Attention!
10 million Ukrainians without power because of Russia. Help us purchase electrical generators for churches.
Consider helping today!

Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Genesis 28

Verses 1-9

SIXTH SECTION

Isaac’s preference for the natural first-born, and Esau. Rebekah and Jacob steal from him the theocratic blessing. Esau’s blessing. Esau’s hostility to Jacob. Rebekah’s preparation for the flight of Jacob, and his journey with reference to a theocratic marriage. Isaac’s directions for the journcy of Jacob, the counterpart to the dismissal of Ishmael. Esau’s pretended correction of his ill-assoried marriages

Genesis 27:1 to Genesis 28:9

1And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see,1 he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: And he said unto him, Behold, here am I. 2And he said, Behold, now I am old, I know not the day of my death. 3Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons [hunting weapons], thy quiver, and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; 4And make me savory meat [tasty; favorite; festive dish. De Wette: dainty dish], such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die. 5And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.

6And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, 7Bring me venison, and make me savory meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the Lord before my death. 8Now therefore, my son, obey my voice [strictly], according to that which I command thee. 9Go now to the flock [small cattle], and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savory meat for thy father, such as he loveth: 10And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death. 11And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man: 12My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing. 13And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them. 14And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savory meat 15[dainty dish], such as his father loved. And Rebekah took goodly [costly] raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son: 16And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth [part] of his neck; 17And she gave the savory meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.

18And he came unto his father, and said, My father: And he said, Here am I; who art thou, my Song of Solomon 1:0; Song of Solomon 1:09And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me. 20And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it to me. 21And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau, or not. 22And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. 23And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him. 24And he said, Art thou [thou there] my very son Esau? 25And he said, I am. And he said, Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son’s venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat: and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my Song of Solomon 2:0; Song of Solomon 2:07And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son 28 is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed: Therefore [thus] God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth and plenty [the fulness] of corn and wine: 29Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee [thy mother’s sons shall bow]: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

30And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31And he also had made savory meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son’s venison, that 32thy soul may bless me. And [then] Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau. 33And Isaac trembled very exceedingly [shuddered in great terror above measure], and said, Who? where is he [who then was he]? that hath taken [hunted] venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed. 34And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. 35And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing. 36And he said, Is he not rightly named [heel-holder, supplanter] Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright [right of the firstborn]; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? 37And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him [have I endowed him]: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? 38And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his 39voice and wept. And [then] Isaac his father answered, and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; 40And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother: and [but] it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion [in the course of thy wanderings], that thou shalt break his yoke from, off thy neck.

41And Esau hated Jacob, because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart [formed the design], The days of mourning for my [dead] father are at hand, then will I slay my brother Jacob. 42And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee [goes about with revenge to kill thee].2 43Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother, to Haran: 44And tarry with him a few days 45[some time], until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? 46And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life, because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me [what is life to me]

Genesis 28:1.And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. 2Arise, go to Padan-aram [Mesopotamia], to the house of Bethuel, thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from 3thence of the daughters of Laban, thy mother’s brother. And God [the] Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be [become] a multitude3 of people; 4And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger [of thy pilgrimage], which God gave unto Abraham. 5And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padan-aram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.

6When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padan-aram, to take him a wife from thence; and that, as he blessed him, he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; 7And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padan-aram; 8And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; 9Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath [from root חלה, Cecinit. Delitzsch derives it from חֲלֵי, to be sweet] the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth [heights, nabathæa], to be his wife.

GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS

1. Knobel, without regard to verse 46, and notwithstanding the word Elohim, verse 28, regards our section as a Jehovistic narrative. We have only to refer to the prevailing Jehovistic reference. Respecting the origin of our narrative Knobel has given his opinion in a remarkable manner, e.g., he cannot conceive how an old man may hear well, smell well, and yet be unable to see!!

2. The time. “Isaac at that time was a hundred and thirty-seven years old, the age at which Ishmael, his half-brother, died, about fourteen years before; a fact which, in consequence of the weakness of old age, may have seriously reminded him of death, though he did not die until forty-three years afterwards. The correct determination of his age, given already by Luther, is based upon the following calculation: Joseph, when he stood before Pharaoh, was thirty years old (Genesis 41:46), and at the migration of Jacob to Egypt he had reached already the age of thirty-nine; for seven years of plenty and two years of famine had passed already at that time; nine years had elapsed since the elevation of Joseph (Genesis 45:6). But Jacob, at that time, was a hundred and thirty years old (Genesis 47:9); Joseph, therefore, was born when Jacob was ninety-one years; and since Joseph’s birth occurred in the fourteenth year of Jacob’s sojourn in Mesopotamia (comp. Genesis 30:25 with Genesis 29:18; Genesis 29:21; Genesis 29:27), Jacob’s flight to Laban happened in his seventy-seventh year, and in the hundred and thirty-seventh year of Isaac. Comp. Hengstenberg: Beitr. iii. p. 348, etc.” Keil.

3. The present section contains the history of the distinction and separation of Esau and Jacob; first introduced by enmity after the manner of man, then confirmed by the divine judgment upon human sins, and established by the conduct of the sons. This narrative conducts us from the history of Isaac to that of Jacob. The separate members of this section are the following: 1. Isaac’s project; 3. Rebekah’s counter-project; 3. Jacob’s deed and blessing; 4. Esau’s complaint and Esau’s blessing; 5. Esau’s scheme of revenge, and Rebekah’s counter-scheme; 6. Jacob and Esau in the antithesis of their marriage, or the divine decree.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1.Genesis 27:1-4.—And his eyes were dim.—We construe with the Sept., since we are of the opinion that this circumstance is noticed as an explanation of the succeeding narrative.—Thy quiver.—The ἅπαξ λεγ., תְּלִי (lit. hanging), has by some been explained incorrectly as meaning sword (Onkelos and others).—Savory meat.—פטעמים, delicious food. But it is rather to be taken in the sense of a feast than of a dainty dish. It is praiseworthy in Isaac to be mindful of his death so long before-hand. That he anticipates his last hours in this manner indicates not only a strong self-will, but also a doubt and a certain apprehension, whence he makes the special pretence, in order to conceal the blessing from Jacob and Rebekah. [Notwithstanding the divine utterance before the children were born, undoubtedly known to him, and the careless and almost contemptuous disposal of his birthright by Esau, and Esau’s ungodly connection with the Canaanitish women, Isaac still gives way to his preference to Esau, and determines to bestow upon him the blessing.—A. G.]

