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Let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

The Bible in fewer words

Episode 11: Isaac uses his father's "She's my sister" lie

(Genesis 26)

God tells Isaac to visit the land of the Philistines

26 1 There was a famine in the land, so God came to Isaac and said,

2 Don't go to Egypt. Dwell in the land I'll tell you about.

3I'll be with you, bless you and your seed, give you lots of countries, and do what I told your father I'd do.

4I'll multiply your seed like the stars of heaven, and all nations will be blessed by your seed..

5I'll do all these things for you because your father obeyed me.

6 So Isaac went to Gerar.

Isaac tells Abimelech that Rebekah is his sister

7 When Isaac arrived in Gerar, some men asked him about his wife, and he said, "She's my sister." (He didn't say, "she's my wife", because he was afraid they'd kill him, since Rebekah was so beautiful.)

8 One day, Abimelech looked out his window and saw Isaac sporting with Rebekah.

Isaac and Rebecca spied upon by Abimelech, Raphael 1483-1520

9 He called Isaac and said to him,

What have you done to us?

10 Someone might have had sex with your wife, which would have brought guilt on all of us.

11 Then Abimelech said to his people, "Anyone who touches Isaac or Rebekah will be killed."

God blessed Isaac in the land of the Philistines

12 Isaac sowed the land and reaped a hundredfold. And God blessed him. 14 He had lots of flocks, herds, and slaves. All the Philistines envied him.

16 But one day Abimelech said to Isaac,

Get away from us. You're much mightier than we.

23 So Isaac left Gerar and traveled to Beersheba.

Esau married Judith and Bashemath

34-35 Esau took two Hittite women for wives. Isaac and Rebekah didn't approve of these marriages.

Notes

Go visit Abimelech (v.1)

Isaac visits king Abimelech, repeating the same "she's my sister" lie that his father used twice, once to king Abimelech in Genesis 20. But was it the same king Abimelech? If so, he must have been very old, since Abraham's visited when he was 100 years old, and he died at the age of 175, before Isaac's visit.

Whether Abimelech was the same king Abraham and Sarah lied to or not, there is another problem with this very unlikely story. The Philistines didn't yet exist in the region at the time this story supposedly occured, and wouldn't for another 600 years or so.

But Isaac grew rich from the lie, just like his father had. (You'd think Abimelech wouldn't fall for the same stupid lie twice. But hey, this is the Bible!)
Because your father obeyed me (v.5)
God is blessing Isaac for what his father, Abraham, did - which was show his willingness to kill and sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering to God. Only a bad father would be willing to do that; only a bad God would ask a father to do it.
Isaac sporting with Rebekah (v. 8)
This verse uses the same hebrew verb ("t'sahak" that the King James Version translates as "sporting") that was used to describe what Ishmael did to Isaac in Genesis 21:9 that upset Sarah so much.
Esau took two Hittite women for wives. Isaac and Rebekah didn't approve of these marriages (vv.34-35)

Because they were Hittites, presumably -- not because he married two women.

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