Genesis 26
Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.
A famine in the land; Isaac goes to Gerar, Genesis 26:1. God directs him to abide there, and promises to be with him: the covenant with Abraham also made with Isaac, Genesis 26:2-5. Through fear he denies Rebekah, Genesis 26:7. Abimelech, seeing Isaac and Rebekah together, concludes her to be his wife; charges him with it; he confesses it, Genesis 26:8,9. Abimelech reproves him, charging his people not to touch them on pain of death, Genesis 26:10,11. Isaac blessed with great plenty, Genesis 26:12-14. The Philistines envy him; stop his wells, Genesis 26:15; desire him to depart, Genesis 26:16. He removes to the valley of Gerar, Genesis 26:17. There he digs wells, but the herdsmen strive with him about them, Genesis 26:18-21. He hath rest, Genesis 26:22; removes to Beer-sheba, Genesis 26:23. The Lord renews his covenant, Genesis 26:24. He calls on the name of the Lord, Genesis 26:25. Abimelech, convinced that the Lord was with Isaac, desires to make a covenant with him, Genesis 26:26-29. They make a feast, and swear to one another, Genesis 26:30,31. Esau being forty years old, taketh to him wives of the Canaanites, Genesis 26:34. Isaac and Rebekah grieved hereat, Genesis 26:35.

cir 1804 Abimelech is not he mentioned Genesis 20:2, but most probably his son and successor, called by his father’s name.

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

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;
Unto thee, and unto thy seed; to thee to enjoy for thy present comfort, and to them to possess as an inheritance. See Poole on "Genesis 13:15", see Poole on "Genesis 15:18".

I will perform the oath, i.e. the promises confirmed by oath, Genesis 22:16, &c.

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;
No text from Poole on this verse.

Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
Here was a covenant made between God and Abraham; and as, if Abraham had broken the condition of walking before God required on his part, God had been discharged from the promise made on his part; so contrarily, because Abraham performed his condition, God engageth himself to perform his promise to him, and to his seed. But as that promise and covenant was made by God of mere grace, as is evident and confessed; so the mercies promised and performed to him and his are so great and vast, that it is an idle thing to think they could be merited by so mean a compensation as Abraham’s obedience, which was a debt that he owed to God, had there been no such covenant or promise made by God, and which also was an effect of God’s graces to him and in him.

And Isaac dwelt in Gerar:
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
Using more free and familiar carriage than became a brother and sister, but such as was allowable between husband and wife. See Deu 24:5 Proverbs 5:18,19. But that this was not the conjugal act, may easily be gathered from the circumstances of the time and place; which was open to Abimelech’s view; and therefore that was not consistent either with Isaac’s modesty or with his prudence, because he would not have her thought to be 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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
The heathens esteemed fornication either no sin, or a very little one; but adultery was heinous and formidable even among the heathens, and especially here, because it was fresh in memory how sorely God had punished Abimelech, and all his family, only for an intention of adultery, Genesis 20:1-18. Note here, they take it for granted that their ignorance had not been a sufficient excuse for their sin.

And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.
He that hurteth or injureth. So that word is used, Genesis 26:29 Joshua 9:19 Psalm 105:15 Zechariah 2:8; and being applied to a woman, it is used for the defiling or humbling of her, as Genesis 20:6 Proverbs 6:29.

Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.
Isaac sowed in that land; either in the grounds which he had hired of the right owners, or in some grounds which lay neglected, and therefore were free to the first occupier; which was not strange in that age of the world, when the inhabitants of countries were not so numerous as afterward.

An hundredfold, i.e. a hundred times as much as he sowed. The same degree of increase is intimated Matthew 13:8, and affirmed sometimes of other places by heathen writers; but then it was in a better soil and season than this was, for this was a time of famine or scarcity.

And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:
No text from Poole on this verse.

For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.
Great store of servants; or rather, of husbandry, as this word is elsewhere used; of corn-fields, vineyards, &c.; for he is describing his riches, which then consisted in the two things here expressed, cattle and lands, which he diligently and successfully managed, Genesis 26:12.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.
Which breeds envy, and jealousy, and fear among my subjects, and may occasion greater mischiefs; and therefore it is better that we should part friends, than by continuing together be turned into enemies.

And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
Though there might be a brook there, probably it was but little, and soon dried up.

And Isaac digged those rather than new ones, partly to keep up his father’s memory, and partly because he had most right to them, and others less cause of quarrel with him about them.

And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
The water is ours, because digged in our soil; which was no good argument, because he digged it by their consent or permission at his own charge, and for his own use.

And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And he went up from thence to Beersheba.
Where he lived before the famine drove him thence.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army.
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.

And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?
No text from Poole on this verse.

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;
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
We have not touched thee, to wit, so as to injure or hurt thee, as above, Genesis 26:11.

Thou art now the blessed of the Lord; or, O thou who art now the with blessed of the Lord, whom God hath enriched great and manifold blessings, which we did not take away from thee, as we could easily have done, but thou dost still enjoy them; and now art, as thou wert amongst us, the blessed of the Lord. Or, Seeing God hath blessed thee, it will not become thee to curse us, or to bear any grudge against us for that little unkindness which we expressed to thee. Or it may be a wish: If thou makest this covenant with us, be thou now the blessed of the Lord, we heartily wish thy blessings and prosperity may increase.

And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
They rose up betimes; partly for the despatch of their journey and business, and partly because then their minds were most vigorous, and sober, and fit to perform so sacred an action as an oath was.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.
This name had been given before, either to this or a neighbouring place, by Abraham, Genesis 21:31; but was now buried in oblivion, as his wells were; and the wells being revived, he revives and renews the name, which proved now a lasting name,

unto this day, as here follows, which is not added Genesis 21:31, because then the name, though given by Abraham, was soon forgotten and neglected by others.

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:
Both Hittites, the worst of the Canaanites, Ezekiel 16:3; which, from his grandfather Abraham’s severe charge, Genesis 24:3, he must needs know would be highly displeasing both to God and to his parents. And as Esau had several names, being called also Edom and Seir; so it seems these women and their parents had, by comparing this with Genesis 36:2, which was usual in those times and places. Or Esau had more wives than these.

Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.
Because to their idolatry and other wickedness they added obstinacy and incorrigibleness, despising their persons and godly counsels, whereby they invited them to repentance.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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