2.Genesis 27:5-17. Rebekah’s counter-project.—Unto Jacob her son.—Her favorite.—Two good kids of the goats.—The meat was to be amply provided, so as to represent venison.—As a deceiver (lit., as a scoffer).—“He is afraid to be treated as a scoffer merely, but not as an impostor, since he would have confessed only a mere sportive intention.” Knobel. It may be assumed, however, that his conscience really troubled him. But from respect for his mother he does not point to the wrong itself, but to its hazardous consequences.—Upon me be thy curse.—Rebekah’s boldness assumes here the appearance of the greatest rashness. This, however, vanishes for the most part, if we consider that she is positively sure of the divine promise, with which, it is true, she wrongfully identifies her project.—Goodly raiment.—Even in regard to dress, Esau seems to have taken already a higher place in the household. His goodly raiment reminds us of the coat of Joseph.—Upon his hands.—According to Tuch, the skins of the Eastern camel-goat (angora-goat) are here referred to. The black, silk-like hair of these animals, was also used by the Romans as a substitute for human hair (Martial., xii. 46).” Keil.

3.Genesis 27:18-29. Jacob’s act and Jacob’s blessing.—Who art thou, my son.—The secrecy with which Isaac arranged the preparation for the blessing must have made him suspicious at the very beginning. The presence of Jacob, under any circumstances, would have been to him, at present, an unpleasant interruption. But now he thinks that he hears Jacob’s voice. That he does not give effect to this impression is shown by the perfect success of the deception. But perhaps an infirmity of hearing corresponds with his blindness.—Arise, I pray thee, sit and eat.—They ate not only in a sitting posture, but also while lying down; but the lying posture at a meal differed from that taken upon a bed or couch. It is the solemn act of blessing, moreover, which is here in question.—How is it that thou hast found it so quickly.—It is not only Jacob’s voice, but also the quick execution of his demand, which awakens his suspicion.—And he blessed him.

Genesis 27:23. This is merely the greeting. Even after having felt his son, he is not fully satisfied, but once more demands the explanation that he is indeed Esau.—Come near now, and kiss me.—After his partaking of the meat, Isaac wants still another assurance and encouragement by the kiss of his son.—And he smelled the smell of his raiment.—The garments of Esau were impregnated with the fragrance of the fields, over which he roamed as a hunter. “The scent of Lebanon was distinguished (Hosea 14:7; Song of Solomon 4:11).” Knobel. The directness of the form of his blessing is seen from the fact that the fundamental thought is connected with the smell of Esau’s raiment. The fragrance of the fields of Canaan, rich in herbs and flowers, which were promised to the theocratic heir, perfumed the garments of Esau, and this circumstance confirmed the patriarch’s prejudice.—And blessed him, and said.—The words of his blessing are prophecies (Genesis 9:27; Genesis 49:0)—utterances of an inspired state looking into the future, and therefore poetic in form and expression. The same may be said respecting the later blessing upon Esau.—Of a field which the Lord hath blessed.—Palestine, the land of Jehovah’s blessing, a copy of the old, and a prototype of the new, paradise.—Because the country is blessed of Jehovah, he assumes that the son whose garments smell of the fragrance of the land is also blessed.—Therefore God give thee.Ha-elohim. The choice of the expression intimates a remaining doubt whether Esau was the chosen one of Jehovah; but it is explained also by the universality of the succeeding blessing. [He views Ha-elohim, the personal God, but not Jehovah, the God of the Covenant, as the source and giver of the blessing.—A. G.]—Of the dew of heaven.—The dew in Palestine is of the greatest importance in respect to the fruitfulness of the year during the dry season (Genesis 49:25; Deuteronomy 33:13; Deuteronomy 33:28; Hosea 14:6; Sach. viii. 12).—And the fatness of the earth.—Knobel: “Of the fat parts of the earth, singly and severally.” Since the land promised to the sons was to be divided between Esau and Jacob, the sense no doubt is: may he give to thee the fat part of the promised land, i.e., Canaan. Canaan was the chosen part of the lands of the earth belonging to the first-born, which were blessed with the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth. As to the fruitfulness of Canaan, see Exodus 3:8. Compare also the Bible Dictionaries; Winer: article “Palestine.” The antithesis of this grant to that of the Edomitic country appears distinctly, Genesis 27:39. A two-fold contrast is therefore to be noticed: 1. To Edom; 2. to the earth in general; and so we have מן. But to a blessed land belong also blessed seasons, therefore plenty of corn and wine.—Let people serve thee.—To the grant of the theocratic country is added the grant of a theocratic, i.e., spiritual and political condition of the world.—And nations.—Tribes of nations. Not only nations but tribes of nations, groups of nations, are to bow down to him, i.e., to do homage to him submissively. This promise was fulfilled typically in the time of David and Solomon, ultimately and completely in the world-sovereignty of the promise of faith.—Be Lord over thy brethren.—This blessing was fulfilled in the subjection of Edom (2Sa 8:14; 1 Kings 11:15; Psalms 60:8-9).—Thy mother’s sons.—His prejudice still shows itself in the choice of this expression, according to which he thought to subject Jacob, the “mother’s” son, to Esau.—Cursed be every one that curseth thee.—Thus Isaac bound himself. He is not able to take back the blessing he pronounced on Jacob. In this sealing of the blessing he afterwards recognizes also a divine sentence (Genesis 27:33). His prophetic spirit has by far surpassed his human prejudice. [This blessing includes the two elements of the blessing of Abraham, the possession of the land of Canaan, and a numerous offspring, but not distinctly the third, that all nations should be blessed in him and his seed. This may be included in the general phrase, let him that curseth thee be cursed, and him that blesseth thee be blessed. But it is only when the conviction that he had against his will served the purpose of God in blessing Jacob, that the consciousness of his patriarchal calling is awakened within him, and he has strength to give the blessing of Abraham to the son whom he had rejected but God had chosen (Genesis 27:3-4). See Keil.—A. G.]

