Welling up

Isaac farmed a piece of land in that country, reaping a hundredfold the very same year. His sheep and livestock were so great in number, and his household had multiplied such that the Philistines were once again jealous of a foreigner’s wealth and success. (In the days of Abraham, they had clogged all the wells dug by his father’s servants to deter him from success.)

So Abimelech said, “You’re too mighty. You have to leave.”

Isaac left Gerar proper and settled in the valley. Isaac dug out the wells that had been filled in by the Philistines in his father’s day, and he restored the names his father had given them.

Isaac’s servants discovered a particular well in the valley, and the shepherds contested its ownership. He named the well Esek, “Strife.” Isaac’s servants dug another well, and again the local herders fought with him. He named that one Sitnah, “Hatred.”

Finally, Isaac dug another one that wasn’t such a point of contention. “Now this area is big enough for the both of us,” he said. “We’ll be prosperous here.” He called the well Rehoboth, “Wide, Open.”

After this, he went to Beersheeba, where his father and Abimelech had made their promise to one another. The first night he arrived there, God appeared to him, saying, “I’m the God of your father. Don’t be afraid because I’m with you, and I’ll bless you. I’ll make your descendants multiply for your father’s sake.”

Isaac built an altar, called on the name of God, and settled there. Isaac’s servants dug a well at that spot.

Abimelech paid Isaac a visit with his adviser Ahuzzath and his army commander Phicol.

“Why are you here?” Isaac asked. “You’ve made it clear you hate me by sending me away.”

Abimelech said, “It’s obvious that God is with you, so let’s promise we won’t harm each other in any way. We’ve never touched you, and we sent you away in peace.”

Isaac prepared a great feast that night, and they dined. In the morning the king and his entourage left in peace. That same day, Isaac’s servants reported that they found water while digging yet another well.

Isaac called it Shibah, “Oath,” and that city was named Beersheba as well.

Inspiration: Genesis 26

Loyalty points

King Abimelech and his army commander Phicol came to Abraham for a little chat.

“It’s obvious God is always watching over you,” the king said, then added, “Promise me, in the presence of your God, that you’ll never betray me or my family line. After all, I’ve been loyal friend.”

“I promise,” Abraham answered, “but I should make you aware of a dispute over one of my water wells. Your servants seem to think it’s yours.”

Abimelech answered, “This is the first I’m hearing of it. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It wasn’t a big deal.” Abraham brought Abimelech sheep and oxen, and they promised they’d be loyal to one another. Then Abraham took seven female lambs and set them apart from the rest of the fold.

“What are these for?” Abimelech asked.

“These seven lambs are given in exchange for your word that I dug the disputed well.”

They named that place “Beersheba,” Well of the Oath. After they sealed their promise, Abimelech and his commander went back to the land of the Philistines.

Abraham remained there awhile and planted a salt cedar near the well. There he spent some one-on-one time with God, and afterward, he surveyed the land of the Philistines.

Inspiration: Genesis 21