Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 26
We know Abraham must have been a very rich man (13:2) because of all the herds and flocks he had when he and Lot went separate ways (13:5-9—what happened to all Lot’s flocks, herds and servants who tended the animals when he fled from Sodom?) and because when he rescued Lot and the others from Sodom when they’d been carried off by raiding kings, he had 318 trained men born in his household. (14:14)
Abraham had eight sons, and he gave all his sons gifts before sending them “away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.” (25:1-6) Isaac inherited the bulk of Abraham’s estate so Isaac was a rich man in his own right.
Yet, when Isaac went to live in Philistia, under King Abimelech, to avoid famine back home, we are told that he “became rich and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy.” (26:13) Had he discarded all his wealth back in Canaan? I wouldn’t think so. The mind boggles at the contemplation of all he owned.
Further, Jacob, as Isaac’s son with the birthright, would have inherited all this wealth—or at least the major portion of it. Where was that wealth when he moved to Egypt? It must have all come with him. I can see that it would have diminished for each subsequent generation because of how it had to be divided—Jacob had twelve sons, after all, and most of his sons had many sons—but what happened to all the servants, herdsmen, shepherds and trained fighting men between Jacob’s arrival in Egypt and Israel’s departure to the Promised Land?
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