December 3, 2014

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

 

PART III: HISTORY OF ISAAC AND JACOB. (Genesis 25:19-36:43)

Topic #A:ISAAC'S FAMILY AND SOME TROUBLES. (Genesis 25:19-26:35)                                                                                           

 

 


Lesson III.A.5: Trouble about Wells. (Gen. 26:12-33).                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

Part 1: The Blessing (12-14)

Part 2: The Conflict (15-17)

Part 3: The Search (18-22)

Part 4: The Assurance (23-25)

Part 5: The Agreement (26-33)

 

 

Part 2: The Conflict (Genesis 26:15-17) (KJV)

 

15 For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.

16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.

17 And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.

 

 

Introduction

 

Famine conditions drove Isaac from the semi-arid Negev region (see Gen. 24:62) into the more fertile and more populous area occupied by the forerunners of the Philistines. Isaac now began to make the transition from semi-nomadism to farming (Gen. 26:12), and his very prosperity was an added irritation to the local population, who had evidently taken steps to drive Abraham’s descendants further away, by stopping up the wells for some distance around Isaac’s locale.

 

 

Commentary

 

15 For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.

16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.

17 And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.

 

This small passage reveals the struggle that took place between Isaac’s workers and the forces of Abimelech. It took place at a time when there was a famine in the land; while others scarcely reaped at all, he reaped an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him” (v, 12). [“THEREFORE THIS IS WHAT THE SOVEREIGN LORD SAYS: "MY SERVANTS WILL EAT, BUT YOU WILL GO HUNGRY; MY SERVANTS WILL DRINK, BUT YOU WILL GO THIRSTY; MY SERVANTS WILL REJOICE, BUT YOU WILL BE PUT TO SHAME” (ISAIAH 65:13): ALSO “. . . IN DAYS OF FAMINE THEY WILL ENJOY PLENTY” (PSALMS 37:19)] Notice that God had prospered Isaac to the point that the King told him, “Thou art much mightier than we.” It would be very unusual for an individual to be “mightier” than a kingdom.

 

The Philistines envied Isaac. It was a case of the vanity of the world. The more men have, the more they are envied, and exposed to criticism and harm. It is also a case of the corruption of human nature—that men will grieve because of the good fortune of others. It is almost as if things must be going badly in my life, because all is well with my neighbor.

 

The Philistines tried to get Isaac to leave their land and settle elsewhere, and to encourage this they stopped up[1] the wells dug by Abraham, Isaac’s father, and deprived Isaac’s herds and flocks of the water they desperately needed. Water was a precious commodity in the Near East and working wells were necessary for one to succeed in the land. Plugging someone’s well was ruinous to them, and constituted serious aggression, often leading to war. Isaac could have retaliated, but he did not, rather he dug new wells (vs. 16-19).

 

The crises came when King Abimelech commanded Isaac to move away, and Isaac obeyed. This man Abimelech said, “You are causing a lot of difficult problems now, and it would be better if you left.” He had great respect for Isaac, as you can see. There is a principle at work here which applies to God’s children only—if we are driven from one place, the Lord will make room for us in another, and then He will compensate us with the assurance and consolations of His love. A wise and good man would rather withdraw into obscurity, like Isaac does here by going to live in the valley of Gerar[2], than to sit at a high-level, to be the butt of envy and ill-will.

 

Now this is a part of Isaac’s life where he seems to be a weak man, but he is not. You will notice that he returns to the land where his father Abraham had lived.

 

I feel that the water is a picture of the Word of God. We are to drink deeply of it. It is called the “water of the Word” and is for drinking purposes to quench our thirst, and it is also for washing. Jesus said that we are to be cleansed through the Word which He has spoken.

 

Water is a very necessary ingredient for preserving our lives. You can’t have life without water. If you have ever flown over the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and California you probably noticed vast areas of arid land. Then all of a sudden you see an area of lush green and wonder what has happened down there. Water is the only explanation.

 

And, dear reader, water is the explanation of the difference between God’s children in any church—the water of the Word of God. There is a great difference in the lives of believers who study God’s Word. And there will be a struggle. I think that you will always have to pay a price if you are really going to study the Word of God. The devil will permit you to do anything except get into the Word of God.

 


[1] The same despicable strategy for annoying those whom they resent is still practiced by choking the wells with sand or stones, or defiling them with rotting carcasses.

[2] Valley of Gerar—torrent-bed, or wady, a vast undulating plain, unoccupied and affording good pasture, which was close by the city of Gerar.

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