It's another short read today, opening with Isaac's troubles with the Philistines. The Philistines were a migrating people who came, it appears, from the Mediterranean regions. There are points where they attempt to settle in Egypt but are driven off, and they settle on the coastlands of what is now Israel.
These folks are probably related to the ancestors of Ancient Greeks and Phoenicians, but that's beyond what we're doing here. I'd pick up Alfred Hoerth's Archaeology and the Old Testament for a starting place, although resources like The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook will have some good information as well.
The main point is that the Philistines were moving in, and there were plenty of them to go around. When you compare that to the size of Isaac's household, it's no wonder that he chose to move rather than fight over water rights. At times, surrendering a right may be better than fighting over something--I recall learning to drive and being told that one can be "dead right" on the highway. It was a warning that, for example, it may be my turn at a 4-Way Stop, but that's not going to stop the guy who runs it from killing me.
The same principle applies here: Isaac has the right to his father's wells. But getting killed by Philistines leaves him without any need for water, and it was better to move on.
The key component of this reading is what happens in Genesis 26:23-24. When we reach this point, we see Isaac's relationship with Yahweh truly come into existence. We've seen him do some praying, but here there is a definite statement of the covenant between God and Abraham now becoming the covenant between God and Isaac. That's important for the future--God is not merely the God of last generation, but the God of the current generation.
The reading wraps up with the information that Esau has chosen to marry women from among the local pagan population--and that this made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. There's not an explanation about why that's the case, just the statement that it is.
Don't marry to make others bitter--marry for the purpose of the glory of God...and wuv. Twue wuv.
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