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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 28

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5


Verses 1-5:

Isaac readily saw the wisdom of Rebekah’s suggestion, that a proper bride should be found for the one God had clearly designated as heir to the Divine promise. He called Jacob to his bed-side and renewed and enlarged the blessing he had previously conferred upon him. He specifically charged him that he must not take a bride from among the Canaanites. Rather, he was to go to Padan-aram, to the country of his mother’s kin, and there find a wife. For more on that country, see Ge 24:10; 25:20; 27:43.

Bethuel, if still alive, was very old, since he was Isaac’s cousin. Isaac did not try to follow Abraham’s example of sending a servant to that land to find a bride for Jacob. There appears to be no doubt that Isaac was confident of Jacob’s success in finding a suitable wife. Doubtless he had faith in the Providence of God to direct his way.

"God Almighty" is El Shaddai (see Ge 17:1-8). This is the All-nourisher, the One who sustains in every need. He is the God who is able to effect the promises of the Covenant, which here are renewed to the Divinely-chosen heir.

Verses 6-9

Verses 6-9:

Esau was determined to win or retain the goodwill of his father. He observed Isaac’s instructions to Jacob, and realized that his father regarded the women of Canaan unsuitable for wives for his sons. Esau had already displeased his parents by marrying two Hittite women (Ge 26:34, 35). Now he sought to make up for this by taking other wives, this time from Isaac’s kin. He took to wife the daughter of Ishmael, although his Hittite wives were neither dead nor divorced.

Esau’s conduct in the matter of his wives is further indication of the sensuality of his character. He violated the Divine principle of monogamy, by taking at least three wives. He sought by marrying Isaac’s niece to sustain the purity of the Abrahamic lineage. He tried to secure Divine favor by human effort. It failed -just as it fails in this age when men seek to please God by the energies of the flesh.

Verses 10-15

Verses 10-15:

Jacob set out to Haran, in obedience to his father’s direction, and also to his mother’s warning. He likely took the common caravan route, much as did Eliezer many years earlier on his mission to Haran. How many days he traveled before arriving at the site of his wondrous dream is not known. The location is about three hours walk north of Jerusalem, near a village then known as Luz. For some reason Jacob did not enter the village to seek shelter. He may have feared the local inhabitants. Or he may have anticipated that Esau might pursue him and overtake him there and kill him. He made his solitary bed in a camp outside the town, using a stone for a pillow.

As he slept, Jacob had a dream. In his dream he saw a ladder, sullam, or a staircase, reaching from earth to heaven to form a means of communication for angels to link heaven and earth. Joh 1:51 for Jesus’ words regarding this angelic ministry.

This "ladder" is symbolic of the Son of man, who alone forms the means of reaching from earth to heaven. He makes possible the communication between God in his glory and man in his sin.

Jehovah spoke from heaven in Jacob’s vision, and reaffirmed the Covenant which He had made with Abraham, renewed in Isaac, and now confirmed in Jacob. He continued the promise that Abraham’s seed, through Jacob, should be without number. The "dust-of the earth" refers to the literal descendants of Jacob. As a part of this confirmation, Jehovah promised to bring Jacob back to this Land, and that He would be with him wherever he would go.

Verses 16-22

Verses 16-22:

Verse 16: This is Jacob’s discovery that Jehovah reveals Himself in many different places, Jacob thought himself alone, but Jehovah was with him, even in his solitary camp. Jacob experienced a reverential fear in the presence of Jehovah, as did others after him, see Ex 20:18, 19; Job 42:5, 6; Isa 6:5; Lu 5:8; Re 1:17, 18.

Verse 17: "Dreadful" is yare, not terror but reverence and awe. The term occurs in Da 9:4; Hab 1:7; Mal 1:14;4:5. This was figuratively the "house of God," the "gate of heaven."

Verses 18-22: Jacob took the stone that had served as his pillow and made of it an altar. This was not as an object of worship, but as a memorial of a remarkable experience with Jehovah God. The oil with which he anointed the stone symbolizes recognition of special service. Worship of sacred stones was common among ancient peoples, as the Greeks, Romans, Hindus, Arabs, and certain Teutonic peoples; but it .was expressly forbidden in the Law (Ex 23:24; 24:13; Le 26:1, et.al). Such was not Jacob’s intention, however, oil poured on the stone enabled him to identify it years later.

"Beth-el" is literally, "house of God." Here Jacob vowed a vow to Jehovah. He vowed that if the Lord would give him life’s necessities, and would return him to his father’s house, he would acknowledge Jehovah as Elohim, his own personal God. He further promised to return to this site and once more worship Jehovah there. Finally, he promised to recognize Jehovah’s sovereignty and ownership by returning to Him a tithe. This tithe was to be one-tenth of all Jacob had. The practice of tithing pre-dates the giving of the Mosaic Law.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 28". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-28.html. 1985.
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