Genesis 26:1-35


Verse 1-5, 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. {2} And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: {3} 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; {4} 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; {5} Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

I.    A famine in the land.

A.  A list.

1.      Gen. 12:10 - Abraham went into Egypt because of the famine.

2.      Gen. 26:1 - A famine in Isaac's day.

a.   This was probably after Abraham died (no mention is made of Abraham dealing with this famine.)

b.   Jacob and Esau was 15 years old when Abraham died, therefore, when Isaac went into Gerar, no one would suspect they were Isaac and Rebekah's children.

c.   Note - They boys are being prepared for deception.

3.      Ruth 1:1 - The famine in Ruth's day.

B.            Sometimes famines were the result of sin, sometimes, poor management, sometimes they just come.

C.   Famine in the promised land.

1.      Sometimes there is a famine of souls being saved in the Lord's church.

2.      That doesn't mean the promise to the church has failed.

3.   It may be caused by sin, or just happen.

4.   It may be because we are not sowing the gospel seed like we ought to, therefore, there isn't any harvest.


II.   Isaac told to stay in the land.

A.  God let Abraham go into Egypt under a famine.  God refused to let Isaac go, and permitted Jacob to go (Gen. 46:1-4).

1.      There are some things God expects all His children to do.

2.      There are some things God allows some to do and refuses to let others do.

3.   We all must follow the will of God for our lives.

B.   God doesn't always allow us t leave even if there is a famine.

1.      Evidently Isaac was thinking about going to Egypt.

2.      Sometimes we think about going someplace God doesn't want us to.  Let us beware.

C.   Egypt is a false refuge.

1.   Is. 30:1,2 - Woe to the rebellious people that trust Egypt instead of God.

2.   Is. 31:1 - Woe to them that go to Egypt for help.

3.      Ezk. 29:6 - Egypt is a staff of reed to Israel.  God shall stop it.

4.      Ezk. 29:13-16 - Egypt shall be in bondage 40 years because they were a false refuge to Israel.

D.            Sometimes we have a false refuge in times of trouble.

1.   Our savings account.

2.   Our abilities to fulfill a task.

3.      Any other thing we trust in.

E.   The blessing if Isaac will obey God.

1.   It seems that Isaac has a choice about going to Egypt or not.

2.   We have a choice about staying with God's promises or not.

3.      Isaac will get the same blessing as his father if he obeys God.

4.   We can get the same blessings as Old Testament and New Testament saints if we obey God like they did.

5.      Note: The story of Isaac's life is at a crossroads.  The story would have been so different if Isaac had disobeyed God and gone to Egypt.


Verse 6-11, And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: {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. {8} 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. {9} 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. {10} 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. {11} And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.

I.    Like father, like son.

A.  Isaac and Rebekah were in Gerar instead of Egypt.

1.      Note the obedience and disobedience at the same time.

2.      Obeying God by not going to Egypt and a failure to believe the promise (verse 3-5).

3.      This is just like our lives - obedient and disobedient at the same time.

B.   Isaac was a sinner just like his dad.

1.      There is no doubt that Rebekah and Isaac were in agreement on the plan.

2.      This shows the extent people (us) will go to in a given situation.

3.   We don't condemn Isaac or Abraham because we would do exactly the same thing in the same situation.

4.   A husband and wife agreeing to deny their marriage because they think it's the best thing to do is a terrible thing.

5.   I don't know that Isaac got this idea from his dad.  Abraham would have had to tell him the story.


II.   The discovery.

A.  They had been there a long time and nobody had asked to marry Rebekah.

1.      What they were worrying about didn't come to pass.

2.      What we worry about usually doesn't come to pass.

B.            Discovered by the king himself.

1.      Evidently Abimelech is the first to make the discovery.

2.      Isaac and Rebekah must have lived close to the kings house for him to look out the window and see.

3.      "Sport" means to laugh or play with.

4.   I don't believe they were doing anything immoral in the open.

5.      There is a difference in the way a man treats his wife and his sister in private.


III. The consequences.

A.  A righteous rebuke of a righteous man.

1.   A good, righteous person, doing what he believes is right, sometimes does things that hurts other people.  (His problem is doing what he thinks is right, not what God says!)

