The inadequate protection (Isa 20:6-20:6)

“In that day,

The inhabitants of this coastland

Will say.

‘See!

This is what has happened

To those in whom we hoped,

To those whom we fled for help,

To be delivered from the king of Assyria.

Now we!

How shall we escape?’”

Thus all the Philistine inhabitants along the Mediterranean coast line would see what had happened at Ashdod. They had hoped that the protection of the Egyptians would have helped them. Instead, the Assyrians came and attacked them so that they all had to flee. They wondered how they would escape because they had inadequate protection from the Egyptians.

Idol worshipers (Isa 2:6-2:8)

“You have forsaken

The ways of your people!

O house of Jacob!

You are full of diviners

From the east.

You are full of soothsayers

Like the Philistines.

They clasp hands with foreigners.

Their land is filled with silver.

Their land is filled with gold.

There is no end

To their treasures.

Their land is filled with horses.

There is no end to their chariots.

Their land is filled with idols.

They bow down

To the work of their hands.

They bow down

To what their own fingers have made.”

Isaiah speaks out strongly against idol worship that must have been common among the house of Jacob in eight century BCE. The Israelites have forsaken the ways of their people since they had a lot of eastern diviners, like priestly prophets who foretold the future in the name of some god, roughly the equivalent of a Yahweh prophet among the non-Israelites. There were also the fortune tellers or soothsayers from Philistine, from along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. There must have been some kind of magic handshake with foreigners that was also forbidden. Why were they doing this? Their land was full of silver, gold, many treasures, horses, and chariots. What else did they want? Despite all this, they still bowed down in worship to the idol gods that they had made with their own hands and fingers. Why were they worshiping these false idol statutes that they themselves had made?

The preparations for the combat (1 Sam 17:40-17:47)

“Then David took his staff in his hand. He chose five smooth stones from the brook. He put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch. His sling was in his hand. He drew near to the Philistine. The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him. David was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. The Philistine said to David. ‘Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks?’ The Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David. ‘Come to me. I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.’ But David said to the Philistine. ‘You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin. But I come to you in the name of Yahweh of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day Yahweh will deliver you into my hand. I will strike you down. I will cut off your head. I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine’s army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth. So that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. All this assembly may know that Yahweh does not save by the sword and spear. The battle is Yahweh’s. He will give you into our hand.’”

David goes out to meet Goliath. In this story he is not called Goliath, but Philistine. David had his staff, a sling shot, and pebbles in his pouch. Meanwhile the Philistine had a sword, a spear, and a javelin. They exchanged threats like wrestlers of today. The Philistine cursed David and resented being treated like a dog. Then David reminded him that Yahweh does not need these items of war. Interesting is the fact that they can communicate with each other. This assumes a common language, which I am not sure about.

David offers to fight Goliath (1 Sam.17:31-17:39)

“When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. David said to Saul. ‘Let no one’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’ Saul said to David. ‘You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him. You are just a boy. He has been a warrior from his youth.’”

Saul wanted to meet this guy who was talking so much so he sent for him. David said that he would volunteer to fight Goliath. Saul said no, because he was just a small boy and not a warrior like the Philistine. There is no indication here that they had met before or that David was his armor-bearer.

“But David said to Saul. ‘Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. Whenever a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it. I struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth. If it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. Your servant has killed both lions and bears. This uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.’ David said. ‘Yahweh who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.’ Saul said to David. ‘Go, and may Yahweh be with you!’”

David responded that as a shepherd, he had killed lions and bears with his own bare hands when they attacked his flock. This sounds a little like Samson. If Yahweh was with him, he would prevail. Saul finally said okay and prayed that Yahweh would be with him.

“Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a bronze helmet on his head. He clothed him with a coat of mail. David strapped Saul’s sword over his armor. He tried in vain to walk, but he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul. ‘I cannot go with these. I am not used to them.’ So David removed them.”

Saul wanted David to have his armor so he dressed him with the helmet, coat, and sword. So the armor bearer is now wearing the armor. However, David could not walk with all this stuff on him. So he took it all off.

The wells at Gerar and Beer-sheba (Gen 26:15-26:25)

“Now the Philistines had stopped up and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham.  Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us.  You have become too powerful for us.’  So Isaac departed from there, and camped in the valley of Gerar and settled there.  Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham. The Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham.  He gave them the names which his father had given them.  But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, the herders of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herders, saying, ‘The water is ours.’ So he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him.  Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also.  So he called its name Sitnah.  He moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it.  So he called it Rehoboth, saying, ‘For now Yahweh has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.’”