4.Genesis 27:30-40. Esau’s lamentation and Esau’s blessing.And Isaac trembled.—If Isaac himself had not intended to deceive in the matter in which he was deceived, or had he been filled with divine confidence in respect to the election of Esau, he would have been startled only at the deception of Jacob. But it is evident that he was surprised most at the divine decision, which thereby revealed itself, and convinces him of the error and sin of his attempt to forestall that decision, otherwise we should hear of deep indignation rather than of an extraordinary terror. What follows, too, confirms this interpretation. He bows not so much to the deception practised upon him as to the fact and to the prophetic spirit which has found utterance through him. Augustine: De Civitate Dei, 16, Genesis 37:0 : “Quis non hic maledictionem potius expectaret irati, si hœc non superna inspiratione sed terreno more generentur.”—Who? where is he?—Yet before he has named Jacob, he pronounces the divine sentence: the blessing of the Lord remains with that man who received it.—He cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry.Hebrews 12:17.—Bless me, even me also.—Esau, it is true, had a vague feeling that the question here was about important grants, but he did not understand their significance. He, therefore, thought the theocratic blessing admitted of division, and was as dependent upon his lamentations and prayers as upon the caprice of his father.—Thy brother came with subtilty.—With deception. Isaac now indicates also the human error and sin, after having declared the divine judgment. But at the same time he declares that the question is only about one blessing, and that no stranger has been the recipient of this blessing, but Esau’s brother.—Is not he rightly named. (הכִי)?—Shall he get the advantage of me because he was thus inadvertently named (Jacob=heel-catcher, supplanter), and because he then acted thus treacherously (with cunning or fraud) shall I acquiesce in a blessing that was surreptitiously obtained?—He took away my birthright.—Instead of reproaching himself with his own act, his eye is filled with the wrong Jacob has done him.—Hast thou not a blessing reserved for me?—Esau is perplexed in the mysterious aspect of this matter. He speaks as if Isaac had pronounced a gratuitous blessing. Isaac’s answer is according to the truth. He informs him very distinctly of his future theocratic relation to Jacob. As compared with the blessing of Jacob he had no more a blessing for Esau, for it is fundamentally the greatest blessing for him to serve Jacob.—Hast thou but one blessing?—Esau proceeds upon the assumption that the father could pronounce blessings at will. His tears, however, move the father’s heart, and he feels that his favorite son can be appeased by a sentence having the semblance of a blessing, and which in fact contains every desire of his heart. That is, he now understands him.—The fatness of the earth.—The question arises whether מִן is used here in a partitive sense (according to Luther’s translation and the Vulgate), as in the blessing upon Jacob, Genesis 27:28, or in a privative sense (according to Tuch, Knobel, Kurtz, etc.). Delitzsch favors the last view: 1. The mountains in the northeastern part of Idumæa (now Gebalene), were undoubtedly fertile, and therefore called Palœstina Salutaris in the middle ages (Von Raumer, in his Palœstina, p. 240, considers the prophecy, therefore, according to Luther’s translation, as fulfilled). But the mountains in the western part of Idumæa are beyond comparison the most dreary and sterile deserts in the world, as Seetzen expresses himself. 2. It is not probable that Esau’s and Jacob’s blessing would begin alike. 3. It is in contradiction with Genesis 27:37, etc. (p. 455); Malachi 1:3. This last citation is quoted by Keil as proof of the preceding statement. [The מִן is the same in both cases, but in the blessing of Jacob, “after a verb of giving, it had a partitive sense; here, after a noun of place, it denotes distance, or separation, e.g., Proverbs 20:3.” Murphy. The context seems to demand this interpretation, and it is confirmed by the prediction, by thy sword, etc. Esau’s dwelling-place was the very opposite of the richly-blessed land of Canaan.—A. G.] But notwithstanding all this, the question arises, whether the ambiguity of the expression is accidental, or whether it is chosen in relation to the excitement and weakness of Esau. As to the country of Edom, see Delitzsch, p. 455; Knobel, p. 299; Keil, p. 198; also the Dictionaries, and journals of travellers.—And by thy sword.—This confirms the former explanation, but at the same time this expression corresponds with Esau’s character and the future of his descendants. War, pillage, and robbery, are to support him in a barren country. “Similar to Ishmael, Genesis 16:12, and the different tribes still living to-day in the old Edomitic country (see Burkhardt: ‘Syria,’ p. 826; Ritter: Erdkunde, xiv. p. 966, etc.).” Knobel. See Obadiah, Genesis 27:3; Jeremiah 49:16. “The land of Edom, therefore, according to Isaac’s prophecy, will constitute a striking antithesis to the land of Jacob.” Keil.—And shalt serve thy brother.—See above.—And it shall come to pass.—As a consequence of the roaming about of Edom in the temper and purpose of a freebooter, he will ultimately shake off the yoke of Jacob from his neck. This seems to be a promise of greater import, but the self-liberation of Edom from Israel was not of long continuance, nor did it prove to him a true blessing. Edom was at first strong and independent as compared to Israel, slower in its development (Numbers 20:14, etc.). Saul first fought against it victoriously (1 Samuel 14:47); David conquered it (2 Samuel 8:14). Then followed a conspiracy under Solomon (1 Kings 11:14), whilst there was an actual defection under Joram. On the other hand, the Edomites were again subjected by Amaziah (2 Kings 14:7; 2 Chronicles 25:11) and remained dependent under Uzziah and Jotham (2 Kings 14:22; 2 Chronicles 26:2). But under Ahaz they liberated themselves entirely from Judah (2 Kings 16:6; 2 Chronicles 28:17). Finally, however, John Hyrcanus subdued them completely, forced them to adopt circumcision, and incorporated them into the Jewish state and people (Josephus: “Antiq.” xiii. 9, 1; xv. 7, 9), whilst the Jews themselves, however, after Antipater, became subject to the dominion of an Idumæan dynasty, until the downfall of their state.

5. Esau’s scheme of revenge, and Rebekah’s counter-scheme (Genesis 27:41-46).—And Esau said in his heart.—Esau’s good-nature still expresses itself in his exasperation toward Jacob and in the scheme of revenge to kill him. For he does not maliciously execute the thought immediately, but betrays it in uttered threats, and postpones it until the death of his father.—The days of mourning … are at hand.—Not for my father, but on account of my father; i.e., my father, weak and trembling with age, is soon to die.—Then, and not before, he will execute his revenge. He does not intend to grieve the father, but if his mother, his brother’s protectress, is grieved by the murder, that is all right, in his view.—These words were told.—On account of his frank and open disposition, Esau’s thoughts were soon revealed; what he thought in his heart he soon uttered in words.—And called Jacob.—From the herds.—Flee thou to Laban.—Rebekah encourages him to this flight by saying that it will last but few days, i.e., a short time. But she looked further. She took occasion from the present danger to carry on the thoughts of Abraham, and to unite Jacob honorably in a theocratic marriage. For, notwithstanding all his grief of mind arising from Esau’s marriages, Isaac had not thought of this. But still she lets Isaac first express this thought. Nor is Isaac to be burdened with Esau’s scheme of revenge and Jacob’s danger, and therefore she leads him to her mode of reasoning by a lamentation concerning the daughters of Heth (Genesis 27:46).—Deprived also of you both.—Bunsen: “Of thy father and thyself.” Others: “Of thyself and Esau, who is to die by the hand of an avenger.” But as soon as Esau should become the murderer of his brother, he would be already lost to Rebekah. Knobel, again, thinks that in verse 46 the connection with the preceding is here broken and lost, but on the contrary connects the passage with Genesis 26:34 and Genesis 28:1, as found in the original text. The connection is, however, obvious. If Knobel thinks that the character of Esau appears different in Genesis 28:6 etc., than in Genesis 27:41, that proves only that he does not understand properly the prevailing characteristics of Esau as given in Genesis.

