When there was famine in the land where Isaac stayed, he went to Gerar. Here, the passage focused on the conflict between the people of Gerar and Isaac’s servants and how Isaac responded to the pressured situation. The chapter will teach us about forgiving our enemy and reserving wrath and revenge for the Lord.
Did You Know...?
- Abimelech (26:1), which literally means “Father is the king,” may be a throne title among the rulers at Gerar, as in Egypt’s practice of “pharaoh.” [ref]
- A hundredfold (26:12) can literally be translated in Hebrew as “a hundred measures,” i.e. a multiple of 100-times an amount of seed invested.
- Esek (26:20) literally means “contention” in Hebrew.
- Sitnah (26:21) can be literally translated in Hebrew as “hostility.”
- Rehoboth (26:22) in Hebrew is literally translated as “broad places.”
- Shebah (26:33) has a similar pronunciation with the word “oath” in Hebrew.
- “Grief of mind” (26:35): This phrase in Hebrew can be literally translated as “bitterness of spirit.”
Describe the similarity of events between Abraham and Isaac when they were in Gerar. See Gen 20:1-18 and 21:22-34. To Sarah and to Rebekah;Hide Answer
When Abraham was in Gerar, because of the fear for his life, Abraham told Abimelech that Sarah was his sister instead of his wife (Gen 20:11-13). Later, Isaac did exactly the same thing. Out of his fear of the people of Gerar, Isaac told them that Rebekah was his sister instead of his wife (Gen 26:7).
The purpose of the covenant from the king of Gerar;
To the well of water;
The place of the covenant;
Why did God appear to Isaac during a famine in the land?
List the similarities between the promise of God to Isaac and to Abraham in Genesis 22.Hide Answer
Bible Verses Promises to Isaac Bible Verses Promises to Abraham Genesis 26:3 “I will be with you and bless you” Genesis 22:17 “blessing I will bless you” Genesis 26:3 “for to you and your descendants I give all these lands” Genesis 22:17 “your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies” Genesis 26:3 “I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father” Genesis 22:16 “by Myself I have sworn” Genesis 26:4 “I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven” Genesis 22:17 “multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven” Genesis 26:4 “in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” Genesis 22:18 “in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”
How did God’s repeated promises make a deep impression upon Isaac in relation to his past event in Genesis 22?Hide Answer
The promises of God mentioned in Genesis 26:3-5 were similar to the promises which God told Abraham in Genesis 22:16-18. These similar and repeated promises made a deep impression upon Isaac because he was with Abraham when the Lord told his father those promises. These promises were given at the moment when God delivered Isaac from being killed as a burnt offering.
What was the purpose of the repeated promises of God to Isaac?Hide Answer
The repeated promises of God were told again to Isaac to confirm that God was faithful to His sworn oath which He had made to Abraham, Isaac’s father (Gen 26:3). Also, those repeated promises served to answer the reason of the sworn oath, the obedience of Abraham to God’s voice, His charge, His commandments, His statutes and His laws (Gen 26:5). Through the repeated promises, God wanted Isaac to keep His covenant (Gen 17:10) and to obey His voice, like his father did.
What lesson do we learn from the above contrast?Hide Answer
Although the Lord had emphasized that He would be with Isaac, later when Isaac was faced with the threat of reality, he was afraid and made his own decision (Gen 26:3, 7). Like Isaac, the difficulties or threat that we are facing, may affect our faith. Though we know of God’s promise of providence and protection in life, the implementation of that belief in our daily life is a different matter. Isaac was afraid because the threat for his life from the men of Gerar seemed more imminent to God’s promise of providence. From Isaac’s example, we learn that faith in God’s promise is not simply a knowledge of the mind or the admittance of the lips; but rather a conviction of that belief implemented into our daily life and a complete trust of that faith applied into our every decision.
In Genesis 26:9, Isaac defended himself from Abimelech’s accusation by saying that he lied to save his life. In other words, Isaac might have been killed if he was to tell the truth about his wife. At this moment, the only thing that worried Isaac the most was his own life, not the life of his wife or the life of the people who were with him. Isaac’s reply reflected his selfishness.
Later, in Genesis 26:10, Abimelech reprimanded Isaac, saying that by Isaac’s lie, Isaac would have brought guilt upon all the people of Gerar. In other words, if Isaac kept lying and did not tell the truth about his wife, one of the people of Gerar might have lain with Isaac’s wife. Abimelech was concerned about all the people of Gerar and he did not want the people to bear the guilt of one man taking another man’s wife. The words of Abimelech reflected his concern for the safety of the life of all the people of Gerar.
