Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Genesis 26:26-31 Isaac accepts Abimelech's friend request

Abimelech, along with Ahuzzath (his personal advisor) and Phicol (the commander of his forces) soon come to Isaac from Gerar. (v. 26)  Isaac is understandably surprised, since Abimelech was the one who had asked him to move away from them.  Getting right to the point,  "Isaac asked them, 'Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?' (Genesis 26:27 NIV)

Their answer was also rather straight to the point:  "We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, 'There ought to be a sworn agreement between us' -- between us and you.  Let us make a treaty with you that you will do us no harm, just as we did not molest you but always treated you well and sent you away in peace.  And now you are blessed  by the Lord." (Genesis 26:28-29 NIV)

This turn of events must have been very surprising to Isaac.  He probably had been concerned about future problems with Abimelech after the king had asked him to leave.  See 26:4, where God even says to Isaac that he should not be fearful, because God was going to be with him.  I don't think God would have been reassuring Isaac if there was no cause to do so!  Now this same king was asking to make a friendship treaty with him.

It is remarkable that Abimelech very clearly sees that Isaac's success is due to his relationship with God.  He is anxious to be friendly with this man who seems to have God for an ally.  Abimelech certainly must have seen Isaac's growing wealth -- in fact this was the reason that Abimelech asked him to move some distance away. (26:16)  His own people probably were not experiencing this same level of fruitfulness with their crops and flocks.  Perhaps Abimelech hoped that some of this success would be with him and his people if they were considered friends with Isaac and his God.

Also, I believe that the way which Isaac had handled the disputes with Abimelech's herdsmen must have impressed the king as well.  Certainly it would be well to have such a peaceful and reasonable neighbor.

Isaac wisely does not pursue the fact that Abimelech's assessment of his own treatment of Isaac and his household is not quite the same as his own observations:  'You were hostile to me and sent me away' is not exactly equivalent to 'we always treated you well and sent you away in peace.'  However, Abimelech seems sincere and it is true that he had given orders to his people that they should not bother Isaac or his wife.  So Isaac agrees to make a treaty with Abimelech.  Isaac makes a feast for the men and they swore an oath to each other.  Then Isaac sent Abimelech and his men on their way in peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment