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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Genesis 28

Verses 1-5

Jacob Departs from Canaan: Jacob’s Journeys and His Divine Encounters - Throughout the story of Jacob in chapters 28-35, we will notice how God divinely intervened in his life during crucial periods. Kenneth Hagin teaches how God will often give us a divine encounter in order to strengthen us for the journey that lies ahead. [233] This encounter becomes a source of strength that we can lean upon during difficult day ahead. God gave Jacob a dream at the place called Bethel to assure him of divine protection. At that time, Jacob made a covenant of the tithe that sustained him and prospered him through the twenty years while he worked under his father-in-law Laban.

[233] Kenneth Hagin, Following God’s Plan For Your Life (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1993, 1994), 118.

Again, the angels of God met Jacob as he left Laban just before he faced his angry brother Esau. Jacob wrestled with an angel at Penuel that night as he sought God’s blessing. It was at this point in Jacob’s life that he learned to totally trust in God, for the angel struck his thigh and left him physically weak before his brother. Jacob was a shepherd and this weakness made him fully dependent upon the Lord for his sustenance. He could not longer be the man that he used to be before being weakened.

The Lord protected Jacob while he dwelt in Canaan and He sent Joseph ahead in order to preserve Jacob and his seed by taking them in the land of Egypt. When he was going thru major changes or events in his life, the Lord was faithful to reveal Himself and show Jacob His plan for his life. This is the way that the Lord has guided me in my life. When I set out to serve the Lord, He has been faithful to speak to me in supernatural ways in order to show me His will during major changes in my life.

Genesis 28:5 Word Study on “Padanaram” Strong says the name Hebrew “Padanaram” (H6307) means, “the table-land of Aram.” Adam Clarke says Aram is the region once inhabited by the Arameans, [234] from which the Aramaic language probably originated ( ISBE). [235] This language would later become the dominant language of the Near East during the time of the Babylonian domination, and some of the Old Testament literature would be written in this language, such as the book of Daniel.

[234] Adam Clarke, Genesis, in Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Genesis 28:5.

[235] J. E. H. Thomson, “Aramaic; Aramaic Language,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Genesis 28:5 Word Study on “the Syrian” Strong says the Hebrew name “Syrian” “Aramite” ( אֲרַמִּי ה ) (H761) comes from ( אֲרָם ) (H758), meaning, “the highland, Aram or Syria, and its inhabitants.” The LXX uses the word “Syrian” (συρου) when translating the Hebrew text, from which the English word “Syrian” is derived.

Genesis 28:10 Comments - Isaac had settled in Beershaba during this time.

Verses 1-22

The Genealogy of Isaac The genealogies of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have a common structure in that they open with God speaking to a patriarch and giving him a commission and a promise in which to believe. In each of these genealogies, the patriarch’s calling is to believe God’s promise, while this passage of Scripture serves as a witness to God’s faithfulness in fulfilling each promise. Only then does the genealogy come to a close.

We find in Genesis 25:19 to Genesis 35:29 the genealogy of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Hebrews 11:20 reveals the central message in this genealogy that stirs our faith in God when Isaac gave his sons redemptive prophecies, saying, “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.” As Abraham’s genealogy begins with a divine commission when God told him to leave Ur and to go Canaan (Genesis 12:1), so does Isaac’s genealogy begin with a divine commission predicting him as the father of two nations, with the elder serving the younger (Genesis 25:23), with both nations playing roles in redemptive history, Jacob playing the major role. The first event in Isaac’s genealogy has to do with a God speaking to his wife regarding the two sons in her womb, saying that these two sons would multiply into two nations. Since his wife Rebekah was barren, Isaac interceded to God and the Lord granted his request. The Lord then told Rebekah that two nations were in her womb, and the younger would prevail over the elder (Genesis 25:21-23). Isaac, whose name means laughter (Genesis 21:6), was called to establish himself in the land of Canaan after his father Abraham, and to believe in God’s promise regarding his son Jacob. During the course of his life, Isaac’s genealogy testifies of how he overcame obstacles and the enemy that resisted God’s plan for him. Thus, we see Isaac’s destiny was to be faithful and dwell in the land and father two nations. God’s promise to Isaac, that the elder will serve the younger, is fulfilled when Jacob deceives his father and receives the blessings of the first-born. The fact that Isaac died in a ripe old age testifies that he fulfilled his destiny as did Abraham his father. Romans 9:10-13 reflects the theme of Isaac’s genealogy in that it discusses the election of Jacob over Isaac. We read in Hebrews 11:20 how Isaac expressed his faith in God’s promise of two nations being born through Rebekah because he blessed his sons regarding these future promises.

Genesis 12:1, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:”

Genesis 21:6, “And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.”