How was the providence of God with Isaac and Rebekah when they were in Gerar?Hide Answer
When Isaac and Rebekah were in Gerar, the Lord was with them also. God’s protection of Isaac could be seen through Abimelech’s command which banned anyone to touch or harm Isaac and Rebekah (Gen 26:11). The command of Abimelech also indirectly served to protect Rebekah from being taken or lain by anyone in Gerar and to confirm Rebekah’s status as the wife of Isaac—the confirmation which Isaac was not able to make at first when he was in Gerar.
How did the Lord bless Isaac in the land of Gerar?
How did the Philistines and Abimelech react to Isaac’s blessings? What did they do to Isaac to reflect their reactions?Hide Answer
The book of Genesis 26:14 describes to us that when the Lord blessed Isaac, the Philistines envied him. They envied Isaac’s prosperity. As a result of their envy, the Philistines stopped up and filled all the wells which Abraham’s servants had dug with earth (Gen 26:15). Furthermore, Abimelech, the king of Gerar, rejected the presence of Isaac and told him to go away from his land due to the prosperity which he had from the Lord (Gen 26:16). Even after Isaac had departed from the presence of Abimelech, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen regarding the wells which Isaac had dug and twice took the well for themselves (Gen 26:20-21).
Share an experience of how you might have been intimidated, rejected or persecuted due to the blessing of the Lord in your life.(The answer is empty)Hide Answer
What lesson do we learn from the danger of envy?Hide Answer
Regarding envy, the writer of Proverbs tells us that envy is rottenness to the bones (Prov 14:30). In other words, keeping an envious feeling inside our heart will do us no good. The example of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 37:11 proves that envious feeling causes one to do harm to others. Just as Joseph’s brothers planned to kill Joseph because of their envy, the Philistines persecuted Isaac and sent him away out of envy. From here, we learn that envious feeling inside our heart will not only promote hatred but also influence our actions to do more harm to others.
How did Isaac respond to the Philistines’ and Abimelech’s reactions?Hide Answer
Although Abimelech rejected Isaac and sent him away from the land of Gerar, the land which he already sown, reaped and had livestocks and servants, Isaac decided to depart and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar (Gen 26:17). In addition, when the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled and took the well which belonged to his father, Abraham, Isaac decided to move to another place and dug another well (Gen 26:20-22).
What can we learn about conflict handling from Isaac’s responses to the Philistines’ reactions?Hide Answer
When Abimelech sent Isaac away from the land of Gerar, Isaac could have confronted Abimelech. Since Isaac already living in that land, sown, reaped and had possessions—all through the acknowledgement of Abimelech—Isaac could have disputed his right to stay in the land. But he did not. Instead, he chose to depart from the land according to the words of Abimelech (Gen 26:16, 17). Furthermore, when the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and they several times took the well of Abraham, Isaac could have fought back and retook the well which belonged to his father. But Isaac chose not to do so. Instead, Isaac let the herdsmen of Gerar take the well of Abraham and Isaac moved to another place to dig another well (Gen 26:20-22).
What Isaac did might have been considered as an act of cowardice and foolishness. Isaac should have been able to fight back and to retake what rightfully belonged to him. But instead, in facing Abimelech he decided to depart—taking all his possessions with him—and rather than confronting the herdsmen of Gerar he chose to move away—making his herdsmen put in more effort to dig another well.
From Isaac’s responses to Abimelech and the herdsmen of Gerar, we can learn about handling conflict without force or violence. Though it seems that we lose by letting others have their way, by doing so we are winning. The apostle Paul gives us an encouragement through his letter to the members in Rome, “Repay no one evil for evil…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:17, 21). In other words, if we are able to live peaceably with all men (Rom 12:18), though we have been dealt wrongly, we have overcome evil with good.
In addition, the apostle Paul also adds that we ought not to avenge ourselves, because vengeance belongs to the Lord (Rom 12:19). Here, the apostle Paul even warns us to hold ourselves in fighting back or avenging for our cause by repaying evil with evil. Since we are the followers of God, we ought to give the right of vengeance to the Lord because it belongs to Him.
How did the Lord comfort Isaac in the midst of conflict?Hide Answer
After Abimelech drove Isaac away from the land of Gerar and the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled and took away the wells of Abraham, the Lord appeared to Isaac at night and comforted him, saying, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake” (Gen 26:24). The Lord emphasized to Isaac not to fear because He would be with Isaac and would bless him and his descendants.
