Through the Word: Desert Wells

Genesis 26

Famine forced Isaac to leave Beer Lahai Roi, “the well of him that lives and sees me.”

What do we do in a time of famine? Pray.

The Guidance

Isaac had thought about going to Egypt as his father had done in a previous famine.

First, he went to Abimelech the king of the Philistines in Gerar as they probably had an alliance. It’s likely that Abimelech was a title given the king, rather than a personal name—much as the Egyptians always called their king “Pharaoh.”

God told Isaac not to go to Egypt but to live in the land of which he would tell him. “Dwell in this land,” said God, reiterating the promise he made to Isaac’s father Abraham.

The Blessing

Isaac stayed and sowed in the land of Abimelech, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. He became so prosperous; with flocks, herds and a great number of servants that the Philistines envied him and stopped up all the wells his father Abraham had dug, filling them with earth. Genesis 26:12-16

The Reaction

There was a problem sowing in the field of the Philistines. They weren’t happy with Isaac’s success. With envy came rejection.

Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”

If Isaac was mightier he could have taken Abimelech on, and won. But he departed and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar, the outside edge of Gerar’s territory, and lived there.

The Fight for the Wells

Then came the fight over water rights and his father’s wells. Isaac brought his father’s wells back into service, calling them by the same names, but soon had to abandon them, and he renamed them with bitter names.

Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them.

Also Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there.  But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarreled with him. Genesis 26:18-20

Esek means quarrel.

Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also. So he called its name Sitnah. Genesis 26:21

Sitnah means enmity.


Again he moved and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” Genesis 26:22

The Deliverance

Rehoboth means spaciousness, open spaces. It brings to mind a verse about God’s deliverance; “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19

The Promise

Leaving the well at Rehoboth, Isaac travelled to Beersheba. God appeared to him the same night saying; ““I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.” Genesis 26:23-25

A Tent, an Altar and a Well

Reassured, Isaac pitched his tent there, and built an altar and a well. Was it by the place that Abraham planted the tamarisk tree? I wonder. The tamarisk tree is a slow growing tree, increasing only an inch per year and taking close to 400 years to grow to full height, so Abraham obviously hadn’t planted it for himself.

The Agreement

After Isaac had found his place in the world, Abimelech sought him out. “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?” Isaac asked Abimelech.

Abimelech had seen the Lord was with Isaac and he wanted to make a covenant of peace.

So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank.  Then they arose early in the morning and swore an oath with one another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. Genesis 26:30

Water from the Desert

 It came to pass the same day that Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, “We have found water.”  So he called it Shebah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day. Genesis 26:27-33

Beer means well and sheba means Oath or Seven.

The lessons learned

Isaac probably learned that deliverance does not always come all at once. Sometimes it comes in stages as we have to be led. God allows freewill and we learn from our choices.

Isaac had to obey God about where to settle. He had to sow in the land of the Philistines. His obedience led to God’s blessing but that brought it’s own problems; envy and rejection.

He had to try three times when it came to well digging. His father’s wells were stopped up after his father’s death and he had to redig them. This led to a quarrel with his former ally and then emnity. Isaac did not retaliate but moved again and this time he was allowed to dig a well in peace.

Following in his father’s footsteps, he went back to Beer Sheba and he made a covenant just as his father had. He dug a well, and God appeared to him there. The well meant “well of seven” and “well of the oath.

Did Isaac learn that an oath made by one generation must be renewed by another? He had to open his father’s wells and dig some new wells of his own. An inheritance would be contended for and he had to have faith. Isaac obeyed God, and he found his place in the world.

Abimelech and his men acknowledged God, telling Isaac, “We have certainly seen that the Lord is with you.” What did they learn? I wonder.

Related post

Through the Word: the First Well


This is for all those struggling to find their place in the world.


Who was Abimelech in the Bible?

Through the Word: Rebeccah

Genesis 24

Abraham sent an unnamed servant to go and find a bride for Isaac. He told the servant, “I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living,  but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” Genesis 24:63

Some of Abraham’s relatives were still living in Haran. Haran is north of the Holy Land, in Turkey near the border of Syria. The return journey would have been around 1470 kilometres.

Reaching Mesopotamia the unnamed servant met Rebecca at a well. She generously drew water for him and his ten camels. He watched her closely. When she fulfilled the signs the servant looked for, he gave her a ring and two bracelets. Rebecca agreed to go on the journey with the servant.

Prayer in desert

Isaac was now living in the south at Beer Lahai Roi, the well named by Hagar.

Rebecca first clapped eyes on Isaac when he’d gone out into the desert evening to meditate. Seeing him, she dismounted from her camel. The servant announced to her who Isaac was, and Rebecca veiled herself. The servant told Isaac all he had done.

Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Genesis 24:67

Sarah would have died three years before.

Rebecca’s Well

Rebekah’s Well is still in Haran. According to Turkish Archaeological News there is a well called Bir Yakub, about 1 km northwest of Haran. The entrance has now been protected by a concrete platform.

Would you like to see the well through the eyes of Lawrence of Arabia?

This is an extract from his diary;

“Worked at the castle after lunch : measuring etc. Then walked across to Rebekah’s well. I came in past it yesterday, resting near it half an hour, and the women as they came out to draw water came and looked at me, singing. Some offered me water from their wooden pails. The well is down steps and very deep, cold, clean water. There are camel troughs near it, possible those that Eleazar used, for such things do not soon wear out. Good water. Drank again to-day. They call it Bir Yakub, and are very proud of it. It is the only well outside the walls.”

