6 ¶ And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7 And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. 8 And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. 9 And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. 10 And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 11 And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.
Here again we have a picture of a righteous heathen king and a picture of one of God’s men acting in a most unbecoming and cowardly manner. Isaac repeats the lack of faith in God’s protection as did his father, Abraham. Clearly, the possibility of being killed and having your wife taken for another man’s pleasure must have been a cultural practice and a grave danger in the ancient world for Isaac, like Abraham, to be too afraid he might be killed for his wife.
Abimelech, though, after a long time, looks out a window and sees Isaac sporting with his wife. This, we assume, is some kind of sexual play that would not be expected between a brother and a sister. Sporting can mean play or a jest or even mocking but common sense tells us that this play would have to be in such a manner as to reveal Isaac and Rebekah’s relationship. See here how sport and sporting are used elsewhere.
It can be to take delight in;
2Peter 2:13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
Proverbs 10:23 It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.
Perhaps to mock and make fun of if the following has no more sinister meaning considering the nature of the ancient world’s culture and religion;
Judges 16:25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars…27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.
Or clearly just to mock and make fun of;
Proverbs 26:19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?
Isaiah 57:4 Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,
In any event, this righteous Abimelech has caught the deception played on him and announces that anyone who touches Rebekah or Isaac will die. Here is a heathen man who understands righteousness and God’s standard regardless of his culture and we will see that again. This brings to mind Peter’s statement;
Acts 10:34 ¶ Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
It was not so many hundreds of years ago that all men would have known God’s standards of righteousness through Noah and clearly, as that knowledge became degraded over time, the strains of judgment and righteousness were still present in some form. Some heathen knew in their heart, or at least acknowledged they knew, what God regarded as right and wrong, unlike even many Christians today.