6. Jacob and Esau in the antithesis of their marriage, or the divine decree (Genesis 28:1-9).—And Isaac called Jacob and blessed him.—The whole dismissal of Jacob shows that now he regards him voluntarily as the real heir of the Abrahamic blessing. Knobel treats Genesis 28:0—ch. 33 as one section (the earlier history of Jacob), whose fundamental utterances form the original text, enlarged and completed by Jehovistic supplements. There are several places in which he says contradictions to the original text are apparent. One such contradiction he artfully frames by supposing that, according to the original text, Jacob was already sent to Mesopotamia immediately after Esau’s marriage, for the purpose of marrying among his kindred—a supposition based on mere fiction. As to other contradictions, see p. 233, etc.—Of the daughters of Canaan.—Now it is clear to him that this was a theocratic condition for the theocratic heir.—Of the daughters of Laban.—These are first mentioned here.—And God Almighty.—By this appellation Jehovah called himself when he announced himself to Abraham as the God of miracles, who would grant to him a son (Genesis 17:1). By this apellation of Jehovah, therefore, Isaac also wishes for Jacob a fruitful posterity. Theocratic children are to be children of blessing and of miracles, a multitude of people (קהל), a very significant development of the Abrahamic blessing. [The word used to denote the congregation or assembly of God’s people, and to which the Greek ecclesia answers. It denotes the people of God as called out and called together.—A. G.]—The blessing of Abraham.—He thus seals the fact that he now recognizes Jacob as the chosen heir—And Isaac sent away Jacob (see Hosea 12:13).—When Esau saw that Isaac.—Esau now first discovers that his parents regard their son’s connection with Canaanitish women as an injudicious and improper marriage. He had not observed their earlier sorrow. Powerful impressions alone can bring him to understand this matter. But even this understanding becomes directly a misunderstanding. He seeks once more to gain the advantage of Jacob, by taking a third wife, indeed a daughter of Ishmael. One can almost think that he perceives an air of irony pervading this dry record. The irony, however, lies in the very efforts of a low and earthly mind, after the glimpses of high ideals, which he himself does not comprehend.—To Ishmael.—Ishmael had been already dead more than twelve years; it is therefore the house of Ishmael which is meant here.—Mahalath.Genesis 36:2 called Bâshemath.—The sister of Nebajoth.—As the first-born of the brothers he is named instead of all the others; just as Miriam is always called the sister of Aaron. The decree of God respecting the future of the two sons, which again runs through the whole chapter, receives its complete development in this, that Jacob emigrates in obedience of faith accompanied with the theocratic blessing, to seek after the chosen bride, whilst Esau, with the intention of making amends for his neglect, betrays again his unfitness. The decrees of God, however, develop themselves in and through human plans.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The present section connects a profound tragic family history from the midst of the patriarchal life, with a grand and sublime history of salvation. In respect to the former, it is the principal chapter in the Old Testament, showing the vanity of mere human plans and efforts; in respect to the latter, it holds the corresponding place in reference to the certainty of the divine election and calling, holding its calm and certain progress through all disturbances of human infatuation, folly, and sin.
2. It is quite common, in reviewing the present narrative, to place Rebekah and Jacob too much under the shadows of sin, in comparison with Isaac. Isaac’s sin does not consist alone in his arbitrary determination to present Esau with the blessing of the theocratic birthright, although Rebekah received that divine sentence respecting her children, before their birth, and which, no doubt, she had mentioned to him; and although Esau had manifested already, by his marriage with the daughters of Heth, his want of the theocratic faith, and by his bartering with Jacob, his carnal disposition, and his contempt of the birthright—thus viewed, indeed, his sin admits of palliation through several excuses. The clear right of the first-born seemed to oppose itself to the dark oracle of God, Jacob’s prudence to Esau’s frank and generous disposition, the quiet shepherd-life of Jacob to Esau’s stateliness and power, and on the other hand, Esau’s misalliances to Jacob’s continued celibacy. And although Isaac may have been too weak to enjoy the venison obtained for him by Esau, yet the true-hearted care of the son for his father’s infirmity and age, is also of some importance. But the manner in which Isaac intends to bless Esau, places his offence in a clearer light. He intends to bless him solemnly in unbecoming secrecy, without the knowledge of Rebekah and Jacob, or of his house. The preparation of the venison is scarcely to be regarded as if he was to be inspired for the blessing by the eating of this “dainty dish,” or of this token of filial affection. This preparation, at least, in its main point of view, is an excuse to gain time and place for the secret act. In this point of view, the act of Rebekah appears in a different light. It is a woman’s shrewdness that crosses the shrewdly calculated project of Isaac. He is caught in the net of his own sinful prudence. A want of divine confidence may be recognized through all his actions. It is no real presentiment of death that urges him now to bless Esau. But he now anticipates his closing hours and Jehovah’s decision, because he wishes to put an end to his inward uncertainty which annoyed him. Just as Abraham anticipated the divine decision in his connection with Hagar, so Isaac, in his eager and hearty performance of an act belonging to his last days, while he lived yet many years. With this, therefore, is also connected the improper combination of the act of blessing with the meal, as well as the uneasy apprehension lest he should be interrupted in his plan (see Genesis 27:18), and a suspicious and strained expectation which was not at first caused by the voice of Jacob. Rebekah, however, has so far the advantage of him that she, in her deception, has the divine assurance that Jacob was the heir, while Isaac, in his preceding secrecy, has, on his side, only human descent and his human reason without any inward, spiritual certainty. But Rebekah’s sin consists in thinking that she must save the divine election of Jacob by means of human deception and a so-called white-lie. Isaac, at that critical moment, would have been far less able to pronounce the blessing of Abraham upon Esau, than afterward Balaam, standing far below him, could have cursed the people of Israel at the critical moment of its history. For the words of the spirit and of the promise are never left to human caprice. Rebekah, therefore, sinned against Isaac through a want of candor, just as Isaac before had sinned against Rebekah through a like defect. The divine decree would also have been fulfilled without her assistance, if she had had the necessary measure of faith. Of course, when compared with Isaac’s fatal error, Rebekah was right. Though she deceived him greatly, misled her favorite son, and alienated Esau from her, there was yet something saving in her action according to her intentions, even for Isaac himself and for both her sons. For to Esau the most comprehensive blessing might have become only a curse. He was not fitted for it. Just as Rebekah thinks to oppose cunning to cunning in order to save the divine blessing through Isaac, and thus secure a heavenly right, so also Jacob secures a human right in buying of Esau the right of the firstborn. But now the tragic consequences of the first officious anticipation, which Isaac incurred, as well as that of the second, of which Rebekah becomes guilty, were soon to appear.

3. The tragic consequences of the hasty conduct and the mutual deceptions in the family of Isaac. Esau threatens to become a fratricide, and this threat repeats itself in the conduct of Joseph’s brothers, who also believed that they saw in Joseph a brother unjustly preferred, and came very near killing him. Jacob must become a fugitive for many a long year, and perhaps yield up to Esau the external inheritance for the most part or entirely. The patriarchal dignity of Isaac is obscured, Rebekah is obliged to send her favorite son abroad, and perhaps never see him again. The bold expression: “Upon me be thy curse,” may be regarded as having a bright side; for she, as a protectress of Jacob’s blessing, always enjoys a share in his blessing. But the sinful element in it was the wrong application of her assurance of faith to the act of deception, which she herself undertook, and to which she persuaded Jacob; and for which she must atone, perhaps, by many a long year of melancholy solitude and through the joylessness which immediately spread itself over the family affairs of the household.
4. With all this, however, Isaac was kept from a grave offence, and the true relation of things secured by the pretended necessity for her prevarication. Through this catastrophe Isaac came to a full understanding of the divine decree, Esau attained the fullest development of his peculiar characteristics, and Jacob was directed to his journey of faith, and to his marriage, without which the promise could not even be fulfilled in him.

