On Genesis, Part 37: The Incontinence of Men

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On Genesis, Part 37: The Incontinence of Men

In our last discussion in Genesis, The Children of the Flesh, we hope to have fully elucidated the meaning of the words of Paul of Tarsus where he wrote in Romans chapter 9, as it is in the Christogenea New Testament, and he said: “8 That is to say, the children of the flesh, these are not children of Yahweh, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” Saying that, Paul then went on to describe the promise to Sarah, and then to Rebekah, whereby he illustrated the fact that only Jacob was ultimately the heir of Abraham, and out of all of the children of Abraham, the promises of God are given only to Jacob’s descendants. This was also the same illustration which he made in a different manner in Galatians chapter 3, an epistle which he actually wrote about two years prior to his having written Romans. Now from this point on in Genesis, Ishmael and the sons of Keturah are removed from the picture, and all future history, Biblical and otherwise, would revolve around the descendants of Jacob and Esau, as Jacob had merited the birthright which his older brother had despised, although after he lost it, Esau had hated his brother and wanted it back.

So the Edomites became predominant in Judaea in the centuries leading up to the ministry of Christ, and even today the descendants of Esau still think that they can have back the inheritance, in a rather indirect manner. But they never shall attain it, since they are all bastards, and the works of men are vanity in the eyes of God. But this dynamic nevertheless drives world events to this very day, as the Edomite Jews have forever been plotting to dominate and destroy Christians so that they may have the world to themselves, and this observation is true in spite of the fact that both parties are generally oblivious to this truth. In Romans chapter 9, where Paul had continued his discussion of the issue concerning the seed of Abraham, he compared Jacob and Esau, and described the descendants of Jacob as vessels of mercy, but the descendants of Esau as vessels of destruction. Doing all of this, in Paul’s epistles he was not innovating, but rather he was instructing Christians as to how the will of Yahweh God which was expressed in Genesis affects the Christian world, as the Word of God has not and does not change. To this day, the children of Esau and Ishmael and the others are still excluded from the promises of God, and they always shall be excluded, along with any other races who were not of Abraham or even of Adam in the first place.

So thus far in Genesis chapter 25, we have seen the passing of Abraham after he had sent all of his other sons away from the presence of Isaac. But as we had explained, the chapter is not written chronologically, and Jacob and Esau were actually born about 15 years before Abraham’s passing. Then, where the conception and birth of the twins is described, we read “25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.” But as we had sought to explain here, this does not mean that Esau was hairy all over, but only that he was red all over. In Revelation chapter 1 we read in a description of Christ that “14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire”. This does not mean that His hair has the texture of wool, but only that it is as white as wool. Nor were His eyes on fire, but they had the appearance of fire. There is a similar analogy in Isaiah chapter 1 where we read: “18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Here the phrase “be as wool” is a parallelism for the earlier phrase, “as white as snow”, and it does not refer to the texture of the wool, or to the texture of the snow, but to their color. Here, in this verse of Genesis, we would prefer to move the comma, so as to avoid confusion, but in any case Esau’s body was red all over, like a hairy garment, and that is not stating that it was hairy all over, as we had also demonstrated from Scripture that there were reddish-colored animals in Palestine at the time. While Esau was indeed described as a hairy man later in life, that is not what is being described here in the circumstances of his birth. However as we had also explained, the circumstances of his birth are indeed a prophecy concerning his character as well as the future condition of his descendants. [I toyed with ChatGPT, one of the popular AI chats, on this subject as I prepared this presentation, and the results may be seen in the Christogenea Forum. I signed up for an account just to do that, and will probably do it on other subjects in the near future.]

