And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.
Genesis 26:20-22, Genesis 26:33
These four names are the names of four wells of springing water, dug in a valley, to feed families and flocks. Esek means strife; Sitnah, hatred; Rehoboth, room; and Shebah, oath. Have you not been at them all?
I. When you began life you found people trying to put you down by saying that the well was theirs, and that you were crowding yourself upon their grounds. If they did not try to put you down, you tried to put them down. The well is there in life,—strife, contention, debate,—you must find it in your life somewhere.
II. If you drive people off the ground, they may strive with you no more. They will hate you: your name will be the signal for abuse. First you are opposed, then you are hated, so you call it Sitnah—hatred—the second well. Human nature is so far astray that it tends to hatred in all men's lives; they either receive it or give it: it is human nature, and human nature cannot permanently conceal itself.
III. Then you come to the third stage, if you are not killed. Some find a grave at Esek, others die at Sitnah, and are buried beside the waters of hatred. But perhaps you have heavenly elements enough to get beyond the second stage. You are hated, but you keep digging away, and at last room is made for you—room, Rehoboth. You are recognised, you are looked for, and missed if you do not come.
IV. If you have got to Rehoboth, is there anything to hinder you from going on? The next step is easy: confidence—rest. Be not discouraged: move on honestly, laboriously, religiously. Go on: that is your duty in two words. Life is full of difficulty. It is through tribulation that you get into any kingdom worth anything. In Christ we are called to strife. His words are: "In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
Parker, The Fountain, April 28th, 1881.
Reference: Genesis 26:17-33.—Parker, vol. i., p. 254.
Genesis 26:34-35I. Esau was forty years old when he married. A sin is aggravated, sometimes, by the age of the sinner. Some men learn nothing by age: they are forty years old on the books of the registrar; they are no age at all in the books of wisdom.
II. Esau's wives were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah. Sin has consequences. Actions are not solitary and uninfluential; they have relations to other actions and to influences simply innumerable and incalculable.
III. A sin does not confine itself to one line of punishment. Esau went against the law of his country and his people in marrying Canaanitish women. What was the punishment? Endless, ubiquitous, complete: (1) Esau was alienated from his family; (2) he was a rebel against the laws of organised society; (3) he forfeited his hereditary rights.
The law of the land was: To marry a Canaanitish woman is to lose your primogeniture. Esau supplanted himself. Find out the roots and beginnings of things, and you will always discover that a man is his own supplanter, his own enemy.
Parker, vol. i., p. 261.
References: Gen 27—Expositor, 2nd series, vol. viii., p. 67; R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. i., p. 456; F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 85; M. Dods, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, p. 61; Parker, vol. i., p. 268. Genesis 27:1-4.—F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 4th series, p. 123. Genesis 27:1-41.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 96. Genesis 27:13.—E. Cooper, Fifty-two Family Sermons, p. 247. Genesis 27:28.—New Manual of Sunday School Addresses, p. 16.
And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
And Isaac dwelt in Gerar:
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.
And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife.
And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her.
And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us.
And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.
Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.
And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:
For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.
For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.
And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.
And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.
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.
And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.
And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him.
And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.
And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.
And he went up from thence to Beersheba.
And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake.
And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well.
Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army.
And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?
And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;
That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD.
And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink.
And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.
And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water.
And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.
And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite:
Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.