5. Isaac’s blindness. That the eyes of this recluse and contemplative man were obscured and closed at an early age, is a fact which occurs in many a similar character since the time of “blind Homer” and blind Tiresias. Isaac had not exercised his eye in hunting as Esau. The weakness of his age first settles in that organ which he so constantly neglected. With this was connected his weakness in judging individual and personal relations. He was conscious of an honest wish and will in his conduct with Esau, and his secrecy in the case, as well as the precaution at Gerâr, was connected with his retiring, peace-loving disposition. Leaving this out of view, he was an honest, well-meaning person (see Genesis 27:37, and Genesis 26:27). His developed faith in the promise, however, reveals itself in his power or fitness for the vision, and his words of blessing.

6. Rebekah obviously disappears from the stage as a grand or conspicuous character; grand in her prudence, magnanimity, and her theocratic zeal of faith. Her zeal of faith had a mixture of fanatic exaggeration, and in this view she is the grand mother of Simeon and Levi (Genesis 38:0).

7. It must be especially noticed that Jacob remained single far beyond the age of Isaac. He seems to have expected a hint from Isaac, just as Isaac was married through the care of Abraham. The fact bears witness to a deep, quiet disposition, which was only developed to a full power by extraordinary circumstances. He proves, again, by his actions, that he is a Jacob, i.e., heel-catcher, sup-planter. He does not refuse to comply with the plan of the mother from any conscientious scruples, but from motives of fear and prudence. And how ably and firmly he carries through his task, though his false confidence seems at last to die upon his lips with the brief אָני, Genesis 27:24! But however greatly he erred, he held a proper estimate of the blessing, for the security of which he thought he had a right to make use of prevarication; and this blessing did not consist in earthly glory, a fact which is decisive as to his theocratic character. Esau, on the other hand, scarcely seems to have any conception of the real contents of the Abrahamic blessing. The profound agitation of those who surrounded him, gives him the impression that this must be a thing of inestimable worth. Every one of his utterances proves a misunderstanding. Esau’s misunderstandings, however, are of a constant significance, showing in what light mere men of the world regard the things of the kingdom of God. Even his exertion to mend his improper marriage relations eventuates in another error.

8. Isaac’s blessing. In the solemn form of the blessing, the dew of heaven is connected with the fatness of the earth in a symbolic sense, and the idea of the theocratic kingdom, the dominion of the seed of blessing first appears here. In the parting blessing upon Jacob, the term קהל indicates a great development of the Abrahamic blessing.—Ranke: Abraham, no doubt, saw, in the light of Jehovah’s promises, on to the goal of his own election and that of his seed, but with regard to the chosen people, however, his prophetic vision extended only to the exodus from Egypt, and to the possession of Canaan. Isaac’s prophecy already extends farther into Israel’s history, reaching down to the subjugation and restoration of Esau.

9. The blessing pronounced upon Esau seems to be a prophecy of his future, clothed in the form of a blessing, in which his character is clearly announced. It contains a recognition of bravery, of a passion for liberty, and the courage of a hunter—The Idumæans were a warlike people.

10. When, therefore, Isaac speaks in the spirit, about his sons, he well knew their characters (Hebrews 11:20). The prophetic blessing will surely be accomplished; but not by the force of a magical efficacy; as Knobel says: “A divine word uttered, is a power which infallibly and unchangeably secures what the word indicates. The word of God can never be ineffectual (comp. Genesis 9:18; Numbers 22:6; 2 Kings 2:24; Isaiah 9:7).”—The word of a prophetic spirit rests upon the insight of the spirit into the profound fundamental principles of the present, in which the future, according to its main features, reflects itself, or exhibits itself, beforehand.

11. The high-souled Esau acted dishonestly in this, that he was not mindful of the oath by which he had sold to Jacob the birthright; and just as Rebekah might excuse her cunning by that of Isaac, so Jacob might excuse his dishonest conduct by pleading Esau’s dishonesty.
12. The application of the proverb, “The end justifies the means,” to Jacob’s conduct, is apparently not allowable. The possible mental reservation in Jacob’s lie, may assume the following form: 1. I am Esau, i.e., the (real) hairy one, and thy (lawful) first-born. But even in this case the mental reservation of Jacob is as different from that of the Jesuits, as heaven from earth. 2. Thy God brought the venison to me; i.e., the God who has led thee wills that I should be blessed.
13. However plausible may be the deceit, through the divine truth some circumstance will remain unnoticed, and become a traitor. Jacob had not considered that his voice was not that of Esau. It nearly betrayed him. The expression: “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau,” has become a proverb in cases where words and deeds do not correspond.
14. The first appearance of the kiss in this narrative presents this symbol of ancient love to our view in both its aspects. The kiss of Christian brother-hood and the kiss of Judas are here enclosed in one.
15. Just as the starry heavens constituted the symbol of the divine promise for Abraham, so the blooming, fragrant, and fruitful fields are the symbol to Isaac. In this also may be seen and employed the antithesis between the first, who dwelt under the rustling oaks, and of the other, who sat by the side of springing fountains. The symbol of promise descends from heaven to earth.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

See the Doctrinal and Ethical paragraphs. Upon the whole the present narrative is both a patriarchal family picture and a religious picture of history.—Domestic life and domestic sorrow in Isaac’s house.—In the homes of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.—The blind Isaac: 1. Blind in two respects; and 2. yet a clear-sighted prophet.—How Isaac blesses his sons: 1. How he intends to bless them; 2. how he is constrained to bless them.—Human guilt and divine grace in Isaac’s house: 1. The guilt; Isaac and Rebekah anticipate divine providence. They deceive each other. Esau is led to forget his bargain with Jacob; Jacob is induced to deceive his father. Yet the guilt of all is diminished because they thought that they must help the right with falsehood. Esau obeys the father, Jacob obeys the mother. Isaac rests upon the birthright, Rebekah upon the divine oracle. 2. God’s grace turns everything to the best, in conformity to divine truth, but with the condition that all must repent of their sins.—The image of the hereditary curse in the light of the hereditary blessing, which Isaac ministers: 1. How the curse obscures the blessing; 2. how the blessing overcomes the curse.—The characteristics mentioned in our narrative viewed in their contrasts: 1. Isaac and Rebekah; 2. Jacob and Esau; 3. Isaac and Jacob; 4. Isaac and Esau; 5. Rebekah and Esau; 6. Rebekah and Jacob.—The cunning of a theocratic disposition purified and raised to the prudence of the ecclesiastical spirit.—God’s election is sure: 1. In the heights of heaven; 2. in the depths of human hearts; 3. in the providence of grace; 4. in the course of history.—The clear stream of the divine government runs through all human errors, and that: 1. For salvation to believers; 2. for judgment to unbelievers.

