Welling up

Isaac farmed a piece of land in that country, reaping a hundredfold the very same year. His sheep and livestock were so numerous that the Philistines raged with jealousy.

This wasn’t the first time a Hebrew and his wealth caused the Philistines to misbehave. 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.”

Without argument, 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.

One particular well discovered by Isaac’s servants in the valley caught the attention of the local shepherds, and they contested its ownership. Isaac 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 without contention. “Now this area is big enough for all of us,” he said. “We’ll be prosperous here.” He called the well “Rehoboth,” Wide Open.

After this, he went to Beersheba, 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. 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 too.

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

“Well, this is a surprise,” Isaac said, inviting them into his tent. “You made it pretty clear you despise me. What can I do for you?”

Abimelech said, “It’s obvious that God is with you, so let’s promise we’ll leave each other alone. We’ve never touched you, and we sent you away in peace.”

Isaac prepared a bunch of food, and they all partied into the night. 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.

“Let’s call it “Shibah,” Isaac said, naming it Oath. “And let’s name this city 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 watches over you,” the king said, then added, “Promise me, in the presence of your God, that you’ll never betray me or my family tree. 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’ve heard 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