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Verses 26-33

"Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahazzah his friend, and Phicol the captain of his host. And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore are ye come unto me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me from you? And they said, We saw plainly that Jehovah was with thee: and we said, Let there now be an oath 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 Jehovah. 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. 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 Shibah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day."

There are many scholarly opinions relative to the names of Abimelech and Phicol, as to whether or not these were the same individuals mentioned nearly a century earlier in the history of Abraham, some supposing them to be dynastic names or titular names, and some asserting that they are the same individuals, making this a variant of the same "folk tale," etc., etc. We shall pass all such opinions by, for it makes no difference at all. Two kings named Abimelech, separated by eighty or a hundred years poses no problem. How about two kings named George in British history, or two presidents of the U.S.A. named Adams? And as for General Phicol he could quite easily have been General Phicol III, for all we know. This writer was once a guest chaplain in the U.S.A.F. in Japan, quartered for awhile in Nagoya. This was in October of 1952, some 92 years after the Civil War. One can only imagine the shocking surprise, therefore, when over the hotel sound system came the booming announcement: "General Ulysses S. Grant, General Ulysses S. Grant, line one, please, line one, please!" He was Ulysses S. Grant III, commandant of the great military unit where we were located. If scholars are looking for "problems" in Genesis, they should look elsewhere. For sake of identification, we shall refer to this Abimelech as Abimelech II.

Ahazzah his friend ..." "Friend of the King" was a title for the King's advisor, and his presence here represents an accretion to the royal bureaucracy, indicating a substantially later date than that of the visit of Abimelech I, also indicating the importance of this mission to procure a treaty with Isaac. The king brought along the head of his state department.

"Wherefore come ye to me ..." Isaac was surprised, and spoke of Abimelech's having "sent him" away, making mention also of the obvious hatred of Abimelech and the Philistines for Isaac.

"We saw plainly that Jehovah was with thee ..." Abimelech II meant by this: "It's clear that God loves you, and we have decided to do so also!" Their mention of this twice, both at the beginning and the end of their plea for a treaty shows that, "They did not think it safe to be on bad terms with a man who so manifestly stood in God's favor."[13]

"Let there now be an oath between us ... let us make a covenant ..." King Abimelech II reinforced this appeal by pointing out that no actual harm had been done to either Rebekah or Isaac, and that they had never done unto them "anything but good."

Isaac at once accepted the peaceful overtures and made a feast and kept the royal party over night. The next morning the treaty, or covenant, was mutually sworn to and ratified with whatever formalities might have been appropriate for those times and that place and occasion.

Isaac's sending them away, although expressed similarly, was a far different thing to Abimelech II's sending Isaac away, mentioned earlier. This was "in peace" and was no doubt accompanied by all of the formal expressions of peace and good will which the occasion demanded.

Such a progression of events must have been supremely satisfying to Isaac. Under pressure, and perhaps even fear, he moved to Beersheba. God appeared to him in a comforting and encouraging vision that same night. Then Abimelech II unexpectedly visited him, requesting a treaty of peace. The treaty was celebrated with a great feast. The king departed in peace. The servants who had been digging a well, came that very day and reported that they had found water. It was an occasion to be memorialized. And therefore, Isaac called the well Shibah (Sheba), "Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day." Like other wells Abraham had digged, this new well was named by one of the names that Isaac's father had used for a well. As Keil expressed it:

"As this treaty made on oath between Abimelech and Isaac was only a renewal of the covenant made before with Abraham (and Abimelech I), so the name Beersheba was renewed by the well Sheba. The reality of this occurrence is supported by the fact that the two wells are still in existence!"[14]

In view of the overwhelming internal evidence in this passage of its integrity and trustworthiness, it is amazing that anyone could think of it merely as an idle tale that somehow got adopted into the Holy Bible. Any "careful scrutiny" of this chapter "will establish the authenticity of the incidents related."[15]

This chapter establishes the position of the Chosen People in a legal and treaty-protected situation, under the peace-loving guidance of Isaac whose vast resources would eventually pass into the hands of Jacob the father of the Twelve Tribes.

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