Furthermore, there is no linguistic support whatsoever for the claim made by many popular sources, that the name Esau means hairy. That is a blatant lie. [On this subject, even ChatGPT was forced to admit that I am correct.] The word appears 97 times in the Masoretic Text upon which the King James Version is based, and on every occasion it is only a reference to Esau, but it never does appear as a common adjective for anything. As we explained, according to Strong’s original Concordance, the name is actually derived from a common verb which means to do or to make. As for the redness of his skin, there are many babies born even today with a condition known as erythema toxicum, causing the skin to be red and blotchy, and with what is called “baby acne”, causing it to be bumpy and rough to the touch. So it is very likely that there were natural reasons for the newborn Esau’s appearance. However that does not detract from the prophetic nature of his appearance as an indication of the adult Esau’s behavior, and the fate of his posterity.

Therefore, as we had also discussed, there are many Christian Identity adherents who believe that due to Esau’s character, that he must have somehow been a bastard who was born under similar conditions to those of Cain. It is acknowledged repeatedly in Genesis chapter 3 that Eve certainly did conceive as a result of her transgressions, whereby it is fully apparent that Adam was not Cain’s natural father. However the same cannot be justly said for Esau, since not only are there no descriptions of any events which may lend credence to such a postulation, but just the opposite is true: the circumstances demonstrate that only Isaac himself could have been the father of both twins. Rebekah was barren, and Isaac must have been close to her since it is explained that he had “entreated Yahweh for his wife, because she was barren”. So Yahweh hearkened to his prayer and on account of that, He opened her womb, and she bore twins. Under these circumstances, any accusations of infidelity and fornication must be summarily dismissed and ridiculed as being completely incredulous.

As far as we have observed, the men who make this accusation usually do so because they find it difficult to believe that a child of Abraham and Isaac could sin in the manner in which Esau had sinned, or could despise the inheritance to the extent to which he had despised his birthright. But it is certain that Esau was indeed a worldly man, and today there are millions of men like Esau in the world, who have despised their own birthrights and sold them to the objectives of the Jews and their international corporations, all for no more than a bowl of porridge, or a game and a bucket of beer. Esau describes such men perfectly, and like Esau, their progeny shall also be rejected because it is accursed, as they have given their children to aliens. There truly is nothing new under the sun. So Esau stands as a type for the worldly men of today, for the bread-and-circus idolaters who have forsaken their birthrights in pursuit of sport or of gain, and his incontinence ensured that he could never recover it again.

So now, as we return to Genesis chapter 25, the worldliness of Esau contrasted to the humble state of Jacob is made manifest:

27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

So Esau won his father’s heart through his prowess in the field, and the fact that Isaac also enjoyed the meat which he brought home for the table. The word translated as cunning, ידע or yada (# 3045), is simply to know and would have been better translated as skillful in this context. But the fact that Jacob was a “plain man” does not mean that he was weak or incapable. Rather, the Hebrew word translated as plain is תם or tam (# 8535) and it literally means complete, or morally, pious, as it is defined in the original Strong’s Concordance. In Gesenius’ lexicon the word is defined as whole, upright and also, in an abstract sense, as integrity [1]. So Jacob was not merely plain, but wholesome as compared to Esau.

The phrase “dwelling in tents” simply seems to have distinguished Jacob as having lived at home, where in the Septuagint it was translated into a Greek phrase οἰκῶν οἰκίαν, which literally means “dwelling in a house”, although we are informed often in these chapters that Abraham and Isaac did indeed dwell only in tents. However the Greek word οἶκος or house is often, and correctly, translated as home in similar contexts, for example in Brenton’s Septuagint at 1 Samuel 6:10, or even as family in Joshua 2:18.

[1 Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, translated by Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Baker Books, 1979, pp. 865-866.]

Therefore here we may imagine that Esau’s only care was to be out hunting in the field, where he also must have spent many nights, but he was not wholesome or complete in the sense of doing all of the other things which were necessary in order to help manage his father’s house. It is those things to which an eldest son, the son who stands to have the greatest share in the inheritance, should give the greater part of his attention, and he should not take them for granted. However Esau seems to have taken his inheritance for granted. To the contrary, Jacob was humble and must have been engaged in all of the necessary tasks with which his parents may be expected to have needed assistance, whereby he also would have learned how to manage his father’s house regardless of whether or not he was the primary heir. The first man Adam was put “into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it”, and not merely for the sport of hunting for game. So Jacob, by his actions, showed that he had sincerely cared for his father’s estate.

