Genesis Study #10

Bible Class – Study #10 (Gen 26-27) – Notes and Discussion questions

Genesis Study #10: The fragmentation of Isaac’s family

Main passage of study: Gen 26:1 – 27:46

Related passages:

A: Ge 12:7,10; 15:5; 22:18; He 11:13
B: Ge 12:18-19; 20:1-2
C: Ge 21:25; 24:35; Jn 4:10; 2Ti 2:24
D: Ge 12:7; 21:22-32; 22:19
E: Ge 21:31; 24:3; 28:8-9; 36:2-3
F: Ge 25:23-28; 48:10; Ro 8:7
G: Ge 25:25; 1Sa 25:24; 1Th 5:22
H: Ge 12:3; 25:23; Job 13:7; Mt 26:49; Col 3:9
I: Ge 25:33; Jos 24:4; 2Ki 8:20; Job 21:6; He 11:20; 12:17
J: Ge 28:7; 31:38; 1Jn 3:15

Outline & Notes

  1. Relocation & reiteration– Gen 26:1-5
    1. The problem – Gen 26:1
    2. The prevention – Gen 26:2
    3. The promise – Gen 26:3-4
    4. The precedent – Gen 26:5
  2. Duplication & duplicity – Gen 26:6-11
    1. The disobedience – Gen 26:6
    2. The dishonesty – Gen 26:7
    3. The discovery – Gen 26:8
    4. The dishonour – Gen 26:9-10
    5. The decree – Gen 26:11
  3. Expansion & excavation– Gen 26:12-22
    1. The prosperity – Gen 26:12-14
    2. The hostility – Gen 26:15-17
    3. The continuity – Gen 26:18
    4. The animosity – Gen 26:19-21
    5. The stability – Gen 26:22
  4. A promise & a pact – Gen 26:23-31
    1. The restoration – Gen 26:23-25
    2. The delegation – Gen 26:26-27
    3. The mediation – Gen 26:28-29
    4. The celebration – Gen 26:30-31
  5. Beersheba & bitterness – Gen 26:32-35
    1. A duplicating discovery – Gen 26:32-33
    2. A disheartening development – Gen 26:34-35
  1. Isaac’s desire – Gen 27:1-4
    1. His age – Gen 27:1-2
    2. His appetite – Gen 27:3-4
  2. Rebekah’s designs – Gen 27:5-17
    1. The information – Gen 27:5-7
    2. The instructions – Gen 27:8-10
    3. The reservation – Gen 27:11-12
    4. The resolution – Gen 27:13-17
  3. Jacob’s deception– Gen 27:18-29
    1. The impersonation – Gen 27:18-20
    2. The inspection – Gen 27:21-24
    3. The indulgence – Gen 27:25-27
    4. The imparting – Gen 27:28-29
  4. Esau’s despair – Gen 27:30-40
    1. The return – Gen 27:30-31
    2. The realisation – Gen 27: 32-33
    3. The resentment – Gen 27:34-36
    4. The recourse – Gen 27:38-40
  5. The family’s division – Gen 27:41-46
    1. The plot – Gen 27:41-42
    2. The plan – Gen 27:43-45
    3. The pretext – Gen 27:46

Isaac lived the longest (180 years) of any of the 4 main patriarchs of
Genesis and yet, there are a relatively small number of chapters devoted
exclusively to his life. In fact, chapter 26 is the only one where he
stands alone under the spotlight of Scripture. In this chapter, Isaac
quite literally follows in the footsteps of his father Abraham in that he
makes his way down to the borderland with Egypt and has interactions with
Abimelech and the Philistines. Chapter 27 is the sad story of Isaac’s
fractured family in which each one selfishly seeks their own way but it ends
up in bitterness, fear and in Jacob being forced to leave home.
Remarkably, God’s sovereign will still comes to fruition in spite of
everyone taking matters into their own hands and in the next study, we will
see the Lord take up serious dealings with Jacob to begin the
transformation from “supplanter” to “a prince with God”.

Textual notes

● Abimelech was a kingly title, not a proper name, like Pharaoh and
this would be very unlikely to be the same Abimelech who had an interaction
with Abraham 97 years prior but perhaps a direct descendant. The name seems
to mean “father of kings”

● There are three different words that have all been translated
“dwell” in various translations in the first few verses of chapter 26. In
Gen 26:3, the Lord tells Isaac to ‘sojourn’ (Heb guwr)in this
land – i.e. Gerar. He was not to stay there long. In Gen 26:6, we read
that Isaac ‘settled’ (Heb yashab) in Gerar. And in Gen 26:2, the
Lord instructs him to ‘abide’ (Heb shakan) in the land that He
would show him, i.e. the promised land.

● In Gen 26:5, we have the first mention of the Hebrew words
translated as ‘charge’, ‘commandments’, ‘statutes’ and ‘laws’. There are
580 occurrences of these words in the rest of the OT.

● The names given to the wells in chapter 26 have significance.
Esek means ‘contention’, Sitnah means ‘hostility’, Rehoboth means ‘broad
places’ and as we have seen before, Beersheba means ‘the well of the oath’.

● It is possible that the events of chapter 26 belong
chronologically before the birth of Esau and Jacob related in chapter 25 as
there is no mention of children when Isaac is in Gerar.

● We know that Isaac was ‘old’ with failing vision in Ge 27 but it
is difficult to calculate his exact age. From sources that I have
consulted, estimates range from 117 to 137 years.

● There is a play on words in the Hebrew words for ‘birthright’
(bekorah) and ‘blessing’ (berakah) in Gen 27:36.

Discussion questions

1. Famine in the Scriptures represents times of trial and testing. What
clues from the text at the beginning of chapter 26 tell us about how Isaac
responded to this trial? How should we respond when trials come into our

2. Isaac’s father Abraham had also journeyed down to Gerar and had dealings
with another Abimelech in Gen 20. What similarities and differences do you
see between the two accounts?

3. Material blessing and prosperity in the OT is often linked to the
blessing of God as a result of obedience. How might we explain Isaac’s
great prosperity in Gen 26:12-14 when we have just read of his sin and
disobedience to God?

4. Isaac is linked to a number of wells in this chapter. We noted the
first mention of a well back in Gen 16 and the picture of the Word of God.
What lessons could we learn from the wells in this chapter?

5. The Lord appeared to Isaac for the first time in Gen 26:2 and then again
in Gen 26:24. What is notable about the words of the Lord to Isaac on
these two occasions?

6. There is a sad addendum to chapter 26 in the details of Esau’s taking
two wives. Recalling some of the details from chapter 24, what differences
do you see between the decision around Isaac’s marriage and those of Esau?

7. Where does Isaac’s focus seem to be when he calls Esau at the beginning
of chapter 27? Note what he mentions and what he does not mention.

8. Though Jacob’s name means “supplanter”, perhaps we see in the actions of
his mother in this chapter, from where he got these traits. How is Rebekah
at fault in this chapter and how should she have acted differently?

9. There is much mention of Isaac’s physical senses in this chapter. What
can we learn from this?

10. Jacob evidently had a desire for his father’s blessing and for the
spiritual benefits of the firstborn but the end does not justify the means.
Which details of the account show us the responsibility that Jacob bore in
this sad episode?

11. Some might have pity on Esau as the victim in this chapter but the
writer to the Hebrews cites him as an example of a “profane” or “unholy”
person in Heb 12:27. How do we see Esau’s true character in his reaction
to these circumstances?

12. It is obvious by this chapter that Isaac & Rebekah had a rather
dysfunctional family. What are some important general principles of family
life that we can draw by way of contrast in this chapter?