Genesis 25:23, “And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”

Genesis 25:19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:

Genesis 25:20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.

Genesis 25:20 Comments - The story of Isaac taking Rebekah as his wife is recorded in Genesis 2:1-25.

Genesis 25:21 And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Genesis 25:22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.

Genesis 25:22 “And the children struggled together within her” Comments - Hosea 12:3 says that Jacob entered two struggles in his life.

Hosea 12:3, “He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:”

1. At his natural birth in the womb with his brother:

Genesis 25:26, “And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.”

2. At his “spiritual” birth with an angel:

Genesis 32:24, “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”

Genesis 25:22 Comments - Any mother who has given birth to children understands the importance of the child’s continual kicks within her womb. Although painful at times, these kicks serve to assure the mother that the baby is alive and healthy. When these kicks cease for a few days a mother naturally becomes worried, but in the case of Rebekah the very opposite was true. There was too much kicking to the point that she besought the Lord in prayer. It was her beseeching God rather than her husband because a pregnant mother is much more focused upon these issues.

Genesis 25:22 Comments - Why did Jacob and Esau struggle within their mother’s womb? One pastor suggests that they were struggling for the birthright by becoming the firstborn, which struggle was played out during the course of their lives.

Genesis 25:23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Genesis 25:23 “and the elder shall serve the younger” Comments - F. F. Bruce tells us that it is not so much the individuals that are prophetically referred to here in Genesis 25:23 as it is the two nations that will descend from Jacob and Esau. The Scriptures reveal that Esau himself never served Jacob during their lifetimes. However, during the long stretch of biblical history, the Edomites did in fact serve the nation of Israel a number of times.

In the same sense, the prophecy in Malachi 1:2-3 is not so much about the two individual sons of Jacob as it is a prophecy of two nations. In other words, God loved the nation of Israel and hated the nation of Edom.

Malachi 1:2-3, “I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”

Bruce goes on to explain that the Hebrew thought and speech is making an extreme contrast of love and hate in these passages for the sake of emphasis. He uses Luke 14:26 to illustrate this Hebrew way of saying that someone must love God far more than his earthly family. [227]

[227] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 46-47.

Luke 14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

This is exactly what the parallel passage in Matthew 10:37 says when Jesus tells us that we must love Him more than our parents or children.

Matthew 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

Thus, God was saying that He loved Jacob far more than He loved Jacob’s closest blood kin. This statement is meant to place emphasis upon the immeasurable love that God has for His people.

Genesis 25:23 Comments The genealogy of Isaac begins with a divine commission promising Isaac that he would father two nations, one mightier than the other, and both playing important roles in redemptive history. Genesis 25:23 records this divine commission to Isaac and Rebecca, which is the first recorded event of the Lord speaking to Isaac or his wife.

Genesis 25:23 Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - Note that the phrase “and the elder shall serve the younger” is quoted in the New Testament.

Romans 9:11-13, “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger . As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

Genesis 25:23 Scripture References - Note a reference to Jacob's favour over Esau in Malachi 1:1-3.

Malachi 1:1-3, “The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”

Genesis 25:24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.

Genesis 25:25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.

Genesis 25:25 Word Study on “red” Gesenius says the Hebrew word “red” ( אַדְמוֹנִי ) (H132) means, “red, i.e. red-haired.” This word occurs three times in the Old Testament. This same word is used to describe David (1 Samuel 16:17; 1 Samuel 17:42).

1 Samuel 16:17, “And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.”

1 Samuel 17:42, “And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.”

Genesis 25:25 Word Study on “Esau” Strong says the Hebrew name “Esau” (H6215) means “hairy.”

Genesis 25:25 Comments - Esau was a hairy man, while Jacob was not (Genesis 27:11).

Genesis 27:11, “And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:”

Genesis 25:26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

Genesis 25:26 Word Study on “Jacob” Gesenius says the Hebrew name “Jacob” “Ya’aqob” ( יַעֲקֹב ) (H3290) means, “taking hold of the heel, supplanter, layer of snares.” Strong says it means, “heel-catcher, supplanter.” Strong says it comes from the primitive root ( עָקַב ) (H6117), which means, “to seize by the heel, to circumvent.” One Hebrew derivative ( עָקֵב ) (6119) means, “heel, (figuratively) the last of anything.”

One pastor suggests that Jacob’s name means “hand upon the heel” because this is what his parents saw when he was born. He uses the Hebrew word “yod” ( י) as a symbol of a hand, with the root word ( עקב ) meaning “heel.”