To Section First, Genesis 27:1-4. Isaac’s infirmity of age, and his faith: 1. In what manner the infirmity of age obscured his faith; 2. how faith breaks through the infirmities of age.—Isaac’s blindness.—The sufferings of old age.—The thought of death: 1. Though beneficial in itself; 2. may yet be premature.—The hasty making of wills.—We must not anticipate God.—Not act in uncertainty of heart.—The preference of the parents for the children different in character from themselves.—The connection of hunting and the enjoyment of its fruits, with the divine blessing of promise: 1. Incomprehensible as a union of the most diverse things; 2. comprehensible as a device of human prudence; 3. made fruitless by the interference of another spirit.—Isaac’s secrecy thwarted by Rebekah’s cunning device.—Human right and divine law in conflict with each other.—Isaac’s right and wrong view, and conduct.

Starke: It is a great blessing of God, if he preserves our sight not only in youth, but also in old age (Deuteronomy 34:7).—Cramer: A blind man, a poor man (Tob 5:12).—Old age itself is a sickness (2 Samuel 19:35).—If you are deprived of the eyes of your body, see that you do not lose the eye of faith (Psalms 39:5-6).—A Christian ought to do nothing from passion, but to judge only by the word of God.—Bibl. Tub.: Parents are to bless their children before they die; but the blessing must be conformed to the divine will (Genesis 48:5). Doubtless Jacob, taught by Isaac’s error, learned to bless his children better; i.e., in a less restricted manner.—(The Rabbins assert that Jacob desired venison before his pronouncing the blessing, because it was customary that the son about to receive the blessing should perform some special act of love to his father.)—Osiander: It is probable that Isaac demanded something better than ordinary, because this was to be also a peculiar day. To all appearance it was a divine providence through which Jacob gains time to obtain and bear away the blessing before him.—Schröder: Contemplative men like Isaac easily undermine their health (?).—Experience teaches us that natures like that of Isaac are more exposed to blindness than others. Shut in entirely from the external world, their eyes are soon entirely closed to it.—The son, by some embodiment of his filial love, shows himself as son, in order that the father on his part also, may, through the act of blessing, show himself to be a father.—Love looks for love.—Thus the blessing may be considered not so much as belonging to the privilege of the first-born, but rather as constituting a rightful claim to these privileges.

Section Second, Genesis 27:15-17. Rebekah’s counter-scheme opposed to Isaac’s scheme.—Rebekah’s right and wrong thought and conduct.—Rebekah protectress of the right of Jacob’s election opposed to Isaac the elect.—Jacob’s persuasion: 1. The mother’s faith and her wrong view of it.—The faith of the son and his erroneous view.—Jacob’s doubt and Rebekah’s confidence.—The defect in his hesitation (it was not a fear of sin, but a fear of the evil consequences).—The defect in the confidence (not in the certainty itself, but its application).—The cunning mother and the cunning son.—Both too cunning in this case.—Their sufferings for it—God’s commandment is of more weight than the parental authority, than all human commands generally.

Starke: Some commentators are very severe upon Rebekah (Saurin, Discours XXVIII; others on the contrary (Calvin and others), praise her faith, her cunning, her righteousness (because Esau as a bold scoffer, had sold his birthright), her fear of God (abhorrence of the Canaanitish nature). (We must add, however, that Calvin also marks the means which Rebekah uses as evil.)—Rebekah, truly, had acted in a human way, striving by unlawful means to attain a good end.—Bibl. Wirt: If the Word of God is on our side we must not indeed depart from it, but neither must we undertake to bring about what it holds before us by unlawful means, but look to God, who knows what means to use, and how and when to fulfil his word.—Bibl. Tüb: God makes even the errors of the pious to work good, if their heart is sincere and upright; yet we are not to imitate their errors.

Gerlach: Though staining greatly, as she did, the divine promise by her deception, yet at the same time her excellent faith shines out through the history. She did not fear to arouse the brother’s deadly hatred against Jacob, to bring her favorite son into danger of his life and to excite her husband against her, because the inheritance promised by God stood before her, and she knew God had promised it to Jacob. (Calvin).—Schröder: (Michaelis: The kids of the goats can be prepared in such a way as to taste like venison.) Isaac now abides by the rule, but Rebekah insists upon an exception (Luther).—The premature grasping bargain of Jacob (Genesis 25:29, etc.,) is the reason that God is here anticipated again by Rebekah, and Jacob’s sinful cunning, so that the bargain again turns out badly.—Luther, holding that the law is annulled by God himself, concludes: Where there is no law, there is no transgression, therefore, she has not sinned (!?)—Both (sons) were already 77 years old. The fact, that Jacob, at such an age, was still under maternal control, was grounded deeply in his individuality (Genesis 25:27), as well as in the congeniality which existed between Jacob and his mother. Esau, surely, was passed from under Rebekah’s control already at the age of ten years.

Section Third, Genesis 27:18-29. Isaac’s blessing upon Jacob: 1. In its human aspect; 2. in its divine aspect.—The divine providence controlling Isaac’s plan: Abraham, Isaac and Esau.—Jacob, in Esau’s garments, betrayed by his voice: 1. Almost betrayed immediately; 2. afterwards clearly betrayed.—Isaac’s solicitude, or all care in the service of sin and error gains nothing.—Jacob’s examination.—The voice is Jacob’s voice, the hands are Esau’s hands.—Isaac’s blessing: 1. According to its external and its typical significance; 2. in its relation to Abraham’s promise and the blessing of Jacob.—Its new thoughts: the holy sovereignty, the gathering of a holy people, the germ of the announcement of a holy kingdom. Isaac’s inheritance: a kingdom of nations, a church of nations.—The fulfilment of the blessing: 1. In an external or typical sense: David’s kingdom; 2. in a spiritual sense: the kingdom of Christ.

Starke: Jacob, perhaps, thought with a contrite heart of the abuse of strange raiment, when the bloody coat of Joseph was shown to him. To say nothing of the cross caused by children, which, no doubt, is the most severe cross to pious parents in this world, and with which the pious Jacob often met (Dinah’s rape, Benjamin’s difficult birth, Simeon’s and Levi’s bloody weapons, Reuben’s incest, Joseph’s history, Judah’s history, Genesis 38:0, etc.). For Jacob sinned: 1. In speaking contrary to the truth, and twice passing himself for Esau; 2. in really practising fraud by means of strange raiment and false pretences; 3. in his abuse of the name of God (Genesis 27:20); 4. in taking advantage of his father’s weakness.—Yet God bore with his errors, like Isaac, etc.

Genesis 27:26 : a collection of different places in which we read of a kiss or kisses (see Concordance).—That this uttered blessing is to be received not only according to the letter, but also in a deeper, secret sense, is apparent from Hebrews 11:20, where Paul says: that by faith Isaac blessed his son, of which faith the Messiah was the theme.

