Recall that from the day YAHWEH said to Abraham, “… get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Genesis 12:1), Abraham had been journeying from one place to the other, living in tents wherever he settled for a while. On the occasion of this story, while still in the land (Gerar) where Abimelech (of the story here ➡ https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/bible-stories-14-abraham-sarah-and-abimelech/) was king, it came to the knowledge of the king and his chief captain, Phicol of how Abraham seemed to have found favour in the sight of YAHWEH. Despite the fact that Abraham was only a tenant, and King Abimelech was the landlord, he understood quite easily that he wasn’t in the same league as Abraham, especially in terms of prosperity. He must’ve figured that with Abraham’s growing influence and size (though having only two biological sons, of which one was away), he could easily be overran.
Rather than envy and antagonize him like you’d find with many landlord-tenant relationships, he sought to strengthen the relationship between them by having Abraham swear to him by YAHWEH, that he “… will not deal falsely with me (Abimelech); 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” (Genesis 21:23), to which Abraham affirmatively swore. I capitalized “kindness” in that quote to highlight the fact that the obligation of a landlord doesn’t end with just exacting rent from his tenant. Landlords, must understand that it could also be them facing challenges that tenants face, in trying to fulfill to the latter the wordings of the agreement they might be into with their landlords. I know of a landlord, whose tenant because of the present harsh economic climate in Nigeria presently, elected to help his tenant pay part of his rent elsewhere so he could free his apartment located in a highbrow area of Lagos, the rent of which he hadn’t been able to pay for upwards of a year.
Many tenants have had to curtail their lives and living style, in order not to attract the attention of their landlord/-lady, who many times have been known to arbitrarily increase rents based on the fact that the considered that the living condition of a tenant has improved, or for no just cause. Any disagreement is seen as an avenue to make the life of the tenant a living hell. Expectedly, an event that will test the genuineness of the accord between the duo in this story soon reared its ugly head, when Abimelech’s servants violently dispossessed Abraham of a well of water. If you’re an avid follower of the scriptures, you’d know that availability of water remained an issue as was recorded, even as it is to this day, and disagreements over wells were commonplace, from stories of Abraham, to Moses with Jethro’s daughters, even up till Yahshua’s time with the Samaritan woman in the New Covenant (so called, New Testament).
Abimelech was saddened when Abraham reported the activities of his erring servants to him, claiming that he hadn’t authorized such a move and would rather that both parties settled the matter amicably. Abraham on his part, not only welcomed the idea of an amicable settlement but went further to take “… sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant” (Genesis 21:27). Afterwards, Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from his flock, to Abimelech’s bewilderment (seeing that he wasn’t expecting such) and said, “… for these seven lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be witness unto me, that I have digged this well” (Genesis 21:30). In a way, making it official that the well now belongs to Abraham, even if there were ambiguities relating to the ownership of the well before this time.
I have come to find, in handling stories related to Abraham, that he so often than not, went out of his way, even to great lengths to seek peace, sometimes to the point of accruing losses (as with Lot, his nephew – https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/bible-stories-vi-not-all-that-glitters-is-gold/, amongst several other instances, as recorded in the scriptures), that I can imagine how peaceful the world can be if only we could swallow our pride, compromise on our hard stances, to “live, and let live”. Both parties in this matter, didn’t allow this disagreement scuttle their treaty, rather they exploited the opportunity the challenge presented to strengthen their treaty, a notch stronger than before.
Abraham, thereafter called the place where they swore together, Beersheba following which everyone left for their respective abodes. The peace Abraham procured with the aforementioned gesture, saw him sojourning on that land of the Philistines many days, even going as far as planting a “…grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of YAHWEH, the everlasting El (OLAM)” (Genesis 21:33). Beyond the physical gains of striving for peace at all times, we are further admonished in Hebrews 12:14, to “follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see YAHWEH”. Shalom!
– Genesis Chapter 21 Verse 22 – 34, THE WORD OF YAHWEH, © 2000