Wednesday 4 May 2016

Reading the Bible - Genesis 26

"Now there was a famine in the land.."
Okay, so there is a famine in the land, and as such Isaac uproots his people and they go live among the Philistines in Gerar. At this point, we can assume that Isaac was thinking of heading down to Egypt like his father before him, however Jehovah does not want this and he lets Isaac know in no uncertain terms. Of course, Jehovah does not only tell Isaac not to go to Egypt, but he also reiterates his covenant with Abraham. As Isaac is the rightful heir to Abraham's title, it is obvious that he should be gifted  Abraham's gifts. Okay, it does not make sense, but it does establish the gifting of privilege and property to the eldest son.
"Then Jehovah appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt. Dwell in the land that I designate to you. Reside as a foreigner in this land, and I will continue with you and bless you because to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will carry out the oath that I swore to your father Abraham.......on account of the fact that Abraham listened to my voice and continued to keep my requirements, my commands, my statutes, and my laws.”"
Amazingly, Jehovah is able to guarantee the giving of a settled country to a single man, but he is not able to sort out a simple famine.....anyone else see a minor problem here?

Now while Isaac is living among the Philistines, he decides to follow his fathers brilliant example and lies to the people about his wife Rebekah.
"When the men of the place kept asking about his wife, he would say: “She is my sister.” He was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” for he said, “The men of the place might kill me because of Re·bekʹah,” for she was beautiful in appearance."
So, as with his father Isaac deems it necessary to lie when a God has promised him bountiful blessings, it is almost as if he does not believe Jehovah will protect and bless him. Oh, and thats disregarding the fact that Rebekah is his wife who surely he should want to protect if we are to believe the Christians who claim family values. Perhaps Isaacs lack of conviction is what makes Jehovah love him so much. Unfortunately for Isaac, and fortunately for Rebekah,  Abimelech the king of the Philistines in Gerar finds out that Isaac has been lying. But instead of throwing him out of the area where he so graciously took Isaac and his people in, he commands his people not to touch her or they will get the death penalty.
"But A·bimʹe·lech continued: “What have you done to us? One of the people could easily have lain down with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us!” Then A·bimʹe·lech commanded all the people, saying: “Anybody touching this man and his wife will surely be put to death!”"
After this time Jehovah starts blessing Isaac immensely and Isaac becomes the wealthiest and mightiest person in the area. The poor king that had Isaacs back needless to saygets nothing. Needless to say this new found wealth does not sit well with the Philistines, and so they move to get Isaac ejected from the area.

The Philistines subvert Isaac by filling up the wells he is using, which were dug by his fathers slaves. Then, Abimelech goes to Isaac and tells him that he must leave as he has become to strong.
"A·bimʹe·lech then said to Isaac: “Move from our neighborhood, for you have grown far stronger than we are.”"
What the Philistines did was very wrong, but then what Isaac does next is just as bad. Simply put Isaac does not leave Gerar as requested.
"So Isaac moved from there and encamped in the valley of Geʹrar and began dwelling there."
So, we have a good Christian role-model yet again not obeying requests. Needless to say apologists try get around this refusal by Isaac by saying he moved but not very far. However, this is rubbish, as Isaac re-digs the wells that the Philistines filled in which Abraham had "dug" long ago, see Genesis 21, as such it is impossible for him to have moved.
"And Isaac again dug the wells that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham but that the Phi·lisʹtines had stopped up after Abraham’s death,"
Needless to say the Philistines start complaining and arguing that these wells are theirs, and so we embark on a journey of well naming.
1) Eʹsek which means contention,
2)  Sitʹnah which means accusation, and
3) Re·hoʹboth which means broad places, and this well is one the Philsitines did not argue about as he had moved far enough away. Needless to say the reason for no argument is not that he did not move before, it has to do with Jehovah blessing him. I think Isaac lacks rational thinking, perhaps the apple does not fall far from the tree.
"It is because now Jehovah has given us ample room and has made us fruitful in the land."

So, now that Isaac has ample land and a well that works, what does he decide to do?
Thats right you guessed it, he moves to another place, and that night Jehovah comes and speaks to him again.

"Then he went up from there to Beʹer-sheʹba. That night Jehovah appeared to him..."
I just don't get it, why mention all this well stuff and then just get up and move. Is this whole story about the well just a way to start the everlasting Christian persecution complex.

Now while Isaac was living up in Beesheba, we get Abimelech, his army general and personal advisor coming to visit Isaac. Needless to say Isaac is rightfully annoyed after the whole well incident. However the Philistines come in peace and want to make a covenant with them that he will never attack them as they did not harm him when he lived among them. Needless to say Isaac accepts this and so he makes and oath with the Philistines. 
"So we said, ‘Let there, please, be an oath of obligation between us and you, and let us make a covenant with you that you will do nothing bad to us just as we have not harmed you, seeing that we have done only good to you in that we sent you away in peace. You now are the blessed of Jehovah.’”........ In the morning they got up early and swore an oath to each other."
In this way we can perceive Isaac as a forgiving God loving man, however there is the other option the Philistines really did nothing wrong and just wanted an oath that this strong neighbor will not attack them. Perhaps the Philistines knew more about Isaac than the Bible did?

Now History time, the day that Ablimelech had left, Isaacs slaves came to him and told him about a new well. Apparently, this well was so great that the city of Beersheba still stands to this day in the place of this well. Unfortunately, this Beersheba that still exists is not referring to the Israelite town of Beersheba, but rather the abandoned city of Tel Beer Sheva. Its at times like this that we can see the Bible apologetics fails epically in its claims, either they mention the real site, but then it does not stand today. So the obvious leap is to use the current city, however that is not what it is referencing. So the Bible is either contradictory or inaccurate, not an easy choice.

The closing 2 versus of the chapter deal with Esau disappointing his parents by his taking of two wives. Naturally, Isaac and Rebekah are not angry with the fact that he has more than one wife. They are angry that he chose Hittites to get married to, good to see the hatred alive and kicking. Not sure why the Hittites are bad, but perhaps I have not go there yet.

See you next week.

All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website