Gerlach: The goal and central point of this blessing is the word: be lord over thy brethren. For this implies that he was to be the bearer of the blessing, while the others should only have a share in his enjoyment.—Lisco: Earthly blessing (Deuteronomy 33:28).—Cursed be, etc. He who loves the friends of God, loves God himself; he who hates them, hates him; they are the apple of his eye.—Calwer Handbuch: The more pleasant the fragrance of the flowers and herbs of the field, the richer is the blessing. Earthly blessings are a symbol and pledge to the father of divine grace.—Power and sway: The people blessed of the Lord must stand at the head of nations, in order to impart a blessing to all.—Isaac, much against his will, blesses him whom Jehovah designs to bless.—Schröder: Ah, the voice, the voice (of Jacob)! I should have dropped the dish and run away (Luther).—Thus also the servants of God sow the seed of redemption among men, not knowing where and how it is to bring fruits. God does not limit the authority granted to them by other knowledge and wisdom. The virtue and efficacy of the sacraments by no means depend, as the Papists think, upon the intention of the person who administers them (Calvin).—(Esau’s goodly raiment: Jewish tradition holds these to be the same made by God himself for the first parents (Genesis 3:21), and it attributes to the person wearing them the power even of taming wild beasts.—The inhabitants of South Asia are accustomed to scent their garments in different ways. By means of fragrant oils extracted from spices, etc. (Michaelis).—Smell of a field. Herodotus says, All Arabia exhales fragrant odors.)—Thus he wished that the land of Canaan should be to them a pattern and pledge of the heavenly inheritance (Calvin).—Dew, corn, wine, are symbols of the blessings of the kingdom of grace and glory (Ramb.).—That curseth thee. Here it is made known, that the true church is to exist among the descendants of Jacob. The three different members of the blessing contain the three prerogatives of the first-born: 1. The double inheritance. Canaan was twice as large and fruitful as the country of the Edomites; 2. the dominion over his brethren; 3. the priesthood which walks with blessings, and finally passes over to Christ, the source of all blessing (Rambach).—Luther calls the first part of the blessing: the food of the body, the daily bread; the second part: the secular government; the third part: the spiritual priesthood, and places in this last part the dear and sacred cross, and at the same time also, the victory in and with the cross. In Christ, the true Israel of all times, rules the people and nations.

To Section Fourth, Genesis 27:30-40. Esau comes too late: 1. Because he wished to obtain the divine blessing of promise by hunting (by running and striving, etc.) (Romans 9:16); 2. he wished to gain it, after he had sold it; 3. he wished to acquire it, without comprehending its significance; and, 4. without its being intended for him by the divine decree, and any fitness of mind for it.—Isaac’s trembling and terror are an indication that his eyes are opened, because he sees the finger of God and not the hand of man.—Esau’s lamentation opposed to his father’s firmness: 1. A passion instead of godly sorrow; 2. connected with the illusion that holy things may be treated arbitrarily; 3. referring to the external detriment but not to the internal loss.—Esau’s misunderstanding a type of the misunderstanding of the worldly-minded in regard to divine things: 1. That the plan of divine salvation was the work of Man 1:2. the blessing of salvation was a matter of human caprice; 3. that the kingdom of God was an external affair.—Esau’s blessing the type: 1. Of his character; 2. of his choice: 3. of his apparent satisfaction.—Here Isaac and Esau are now for the first time opposed to each other in their complete antithesis: Isaac in his prophetic greatness and clearness opposed to Esau in his sad and carnal indiscretion and passionate conduct.

Starke: Genesis 27:30. Divine providence is here at work.

Genesis 27:33. This exceedingly great amazement came from God.—Cramer: God rules and determines the time; the clockwork is in his hands, he can prolong it, and he can shorten it, according to his pleasure, and if he governs anything, he knows how to arrange time and circumstances, and the men who live in that time, in such a way that they do not appear before or after he wishes them to come. Christian, commend to him, therefore, thy affairs (Psalms 31:17; Galatians 4:4).—Hall: God knows both time and means to call back his people, to obviate their sins, and to correct their errors (Hebrews 12:17).—Lange: Isaac did not approve of the manner and means, but the event itself he considers as irrevocable, as soon as he recognizes that God, on account of the unfitness of Esau, has so arranged it. While, therefore, we do not ascribe to God any active working of evil, we concede that, by his wisdom, he knows how to control the errors of men, especially of believers, to a good purpose.

Genesis 27:36. Thus insolent sinners roll the blame upon others.

Genesis 27:37. The word “Lord” is rendered remarkably prominent, since it appears only here and Genesis 27:29. Just as if, out of Jacob’s loins alone would come the mightiest and most powerful lords, princes, and kings, especially the strong and mighty Messiah.—Hall: Tears flowing from revenge, jealousy, carnal appetites, and worldly cares, cause death (2 Corinthians 7:10). God’s word remains forever, and never falls to the ground.—Calwer Handbuch: Ver, 36. And still Esau had sold it.—He lamented the misfortune only, not his carelessness; he regretted only the earthly in the blessing, but not the grace.

Schröder: Then cried he a great cry, great and bitter exceedingly. This is the perfectly (?) natural, unrestrained outbreaking of a natural man, to whom, because he lives only for the present, every ground gives way beneath his feet when the present is lost.

To Isaac’s explanation that the blessing was gone. Here also a heroic cast is given to the quiet, retiring, and often unobserved love.—The aged, feeble, and infirm Isaac celebrates upon his couch a similar triumph of love, just as the faith of his father triumphed upon Mt. Moriah, etc. (i.e., he sacrifices to the Lord his preference for Esau).—The world today still preserves the same mode of thinking; it sells the blessing of the new birth, etc., and still claims to inherit this blessing (Roos).—Esau, and perhaps Isaac also, thought probably by the blessing to invalidate the fatal bargain as to the birthright.—He only bewails the consequences of his sin but he has no tears for the sin itself.—The question here was properly not about salvation and condemnation. Salvation was not refused to Esau, but he serves as a warning to us all, by his cries full of anguish, not to neglect the grace of God (Roos).—Esau’s blessing. Esau appealed to the paternal heart, and with the true objective character of the God of the patriarch, Isaac neither could nor should drop his own paternal character.—Now he has no birthright to give away, and therefore no solemn: and he blessed him, occurs here.—(Descriptions of the Idumæan country and people follow).

Section Fifth. Genesis 27:41-46. Esau’s hatred of Jacob: 1. In its moral aspect; 2. in its typical significance.—Want of self-knowledge a cause of Esau’s enmity.—Esau inclined to fratricide: 1. Incited by envy, animosity, and revenge; 2. checked by piety toward the father; 3. prevented by his frankness and out-spoken character, as well as by Rebekah’s sagacity.—Rebekah’s repentance changed into an atonement by the heroic valor of her faith.—Rebekah’s sacrifice.—How this sagacious and heroic-minded woman makes a virtue (Jacob’s theocratic wooing for a bride) of necessity (the peril of Jacob’s life).

Starke: Genesis 27:44. These few days became twenty years.

