Genesis

Genesis 21:22-34 A Treaty With Abimelech.

Abimelech and Phichol the commander of his army, say that they acknowledge God’s hand upon Abraham, so they in effect sought a peace treaty with him, to which Abraham agreed (vv. 22-24). However, in return Abraham required Abimelech to rectify the unjust situation where the latter’s men took a well from the former. To seal this treaty Abraham gave gifts to Abimelech as a witness that the well was indeed his, to which the former agreed. As it turns out, this would be the well called Beersheba, meaning “well of the oath” or “well of the seven”-since Abraham offered seven ewe lambs, seven being also symbolic of completion (vv. 29-31). Words were ratified with a self-maledictory oath.

Even though this relationship is called a “covenant” it is clear that it is in fact a treaty between two equal parties, and Abimelech with Phicol, returned to the land of the Philistines (v. 32). Abraham went from a position of fearing the inhabitants of the land to gaining a foothold with a leader whom God had moved in Abraham’s favour. Hence what follows is Abraham also planting a tamarisk tree and calling on the name of the covenant making and covenant keeping “LORD, the everlasting God” (v. 33). One other thing we are to learn from this event is that Abraham’s conquest of this land would come by measure and varied means over time, even as his feet were planted there in faith.

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