Genesis 25:26 Comments - We know that Jacob and Esau struggled together in the womb. Why did Jacob grab his brother’s heel? One pastor suggests that he was trying to stop Esau from crushing his head. He refers to Genesis 3:15 as the prophecy to explain this suggestion. The seed of woman was going to crush the head of Satan. We know that according to Jewish tradition Cain, who was of the evil one, struck Abel on the head and killed him. So it appears that Satan was trying to reverse this prophecy by crushing the head of the woman’s seed. Perhaps Esau was trying to crush the head of Jacob while in the womb.

Genesis 25:27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.

Genesis 25:27 Word Study on “plain” Strong says the Hebrew word “plain” ( תָּם ) (H8535) means, “pious, gentle, dear,” being derived from the primitive root ( תָּמַם ) (H8552), which means, “to complete, to accomplish, to cease.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 13 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as “perfect 9, undefiled 2, plain 1, upright 1.”

Genesis 25:27 Comments - There will eventually arise between Esau and Jacob a similar competition that took place between Cain and Abel. Esau did eventually attempt to kill Jacob, but was protected by divine providence.

Genesis 25:28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Verses 11-22

Jacob’s Dream In Genesis 28:11-22 Jacob dreamed of a ladder that was placed upon earth that ascended into Heaven with the angels of God ascending and descending upon it. When we read the story of Jacob we find that he had a number of divine encounters with angels who were sent to save him and his twelve sons who were the beginnings of the nation of Israel. Therefore, one meaning of this dream was that God was sending His holy angels to be with Jacob in order to protect him on his journeys.

Genesis 28:11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.

Genesis 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

Genesis 28:12 Comments - Because the vision of angels ascending and descending from Heaven to earth on a ladder is followed by the Lord making a Messianic promise to Jacob, it is natural to interpret these angels as ministering spirits sent forth upon the earth to accomplish God’s prophecies to Jacob, which are a part of His overall divine plan of redemption. The angels are receiving divine instructions and coming to earth to implement them continually throughout redemptive history, but particularly regarding Jacob’s prophecy. Thus, Jacob understands that God accomplishes His promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through these ministering angels. Twenty years later (Genesis 31:38), these angels will meet Jacob on his return to Canaan (Genesis 31:1). He will wrestle with one of these ministering angels at a place called Peniel (Genesis 32:24-32).

Genesis 31:38, “This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten.”

Genesis 32:1, “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.”

While Jacob had a dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder from heaven in order to bring about God’s plan of redemption upon the earth, Ezekiel had a vision of angels coming to earth from the throne of God in a great whirlwind to accomplish the same. While these two visions are similar in meaning, the question can be asked as to why they are presented differently to these to Old Testament prophets. Jacob lived in a time when Israel was in its earliest infancy, and God was building the nation of Israel. Ezekiel lived in a time when God had judged and destroyed the nation of Israel and reserved a remnant for future restoration. The whirlwind can certainly represent divine judgment upon Israel and the nations who destroyed Jerusalem. The Lord standing in Heaven at the top of a ladder extending to earth perhaps represents God’s ability to fulfill His promise of building a nation out of Jacob through continual involvement in the life of Jacob and his descendants.

Genesis 28:13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

Genesis 28:12-13 Comments The Word “Behold” - The word “behold” will occurs three times in Genesis 28:12-13. Jeffrey Arthurs says, “It signals the reader that details are being seen through the eyes of the character.” [236] In other words, we read the narrative story as if we are Jacob seeing what he sees.

[236] Jeffery D. Arthurs, Preaching With Variety (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2007), 79.

Genesis 28:12-15 Comments - The Lord Blesses Jacob The Lord appears to Jacob in the dream and promises that He will bless him and give him the promised land of Abraham and Isaac. This promise was based upon a covenant promise that was first given to Abraham and passed down to Isaac. God is not blessing Jacob because of his faith, but because of the faith of his fathers.

Genesis 28:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.

Genesis 28:16 Comments - Note in Genesis 28:16 that Jacob shows evidence of a person who has never had an encounter with God, unlike his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, who had a number of divine encounters. Jacob is a person who does not know God intimately, as did Abraham. This appears to be Jacob's first encounter with the Lord.

Genesis 28:19 Word Study on “Bethel” Strong says the Hebrew word “Bethel” ( בֵּית־אֵל ) (H1008) literally means “house of God,” and is taken from Jacob’s declaration in Genesis 28:17 that this place was the house of God.

Genesis 28:17, “And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God , and this is the gate of heaven.”

Genesis 28:22 “I will surely give the tenth unto thee” - Comments - Abraham tithed one tenth (Genesis 14:20), giving Jacob an example of how to serve the God of Abraham. Perhaps Abraham gave tithes on a regular basis, setting an example for his sons Isaac and Jacob to follow.

Genesis 14:20, “And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all .”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 28". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/genesis-28.html. 2013.