T E Lawrence, Oriental Assembly, page 17



Bible Atlas: Haran – Here the trade route from Damascus joined that from Nineveh to Carchemish. It was a seat of the worship of Sin, the moon-god, from very ancient times.

Harran: The 5000-Year-Old Ancient City in Turkey

Unearthing the Past at Ancient Harran and the Wells of Paddan-Aram

Turkish Archaeological News


The Pull of Beer Lahai Roi

Rebecca’s Well

Not to be confused with Jacob’s Well at his burial place at Sychem in Samaria (John 4, 5–6). The water of the well near Harran is still approached by the inclined shaft which Rebekah went down to draw water for Abraham’s servant (Gen. 24, 45), and from which Jacob rolled the stone for Rachel (Gen. 29, 10). It was photographed by Lawrence (Oriental Assembly, plate XI to the diary; see also p. 17) in its old condition; the entrance has now been protected by a concrete platform. Source: Cambridge Core, Harran

One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard.” The Bible can be read as a personal Rhema word or a Logos word for teaching and history. This time through I am teaching from the Logos, but earlier blog posts from my book “The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams are from a Rhema journey. Here is an earlier blog post eight years ago; The ring, and the unnamed servant.

The river

About ten years ago I had a memorable dream.  I was wading into a clear river holding my Bible in one hand and the Kingdom story in the other.  The river got deeper and deeper until I was waist deep. 

I’m not sure what it meant, but I know when God wants to tell me something.  Looking in my Bible, I was reminded of the river in Ezekiel which seemed to fit my dream.

Ezekiel 47 describes a river that flows from a future Temple in the Millenial Kingdom that goes from ankle deep, to knee deep, to waist deep, to a river deep enough to swim in.  A real river, a future river, the river of life.  A river where the trees on both banks will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them.  Ezekiel writes, “where the river flows everything will live.”

I have heard revival being compared to a river.  I think it’s great that people want more of God, they want this river.  But be discerning.

NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) author Rick Joiner wrote about a river in ‘Epic Battles of the Last Days,’ saying “This River of Life is coming to His church.  This River is going to overflow all of its present banks.  None of the dikes erected to keep it in place will be able to restrain what is coming,  No stronghold can stand before this River.  You are called to be a part of it, and no evil will stand before you as you flow with Him.”

That’s a bold claim.  His statement is at odds with the Assemblies of God Statement on RevivalThey compare the Holy Spirit to a mighty river, and the Scriptures to the banks of that river. Great harm occurs when the river overruns the banks, but that the river does great good when it stays within the banks.

My advice is come to the river, but test the water.  Is the river flowing within the banks of Scripture? 

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  1 John 4:1

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16

Ezekiel 47-9

The Te Waihou River, NZ

Related posts:

Salus per Aquam, Healing through waters

Come to the River



Come to the River

Te Waihou River walkway

Te Waihou river

The Te Waihou River walkway follows a river of intense blue and green water, so crystal clear you can see the trout in the bottom of the river.

Te Waihou means “new water” (“Wai” water, “Hou” new).  So pure it doesn’t need treatment, it is the water supply for the local town of Putaruru,  The water is also bottled and sold around NZ.

I walked the path gazing at the unbelievable clarity and colour of the river, glad that I had found the place.

He leads me beside the still waters. Psalm 23:2.

Dust if you must stones

Memorial at end of walkway

At the end of the path there is a memorial to a wife and mother who died young.  Set in a circle of stones is a poem “Dust if you must.”  It’s about what is important in life.  The last verse speaks of returning to dust.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

Dust if you must

“Dust if you must”

It echoes the curse that God was forced to pronounce on Adam; “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”  Genesis 3:19

But there will come a day where there will be no more death, no more returning to dust.  When the King returns.

Here’s a short video clip of the Te Waihou river walkway.  Come travel along this beautiful river for 2 minutes.

The river reminds me of the new water that will flow from the throne of the King, a crystal clear river that appears and reappears in the Bible.

The prophet Zechariah wrote in that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.  In that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter.  Zechariah 14.

In the book of Revelation we read the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, will flow from His throne down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river will stand the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be any curse.  Revelation 22:1-2

The prophet Ezekial wrote the water gets progressively deeper every 457.2 meters, or 500 yards.

“Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar.  He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side.

And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles.  Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees.

Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed.  He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.  Ezekial 47:1-6

The water will flow toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea.

Right now, we have the Dead Sea at the lowest elevation on Earth, bordering Jordan to the east and Israel to the west.  The land gets hardly any rain, due to the rain shadow effect of the Judean Hills.  It’s one of  the saltiest bodies of water on Earth.  The water flows in from the Jordan river, but it doesn’t flow out.

Ezekial wrote that when it empties into the sea, the salty water there will become fresh. There will be a great number of trees on each side of the river, fruit trees of all kinds.  Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them.

Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.  Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.  Ezekiel 47:1-12

John 7-37

The river also speaks of the spirit of God.  Jesus said “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”…

The river is there in the Kingdom, with all of it’s beauty, and all of it’s clarity, and it’s different depths.  It will flow from the city where the King will have His throne.

And there will be no more death or crying, or laments about returning to dust.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.  Revelation 21:4