King Abimelech said that Isaac was becoming too powerful so that he must leave.  Isaac departed and settled in the valley of Gerar.  There he and his servants again dug all the wells that had been built by Abraham and his servants earlier because the Philistines had stopped these wells and filled them with earth.  He gave them the same name as his father had done.   Now the herders of Gerar said that the water from the wells was theirs.  Finally, Isaac’s servants dug three new wells, Esek, or contention, Sitnah, or quarrels, and Rehoboth, no argument.  This is the only mention of these three wells in the biblical literature.

 “From there he went up to Beer-sheba.  That very night Yahweh appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham.  Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you and make your offspring numerous for my servant Abraham’s sake.’  So he built an altar there and called on the name of Yahweh, and pitched his tent there. There Isaac’s servants dug a well.”

Then he went up to Beer-sheba, where Yahweh said not to be afraid because your offspring will be great as promised to your father Abraham.  Isaac built an altar there and dug another well.  Wells were important in this arid area.  Beer-sheba is the place where Abraham had lived and King Abimelech made a treaty with him.   It also was the place that Hagar and Ishmael went when they were cast out of Abraham’s house.

 

Isaac goes to Gerar (Gen 26:1-26:14)

“Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham.  Isaac went to Gerar, to King Abimelech of the Philistines.  Yahweh appeared to Isaac and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt.  Settle in the land that I will show you.  Reside in this land as an alien, and I will be with you, and will bless you.  For to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will fulfill the oath which I swore to your father Abraham.  I will multiply your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and will give to your offspring all these lands.   All the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Now a famine came upon the land, apparently this happened quite a bit. So Isaac went to Gerar where King Abimelech of the Philistines, had concluded an alliance with Abraham in chapter 21.  Anyway, this is friendly territory, south of Gaza.  Yahweh told Isaac not to go to Egypt, but to go to the Philistines so that he could be an alien resident with lots of great land and people as was promised to Abraham, his father.

“Then Isaac dwelt in Gerar.  When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, ‘She is my sister.’  He was afraid to say, ‘My wife, thinking, ‘or else the men of the place might kill me for the sake of Rebekah, because she is attractive in appearance.’  When Isaac had been there a long time, King Abimelech of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw him fondling his wife Rebekah.  So Abimelech called for Isaac, and said, ‘So she is your wife!  Why then did you say, `She is my sister’? Isaac said to him, ‘Because I thought I might die because of her.’  Abimelech said, ‘What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.’  So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, ‘Whoever touches this man or his wife shall be put to death.’ Isaac sowed seed in that land, and in the same year reaped a hundredfold. Yahweh blessed him, and he became rich.  He prospered more and more, until he became very wealthy.  He had possessions of flocks and herds, and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him.”

Isaac told the same lie as his father, when he said that Rebekah was his sister and not his wife, fearing for his own life.  However, one day King Abimelech saw Isaac foundling Rebekah and called him in to find out what was going on.  He admonished Isaac by saying you could have brought great guilt to us if one of my people had slept with her.  Finally, Abimelech issued a decree that no one should touch Isaac or his wife Rebekah.  Isaac sowed seed that rendered a hundredfold.  As he became rich and prospered with flocks, herds, and a great household,  the Philistines began to envy him.

Abraham and Abimelech at Beer-sheba (Gen 21:22-21:34)

“At that time Abimelech, with Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, ‘God is with you in all that you do.  Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my offspring or with my posterity, but as I have dealt loyally with you, you will deal with me and with the land where you have resided as an alien.’  Abraham said, I swear it.’”

Meanwhile Abraham had settled in Gerar.  So King Abimelech asked him to swear that he would not treat him or his descendants falsely, because he had dealt with him loyally.  Abraham said yes and continued as an alien resident.

“When Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized, Abimelech said, ‘I do not know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today.’  So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant.  Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs of the flock.  Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?’  He said, ‘these seven ewe lambs you shall accept from my hand, in order that you may be a witness for me that I dug this well.’  Therefore that place was called Beer-sheba.  There both of them swore an oath. When they made a covenant at Beer-sheba, Abimelech, with Phicol the commander of his army, left and returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God.  Abraham resided as an alien many days in the land of the Philistines.”

Wells in a dry area are a big deal. So Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized.  Abimelech was upset that no one had told him about this.  Then Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave it to Abimelech and they made a covenant. Abraham then set apart seven ewe lambs for Abimelech so that he could be a witness that he had dug this well.  This almost sounds like a bribe.  The place was called Beer-sheba, the same well that Hagar had found in the preceding story.  So this became the covenant of Beer-sheba. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba and called on the everlasting Lord (El Olam) and remained in the land of the Philistines as an alien.