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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.

Isaac and Abimelek(A)

26 Now there was a famine in the land(B)—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines(C) in Gerar.(D) The Lord appeared(E) to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt;(F) live in the land where I tell you to live.(G) Stay in this land for a while,(H) and I will be with you(I) and will bless you.(J) For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands(K) and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.(L) I will make your descendants(M) as numerous as the stars in the sky(N) and will give them all these lands,(O) and through your offspring[a] all nations on earth will be blessed,[b](P) because Abraham obeyed me(Q) and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees(R) and my instructions.(S) So Isaac stayed in Gerar.(T)

When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,(U)” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”

When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines(V) looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?(W)

Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”

10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us?(X) One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”

11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms(Y) this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”(Z)

12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold,(AA) because the Lord blessed him.(AB) 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy.(AC) 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants(AD) that the Philistines envied him.(AE) 15 So all the wells(AF) that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up,(AG) filling them with earth.

16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us;(AH) you have become too powerful for us.(AI)

17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar,(AJ) where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells(AK) that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herders of Gerar quarreled(AL) with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!”(AM) So he named the well Esek,[c] because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled(AN) over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.[d] 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth,[e](AO) saying, “Now the Lord has given us room(AP) and we will flourish(AQ) in the land.”

23 From there he went up to Beersheba.(AR) 24 That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham.(AS) Do not be afraid,(AT) for I am with you;(AU) I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants(AV) for the sake of my servant Abraham.”(AW)

25 Isaac built an altar(AX) there and called on the name of the Lord.(AY) There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.(AZ)

26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces.(BA) 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?(BB)

28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you;(BC) so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty(BD) with you 29 that you will do us no harm,(BE) just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.”(BF)

30 Isaac then made a feast(BG) for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath(BH) to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.

32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well(BI) they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33 He called it Shibah,[f] and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.[g](BJ)

Jacob Takes Esau’s Blessing

34 When Esau was forty years old,(BK) he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite.(BL) 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.(BM)


  1. Genesis 26:4 Or seed
  2. Genesis 26:4 Or and all nations on earth will use the name of your offspring in blessings (see 48:20)
  3. Genesis 26:20 Esek means dispute.
  4. Genesis 26:21 Sitnah means opposition.
  5. Genesis 26:22 Rehoboth means room.
  6. Genesis 26:33 Shibah can mean oath or seven.
  7. Genesis 26:33 Beersheba can mean well of the oath and well of seven.