The Treaty at Beersheba, Genesis 21:22-34

At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, ‘God is with you in everything you do. Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you are living as an alien the same kindness I have shown to you.” – Genesis 21:22-23

Review

After waiting years, God blessed Abraham and Sarah with their promised baby, Isaac. God also took care of Hagar and Ishmael, remembering His promise to greatly multiply their descendants (see Birth of Isaac).

You many Read Genesis 21:22-34 here: Bible Gateway.

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Abimelech reenters the picture with his enforcer, Phicol. Having witnessed firsthand God’s power and blessing in Abraham’s life (see Abraham and Abimelech), he respectfully approaches Abraham with a treaty proposal: “. . . . Do not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you are living as an alien the same kindness I have shown to you.”

Abraham complies.

We see a change in Abraham since his last conflict with powerful King Abimelech. Instead of being fearful, Abraham boldly confronts him with the issue that his servants had taken his well. Layman’s Bible Commentary notes: “The Hebrew verb translated complained implies that Abraham had to complain several times.”

And instead of Abimelech exhibiting generosity, Abraham supplies the sheep and cattle for their treaty.

The well is named Beersheba, which means “well of seven” (from the seven ewe lambs Abraham supplied), or “well of the oath”. Abimelech’s acknowledgment of Abraham’s legal right to water makes a permanent residence possible for Abraham. He now owns a small piece of the land God promised.

The existence of several wells may be the reason why Abraham settled in the land of the Philistines. His son, Isaac, also made his home in Beersheba, the southern city of Israel bordering a vast desert that stretched as far as Mount Sinai to the south and Egypt to the southwest. The phrase “from Dan to Beersheba” was often used to depict the traditional boundaries of the promised land (2 Samuel 17:11).

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By planting a Tamarisk tree—a long lived evergreen—Abraham shows his intentions of staying in that region. This tree also symbolizes God’s enduring grace, faithfulness, and provision. Abraham’s use of the Hebrew phrase translated eternal God not only emphasizes God’s never-ending nature, but also perhaps Abraham’s growth in understanding God.

Reflect

This passage depicts Abraham as bolder, more generous, respectable and patient with King Abimelech. I wonder if Abraham ever questioned his progress in relationship with God, especially the dry times when he distorted the truth under heated pressure.

Tamarisk trees can grow in drought areas with rocky soil. Perhaps the Tamarisk’s growth reminded Abraham of his own spiritual growth as he worshiped God.

Because God is eternal, all His promises and covenants are also everlasting. I love His promise in Philippians 1:6: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

When Christ took our place through death on the cross, He began His work for us. When we first believed, He began His work in us. Now we can be more like Christ daily because the Holy Spirit lives in us.

When God starts a project, He also finishes. Let’s not let anything rob us from the joy of knowing Christ or growing closer to Him in worship.

Have a great week!

2 thoughts on “The Treaty at Beersheba, Genesis 21:22-34

  1. Pingback: Abraham Tested, Genesis 22:1-19 | kdmanestreet

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