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Esek, Sitnah, Rehoboth

The struggle for the land of Israel is very ancient. Much of Bible History is enveloped by it, as is much of the news still today. The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still in conflict with the Philistines just as they were centuries ago. Like his father Abraham (see On His Own Two Feet) and his son Jacob (who The Lord renamed Israel; see Children of Jacob), Isaac (see also Isaac's Faith And Obedience) experienced the strife from the Philistines, and others, who had drifted onto and claimed the land of Israel.

"the Philistines had stopped them and filled them with earth"

Sometimes the struggle involved matters that were little more than spite, such as "For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth" (see below). Filling in a well in a land that lacked sources of water was both foolish and just plain malicious.

Digging a Well

"Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and The Lord blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth."

"And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we." (Genesis 26:12-16 KJV)

When Isaac redug his father's wells, he was confronted by people who claimed that the water, that they weren't even using because the wells had been filled in, was their property. Isaac obviously wasn't looking for a fight, even though he had the means and power to give them one; Isaac gave them the well and called it "Esek" (the English form of a Hebrew word which means dispute). Isaac moved away and dug another well, but his enemies again demanded that the water, from the filled in wells that Isaac had opened, was theirs, so Isaac again gave it to them and called it "Sitnah" (the English form of a Hebrew word which means opposition).

"And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them."

"And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah." (Genesis 26:17-21 KJV)

Isaac moved on and dug another well. Perhaps by that time realizing that they had pushed Isaac as far as he was going to be pushed, geographically and psychologically, Isaac's spiteful enemies left him in peace. Isaac called that well "Rehoboth" (the English form of a Hebrew word which means room to live).

"And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now The Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land."

"And he went up from thence to Beersheba. And The Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake."

"And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of The Lord, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well." (Genesis 26:22-25 KJV)

Fact Finder: What is the actual origin of the term "Palestinian"? What was the land of the "Palestinians"? How did the land of Israel come to be incorrectly called "Palestine"?
See Land Of The Philistines

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