What does Genesis 21:26 mean?
ESV: Abimelech said, "I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today."
NIV: But Abimelek said, "I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today."
NASB: And Abimelech said, 'I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor did I hear of it until today.'
CSB: Abimelech replied, "I don’t know who did this thing. You didn’t report anything to me, so I hadn’t heard about it until today."
NLT: This is the first I’ve heard of it,' Abimelech answered. 'I have no idea who is responsible. You have never complained about this before.'
KJV: And Abimelech said, I know not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but today.
NKJV: And Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor had I heard of it until today.”
Verse Commentary:
Abimelech, the king of Gerar, has approached Abraham with a proposal. The king wishes to create a formal agreement with Abraham, seemingly in order to gain some benefit from Abraham's blessings from God. After agreeing to swear before God not to deceive Abimelech again and only to deal kindly with him, Abraham immediately presented a grievance: A well that Abraham had dug and rightly felt belonged to him had been seized by Abimelech's men.

Here, Abimelech insists he didn't know anything about this issue. He didn't even know which men had seized the well. This was all new information to him. This is similar to his claims that he was unaware of Sarah's marriage to Abraham in chapter 20. We're not told how or if Abimelech offered to resolve the issue, though the men continue with their covenant, so Abimelech clearly planned to return the well to Abraham and his men. Abraham will specifically include this well in the oath, described in the following verses.
Verse Context:
Genesis 21:22–34 describes a covenant treaty between Abraham and Abimelech, king of Gerar. Abimelech had previously given Abraham land to occupy. Now the king wishes to formalize their relationship. Abraham swears not to deceive Abimelech or his offspring again, and to deal kindly with all in the land. Abimelech agrees to recognize Abraham's ownership of a well at the place which becomes known as Beersheba, which means ''well of seve'' or ''well of the oath.''
Chapter Summary:
The Lord did as He had promised. Sarah, now 90 years old, gives birth to Isaac, the long-awaited child. Her joy sours, though, over a fear that Isaac might have to share an inheritance with Ishmael. In obedience to the Lord, who promises to safeguard Ishmael, Abraham sends him and his mother, Hagar, into the wilderness. God rescues them and renews His promise to make Ishmael a great nation in his own right. Meanwhile, Abimelech, king of Gerar, approaches Abraham to make a permanent treaty between them and their descendants. The agreement includes Abraham's possession of a well, at a place which will become known as Beersheba.
Chapter Context:
In the prior chapter, Abraham managed to get Sarah back from Abimelech, following his own deception and God's intervention. Here, Abraham and Sarah finally conceive a natural child. Isaac, the long-awaited child of the promise, is born. In obedience to God, Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away. Abimelech approaches Abraham to make a treaty, giving Abraham a permanent home in a place that becomes known as Beersheba. In the following chapter, God will test Abraham's faith and obedience, in one of Scripture's ultimate examples of trust.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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