In this regard we must remember that this was not just a mere tent in which Jacob had stayed, and a simple need to acquire some food. Rather, Isaac had many servants and flocks and other goods which he had inherited from his father Abraham, servants which probably numbered far in excess of a thousand, and flocks which must have been far more numerous, and they were the primary means by which the entire household was supported. So Jacob was not merely sitting at home, but he was a complete son in the sense that he was doing whatever was necessary to help his parents at home. Esau’s willingness to forgo his responsibilities at home in exchange for sport in the field also helps to elucidate his lack of care for his birthright, since in the process he must have neglected his father’s house. For that reason was Jacob loved much more by his mother, whereas Isaac seems here to have been short-sighted and cared more for his own belly than for what his eldest son may do with his birthright.

The subsequent verses all support our assertions:

29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

To sod is to boil, as the word is an archaic past tense of the English verb seethe. The Hebrew word, which is very similar to sod, something which is probably not a coincidence, is זוד or zowd (# 2102), which is to boil or seethe. But in those days, sodding pottage, which is a soup or a stew, was much more complex a chore than simply opening a can and mixing it with a little water to heat it in a pot. Neither did lentils come in a bag from the market. So Jacob must have prepared the lentils, which may have even included having planted and harvested them himself, along with everything else that went into the pot to make them into an appetizing soup. But regardless of how he had done it, the point is that it is a laborious process to ensure a steady supply of food in a household where everything must be grown and made from scratch. So this exemplifies the fact that Jacob was involved in that process, but Esau had never cared for it, rather having preferred to be sporting in the wild. To his father Isaac, he may have seemed like the more successful or more valiant son, when in the reality of his misfortune, where he evidently did not catch any game, he was so dependent on others, and he was so incontinent, that he would even sell his own birthright just so that he could eat. So many times in history it has happened that the number may only be reckoned by Yahweh God Himself, that a man has in one way or another, on account of a single fleeting act of incontinence, lost his entire birthright or the fortunes of his own future and those of his children because he was overpowered by some fleshly desire. Esau stands as a type, that even the strongest of men could suffer such a fate, and as we shall see, Esau had done it repeatedly.

Now Jacob must have known all of this, and certainly more, so here he makes that offer:

31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.

In order to even make such a demand, Jacob must have already known that Esau did despise his birthright, thought little of it, and would therefore be willing to sell it in exchange for a simple meal. Coming hurriedly from the field, Esau may have gone days without food, evidently he had little self-control, and therefore he was desperate to eat. So here Jacob was an opportunist, but he was motivated for a good purpose, which is to preserve the birthright of his own father when his older brother had accounted it for naught. Where Esau answers, Jacob is proven to have been correct:

32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

This betrays Esau as an incontinent man who could not control his own passions and affections. If he would sell his birthright to his brother for a bowl of stew, then he may have one day sold it to a stranger for even less. [I am tempted to make a prurient remark here, which would also be true.] So Esau would have been better off to have controlled his desires and risked death, where if he had then failed, the birthright would have fallen to his brother anyway. But instead, he willingly gave it to his brother for a pittance. So Jacob takes a rightful advantage of Esau’s weakness:

33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

There is also an underlying dynamic here which must be noted. If Esau had ever shared his game with Jacob, in times when he was successful, Jacob may have been obligated to have given Esau a meal without asking for any recompense. So apparently, there was little or even no charity between these two brothers as they grew from childhood to manhood. Then again, if Jacob were a weak man he may not have been able to confront his brother with this offer, so he was indeed strong enough to stand up to him and to make this demand. Being “plain”, as the King James Version has it, is not the same as being weak, but rather, “plain folk” are generally wholesome folk, and Esau, the skillful hunter, was weak.

