Genesis 26:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 26:21, NIV: Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.

Genesis 26:21, ESV: Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah.

Genesis 26:21, KJV: And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.

Genesis 26:21, NASB: Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over it too, so he named it Sitnah.

Genesis 26:21, NLT: Isaac's men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means 'hostility').

Genesis 26:21, CSB: Then they dug another well and quarreled over that one also, so he named it Sitnah.

What does Genesis 26:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Isaac has moved his large entourage away from the main population of Philistines in order to assuage their concerns (Genesis 26:14–16). Having moved to a new location (Genesis 26:17), Isaac and his people try to establish a reliable source of water (Genesis 26:18). That resulted in an immediate conflict (Genesis 26:19–20). Isaac, following his reputation for being passive, chooses not to fight for this resource and instead moves on. Isaac called that first well Esek, which means "quarrel" or "contention."

Unfortunately, for a second time, Isaac's servants dig a new well and are once again challenged by the local herdsmen over the water rights. He names this one Sitnah, which means "enmity." We're not told that Isaac went to battle over these wells, simply that he named them to represent the dispute they caused. Given the fear expressed by the local king (Genesis 26:14–16), it seems that if Isaac had chosen to fight for these resources, he probably could have kept them.