Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 5. Ceremonies of religion, observed under the law of nature. (Menochius)
Ver. 7. Sister, or niece. Though lawful at that time, it was not very common for people to marry such near relations; and therefore Isaac, by saying Rebecca was his sister, wished the people of Gerara to be ignorant of her being his wife; being under the like apprehension as his father had been twice before. He imitates his example, trusting in the protection of God, which had rescued Abraham from danger, chap. xxi. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. His wife; using greater familiarity than a grave and virtuous man, like Isaac, would offer to do with his sister, or with another person’s wife. — Sin, or punishment, (Menochius) such as Abimelech’s father had formerly experienced. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Touch, or hurt, by offering to marry, &c. (Haydock) — Adultery was punished with death among these nations, chap. xxxviii. 24, as it was by the law of Moses. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. And the Lord. This is not mentioned as a miracle; for Egypt and many other countries produced 100 fold. Pliny, Natural History xviii. 10, says, some parts of Africa rendered 150 times as much as was sowed. The famine had now ceased. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Depart. Instead of repressing the outrages of his subjects, the king enters into their jealousies, and banishes a wealthy person, (Haydock) as the Athenians so frequently did afterwards with respect to their best citizens. (Aristotle, Polit. iii. 9.) And Pharao used the same pretext, when he persecuted the Hebrews. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. Servants. So the Septuagint and Syriac versions, and the Samaritan copy against the Hebrew, in the days, which is incorrect. (Kennicott)
Ver. 19. Torrent. That is, a channel where sometimes a torrent, or violent stream, had run. (Challoner) — In this vale of Gerara, a never-failing spring was found. (Haydock)
Ver. 22. Latitude. That is, wideness, or room. (Challoner) — Hebrew Rechoboth, widely extended streams, latitudines. See chap. x. 11.
Ver. 24. Of Abraham, who still lives before me, and for whom I always testified such affection, though I suffered him to be persecuted: hence, fear not. (Haydock)
Ver. 26. Ochozath. This name occurs in the Septuagint, as well as the other two; (Chap. xxi. 22.) and means a company of friends. Phicol also signifies the mouth or face of all, being the general of the army, on whom the soldiers must be intent. These are, perhaps, therefore, the names of offices, not of persons; or if they be the same who lived with Abraham, they must have held their high command above 100 years. (Menochius) (Calmet)
Ver. 35. Offended. They were the daughters of princes of the Heathens, (Josephus) and being brought up in idolatry and pride, refused to give ear to the advice of Isaac, who never approved of the marriage of his son with them. Esau would not leave the choice of a wife to his father, as Isaac had done at the same age. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Isaac sojourneth in Gerara, where God reneweth to him the promise made to Abraham. King Abimelech maketh league with him.
1 And when a famine came in the land,* after that barrenness which had happened in the days of Abraham, Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Palestines, to Gerara.
2 And the Lord appeared to him and said: Go not down into Egypt, but stay in the land that I shall tell thee.
3 And sojourn in it, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee: for to thee and to thy seed I will give all these countries,* to fulfil the oath which I swore to Abraham thy father.
4 And I will multiply thy seed like the stars of heaven: and I will give to thy posterity all these countries: and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.*
5 Because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my precepts and commandments, and observed my ceremonies and laws.
6 So Isaac abode in Gerara.
7 And when he was asked by the men of that place, concerning his wife, he answered: She is my sister: for he was afraid to confess that she was his wife, thinking lest perhaps they would kill him because of her beauty.
8 And when very many days were passed, and he abode there, Abimelech, king of the Palestines, looking out through a window, saw him playing with Rebecca, his wife.
9 And calling for him, he said: It is evident she is thy wife: why didst thou feign her to be thy sister? He answered: I feared lest I should die for her sake.
10 And Abimelech said: Why hadst thou deceived us? Some man of the people might have lain with thy wife, and thou hadst brought upon us a great sin. And he commanded all the people, saying:
11 He that shall touch this man’s wife, shall surely be put to death.
12 And Isaac sowed in that land, and he found that same year a hundred-fold: and the Lord blessed him.
13 And the man was enriched, and he went on prospering and increasing, till he became exceeding great.
14 And he had possessions of sheep and of herds, and a very great family. Wherefore the Palestines envying him,
15 Stopped up at that time all the wells, that the servants of his father, Abraham, had digged, filling them up with earth:
16 Insomuch that Abimelech himself said to Isaac: Depart from us, for thou art become much mightier than we.
17 So he departed, and came to the torrent of Gerara, to dwell there:
18 And he digged again other wells, which the servants of his father, Abraham, had digged, and which, after his death, the Philistines had of old stopped up: and he called them by the same names, by which his father before had called them.
19 And they digged in the torrent, and found living water:
20 But there also the herdsmen of Gerara strove against the herdsmen of Isaac, saying: It is our water. Wherefore he called the name of the well, on occasion of that which had happened, Calumny.
21 And they digged also another; and for that they quarrelled likewise, and he called the name of it, Enmity.
22 Going forward from thence, he digged another well, for which they contended not; therefore he called the name thereof, Latitude, saying: Now hath the Lord given us room, and made us to increase upon the earth.*
23 And he went up from that place to Bersabee,
24 Where the Lord appeared to him that same night, saying: I am the God of Abraham thy father, do not fear, for I am with thee: I will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.
25 And he built there an altar: and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent; and commanded his servants to dig a well.
26 To which place when Abimelech, and Ochozath his friend, and Phicol chief captain of his soldiers, came from Gerara,
27 Isaac said to them: Why are ye come to me, a man whom you hate, and have thrust out from you?
28 And they answered: We saw that the Lord is with thee, and therefore we said: Let there be an oath between us, and let us make a covenant,
29 That thou do us no harm, as we on our part have touched nothing of thine, nor have done any thing to hurt thee; but with peace have sent thee away, increased with the blessing of the Lord.
30 And he made them a feast, and after they had eaten and drunk:
31 Arising in the morning, they swore one to another: and Isaac sent them away peaceably to their own home.
32 And behold, the same day the servants of Isaac came, telling him of a well which they had digged, and saying: We have found water.
33 Whereupon he called it Abundance: and the name of the city was called Bersabee, even to this day.
34 And Esau being forty years old, married wives,* Judith, the daughter of Beeri, the Hethite, and Basemath, the daughter of Elon, of the same place.
35 *And they both offended the mind of Isaac and Rebecca.
1: Year of the World about 2200.
3: Genesis xii. 3. and xv. 18.
4: Genesis xii. 3. and xviii. 18. and xxii. 17. and xxviii. 14.
22: Psalm iv. 1.
34: Year of the World 2208, Year before Christ 1796.
35: Genesis xxvii. 46.