When God emphasized His promises for the second time in Genesis 26:23-25, Isaac immediately built an altar and called on the name of the LORD. Such an act from Isaac was not seen in Genesis 25:3-6. Isaac’s action in Genesis 26:25 reflected his thanksgiving to the Lord’s protection and his awe to God’s guidance. Isaac’s action here was in response to his personal experiences on how the Lord fulfilled His promise in protecting both Isaac from being killed by the men of Gerar and Rebekah from being lain by one of the people of Gerar (Gen 26:10). In his journey, though the herdsmen took what rightfully belonged to Isaac, the Lord replaced and blessed Isaac with more blessings. Therefore, Isaac’s action in Genesis 26:25 summed up his awe and thanksgiving for the Lord’s fulfilled promise of protection and finally, his reaffirmed faith and trust in God’s presence and blessings.
Who did Abimelech bring along to see Isaac?
Why did Abimelech come to Isaac?
What did Abimelech see in Isaac that made him come to Isaac?Hide Answer
When Abimelech came to Isaac, he said that they had certainly seen the LORD was with Isaac (Gen 26:28). Abimelech must had witnessed how Isaac reaped a hundredfold in the same year and how he became very prosperous with possessions of flocks, herds, and a great number of servants (Gen 26:12-14). Though the herdsmen of Gerar twice took the well of Abraham, Isaac managed to get another well. Therefore, the phrase “you are now the blessed of the LORD” shows Abimelech’s recognition and acknowledgment that no matter Abimelech and the people of Gerar have inhibited Isaac’s prosperity, the Lord still blessed Isaac. In the eyes of Abimelech, Isaac is now “the blessed of the Lord.”
How did Isaac react to Abimelech’s arrival and proposal?Hide Answer
When Abimelech arrived, Isaac was perplexed to see his coming because Abimelech had hated him and had sent him away from the presence of Abimelech (Gen 26:27). In responding to Abimelech’s proposal to make a covenant between the two of them, Isaac agreed and swore an oath with one another early in the morning (Gen 26:31).
What lesson can we learn from Isaac’s acceptance of Abimelech about forgiveness?Hide Answer
Though Isaac knew that Abimelech had hated him, and had driven him away and the herdsmen of Gerar had taken his wells, Isaac was willing to make a covenant of peace with Abimelech. Isaac had every reason not to accept Abimelech due to the evil which he had received from Abimelech and the people of Gerar, but instead, he willingly made the covenant with him.
Isaac’s response to Abimelech teaches us about forgiving other people’s wrongdoings. The book of Matthew reminds us to forgive those who sin against us up to seventy times seven (Mt 18:22). In other words, forgiveness to those who wronged us should be done in compassion, pity and wholeheartedly (Mt 18:33, 35). Likewise, though it feels difficult to forgive those who wronged us, the book of Matthew emphasizes that the heavenly Father will not forgive our sins if we are not able to forgive those who sin against us (Mrk 11:26).
How did one see the protection and blessing of the Lord from the covenant between Abimelech and Isaac and the finding of the well?Hide Answer
Through the covenant made between Abimelech and Isaac, one could see the protection of the Lord to Isaac and his family. The covenant between the two of them, not only confirmed the peace treaty between the two people, but also reflected Abimelech’s fear toward Isaac who was blessed by the Lord. Abimelech was so afraid that he brought along the commander of his army, Phichol, to also witnessed the oath from Isaac which contained the treaty not to harm Abimelech and his people (Gen 26:26, 28).
After Abimelech and Isaac had made a covenant of peace, Isaac’s servants found water. The finding of the well confirmed the acknowledgment of Abimelech even more that Isaac was “the blessed of the LORD” (Gen 26:29).
Who did Esau take as wives when he was forty years old?
How did Isaac and Rebekah consider the two wives of Esau?
What lesson can we learn between marriage life and keeping a filial relationship with our parents?Hide Answer
From the example of Esau and his wives, we can learn that marriage is not just a union between a husband and a wife, but marriage is also a union between two families, including the parents. Once we are united in marriage, we become sons or daughters to the parents. The apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians emphasizes that not only should we obey our parents but also honor them, for this is the commandment of the Lord (Eph 6:1-2). Thus, as son-in-law or daughter-in-law, it is our responsibility to obey and honor our parents and parents-in-law instead of grieving their hearts. The relationship of Ruth and Naomi is a perfect example of a daughter-in-law who keeps her filial relationship with her mother-in-law (Ruth 1:16).