A Daily Genesis

Genesis 26:6-14a

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:6 . . So Isaac stayed in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said "She is my sister" for he was afraid to say "my wife" thinking: The men of the place might kill me on account of Rebecca, for she is beautiful.[/B]

The Hebrew word for "sister" is [I]'achowth[/I] (aw-khoth') and has very wide application. It can mean an actual biological sister of the same parents as the brother, or it can just mean kin, either near or far. It's a word very much like the New Testament Greek word [I]suggenes [/I](soong-ghen-ace').

An example of suggenes is Luke 1:36 "Even Elizabeth your cousin is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month." The word "cousin" is an arbitrary choice of words. Suggenes could just as easily been translated "aunt", or just simply "kin" and/or "relative" and/or "sister".

[B][SIZE=2]NOTE[/SIZE]:[/B] Translating suggenes as "cousin" in Mary and Elizabeth's case is appropriate seeing as how both women were biologically related to Leah via Judah and Levi.

Suggenes and 'achowth are ambiguous words, and unless there is some additional clarification in the surrounding text, it is just about impossible to know precisely in what manner the female kin is related; for example in Gen 24:59-60, Rebeca's family called her a sister.

Isaac's response was semantic double-speak. In other words: he didn't tell an outright bald face lie; what he said was true; from a certain point of view-- he and Rebecca were cousins. But nevertheless, his response was meant to deceive.

I just have to wonder sometimes about the IQ of some of the patriarchs. God had just reaffirmed Abraham's covenant with Isaac; guaranteeing He would bless him on account of his father Abraham's righteousness (not Isaac's righteousness). Yet now he's worried about being murdered in Gerar? I'd hate to think that Isaac didn't believe God. I'd much rather reckon he wasn't paying attention.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:8 . . When some time had passed, Abimelech king of the Philistines, looking out of the window, saw Isaac sporting with his wife Rebecca.[/B]

Sporting with one's wife is far and away different than sporting with one's sister. The way those two were horsing around was unmistakably the behavior of lovers.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 26:9-10 . . Abimelech sent for Isaac and said: So she is your wife! Why then did you say "She is my sister". Isaac said to him: Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her. Abimelech said: What have you done to us! One of the people might have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.[/B]

I'm not surprised that Abimelech was frightened. It hadn't been all that long ago when his predecessor had a run-in with Isaac's god, That incident involving Abraham undoubtedly went down in the castle records.

And to top it off, out there grazing on Gerar pastures was a special breed of sheep that bore a witness for Abraham too (Gen 21:27-32) and their story was very likely woven into Gerar folklore. Oh yes. They knew about Yhvh alright; and they all knew what could happen to them if any of the local men messed around with Rebecca, the wife of Abraham's son.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:11 . . Abimelech then charged all the people, saying: Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall be put to death.[/B]

It is most encouraging to note that God is disposed to protect his own from the perils they bring upon themselves by the stupid blunders of their own self reliance. That's a tremendous advantage to have in life.

The Hebrew word for "molest" is from [I]naga'[/I] (naw-gah') which means: to touch, i.e. lay the hand upon (for any purpose; euphemistically, to lie with a woman); by implication, to reach (figuratively, to arrive, acquire); violently, to strike (punish, defeat, destroy, etc.)

So Abimelech was not just talking about sexual molesting; but mandated that his people not even so much as lay a finger upon Isaac and Rebecca in any way at all. Isaac, of course, is getting by on his dad's influence. But what the hey, it doesn't hurt to be connected.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 26:12-14a . . Isaac sowed in that land and reaped a hundredfold the same year. The Lord blessed him, and the man grew richer and richer until he was very wealthy: he acquired flocks and herds, and a large household,[/B]

Quite a bit of the land down around Gerar was public, sort of like our own American frontier in the days of Lewis and Clark; and was up for grabs by whoever had the wherewithal and the moxie to take it. In fact, the Philistines really weren't even a country of their own at this time, but more like a colony clinging to the sea coast of Palestine, with the majority of them still living on the isle of Crete. They would migrate and settle en masse centuries later.

Farming may seem like a switch from animal husbandry, but the combination was common among pastoral peoples those days for two good reasons. For one; Isaac's herds needed pasture. And two; man can't live on meat alone; he needs fruits and vegetables too.

And Isaac needed bushels and bushels of those items to feed his immense community. He inherited at least a thousand people from his dad. By now, those have multiplied well beyond that. I think if you'd have encountered Isaac's outfit in those days it would have resembled an Iowa town rather than a simple camp of Bedouins.

Rates of increase varied from thirty to a hundred (cf. Matt 13:8, Matt 19:29). Sixtyfold is very good, and wasn't unusual in Palestine back in those days. A hundredfold was rare, and occurred only in spots of extraordinary fertility.

The region of Babylonia, however, yielded two-hundred and even three-hundredfold, according to Herodotus (I.193) and all without genetically modified seeds. Just exactly what those fold numbers indicate is uncertain. Perhaps they were similar to a modern term relative to bushels per acre.

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