Genesis 21:22-32 gives the account of the treaty made between Abraham and Abimelech, the king of Gerar. Abimelech makes Abraham swear by God that Abraham will not deal falsely with him. Abraham obliges but raises a concern that a well of his was taken away by Abimelech’s servants violently which needed to be addressed. Abimelech informs Abraham that he was not aware of how Abraham was wronged, until that day. Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech and they both made a covenant. Then Abraham took seven ewe lambs from the flock and set them free. Abimelech who did not understand this gesture questions Abraham of the meaning, which Abraham explains that it was sign to indicate rightful ownership of the well as that of Abraham’s. That place was called Beersheba meaning the “well of the oath” or “well of seven” and this is where Abraham and Abimelech made their covenant.
From this account we can glean a few life lessons –
1. Start any treaty or contract with a requirement to not be dealt falsely. This request by Abimelech (Genesis 21:23) was necessary as Abraham had once dealt falsely with king Abimelech, misrepresenting his wife, Sarah as his sister to Abimelech.
2. Address any issues of concern, mainly about ownership, before establishing a covenant (treaty). Abraham brought up the matter of what he owned, a well that he had dug, which was violently taken away from him, by Abimelech’s servants (Genesis 21:25).
3. Establish a timeline as necessary when discussing issues of concern. Abimelech mentioned that he was ignorant of the wrong done to Abraham until that day/moment when Abraham told him. (Genesis 21:26)
4. Lead by offering from what you have, as gesture of setting things right. Abraham offered sheep and oxen to Abimelech and both of them made a covenant (Genesis 21:27)
5. Ratify the covenant by an outward expression, not merely internal thoughts. Abraham ratified the covenant he made with Abimelech, by taking seven ewe lambs and setting them free, as a sign of his rightful ownership of the well (Genesis 21:28-30).
Points to ponder:
1. When God wants us to establish a peace treaty with him, he expects us to not deal falsely with him.
2. We belong to God. He is the rightful owner of our life.
3. Remember the time and more importantly the maker and creator, God.
4. Offer your life up to God for he offered up his for us (on the Cross).
5. God ratified his covenant with us by an external demonstration of his love for us, by sending forth his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Are you willing to express your covenant of love for God by your life (action) and not just by your thoughts (or words) for you are rightfully owned by God.
Genesis 21:22-32 (KJV)
22 And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:
23 Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.
24 And Abraham said, I will swear.
25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away.
26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing; neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.
27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.
28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?
30 And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.
31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.
32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.