What does Genesis 26:17 mean?
ESV: So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there.
NIV: So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled.
NASB: So Isaac departed from there and camped in the Valley of Gerar, and settled there.
CSB: So Isaac left there, camped in the Gerar Valley, and lived there.
NLT: So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down.
KJV: And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.
Verse Commentary:
During a famine (Genesis 26:1), God had instructed Isaac to stay in the land of Gerar instead of heading into the fertile valleys of Egypt (Genesis 26:2–3). Though others would have been struggling, Isaac reaps a hundredfold harvest from his planting (Genesis 26:12). This prosperity boom generates both envy (Genesis 26:14) and fear (Genesis 26:16) in the local people. As a result, King Abimelech has told Isaac to move somewhere else.

Isaac's response is interesting, given that God has specifically told him not to leave Gerar to seek better conditions in Egypt. Rather than leave entirely, Isaac settles his large company in an area known as the Valley of Gerar. This is, it seems, some distance from the main population. As the next verse will reveal, his first task will be to find water to support his herds and flocks—which will result in continued conflict.
Verse Context:
Genesis 26:6–35 describes Isaac's interactions with the Philistines while living in and around the land of Gerar. After Isaac is caught in a lie about Rebekah being his sister, king Abimelech is angry. However, he protects Isaac and Rebekah. God blesses Isaac abundantly, and his wealth grows to the point where his power provokes the king to send him away. Following a series of disputes over water rights, the king and Isaac eventually make a treaty of peace. God appears to Isaac for a second time, telling him not to fear, and renewing His promises.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 26 focuses on God's assurances to Isaac to be with him and to bless him, mostly while Isaac and his household are settled in the land of the Philistines. Just as Abraham did, Isaac fearfully lies about his wife being his sister, nearly bringing disaster on Abimelech and his kingdom. Still, God blesses Isaac with greater and greater abundance to the point that Abimelech sends Isaac away because he has become too powerful. After continued disputes over water rights, Abimelech and Isaac eventually make a covenant of peace.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 26 seems to jump back in time to the season before Jacob and Esau were born, as described in the previous chapter. This is common in ancient literature. The Lord establishes and renews His covenant promises to Isaac, blessing him abundantly in the land of Philistines during a time of famine. Eventually, Abimelech sends Isaac away due to his growing power and disputes over water rights, but they end up forming a peace treaty. Esau's marriage to foreign women creates strife, adding more fuel to the controversy which is soon to occur. In the next chapter, Jacob will steal his older brother's rightful blessing.
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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