Later, when Rebekah helped assure that Jacob received the blessings of the first born, something which had been an aspect of the birthright that Esau had sold to him, Esau protested and hated his brother, so he could not even keep his word where he had sworn here. But Esau despised his birthright, so here he sold it of his own free will, and he could never take it back. So as we progress through these chapters of Genesis, it shall become even more apparent that Jacob’s boldness here is justified, and that Esau’s weak character which is exhibited in his subsequent actions is the reason for Jacob’s justification. But it is also evident that Jacob made no direct move to enforce his possession of the birthright. But rather, it must have been Yahweh Himself, through the actions of Rebekah, who had upheld his title on his behalf, and therefore Jacob was justified by both his mother and his God, and also later, after all of this became fully apparent, even by his father Isaac.

Here it is also apparent, that Yahweh did not name Esau with the name Edom, but Jacob himself must have named him thus, and the name was extant in the language of the Israelites as it was later used to describe the heritage of Esau by the time that Moses had begun writing, so Jacob must have passed these accounts down to his own sons. The word Edom is from the same Hebrew word as the word for Adam, or adam, which means reddish or ruddy. The spelling is only differentiated in English, where it is used in the context of Esau or his descendants, to distinguish them from Adam and from the wider Adamic race. Later, Jacob shall be renamed Israel, and that name is interpreted variously, but in any interpretation, it sits in distinction to the use of either adam or edom in Scripture.

The original Strong’s Concordance defines ישראל or Israel (# 3478) as “he will rule as God” from a verb related to the name of Sarah, which is שרה or sarah (# 8280) and which means to prevail, and the word אל or el (# 410) meaning God, where the phrase is prefixed with the letter י or yodh, which signifies a pronoun meaning he. Here Strong’s may be innovating, adding the idea of like or as to the meaning of the word, which is not expressed in Hebrew. But otherwise, it seems redundant to read the Hebrew form of Israel merely as “God He prevails”, or as Brown, Driver and Briggs define it, “Let El persist” or ‘Let El contend” [2]. So some sort of preposition or other particle needs to be added to the meaning of the resulting word in order for it to make sense in English. Gesenius defines the word as “defender,” [or] “soldier of God” [3]. But we would rather define the name of Israel as it is explained in Scripture, in Genesis chapter 32, where Jacob had wrestled with the angel and we read “28 … Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” So Israel certainly must mean “he prevails with God”, as it says here, but not like or as God, as Strong’s has claimed. However since the verb from which the word is taken, שרר or sarar (# 8323) means to have dominion, the name Israel may also be defined as “he shall rule with God”, especially in light of the words “for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men”.

So with this it may be said, that although Jacob and Esau are both men, Esau followed after the flesh, for which the name Edom, the same word as adam, is quite fitting – even if he was really given the name because he sold his birthright for stew that was reddish in color, like Adam was ruddy in color. But Jacob evidently followed after the Spirit, remaining obedient and faithful to his parents rather than seeking his own glory, and by that he prevailed with God and with men.

[2 The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Hendrickson Publishers, 2021, p. 975; 3 Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, p. 370.]

Now as we proceed with Genesis chapter 26, there is a long digression, a departure in the account of Jacob and Esau, where Isaac is found dealing with worldly issues in the land of Gerar. When the digression ends, we find the real reason why Esau lost his birthright. Esau had already despised it, Jacob knew he despised it, and therefore Jacob’s barter of the lentil porridge was only an act and an oath which officiated the fact that he despised it, and therefore he did not deserve it. The proof that he did not deserve it is found in the closing verses of Genesis chapter 26 where we read “34 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: 35 Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.”

As we have hopefully explained, Esau’s actions when he returned home hungry from being in the field demonstrated his incontinence, but this act further demonstrates his incontinence, to a much greater degree and with a much more devastating result. It is for this reason that Paul of Tarsus had written of Esau in chapter 12 of his epistle to the Hebrews urging them to be diligent in the faith and said “ 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” The losses to which a moment of careless incontinence leads very often cannot be recovered.

