Abraham’s Agreement With Abimelech

The story goes that when the company founded by Andrew Carnegie was taken over by the U.S. Steel Corporation in 1901 it acquired as one of its obligations a contract to pay the top Carnegie executive, Charles M. Schwab, the then unheard of minimum sum of $1,000,000. J.P. Morgan o … More


Abimelech takes Philcol, his military advisor with him to meet Abraham (v. 22). Apparently he was afraid of Abraham and thought that at some opportune time Abraham would zap him (vv. 23-24). It seems that Abraham had dug a well and Abimelech’s men had violently wrestled it from him (v. 25). Being confronted with this Abimelech denies all knowledge of the incident and signed a contract with Abraham confirming Abraham’s right to the well (vv. 26-27). It is questionable whether he had any intention of honoring this contract but at least it looked good on paper. Abraham sets apart seven female lambs (v. 28) and Abimelech questions him about it (v. 29).Abraham told him to take these as proof that he had dug the well (v. 30).

This contract was made in Beersheba, which was the most southern city of Israel (v. 31). It lay on the edge of a vast wilderness that stretched from Egypt to the southwest and Mount Sinai to the south. The phrase from Dan to Beersheba was often used to describe the boundaries of the Promised Land ( II Samuel 17:11). Beersheba’s southern location and the presence of several wells explains why Abraham settled there. Beersheba was also the home of Isaac. After this Abimelech rose up with his chief captains and returned to the land of the Philistines (v. 32). Probably these two congratulated each other on having gotten the best of Abraham. After this Abraham planted a tamarisk tree, worshiped the Lord there and lived for a long time in the land of the Philistines (vv. 33-34).


Sincerity in my relationship with others is more important than any agreement that I may sign. I am not responsible for what the other person may or may not do but I must be very careful to carry out my end of the bargain.

Genesis 21:22-34 (English Standard Version)

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