Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Genesis 26

Genesis 26: Isaac


This chapter gives a bit of detail about Isaac’s life, after the death of his father.

The chapter opens with a famine in the land, and Isaac contemplating going to Egypt, to escape it. However, he is visited by the LORD, who tells him not to go there. So Isaac stays.

Unfortunately, Isaac is like his father, in one respect: When someone asks him about Rebekah, he says that she is his sister, instead of his wife. Sound familiar? Luckily, in this case, nothing happens. The king looks out of his window one day, and sees Isaac caressing Rebekah, and realizes what’s going on.

So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”

Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”

Then Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”

So Abimelech gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

(verses 9–11)

After this, Isaac plants some crops which do exceptionally well. The men of the land where he is living ask him to leave, because he is too powerful for them. He goes back where his father Abraham used to live, and re-opens all of the wells that Abraham had dug, but ends up quarrelling with the people there, because they’re fighting over the same wells.

Eventually, the people who had asked Isaac to leave, because he was too powerful, come back to him, and ask him to sign a treaty with them.

Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”

They answered, “We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you that you will do us no harm, just as we did not molest you but always treated you well and sent you away in peace. And now you are blessed by the LORD.”

(verses 27–29)

So they made a treaty, and sealed the deal with a meal.

The last two verses mention that Esau married two women, Judith and Basemath, who were “a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah” (verse 35).


I always mention this when it happens, so why break with tradition: Why are the men in the book of Genesis so constantly claiming their wives are their sisters?!? And why are they always rewarded for it, when people discover their dishonesty?!?

Also, if I remember correctly—and I’m not sure that I do—Judith and Basemath don’t become major characters in subsequent books of Genesis. So when this chapter mentions that they were a source of grief to Esau’s parents, it’s not foreshadowing, just another example of Esau making bad decisions.
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