Abraham would not take a Canaanite wife, and he would not even take a gift or anything else which was offered freely from the Canaanites, and he warned his servant not to take a Canaanite wife for Isaac his son. Both Esau and Jacob, who almost certainly knew their grandfather Abraham until they were in their mid-teens, must have heard of these family accounts and of all the reasons for the rejection of the Canaanites that had been known to Abraham and Isaac. But to Esau, this experience seems to have been of no account, and evidently without having consulted his father, he found wives on his own, from of the very people of whom Abraham had warned. Note here that this was a grief of mind to both Rebekah and Isaac, but as we shall see when again we discuss Genesis chapter 27, Rebekah was the catalyst who moved Isaac to make amends for this situation, and it is she who secured the blessing for Jacob, the more worthy son.

But for now, we shall continue with Genesis chapter 26 and follow the digression through the account of Isaac in Gerar, and it is one more example of the incontinence of men, but it is also more important to the general narrative than that:

1 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.

We cannot be entirely certain of the ancient location of Beerlahairoi or the well of Lahairoi where Isaac had dwelt in ancient Palestine up to the time of this famine, but it is very often identified in modern times with the site of the ancient town of Kadesh-Barnea, about seventy miles southwest of Hebron. Beersheba is between them, being about twenty-five miles southwest of Hebron. Beersheba is identified with a site which is about 34 miles east of the Mediterranean coast at the point where the modern Israeli state has its border with Egypt at the Sinai peninsula. The ancient Philistine kingdom of Gerar seems to have been roughly congruent to the area of modern Gaza, but extending eastward at least as far as Beersheba. We may doubt the identification of Beerlahairoi with a place so far away as Kadesh-Barnea. In Genesis 16:14 we are informed that it is “between Kadesh and Bered”, but we do not know the precise location of ancient Bered. However because there were also smaller towns along the established trade routes, we may justly imagine that Bered was somewhere between Beersheba and Kadesh-Barnea. Beerlahairoi is also the place to which Hagar had fled from Sarah, before Yahweh instructed her to return, as it is described in Genesis chapter 16. So because Hagar was apparently going to Egypt, that seems to indicate that Beerlahairoi, where Isaac had been dwelling, was on the route to Kadesh-Barnea, but not actually in Kadesh-Barnea.

2 And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:

Abraham did not want his son Isaac to leave the land of the promise, so he told his servant to go to Haran without him in order to procure for him a wife. Now, apparently, Yahweh Himself does not want Isaac to leave the land of the promise to go to Egypt. So perhaps the fact that Isaac had never left the land of the promise is symbolic in some way, which we shall not presently venture to guess. But more importantly, there seems to have been strong political reasons for which Yahweh did not want Isaac to go to Egypt.

At this point in our Genesis narrative, since Esau and Jacob were fifteen years old when Abraham died some time around 1780 BC, and since Esau is forty years old when he takes wives at the end of this chapter, we are evidently somewhere within the twenty-five year period from 1780 to 1755 BC, during which the 13th Dynasty of pharaohs had ruled upper and middle Egypt, but perhaps not the area of the Delta, which was politically divided and in which area the concurrent 14th Dynasty of pharaohs ruled for seventy-five years from about 1725 BC. The rule of the 13th Dynasty, which is generally dated from about 1802 BC to 1649 BC, is said to have been tumultuous, and many pharaohs had ruled for only a short time. Since some of their names are now lost, there were as many as forty pharaohs during this period, and perhaps as many as fifty. [4]

Near the end of the 14th Dynasty, the Delta then seems to have been invaded by the so-called Hyksos, who were apparently Amorites from Canaan, and Hyksos ruled the Delta as the 15th Dynasty of pharaohs from about 1650 BC. The history of the Delta in the years leading up to the 14th Dynasty in 1725 BC is obscure and Egyptologists are divided, however in any event it seems to have been politically unstable, so perhaps it was not safe for Isaac to sojourn there during this famine. The history of this period is sketchy and problematical, and none of the dates are absolutely certain. [5]

[4 Thirteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirteenth_Dynasty_of_Egypt, accessed November 17th, 2023; 5 Fourteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteenth_Dynasty_of_Egypt, accessed November 17th, 2023.]

