Grace Words

A Daily Bible Reader's Blog

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Genesis 26

You might say “here we go again.”

The story of Isaac and Abimelech in chapter 26 bears strong resemblance to the stories in Genesis 20 and 21. In fact, some Bible scholars say it is just one story told twice with different players. But the opening to Genesis 26 plainly differentiates this story from the one of Abraham.

In my mind, there is much more fault to be placed on Isaac in this story. Though God has told him to remain in Gerar, the land of the Philistines, he fears for his life. Would God have him stay where God would not protect him? On top of that, he lies about Rebekah to save his own skin, and persists in the lie for a long time (vs. 8) – long enough to know he was in no danger. Abimelech has had some experience with liars like Isaac and knows the divine consequences of violating another man’s wife. He is more than a little shaken Isaac has taken such a risk with other people’s lives.

And yet, though there is no indication God approves of Isaac’s actions, God blesses Isaac because he is God’s chosen and Abimelech sees it and respects Isaac.

There are side issues of morality here: First, lies have far reaching consequences and sometimes not for the liar, but for the deceived. Second, there is a difference between how a man touches his wife, and how he touches another woman. Some touching is reserved for the marriage relationship. Sexuality is not a benefit of “friendship.” Third, even these pagan people of Canaan, those who were so corrupt neither Abraham nor his son or grandson would marry one, know something about proper sexual decorum. And finally, we all want to live so that even those who do not know the Lord will want to live in peace with us.