What does Genesis 26:2 mean?
ESV: And the Lord appeared to him and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you.
NIV: The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.
NASB: And the Lord appeared to him and said, 'Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you.
CSB: The Lord appeared to him and said, "Do not go down to Egypt. Live in the land that I tell you about;
NLT: The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, 'Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you.
KJV: And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
NKJV: Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you.
Verse Commentary:
Famines were not uncommon in the land of Canaan, and they often forced migrations as people moved around to find more fertile territory and food. These might have been caused by periods of pests, drought, or other environmental problems. Genesis 12 describes the famine that forced Abraham and Sarah to travel with their company down to Egypt in search of relief.

This is another, separate famine. Isaac and his family have moved to Gerar, where Abimelech rules as king of the Philistines. Now the Lord appears to Isaac and commands him not to go to Egypt. Perhaps relations between the Egyptians and the family of Abraham have not yet healed—Abraham was evicted from the country many decades prior for lying about his wife (Genesis 12:18–20).

As the following verses will make clear, the Lord wants to show Isaac that He will provide the same blessing and protection to him that He gave to Abraham. His instructions to Isaac echo those given to Abraham, many decades earlier (Genesis 12:1).
Verse Context:
Genesis 26:1–5 contains God's assurances to Isaac that He remains faithful to His covenant promises even after the death of Abraham. In a time of famine, the Lord commands Isaac not to travel to Egypt for relief but to settle in Gerar, the land of the Philistines. Isaac obeys, just as his father had done. This passage emphasizes that Abraham's trust in God was demonstrated through his actions.
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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