So now Isaac, forbidden by Yahweh from going to Egypt, is given the promises which had been given to Abraham his father:

3 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; 4 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; 5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Of course, there were only a few laws that had actually been transmitted to men by this time, which are found in Genesis chapters 2 and 9. The first was given to Adam, who was told not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and then some further laws were given to Moses, which had forbid the murder of another Adamic man, and the eating of blood. No other laws were given to men until Mount Sinai. So here, where Yahweh had attested that Abraham had kept His charge, commandments, statutes and laws, it is evident that not only did Abraham do all that Yahweh required of him, but perhaps he also had acted, from of his own intrinsic character, in accordance with laws which had not yet been given. For example, Abraham had refused to take land as a gift from the Hittites, and he had also refused to take anything from the Sodomites, and in the later law, we read in Deuteronomy chapter 16: “19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.” Abraham also dealt kindly with strangers, which are properly sojourners, and rather unsuspectingly he had even entertained angels. Then later, in the law, we read in Deuteronomy chapter 10: “17 For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: 18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. 19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” In these and in many other ways, it seemed to come naturally to Abraham to have acted justly with all men. So in a way, here Yahweh had also reminded Isaac of this, as a mild admonishment.

6 And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7 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.

Here, many commentators are skeptical of the similarities between this account of Isaac in Gerar and the common experiences which had been shared by Abraham in Gerar at least eighty years earlier, which had occurred just about a year before Isaac was born. So some go as far as to dismiss one account, or even both of them, because of the apparent repetition of certain events and circumstances. But one purpose served in the records of these accounts is this: that the consistent character of relatively homogeneous races of men with consistent values and a common culture will usually have relatively consistent outcomes. Furthermore, in spite of how wholesome or how meager their values may be, men also suffer incontinence in many aspects, depending on their culture. While today we may look at everything from a Christian perspective, in the ancient pagan world certain moral values were relative to particular peoples or regions. Abraham naturally kept Yahweh’s laws, but even as we see today, and throughout later Scriptures, even Godly cultures may be corrupted with ungodly relativity, which is basically humanism, and which is evil.

Another purpose which this account seems to serve, by its having been placed here at this point in the narrative, is to demonstrate just what sort of estate Esau had treated lightly, and what were the immediate rewards of the birthright which he had despised. Here it is apparent that after the passing of Abraham, Isaac still held great wealth and had many servants, and later in the chapter even Abimelech the king of Gerar had surmised that Isaac’s estate was even mightier than his kingdom.

Now, in reference to the immediate circumstances, while we are not informed of her age, Rebekah must have been at least nearly as old as Isaac, who was seventy-five when his father had died. The minimal age for marriage having been around sixteen years, after puberty, Sarah was then barren for nearly twenty years, and now Jacob and Esau are already somewhat older than fifteen years. So at the very least, Rebekah would be in her early-to-mid 50’s, and possibly as many as twenty or so years older that that. So just like Sarah before her, Rebekah also maintained her beauty well beyond her prime. Then, speaking of consistent behavior among homogeneous generations of men, Isaac had feared for his own life first, and told these men that Rebekah was his sister, just as Abraham had done in Egypt and in Gerar many decades earlier. This reflects a weakness for which neither man was chastised, and therefore they cannot be judged, but it should nevertheless be noted. But as it also happened to Abraham in those places, these men did nothing on their own, however they must have sent word to their king, where we read:

8 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. 9 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. 10 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.

The word for sporting here is the same word from which the name Isaac was derived, צחק or tsachaq (Strong’s #’s 6711, 6712), which means to laugh or laughter, and which was also used in relation to Ishmael’s having sported with, or perhaps having mocked, the infant Isaac, in Genesis chapter 21 (21:9). Gesenius adds to the definition “to play, to sport, to jest”, and includes a reference to Judges chapter 16 where later Philistines had “25 … called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.” [6] But here Isaac must have been sporting with his wife in a manner which was appropriate only between men and their wives, or, at least, was not appropriate between men and their sisters.

