Teaching Notes are Bible studies we taught before GraceLife Ministries began publishing articles online in 1995. Some were presented as sermons, others as group studies.
Our hope is that these older studies will be a blessing to you in your life and ministry. Please use them in any way God leads you.
These teaching notes are from a series of studies about the Book of Genesis.
[These notes are from a study from almost 45 years ago.]
And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. And Isaac dwelt in Gerar:
Another famine comes up. Isaac does the same thing his father did by leaving the promised land and going to Egypt — the granary of that area. However, God appeared to Isaac and told him not to go to Egypt,, but to stay in the land of Gerar and of the Philistines. The king at that time was Abimelech.
Gerar (gərā), which means “circle” or “region,” was a town in the Philistines’ plans south of Gaza.
The Philistines (pəlištîm) were an uncircumcised people inhabiting the shore plain between Gezer and Gaza in southwestern Palestine. In Genesis 10:14 they are reckoned with other tribes in Mizraim (Egypt) as descendants of Ham, and as cousins of the old inhabitants of Babylonia.
God confirmed the oath He swore to Abraham and Isaac stayed in Gerar.
And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife; and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.
Isaac did the same thing with Abimelech** that Abraham had done with Sarah. Isaac was afraid for his life because of Rebekah’s beauty. He thought that the men might kill him and take Rebekah. Isaac told the men that she was his sister (Genesis 20).
After living in Gerar a long time, Abimelech looked out his window one day and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah. He quickly summoned Isaac and inquired as to why he had lied about Rebekah. Isaac told Abimelech he was afraid for his life. Abimelech rebuked Isaac for lying and ordered that no one was to molest Isaac or Rebekah on threat of death.
Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. 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. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 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.
That same year Isaac planted crops in the land of Gerar and reaped a hundredfold*** because of the Lord’s blessings. That must have been quite a sight due to the famine in the land. Isaac grew more and more wealthy. He had many flocks and herds and servants. His neighbors, the Philistines, were envious of him. They went out and stopped up all the wells with dirt that Abraham’s servants had dug. Even Abimelech was concerned about Isaac’s great power and asked him to move away.
Isaac did move to the Valley of Gerar some miles away. Isaac reopened his father’s wells and gave them the same names.
And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 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. And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. 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.
Isaac’s servants discovered a well of fresh water while digging in the valley, but the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and claimed it was their water. Isaac named this well Esek (‘êśeq), which means “dispute” or “contention.”
Isaac’s servants dug another ell, but the men from Gerar quarreled over, too. So, Isaac name it Sitnah (śiṭnāh), which means “opposition” or “hostility.”
Isaac moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He must gotten far enough away from Gerar. He named the well Rehoboth**** (rəḥōḇōwt), which means “room” or “broad places.” The Lord had led them there.
And he went up from thence to Beersheba. And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well.
Isaac left the area and went up to Beersheba (šāḇa‘). That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”
This is the second time Isaac received a reminder of the covenant God made with Abraham. God was blessing Isaac out of total grace, not because of works on his or Abraham’s part.
Isaac built an altar there and prayed. He pitched his tent and his servants dug a well.
I think the digging of a well speaks of the purpose of remaining in the area for some time.
Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army. And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? And they said, We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the Lord. And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.
Abimelech arrives on the scene with Ahuzzath (’ăḥuzzaṯ), a personal friend and advisor of the king, and Phicol***** (p̄îḵōl) the commander of the king’s forces.
Isaac wanted to know why they came to see him after being so hostile to him. They told him how clearly they saw the Lord’s presence with Isaac and they thought there ought to be a sworn agreement between them. They were apparently afraid of what Isaac could do in the way of physical harm.
Isaac made a feast for the men and in the morning they swore an oath to each other.
And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water. And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day. And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.
That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him that a new well had been dug. He called it Shibah (šiḇ‘āh), which means “seven.” To the present time the name of the town has been Beersheba.
“Beer” means well and “Sheba” means seven, so the literal translation is “well of seven.” Keil-Delitzsch wrote that the wells are still in existence – the well of Abraham and the well of Isaac.
Esau married two Hittite women when he was forty years old – Judith () daughter of Beeri () and Basemath () daughter of Elon (). Those marriages were a source of great grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
This seems to be another proof of Esau’s inadequacy to be the heir of promise.
** Keil-Delitzsch point out that “Abimelech” was the standing official name of the kings of Gerar. It may or may not haven the same man Abraham dealt with many years earlier.
*** Keil-Delitzsch says that this was an unusual blessing as the yield even in very fertile regions is not generally greater than from twenty-five to fifty-fold.
**** Rehoboth is probably identical with the ruin Ruhaibeh, eight hours southwest of Beersheba.
***** Phicol is the same name of King Abimelech’s commander who met with Abraham in Genesis 21:22.
We will look at Genesis Chapter 27 in the next part of our special series.
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from almost 45 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you and your life and ministry.]