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B'resheet/Genesis 26:6 And Yitz'chak dwelt in Gerar
The Hebrew verb , here translated 'dwelt', 'settled' (ESV), 'lived' (NASB), has a range of meanings coming from the basic "to sit" or "to sit down"; these cover "remain, stay, abide", "dwell in or inhabit". All the meanings imply a degree of permanence or longevity, in sharp contrast to the verb which is usually translated 'sojourn' or 'dwell' with an emphasis on this being only for a time or a season. Indeed, the latter verb gives rise to the noun meaning 'a stranger' or 'a foreigner'.
So why is it significant that the Torah uses this word to describe Yitz'chak's residence at Gerar? In the preceding verses, G-d had told Yitz'chak to remain in the Land of Israel, in spite of the famine in the land; He had held up Avraham's obedience to G-d's commandments as an example and repeated His promise and intention to bless Yitz'chak and his descendants. Gerar, on the other hand, while still being in the Land, was in the territory then occupied by the P'lishtim - the Philistines - which was not necessarily the safest place for a follower of the One True G-d to live. Nevertheless, it was here that Yitz'chak not only lived, but put down settled roots; he remained there. Just a few verses further on (v12ff) the text tells us that Yitz'chak reaped a hundred-fold harvest and grew very wealthy as G-d blessed him. And Yitz'chak remained faithful to G-d's specific instructions to "stay in the land" (v2, NASB).
Rav Sha'ul had a similar experience: going into the face of danger in obedience to G-d's instructions. He told the elders of Ephesus gathered at Miletus, "And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. I don't know what will happen to me there, other than that in every city the Ruach HaKodesh keeps warning me that imprisonment and persecution await me" (Acts 20:22-23, CJB). On the journey, Rav Sha'ul's party met talmidim at Tzor where "guided by the Spirit, they told Sha'ul not to go up to Jerusalem; but when the week was over, we left to continue our journey" (Acts 21:4-5, CJB). Finally, "a prophet named Agav came down from Y'hudah to visit us. He took Sha'ul's belt, tied up his own hands and feet and said, 'Here is what the Ruach HaKodesh says: "The man who owns this belt - the Judeans in Jerusalem will tie him up and hand him over to the Goyim"'" (Acts 21:10-11, CJB). Yet, persistently, Rav Sha'ul pushed on, walking out the vision and the call that G-d had placed on him.
Yeshua rebuked Shimon Kefa when he tried to stop Him going ahead with G-d's plan: "'G-d forbid it, L-rd! This shall never happen to you.' But He turned round and said to Kefa, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on G-d's interests, but man's'" (Matthew 16:22-23, NASB).
Further Study: Hoshea 1:1-3; Isaiah 20:1-6; Luke 21:10-19; John 16:33
Application: Many times we are called by G-d to resolutely sit in an uncomfortable place, for reasons that we don't understand, so that G-d can work out His purposes both in our lives and those around us. If you are there and finding it difficult, stop struggling and seek G-d for His grace to "dwell" and see your assignment through to the end.
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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