[6 Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, p. 707.]

Of course, this is almost certainly not the same Abimelech as the Abimelech of the time of Abraham, and as we had explained in our commentary on Genesis chapter 20 discussing The Consequences of Covetousness, the name is a title which means “my father is king”, which is found among the Philistines as late as the time of David. But this Abimelech does indeed seem to have been less incontinent than his predecessor, who upon have been led to believe that Sarah was a maiden, had immediately had her taken into his house. Up to this point, this Abimelech had left Rebekah alone, in spite of her beauty and the belief that she was unmarried, and neither was she molested by any of the men of the place. So here it is evident, that there are times when even men who are pagans can restrain their incontinence, although that is also with the grace of God, whether the men themselves understand that or not. So although perhaps it is contrary to conventional expectations, here Abimelech is sincerely offended because Isaac’s actions may have caused some sin, and brought some wicked judgment upon his kingdom. So while the more ancient Abimelech was a god-fearing man, so is this Abimelech, and that also seems to have been a part of their nature and their culture, even if the later Philistines of the time of the kingdom of Saul and David are not perceived to be so noble and god-fearing a people.

11 And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.

So it is apparent that Yahweh God had once again used a god-fearing king as a shelter for His people. This is also an example which spans the ages, as was the experience with Joseph and pharaoh, or with Paul in Corinth when Gallio had no care for the accusations of the Jews. There Paul was told explicitly, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 18: “9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” Yahweh had people in that city whether or not they were Christians, so just as it was for Paul in Corinth, it was for Isaac here.

12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him. 13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. 15 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. 16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.

At this point Isaac must have been in or near to the city, for the king to have seen him sporting with Rebekah from the window of his dwelling. It is not odd that the Philistines would have stopped up wells within proximity to their city, because if the city was ever put under siege, that would have afforded the enemies access to water without having to have first dug wells of their own.

17 And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 18 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.

Isaac called the wells after the same names which Abraham had given to them earlier, and this should be remembered when we reach the final verses of this chapter, where Isaac named Beersheba, as that was the name which Abraham had originally given to that place. But now he begins having troubles with the herdsmen of the Philistines:

19 And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20 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. 21 And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. 22 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.

Regardless of the number of wells there are in a valley, when water is drawn from one well, the same water table is depleted from which all the wells draw water. So with large herds of cattle being serviced in the same area, there would indeed be competition for water. One seemingly knowledgeable agrarian source informs us that in weather where the temperature is ninety degrees Fahrenheit, which is about thirty-two degrees Celsius, “The data suggest for cattle in this environmental condition, a growing animal or a lactating cow needs two gallons of water per 100 pounds of body weight. A non-lactating cow or bull needs one gallon of water per 100 pounds of body weight. As an example, spring-calving cows will need close to 20 to 24 gallons of water per day for themselves and another 5 to 10 gallons for their calf in these high temperature environmental conditions.” [7] So even with only a few hundred head of cattle, a herdsman might need tens of thousands of gallons of water each day, perhaps 12 gallons for each bull and non-lactating cow, and perhaps about 30 gallons for each lactating cow with a calf. A herd with only a hundred full-grown cattle, of which ten percent are lactating with a calf, would need nearly fourteen hundred gallons of water each day, which has a volume of over 187 cubic feet. So it is no wonder that there would be contention among competing groups of herdsmen over this issue.

[7 Water Requirements for Beef Cattle, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, https://beef.unl.edu/water-requirements-for-beef-cattle, accessed November 17th, 2023.]

So in an apparent display of humility, Isaac departed, upon which he received another assurance from Yahweh:

23 And he went up from thence to Beer-sheba. 24 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. 25 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.

