A Daily Genesis

Genesis 26:1-5

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:1a . .There was a famine in the land-- aside from the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham[/B]

That previous famine occurred in chapter 12 before Isaac was born; even before Ishmael was born. So many good, prosperous years have gone by since the last famine. This may in fact have been the very first famine that Isaac ever witnessed, and probably his last too.

The Hebrew word for "famine" is from [I]ra' ab [/I](raw-awb') which means: hunger (more or less extensive)

People go hungry either because they can't buy the foods they need, or can't grow it for lack of soil or water. In Isaac's case it was probably a lack of water that made the difference. He had lots of money. But cattle can't live on legal tender. Down in the lowlands there would very likely be plenty of water in wells and springs that could be used for irrigation. So it's off to the lowlands they go; herds and all.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:1b . . and Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar.[/B]

This was very likely another Abimelech-- not the same man in chapter 20 whom Abraham knew. That Abimelech was very likely dead by now. The name "Abimelech" is more like a title than a moniker; sort of like Czar, Pharaoh, or Caesar.

Gerar hasn't been fully identified, but the site might be in one of the branches of Wady Sheri'a, at a place called Um Jerrar, near the coast southwest of Gaza and 9 miles from it. The site answers fairly well to the statements of Eusebius and Jerome, that it was 25 (Roman) miles south of Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin). It's actually 30 English miles, but distances weren't very accurately determined in early times. Gerar was known in the first 5th century CE, when it was the seat of a bishopric; and its bishop, Marcian, attended the Council of Chalcedon 451 CE.

According to ERETZ Magazine, issue 64, Abimelech's land is an ample valley with fertile land and numerous springs; a perfect place for a man with cattle to weather out the drought.

Isaac's decision to investigate the possibility of living amongst Abimelech's people was quite possibly influenced by Abraham's pact with them back in chapter 20. Hopefully they would be inclined to honor his dad's relationship with the previous Abimelech and let Isaac's community live down there at least until it started raining again up in the highlands.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:2a . .The Lord had appeared to him[/B]

This is the very first recorded incident where God appeared especially for Isaac. When he was offered as a burnt offering back in chapter 22, God appeared to his dad while Isaac was with him. But God was not said to appear to Isaac. This is the first time.

You know, probably nobody alive today will ever be honored by a divine close encounter of a third kind. We will live out our pathetically boring little lives always never quite sure if maybe we were hoodwinked-- hoping against hope that the Bible is true. And wouldn't the joke be on us if it isn't? What a bunch of gullible morons Christians would be if there is no Bible's God after all.
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[/COLOR][B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 26:2b . . and said: Do not go down to Egypt;[/B]

Isaac may have been considering Egypt as plan B if Gerar didn't work out.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:2c . . stay in the land which I point out to you.[/B]

That had to be encouraging. Even if things looked bad in Gerar when Isaac arrived, he could rest upon the fact that he was going in the right direction.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:3a . . Reside in this land, and I will be with you and bless you;[/B]

Suppose it turned out Isaac didn't like the land God selected for him and moved to another one? Well he could just forget about the promise: "I will be with you and bless you" That promise was conditional. He had to live where God directed him to live.
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[COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:3b-4 . . I will assign all these lands to you and to your heirs, fulfilling the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your heirs as numerous as the stars of heaven, and assign to your heirs all these lands, so that all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your heirs--[/B]

Although some translations render the word "heirs" plural, the word [I]zera' [/I]is one of those Hebrew words that can just as accurately be translated in the singular as well the plural: like the words sheep, fish, and deer. In this case, it's probably best to understand zera' in the singular because it most certainly refers to Jacob rather than to both he and his brother Esau.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 26:5 . . inasmuch as Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge: My commandments, My laws, and My teachings.[/B]

Yhvh's statement has led some people to allege that Abraham was contracted with God to comply with the very same covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God later at Horeb. But there is no record of God and Abraham contracting with each other in accordance with any other covenants than those recorded in the book of Genesis. And it's worth noting that Moses referred to Israel's covenant at Deut 5:2-3 as a covenant that "Yhvh did not make with our ancestors".

On top of that; Israel's covenant stipulates curses for dishonesty and for sleeping with one's half sister; which, according to Gen 12:3 are curses that God could not slam Abraham with without slamming Himself with curses too.

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