32 Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. 33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God. 34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.
Something we did not know until these verses is that Abimelech was king over the Philistine people. Obviously the Philistines will come to be one of the constant vexations to the people of Israel, but at this time their leader is friendly with the forefather of the entire Israelite nation.
I never realized before how the early records in Genesis take special care to detail the origin of nations that will become significant later on. For example we also learned how the Ammonites and Moabites came from the daughters of Lot, and they, too, will eventually be long-time enemies of the Israelites.
I had always assumed that when the Israelites were led out of Egypt the nations they warred against in Canaan were complete strangers to them. Evidently that viewpoint was incorrect, all these countries already had a history with each other.
Another interesting foreshadowing in these verses is that Abraham planted a grove to worship the Lord. Later on his descendants would keep the practice of worshipping in groves of trees, but they would be dedicated to pagan gods instead of the Lord. In today’s culture we have lost the connection between groves of trees and worship, but evidently it was a strong idea back in biblical times.
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