Here we learn that what Yahweh had done for Isaac was for Abraham’s sake, and even unto the time of Christ, the children of Israel are granted mercy for that same reason, and not for anything which they themselves had ever merited. So, for example, we read in Luke chapter 1 that Christ would come “72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham…” Then later in Luke, speaking to a repentant publican, in chapter 19, Christ had responded to his repentance “9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” Therefore outside of the promises which Yahweh God had made to Abraham, there is no salvation in Christ. So what Christ came to save may only include what things Yahweh God had promised to Abraham, as those are the only promises which Christ had come to fulfill, and that is also professed to be “as it is written”, and not in any other manner.

Now even though Isaac left the valley of Gerar of his own accord, the herdsmen of the Philistines must have already told their king of the troubles which they were having, and not finding him there, Abimelech must have decided to pursue him anyway:

26 Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army. 27 And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? 28 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; 29 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. 30 And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. 31 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.

Once again, it must be noted that the Hebrew word יהוה or Yahweh was used anachronistically by Moses when he wrote these descriptions, and that must have been purposeful since we cannot accuse Moses of having been ignorant of what he himself had written in other passages. So Abimelech must have only used the term god, or in this case, God, and Isaac could only have known Yahweh by the term God Almighty, by which Abraham himself had known Yahweh. It is also evident that Abimelech did not really know Yahweh God, or the God Almighty of Abraham, but his piety is found in the fact that he feared a god of judgment who would punish men if they dealt unjustly with others, and for that reason alone he sought to deal justly with men.

As we had discussed in our commentary for Genesis chapter 21, Digging Deeper, where Abraham had similar problems with the herdsmen of the Philistines and Abimelech appeared with a man named Phichol in his company, the term is also a mere title, and seems to most accurately refer to a military official who is designated to serve as its spokesman. The name Ahuzzath is defined as possession. The terms of this oath, which Isaac had accepted, are quite similar to the terms which the earlier Abimelech offered to Abraham, where he said to him in part, “23 Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.”

However we cannot know, because we are never informed, as to whether this Abimelech had been knowledgeable of that earlier oath made by his predecessor, or if he even knew of Abraham or the fact that Isaac was the son of Abraham. However once again, the words of Abimelech here do demonstrate that he was a god-fearing man, and his comportment here also corroborates our earlier assertion, that the consistent character of relatively homogeneous races of men with consistent values and a common culture will usually have relatively consistent outcomes. But of course, in any given generation there may be unusual circumstances or undue influences which prevent a consistent outcome.

While we do not know the exact location of Gerar, it was most likely near the coast, where there was another trade route from Phoenicia to Egypt, and that is the most likely location for the town given the sea-going nature of the Philistines. The name of Gerar also marks that as the most likely location, since גרר or gerar (# 1642) seems to be related to גר or ger (# 1616), a word usually translated as stranger, or more properly, sojourner. The lexicon found in the original Strong’s Concordance does not make this connection, however Gesenius does, where he defines it as “sojourning” or “lodging-place”, which we find to be most appropriate. [8]

With that, since it is evident that Gerar was near the coast, it is also evident why Abimelech and his men must have camped the night with Isaac, since from the site of Beersheba, the closest part of the coast is just over twenty-eight miles, which is more than one full and long day of travel for men on camels, where horses can cover somewhat more ground than that in a long day.

[8 Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, p. 181.]

32 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. 33 And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day.

We are not informed as to what had become of the well which Abraham had dug at Beersheba, which the previous king had acknowledged was his by an oath. Perhaps the herdsmen of the Philistines plugged that well also, since Abraham and Isaac were absent from there for many years, since Abraham had returned to Hebron some time before the death of Sarah. Sarah died when Isaac was thirty-seven years old, and Isaac would be a hundred years old when Esau is forty, which we read in the very next verse. So Sarah has been deceased for 63 years, and it has been longer than that since Abraham had departed from Beersheba to return to Hebron. The word Shebah in Hebrew is an oath, so as we have also discussed, Beersheba means well of the oath, because Abraham had also made an oath with Abimelech in that same place concerning that well.

We have already discussed the final verses of this chapter, in relation to the incontinence of Esau, and we shall commence with those same verses when we return to our commentary, Yahweh willing, in the near future

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