A Daily Genesis

Genesis 26:14b-20

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:14b . . so that the Philistines envied him.[/B]

Some feel that the Philistines' envy was rooted in anti-Semitism. Well . . . there are always those seeking to enhance their own image as a victim; and this chapter would certainly seem a good source of propaganda for that purpose.

Envy is a normal human emotion that is typically blind to racial and ethnic identities. Envy isn't restricted to anti-Semitism, nor does it serve to identify it. Envy is one of the chief emotions relied upon by the advertising campaigns created on Madison Avenue.

Just watch the ads on TV, and the ones in magazines and you'll see. They constantly provoke us to keep up with our peers in clothing, cars, physical appearance, business success, and popularity. Envy is a powerful, negative feeling that overwhelms us whenever others are doing better than ourselves.

Envy is a powerful passion; destroying friendships, fueling fierce rivalries, generating strong desires for revenge, and fracturing solidarity.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:15 . . And the Philistines stopped up all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham, filling them with earth.[/B]

You would think the Philistines would value those wells and put the water to use for themselves. But actually, there weren't really all that many Philistines in the Gerar area at the time. They didn't need the water; and they sure didn't want any squatters to discover the wells and thus be encouraged to settle down in their region.

Abimelech forbade his citizens to harm Isaac; but that didn't preclude harassing and annoying him. Cutting off his water supplies was very serious because Isaac needed them to irrigate crops and water the livestock. Without adequate water supplies, Isaac Enterprises was doomed. He had a right to file a complaint. But Abimelech felt it best for all concerned to run Isaac out of the country.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 26:16 . . And Abimelech said to Isaac: Go away from us, for you have become far too big for us.[/B]

Just exactly what Abimelech meant by "far too big for us" is hard to know for sure. But it looks suspiciously like a cowardly act of favoritism; pure and simple. Instead of being fair and equitable with Isaac, Abimelech, like a cheap politician, ignored the vandalism his citizens had done against Isaac and made it look like this whole nasty business was his fault; vz: he was just getting too greedy and beginning to crowd everybody else out.

Was this maybe the first antitrust suit in history? Antitrust laws, in reality, put a limit on prosperity. They say that the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are okay as long as you don't pursue them to an extreme. People often believe in a free enterprise system; but typically only up until somebody else's enterprise is having much better success at it than theirs.
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†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:17 . . So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the wadi of Gerar, where he settled.[/B]

A wadi named Nahal Gerar is on modern maps of the Gaza region. Whether or not that was Isaac's wadi I don't know. Wadis are basins in which brooks flow, and therefore, were the well-watered and fertile parts of the country. In times of scant rain up in the highlands, the brooks in many wadis dry up, and then it becomes necessary to dig wells down into the subterranean water table.

According to ERETZ magazine, issue 64, the Gerar river draws its waters from tributaries that run along the slopes of the rain-swept Hebron mountains. Enormous amounts of water flow through it in winter, flooding the channel an average of seven times a year.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:18 . . Isaac dug anew the wells which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham's death; and he gave them the same names that his father had given them.[/B]

Those wells were dug nearly a hundred years prior to this event; and makes one wonder how Isaac knew where they were and how he knew the names his dad had named them. The Gerarians probably waited until Abraham was dead to plug them up because they feared him. He had a reputation as a military leader and he also had a pact with the king Abimelech of Abraham's period.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 26:19-20 . . But when Isaac's servants, digging in the wadi, found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying: The water is ours. He named that well Esek, because they contended with him.[/B]

Isaac was much too affable. He didn't have to let those guys buffalo him; after all, Isaac had a pretty good sized army of his own; left to him by his dad. He could easily have posted an armed platoon by the well to keep the local cowboys away from it. But no, he chose rather to condescend and let them have their own way. Isaac was truly a "turn the other cheek" kind of guy who was willing (maybe a bit too willing) to bend over backward to accommodate people and prevent violence and ill will.

That well was a new one; not one of Abraham's. The herdsmen were motivated by envy so they were reluctant to share the regions resources with the likes of Isaac because they hated his success. They didn't contest Isaac's access to the water in Abraham's wells. They probably felt he had a right to use those; but the men would not tolerate Isaac taking any more water than that; and most especially water of this quality. It was literally living water-- viz: artesian.

Urban dwellers really don't appreciate their water and typically haven't a clue where it comes from nor how it gets into their homes. But in Isaac's day, people couldn't live too far from a natural source of water. Many of the ancient cities and communities were located adjacent to rivers for that very reason.

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