2.      When he is confronted with his error, he admits it and makes it right.

B.   We need to beware of putting other people in jeopardy by our words or actions.

1.   All that is necessary is to forget what we think is best and do God's will.

2.      Note that our unbelief in God's promises sometimes puts other people in jeopardy.


Verse 12-16, Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. {13} And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: {14} For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. {15} 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. {16} And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.

I.    The blessing fulfilled.

A.  The promise wasn't fulfilled until the sin was exposed.

1.   As long as Isaac was depending on what he thought was best, God withheld the complete blessing from him.

2.   God will bless us in our lives, but will not give us all His blessings until we stop depending upon ourselves.

B.   The unnaturalness of the blessing.

1.   The famine was still in the land.

2.   A hundred-fold increase.

3.   A gain of herds and servants.

4.      Isaac waxed great because of God's blessing, not his inheritance from Abraham.


II.   Result of the blessing.

A.  Isaac and Rebekah were happy, of course.

B.   Their "friends" around them don't like it.

1.   It's often the case that we desire to prosper, but are envious of our "friends" who are more prosperous than we are.

2.      This is not a Christian attitude.

3.   Th Philistines envy caused them to fill Isaac's wells up with earth.

4.      Abimelech asked Isaac to leave.  Apparently he was afraid Isaac would take over all that country.

5.      Verse 3-5 - This is the promise of God to Isaac that Abimelech was fighting against.

6.      They're still fighting against that promise today.

7.   It would seem that people would want to be around those whom God blessed.

8.      Verse 28,29 - They come to understand later, but not fully submitting.  They don't ask Isaac to rejoin them, just to give them no hurt.


Verse 17-25, And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. {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. {19} And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. {20} 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. {21} And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. {22} 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. {23} And he went up from thence to Beersheba. {24} 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. {25} 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.

I.    The search for a home.

A.  At first Isaac didn't go very far away from Gerar.

1.   He camped where his dad had camped.

2.   He "re dug" Abraham's wells and called them by the same name.

3.      They dug a new well and found a spring.

4.      When the Philistines fought over this well, Isaac called it Esek (contention).

5.      They dug another well which the Philistines also fought for and Isaac named it Sitnah (hatred) and moved farther from Gerar.

B.            Evidently now he settles near Beersheba.

1.      Beersheba is about 22 miles from Gerar.

2.   He digs another well and calls it Rehoboth (enlargement).

3.      This is the place he'll settle.

4.   I believe this is the place Abraham settled.

5.      Gen. 24:62 - Isaac previously dwell at the well Lahairoi in the south country.  (I suppose this is south of Beersheba.)

6.      Since Abraham died, Isaac is "taking his place" in the promise.


II.   Isaac didn't fight for what was rightfully his.

A.  He is trusting God to give his possessions.

B.   Gen. 16:12 - Ishmael is a wild man, fighting constantly.

C.            Compare the two.

D.  Are we an "Isaac" or an "Ishmael"?


III. Verse 24 - God appeared to Isaac the same night he got to Beersheba.

A.  God didn't appear to him until he left the land of the Philistines.

1.   God will bless us (as he did Isaac, verse 12-14), but his presence won't be with us until we leave the world behind.

2.   See Exodus 33:14,15 - Moses didn't want to go if God wasn't present with him.

3.      Note the difference in God's blessing going with us and God Himself going with us.

4.   See also and compare Phil 4:7 & 9.  (The peace of God and the God of peace.)

B.   A re-conformation of the promise.

1.      Isaac worships God by building an altar.

2.      This shows he intends to dwell there.

3.      Began to dig a well which gave water. (verse 33.)


Verse 26-33, Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army. {27} And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? {28} 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; {29} 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. {30} And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. {31} 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. {32} 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. {33} And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.

I.    Abimelech makes a friendly visit.

A.            Abimelech and Phichol

1.      Some commentaries state that Abimelech and Phichol is the title of the King and Chief Captain.

2.      There is some evidence that they were actually people.  And that these men that came before Isaac were the same men that came before Abraham.

a.   Gen. 21:8,9,22 - When Isaac was weaned, Ishmael mocked him and was cast out.  It was "at that time" (verse 22) that Abimelech approached Abraham about making a covenant.  The year was approximately 1898 B. C.

b.   Gen. 25:26 - Isaac is 60 years old when Jacob and Esau are born.  Gen. 26:34 - Esau is 40 and Isaac is 100 when Esau marries.

c.   We assume that Gen. 26:26-33 takes place sometime before Esau marries.

d.   This means that Abimelech and Phichol came to Abraham in the beginning of his reign, and to Isaac in the end of his reign.

e.   We might think that a 100 year reign was very long, but we need to remember that Abraham lived an active 175 years, Isaac lived 180 years, (the last 50 years or so he was hindered by bad eyesight).  Jacob lived 147 years and made a trip to Egypt when he was 130 years old.

