26 ¶ Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army. 27 And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? 28 And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; 29 That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD. 30 And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. 31 And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. 32 And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water. 33 And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.
Abimelech brings some back-up, a friend and the head of his army as witnesses. Earlier, in a scene when this king of the Philistines confronted Abraham and wanted an agreement between them I had noted that Phichol may have also been a title rather than the proper name of a person.
Abimelech had ordered Isaac away from him but realizing that God was definitely on his side he thought he better do one more thing. Isaac is charged to make a similar agreement with the Philistines that his father was. See chapter 21:22 and context.
The cultural ritual that followed included a feast and a verbal agreement before parting the next day. God then blessed Isaac with a well which they titled Shebah, which in the context one would think should have something to do with the oath made, as a blessing that came after that oath. Indeed, when you go to Strong’s dictionary that is what it means. God blessed Isaac with this well as a result of his making peace with his worldly enemies.
The mission is what is important, not Isaac’s ego or his feeling offended. The Bible, being the explanation and revelation of God’s plan of reconciling mankind, shows how God used men and women to move the plan of redemption forward, sometimes in fits and starts. We must always keep this in mind, especially if we wonder why Abraham and Isaac didn’t convert their wealth and large number of servants into a kingdom, carving out of their benefactors’ territories a land of their own. In God’s time this will happen, in His way, and by His will.
Back in 21:33 I noted that the name of the wilderness may have later been later named after the well and here we have the name of the town that arose around it named after the well of the sevenfold oath after the seven ewe lambs Abraham set apart for his oath with Abimelech.
Abimelech uses God’s name twice and acknowledged the importance of His blessing. This should be remembered as we look at Gentile kings and people before Christ’s resurrection and the gospel is preached to them.
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.