-Isaac follows much the same path as his father Abraham as we see in this chapter. Another famine hits the Negev (South Country) of Beer-lahai-roi where he had been, and he considered going back down to Egypt. However, the LORD in His wisdom instructed Isaac to stay and sojourn in this land where he was for blessing on him and his descendants and possession of the good land. God at this point re-establishes His oath (covenant) with Isaac that He gave to Abraham for multiplication of descendants as numerous as the stars in the land and a blessing to all the nations of the earth through his line (Messianic promise).
-God gives the reason for why He established His covenant with this family. Abraham had obeyed Him and kept His charge (he endured and overcame through faith, he never quit or faltered), His commandments, His statues, and His laws. God is faithful to bless those who rely on Him!
-So Isaac ventured north Gerar from his location in the Negev to escape the famine. Isaac, just like his father, lies to the men of this place concerning the relationship he had with Rebekah. He claims she is his sister out of fear for his life because Rebekah, like his mother Sarah, was a beautiful woman. The king of the land, Abimelech, saw Isaac caressing his wife and called him out on his lie. Abimelech was concerned that this would bring guilt on his people had they been immoral with Isaac’s wife. Then the king charged his people saying that anyone touching Isaac’s wife would be put to death. Isaac underestimated the morality of these people he was living amongst. Sometimes we also allow fear to restrict us from doing what we know is right in certain environments. When you take a strong moral stand, you inevitably find others who share your convictions and good prevails. God comes to your aid when you stand for His ways. Isaac was slow to realize this and we are too.
-So Isaac comes across Abimelech, king of the Philistines, as his father had previously done. It is not totally clear if this is the same Abimelech that Abraham had encountered. Phicol, the commander of his army, is again mentioned, which does give some support to this being the same individual though some scholars think Abimelech is a dynastic name and this is a different individual. In any case, they live together in the land for a period of time, but once again as in the days of Abraham, water sources become an issue with their herdsmen leading to quarrels and jealousy by the Philistines (God had blessed Isaac’s crops abundantly here). This situation got to the point where Isaac moved over and over again until he and his family found space at the well called Reboboth. From there he went to live in Beersheba, which is back towards the east and a little south from where he was in the hill country.
-Here in Beersheba, God appears to Isaac in the night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendents, for the sake of My servant Abraham (Genesis 26:24).” So Isaac built an alter just as his father had done and worshiped the LORD calling on His Name. His servants also dug a well there at the spot.
-Another covenant is made between Isaac and Abimelech as they come to Isaac’s place and see the LORD’s blessing on his life. Isaac gives them a feast and they make vows to one another and afterwards depart in peace.
-The chapter ends with a brief description of Esau’s marriage at the age of 40 to a Hittite woman named Judith and another Hittite woman named Basemath. This brought great grief to Isaac and Rebekah. This again shows the rebellious nature of those not called according to the LORD’s promise and a deviation from the righteous path. The law would later command children to obey their parents in the LORD. Esau brought grief to his parents by disobedience to their wishes to marry within their people no doubt. Jacob would do this and the blessing was through his line (Genesis 28:6-7).
Verse to Memorize: Genesis 26:24