B.   He is accompanied by his helpers in government.

1.   It's always good to have a witness to our actions and words.

2.   If there are any decisions to be made Abimelech will have some advisors.

C.            Abimelech's attitude changes.

1.      Gen. 26:14 - They ran Isaac off because they envied him.

2.      Prov. 16:7 - When a man pleases the Lord, He will make his enemies to be at peace with him.

D.  The lesson for us.

1.      People are going to get mad at you regardless of what you do or say.

2.   Try not to be concerned about what people think of you.

3.      Always be concerned with doing God's will.

4.   God will make your enemies to be at peace with you, whether they like you or not.


II.   Isaac's reception of the Philistines.

A.  It is good to be wary of those that have done us evil in the past.

1.   If they have harmed you before, they'll probably do it again.

2.      Some people suppose that the "Christian" attitude is to accept a wrongdoer as if he is sorry, before he makes an apology.

3.   A "Christian" attitude is to accept a person for what he is.

4.   If that person is sorry for their wrong and makes an apology, then we forgive and forget - starting friendships anew.  The willingness on our part must always be there.

5.      Isaac remembers that Abimelech sent (actually drove) him away.  The Philistines have nothing to say about that.

6.      Isaac said they hated him.  The Philistines have nothing to say about that.

B.   Note the use of the word "hate" indicates that the Philistines hated Isaac, not that Isaac hated them.

1.      Isaac had good reason to hate them because of all the well trouble.

2.      They envied him because of God's blessings.

3.      There is no indication that Isaac hated them at all.

4.      Lesson:  We don't have to hate those that hate us.

5.      Matt. 5:43-48 - Love our enemies, not just our friends.

C.   There is nothing wrong with questioning our enemies directly, especially if they come to us, and indicate a willingness to talk.

1.      Approaching the subject subjectively and directly often results in a suitable solution.

2.   If the subject is never broached, there will never be a solution.


III. The change of attitude.  We don't know how much time passed.  Sometimes a change of attitude doesn't take very long.  Sometimes it takes a very long time.  Sometimes there is never a change of attitude.

A.  Of the Philistines.

1.      Lost people can have a change of attitude toward others.

2.      Isaac didn't cause the Philistines to hate him and he didn't do anything to cause them to like him.

3.   The Philistines rejected him because of God's blessings and accepted him because of God's blessings.

a.   They despised him because of God's blessings, and were afraid they would be his servants.

b.   They accept him because of God's blessings and want a "half" treaty with him.  (They don't want to join with Isaac or with God - and they don't want Isaac or God joining with them.  They only want to be left alone.)

B.   Of Isaac.

1.   An attitude of forgiveness even though the Philistines didn't admit their guilt.

a.   Verse 29 - "We've only done you good" when in fact, they had filled up his wells.

b.   Verse 29 - "We've went you away in peace", when in fact, the "peace" they mean is "without war", not "in friendship", as they imply here.

2.      Isaac could have debated these points, but gave no answer at all.

3.      Under circumstances such as these, (when a reconciliation is desired) it is usually best to forget the details of a quarrel and make up.

4.      Note:

a.   Isaac was making no effort at reconciliation for he had done no wrong.

b.   He did not accept a reconciliation until one was offered.

c.   Then he accepted it willingly, with a constant trust in God.  (See the well of water in verse 32,33.)


IV. The covenant.

A.  Isaac swears that he will do no harm to Gerar.

1.      Gen. 21:22-24 - Abraham also made a covenant with Abimelech.

2.      Like father, like son.

a.   Both are of Adam's nature.

b.   Fathers, let us be careful how we lead our children.  They'll do like we do - right or wrong.

