December 9, 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 3: The Search (Genesis 26:18-22) (KJV)

 

18 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.

19 And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.

20 And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him.

21 And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.

22 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.

 

 

Introduction

 

Isaac, from how he is portrayed in Genesis, appears to be a milder and more conciliatory man than most of the Old Testament figures. For anyone who had to move his flocks here and there in a land where water was scarce, wells were vital. Patiently Isaac had dug again Abraham’s old wells which the Philistines had tried to destroy. The herdsmen of Gerar twice disputed his possession of them, and twice Isaac moved away.

 

 

Commentary

 

18 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.

 

The Philistines had stopped up the wells which Abraham had dug—an unfriendly act signifying that the newcomers were not welcome. No matter where Isaac traveled his enemy followed him and confiscated his father’s wells and also the new wells Isaac’s servants had dug.

 

 

19 And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.

 

Isaac was driven away from Gerar by the Philistines. He went a short distance to the Valley of Gerar, where he settled down, and continued his search for water. There he reclaimed a well that had been filled up with stones and soil by the enemies of the patriarch. Finding a well of “springing water” was a special blessing because it guaranteed fresh water at all times, but the Philistines took that well too.

 

 

20 And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him.

 

The names of the new wells that Isaac’s men dug revealed the problems he had with his neighbors; they took the new well of springing water which Isaac had named “Esek”Esek means contention.

 

Whenever Abraham had a problem with people, he boldly confronted them and got the matter settled, whether it was his nephew Lot (Genesis 13:5-18), the invading kings (chapter 14), Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21:9ff), or the Philistines (v. 22ff). But Isaac was a reserved man who wanted to avoid confrontation. Since he was a pilgrim, he could move his camp and be a peacemaker.

 

In every difficult situation in life, it requires discernment to know whether God wants us to be confronters like Abraham or peacemakers like Isaac; for God can bless and use both approaches. Paul said this in Romans 12:18: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Sometimes it isn’t possible, but at least we should try, and we must depend on the wisdom from above that is “pure” and “peaceable.” James said nearly the same thing: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).

 

 

21 And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.

 

Instead of fighting to keep the well of springing water, Isaac’s men dug another: and Isaac called it “Sitnah,” which means hatred. They took that well too. His men dug more wells, but he continued to relinquish one well after another.

 

 

22 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.

 

“Rehoboth” means enlargement: Isaac chose this name because he saw God providentially working out his situation, that is, he had finally found a place where he was left alone and where he had room enough for his camp and his herds and flocks. Isaac’s example shows that those who seek peace, sooner or later, shall find peace.

 

Looking at Isaac’s experience from a spiritual point of view, we can learn an important lesson. In the Bible, wells sometimes symbolize blessings from the hand of the Lord (Genesis 16:14; 21:19; 49:22; Exodus 15:27; Numbers 21:16-18; Proverbs 5:15; 16:22; 18:4; Song 4:15; Isaiah 12:3; John 4:14[1]). The church keeps looking for something new, when all we need is to dig again the old wells of spiritual life that God’s people have depended on from the beginning—the Word of God, prayer, worship, faith, the power of the Spirit, sacrifice and service—wells that we’ve allowed the enemy to fill up. Whenever there’s been a revival of spiritual power in the history of the church, it’s been because somebody has dug again the old wells so that God’s life-giving Spirit can be free to work.

 

This passage certainly reveals that Isaac is a man of peace and a man of patience. David wouldn’t have given up so easily, I can tell you that. Simon Peter wouldn’t have done that. And if you want to know the truth, Tom Lowe wouldn’t have done that. There is a real lesson for us here. This is especially applicable when we apply it to worldly things. First, they cause quarrels and are occasions for strife. Second, it is often the lot of the quietest and the most peaceful men in the world that they can avoid striving with others, but cannot avoid being striven with: “I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalms 120:7). In this sense Jeremiah was a contentious man (Jeremiah 15:10); and so was Christ Himself, though He is the Prince of Peace. Third, what a blessing it is to have plenty of water and not have to fight for it; much of the world must live without an adequate supply of water. Being aware of that is even more reason for being thankful for what we have here in America.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] The Hebrew word for “well” is Be’er, which explains why there are places in the Holy Land called Beersheba (“well of the oath,” Genesis 21:30-31) and Beer-lahai (“the well of the living one who sees me,” Genesis 16:14).

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