As Friends – Genesis 21:22-34


Have you ever had a disagreement with someone? How did you resolve it? Abraham and Abimelech meet again, both as friends and with problems. Their road together seems rocky, yet they realize there is something better to be gained in a friendly relationship.

What Abimelech Sees

Recall the last time these two met (Genesis 20). Abraham lied and caused all sorts of trouble for Abimelech and his people. However, Abimelech knows “God is with” Abraham in everything. While he comes to Abraham with some muscle, Phicol the army commander, he comes without a threat. Abimelech simply knows what we already know about Abraham from Genesis 12:3; a curse on Abraham is a self-curse, a blessing on Abraham is a self-blessing. Abraham’s previous behavior raised a doubt, and Abimelech wants confirmation of their friendship.

What Abraham Sees

We do not know when the “When” was of verse 25, that Hebrew conjunction means when, then, and, but, and so on. However, their friendship of mutuality is threatened by the theft of water that Abraham is now reporting. If Abimelech’s men have done this, then the previous agreement predicated on Abimelech’s kindness is void. Abraham could do whatever he wanted to Abimelech now. Abraham wants to guarantee the safety of his water source, and Abimelech needs to guarantee their relationship through this test.

The resolution

Was it Abimelech’s men? We don’t know. How did Abraham get the well back? We don’t know that either. Abimelech might have had some sway with the water thieves, or the combined forces of Abraham and Abimelech on this matter was enough to scare them away. I doubt any fighting occurred, because it isn’t recorded. Cool heads prevail. Abraham secures his rights to the well, and Abimelech secures the favor of Abraham. They are friends who will resolve their issues together. The sheep and the oxen given by Abraham to Abimelech prove Abraham’s friendliness, and the condition of the seven lambs to proclaim the well Abraham’s proves Abimelech’s friendship.

We might read over this and see nothing of importance. Look at how to men resolve their differences instead. Study how eager Abimelech is to be on “God’s/Abraham’s side.” Find how Abraham does not press his rights before his relationship with Abimelech, he keeps both. We can learn to do the same things.

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