B.   This oath may have been in error, even as Abraham's might have been made in error.

1.      Gen. 26:3 - God promised the land to Isaac and his seed.

2.   As far as Isaac knew, God would have called upon him to take over the City of Gerar at any time.

3.      Joshua 9:15 - We know that Joshua was wrong when he made a covenant with Gibeon.  This is the time that Israel is commanded to destroy these people.  Because of the covenant, Israel didn't destroy Gibeon, but made them their servants.  Isaac could have got in the same position if the time had been different.  Joshua may have considered Abraham and Isaac's covenants when deciding on a covenant with the Gibeonites.

C.   The confirmation of the covenant.

1.   A feast of eating and drinking.

2.      Hospitality throughout the night.

3.   The swearing of the covenant the next morning.

4.   A departing in peace.


V.  The well of Beersheba.

A.  Define Beersheba.

1.      Means the well of the oath.

2.      Beer - means well or pit.

3.      Shebah means seventh (seven stands for complete).

B.   The number of the wells (The times they were dug, there were 7 times in all).

1.      Gen. 21:25 - Abraham's stolen well.

2.      Gen. 21:30 - Abraham's well confirmed.

3.      Gen. 26:15-18 - The same wells as Abraham.

4.      Gen. 26:19 - Isaac's well called "Esek".

5.      Gen. 26:21 - Isaac's well called "Sitnah".

6.      Gen. 26:22 - Isaac's well called "Rehoboth".

7.      Gen. 26:33 - Isaac's well called "Beersheba".


Verse 34,35, 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: {35} Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.

I.    Esau's Hittite wives.

A.  Married at age 40.

1.      Unlike Isaac at age 40, Esau has no spiritual discernment at all.

2.   He has no conception of the birthright or the blessings of the birthright.

3.   He has no desire to perpetuate the spiritual values of the family.

B.   Rom. 9:13.

1.      Esau's problem is that God has left him in his natural state (After Adam).

2.   If God doesn't give spiritual discernment, there will be none.


II.   The grief of his parents.

A.            Because he wouldn't take their advice as to marriage.

1.      Children ought to ask and receive the advice given to them.

2.      Parents need to recognize the needs of their children and give them good advice.

3.      There is no record that Isaac instructed Jacob in marriage until 28:1.

B.            Because of who he married.

1.   The daughters of the Hittites.

2.      Gen. 24:1-3 - Isaac remembered that his dad took great pains to get him a wife, lest he should marry a Canaanite, who had no religion.

C.            Because of the wives actions.

1.      Their conduct was unbecoming to a believer.

2.      Isaac and Rebekah was constantly around them.

D.            Because of their grandchildren.

1.      They would love their grandchildren like all grandparents.

2.      They knew that those little lives would be ruined by half truths and misplaced values.

3.      There would be little they could do to cause the children to be raised right.

4.      They probably prayed many prayers for their grandchildren.


When Jacob left home, it's very likely Isaac and Rebekah (Rebekah probably died) didn't hear from him until he came back, some 20 years later.  All during this time, they would watch Esau and his wives and their children.  We can see something of the great grief and sorrow of heart they must have gone through.  What a joy it was for them to once again see Jacob and his family, given to him by God.   This teaches us patience, for God gave Esau to Isaac and Rebekah.  They didn't sin and God is punishing them by Esau.  Let us (by the grace of God) wait on the Lord and trust Him to make everything right even though we can't see the final end.


An example - taken from the Rest of the Story by Paul Harvey  1/21/85


The year is 1902.  Alex was saved and began to tithe because the Bible said so.  God prospered Jacob because he promised and gave a tithe.  Mal. 3 - God said "prove me".

Alex borrowed $100.00 to purchase the patent on a new kind of glass jar.  He purchased a two story wood and metal building in the heart of San Fransisco and started production.

In 1906, the San Fransisco earthquake came.  Alex's factory was in the very center of the three square mile area of the worse part of the earthquake.  The fire was so bad, nobody could even approach the fire for one week.

People made fun of Alex because God, they said, hadn't taken care of him.  Alex said he didn't know how things would turn out, but God would take care of him.

After about two weeks, they were able to get into the three square mile area to access the damage.

The wood fence around Alex's factory was barely scorched and not even a glass bottle in the factory was broken.

Today Alex Kerr is the largest producer of glass canning jars in the entire world.