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26 Now a severe famine overshadowed the land, as had happened before, in Abraham’s time, and so Isaac moved to the city of Gerar where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived.

Jehovah appeared to him there and told him, “Don’t go to Egypt. Do as I say and stay here in this land. If you do, I will be with you and bless you, and I will give all this land to you and to your descendants, just as I promised Abraham your father. And I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars! And I will give them all of these lands; and they shall be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. I will do this because Abraham obeyed my commandments and laws.”

So Isaac stayed in Gerar. And when the men there asked him about Rebekah, he said, “She is my sister!” For he feared for his life if he told them she was his wife; he was afraid they would kill him to get her, for she was very attractive. But sometime later, King Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out of a window and saw Isaac and Rebekah making love.

Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, “She is your wife! Why did you say she is your sister?”

“Because I was afraid I would be murdered,” Isaac replied. “I thought someone would kill me to get her from me.”

10 “How could you treat us this way?” Abimelech exclaimed. “Someone might carelessly have raped her, and we would be doomed.” 11 Then Abimelech made a public proclamation: “Anyone harming this man or his wife shall die.”

12 That year Isaac’s crops were tremendous—100 times the grain he sowed. For Jehovah blessed him. 13 He was soon a man of great wealth and became richer and richer. 14 He had large flocks of sheep and goats, great herds of cattle, and many servants. And the Philistines became jealous of him. 15 So they filled up his wells with earth—all those dug by the servants of his father Abraham.

16 And King Abimelech asked Isaac to leave the country. “Go somewhere else,” he said, “for you have become too rich and powerful for us.”

17 So Isaac moved to Gerar Valley and lived there instead. 18 And Isaac redug the wells of his father Abraham, the ones the Philistines had filled after his father’s death, and gave them the same names they had had before, when his father had named them. 19 His shepherds also dug a new well in Gerar Valley, and found a gushing underground spring.

20 Then the local shepherds came and claimed it. “This is our land and our well,” they said, and argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So he named the well, “The Well of Argument!”[a] 21 Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a fight over it. So he called it, “The Well of Anger.”[b] 22 Abandoning that one, he dug again, and the local residents finally left him alone. So he called it, “The Well of Room Enough for Us at Last!”[c] “For now at last,” he said, “the Lord has made room for us and we shall thrive.”

23 When he went to Beer-sheba, 24 Jehovah appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of Abraham your father,” he said. “Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you, and will give you so many descendants that they will become a great nation—because of my promise to Abraham, who obeyed me.” 25 Then Isaac built an altar and worshiped Jehovah; and he settled there, and his servants dug a well.

26 One day Isaac had visitors from Gerar. King Abimelech arrived with his advisor, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander.

27 “Why have you come?” Isaac asked them. “This is obviously no friendly visit, since you kicked me out in a most uncivil way.”

28 “Well,” they said, “we can plainly see that Jehovah is blessing you. We’ve decided to ask for a treaty between us. 29 Promise that you will not harm us, just as we have not harmed you, and in fact, have done only good to you and have sent you away in peace; we bless you in the name of the Lord.”

30 So Isaac prepared a great feast for them, and they ate and drank in preparation for the treaty ceremonies. 31 In the morning, as soon as they were up, they each took solemn oaths to seal a nonaggression pact. Then Isaac sent them happily home again.

32 That very same day Isaac’s servants came to tell him, “We have found water”—in the well they had been digging. 33 So he named the well, “The Well of the Oath,”[d] and the city that grew up there was named “Oath,” and is called that to this day.

34 Esau, at the age of forty, married a girl named Judith, daughter of Be-eri the Hethite; and he also married Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hethite. 35 But Isaac and Rebekah were bitter about his marrying them.


  1. Genesis 26:20 The Well of Argument, i.e., Esek.
  2. Genesis 26:21 The Well of Anger, i.e., Sitnah.
  3. Genesis 26:22 The Well of Room Enough for Us at Last, i.e., Rehoboth.
  4. Genesis 26:33 The Well of the Oath, i.e., Shibah. Oath, i.e., Beer-sheba.

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