Genesis 26:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 26:8, NIV: "When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah."

Genesis 26:8, ESV: "When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife."

Genesis 26:8, KJV: "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."

Genesis 26:8, NASB: "Now it came about, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down through a window, and saw them, and behold, Isaac was caressing his wife Rebekah."

Genesis 26:8, NLT: "But some time later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah."

Genesis 26:8, CSB: "When Isaac had been there for some time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from the window and was surprised to see Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah."

What does Genesis 26:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Isaac has followed his father's example. Both had beautiful wives. In two separate instances, Abraham feared that Sarah's beauty would lead someone to kill him to get her. So, he asked her to lie for him and say she was his sister (Genesis 12:10–20; 20:1–18). In both of those cases, the lie backfired. Both times, a local ruler believed their story and took Sarah for a wife. And in both cases, God brought judgement on the household of the ruler in order to protect and deliver Sarah.

In Isaac's case, it seems, a long time passed without anyone making a play for Rebekah. Perhaps the couple forgot to continue to pretend to be siblings or perhaps Abimelech had an unusually good vantage point for observing them. In any case, he saw Isaac and Rebekah acting in a manner which convinced him, absolutely, that they were married. The Hebrew term used here is based on the word tsachaq, which can mean "laughing" or "sporting" or "caressing," depending on the translation. In other words, they were involved in some type of intimate activity which would not be normal for siblings.

As the next verse reveals, that was all Abimelech needed to see to understand that Isaac had lied about his wife.