in slightly different versions. It commemorated (a) the moral weakness of the patriarch, and (b) the protection which was accorded by Jehovah to the ancestors of the Israelite people. Contact with civilization brought perils no less real than the solitary life of the nomad.

Verse 7. - And the men of the place (i.e. the inhabitants of Gerar) asked him (literally, asked, or made inquiries; probably first at each other, though ultimately the interrogations might reach Isaac himself) of his wife (being in all likelihood fascinated by her beauty); and he said, - falling into the same infirmity as Abraham (Genesis 12:13; Genesis 20:2) - She is my sister: - which was certainly an equivocation, since, although sometimes used to designate a female relative generally (vide Genesis 24:60), the term "sister" was here designed to suggest that Rebekah was his own sister, born of the same parents. In propagating this deception Isaac appears to have been actuated by a similar motive to that which impelled his father - for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he (sc. to himself, the words describing the good man's secret apprehensions), the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; - the historian adding, as the explanation of his fears - because she was fair to look upon (vide Genesis 24:16). Genesis 26:7Protection of Rebekah at Gerar. - As Abraham had declared his wife to be his sister both in Egypt and at Gerar, so did Isaac also in the latter place. But the manner in which God protected Rebekah was very different from that in which Sarah was preserved in both instances. Before any one had touched Rebekah, the Philistine king discovered the untruthfulness of Isaac's statement, having seen Isaac "sporting with Rebekah," sc., in a manner to show that she was his wife; whereupon he reproved Isaac for what he had said, and forbade any of his people to touch Rebekah on pain of death. Whether this was the same Abimelech as the one mentioned in Genesis 20 cannot be decided with certainty. The name proves nothing, for it was the standing official name of the kings of Gerar (cf. 1 Samuel 21:11 and Psalm 34), as Pharaoh was of the kings of Egypt. The identity is favoured by the pious conduct of Abimelech in both instances; and no difficulty is caused either by the circumstance that 80 years had elapsed between the two events (for Abraham had only been dead five years, and the age of 150 was no rarity then), or by the fact, that whereas the first Abimelech had Sarah taken into his harem, the second not only had no intention of doing this, but was anxious to protect her from his people, inasmuch as it would be all the easier to conceive of this in the case of the same king, on the ground of his advanced age.
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