Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which Abimelech’s servants had seized. And Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor had I heard of it until today.” (Genesis 21:25-26)
Because Abraham had agreed to enter into a covenant with Abimelech, he chose this advantageous time to cite a grievance with the king. Abraham had previously dug a well that the king’s servants had commandeered. Abraham’s offering of seven ewe-lambs, and Abimelech’s acceptance of this gift was to acknowledge that Abraham had, indeed, dug the well. Just as he would later purchase the cave at Machpelah, Abraham essentially purchased the rights to the water of the well. This place would eventually be called Beersheva — “the well of seven” or it could be rendered “the well of the oath.”
The point today is to recognize the need, at times, to address someone directly about a problem rather than letting it simmer for an extended period. Abraham used this opportunity to address an issue with someone who was obviously open to discussion. In other words, he chose to discuss this at a time when the other party was in a state of mind to hear what he had to say. The Torah provides this admonition:
You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. (Leviticus 19:17)
The implication is, in order to avoid harboring bitter feelings toward your neighbor, go to them and confront them about whatever it is that is bothering you. Don’t rebuke someone for the sake of rebuking them, but with the notion to make peace. Christ said that the sons of God are “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) and, thus, we are to strive for the goal of being at peace with all. However, we must also acknowledge that there are times that we must confront something if we hope to attain peace.
Let us learn from Abraham: don’t keep something to yourself that is liable to cultivate resentment toward someone but, rather, go to them and address the issue. Don’t go to them to make war and rebuke in a manner that says, “I’m right and you are wrong.” Choose the time and place carefully in order that the peaceful goal might be realized.
Blessings and Shalom,