Genesis 27:45. That Rebekah did this, is not mentioned in any place. Probably she died soon after, and therefore did not live to see Jacob’s return (Genesis 49:31; Matthew 5:22; 1 John 3:15; Proverbs 27:4).—Cramer: Whatever serves to increase contention and strife, we are to conceal, to trample upon, and to turn everything to the best (Matthew 5:9).—Gerlach: Genesis 27:41. This trait represents to us Esau most truthfully; the worst thing in his conduct, however, is not the savage desire of revenge, but the entire unbelief in God and the reluctance to subject himself to him. Whilst Isaac submitted unconditionally as soon as God decided, Esau did not care at all for the divine decision.—Calwer Handbuch: He did not think of the divine hand in the matter, nor of his own guilt, self-knowledge, or repentance.—Schröder: God never punishes his people without correcting grace is made also purifying grace at the same time (Roos).—As Esau had only cries and tears at first, he now has only anger and indignation.

Genesis 27:41. “Repentance and its fruits correspond” (Luther).—All revenge is self-consolation. True consolation under injustice comes from God (Romans 12:19).—And he forgets what thou hast done to him. With this she both acknowledges Jacob’s guilt and betrays a precise knowledge of Esau’s character.—Let us not despair too soon of men. Are there not twelve hours during the day? The great fury and fiery indignation pass away with time (Luther).—How sagacious this pious woman: she conceals to her husband the great misfortune and affliction existing in the house so as not to bring sorrow upon Isaac in his old age (Luther).

Section Sixth, Genesis 28:1-8. Jacob’s mission to Mesopotamia compared with that of Eliezer: 1. Its agreement; 2. its difference.—Isaac now voluntarily blesses Jacob.—The necessity of this pious house becomes the source of new blessings: 1. The feeble Isaac becomes a hero; 2. the plain and quiet Jacob becomes a courageous pilgrim and soldier; 3. the strong-minded Rebekah becomes a person that sacrifices her most dearly loved.—How late the full self-development of both Jacob’s and Esau’s character appears.—Jacob’s prompt obedience and Esau’s foolish correction of his errors.—The church is a community of nations, typified already by the theocracy.

Starke: Concerning the duties of parents and children as to the marriage of their children.—The dangers of injudicious marriages.—Parents can give to their children no better provision on their way than a Christian blessing (Tob 5:21).—Bibl. Tub.: The blessing of ancestors, resting upon the descendants is a great treasure, and to be preserved as the true and the best dowry.—Calwer Handbuch: He goes out of spite (or at least in his folly and self-will) to the daughters of Ishmael, and takes a third wife as near of kin to his father as the one Jacob takes was to his mother. (But the distinction was that Ishmael was separated from the theocratic line, while the house in Mesopotamia belonged to the old stock.)—Schröder: Rebekah, who in her want of faith could not wait for divine guidance, has now to exercise her faith for long years, and learn to wait.—Isaac appears fully reconciled to Jacob.—In the eyes of Isaac his father. He does not care about the mother.—Thus natural men never find the right way to please God and their fellow-men whom they have offended, nor the true way of reconciliation with them (Berl. Bibel.).

Footnotes:

[1][Genesis 27:1.—Lange renders “when Isaac was old, then his eyes were dim, so that he could not see,” as an independent sentence, laying the basis for the following narrative.—A. G.]

[2][Genesis 27:42.—Comforteth, or avengeth. The thought of vengeance was his consolation.—A. G.]

[3][Genesis 28:3.—קָהַל, congregation.—A. G.]

Verses 10-22

C.
JACOB.-ISRAEL, THE WRESTLER WITH GOD, AND HIS WANDERINGS
FIRST SECTION

Jacob’s journey to Mesopotamia, and the heavenly Ladder at Bethel

Genesis 28:10-22

10And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. 11And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones [one of the stones] of that place, and put them [it] for his pillows, and lay 12down in that place to sleep. And [then] he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached [was reaching] to heaven: and behold, the angels of God 13[were] ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood [was standing] above it: and said, I am the Lord God [Jehovah, the 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; 14And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west [evening], and to the east [morning], and to the north [midnight], and to the south [midday]: and in 15thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places [everywhere] whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of [promised thee].

16And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. 17And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful [awful] is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this [here] is the gate of heaven. 18And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 19And he called the name of that place Bethel [house of God]; but the name of that city was called [earlier] Luz at the first. 20And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God [Elohim] will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21So that I come again to my father’s house in peace [in prosperity]; then shall the Lord 22[Jehovah] be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

PRELIMINARY REMARK

Jacob’s divine election, as well as the spirit of his inward life and the working of his faith, first appear in a bright light in his emigration, his dream, and his vow.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. Jacob’s emigration, his night-quarters, and dream (Genesis 28:10-15).—Went out from Beer-sheba.—The journey from Beer-sheba to Haran leads the pilgrim through a great part of Canaan, in a direction from south to north, then crossing the Jordan, and passing through Gilead, Bashan, and Damascus, he comes to Mesopotamia. It was the same journey that Abraham, and afterwards Eliezer, had already made, well known to the patriarchal family.—And he lighted upon a certain place.—Not after the first day’s journey, but after several days’ journey (see Genesis 22:4). Bethel (see Genesis 28:19), or originally Luz, Λουσά, was situated in the mountain of Ephraim, on the way from Jerusalem to Shechem, probably the present Beitin; more than three hours north of Jerusalem (see Dictionaries, especially Winer, and books of travels, particularly Robinson, ii. pp. 125–130).—He lighted upon.—By this expression the place in which he took up his night-quarters, in the open air, is distinguished from the city already existing.—And tarried there all night.—After the sun went down, indicating an active journey. Even at the present date it frequently occurs that pilgrims in those countries, wrapped in their cloaks, spend the night in the open air, during the more favorable seasons of the year.—He took of the stones.—“One of the stones.” A stone becomes his pillow. Thus he rests upon the solitary mountain, with no covering but the sky.—And he dreamed.—In his dream a strange night-vision comes to him, and it belongs to his peculiar character that in this condition he is susceptible of this dream. “Here he sleeps upon a hard pillow, exiled from his father’s house, with deep anxiety approaching an uncertain future, and intentionally avoiding intercourse with his fellow-men; a stranger, in solitude and without shelter.” Delitzsch. The dream-vision is so glorious, that the narrator represents it by a threefold הִנֵּה. The participles, too, serve to give a more vivid representation. The connection between heaven and earth, and now especially between heaven and the place where the poor fugitive sleeps, is represented in three different forms, increasing in fulness and strength; the ladder, not too short, but resting firmly on the earth below and extending up to heaven; the angels of God, appearing in great numbers, passing up and down the ladder as the messengers of God; ascending as the invisible companions of the wanderer, to report about him, and as mediators of his prayers; descending as heavenly guardians and mediators of the blessing; finally, Jehovah himself standing above the ladder, henceforth the covenant God of Jacob, just as he had hitherto been the covenant God of Abraham and Isaac. [It is a beautiful and striking image of the reconciliation and mediation effected by the Angel of the Covenant. See John 1:51.—A. G.]—Jehovah, the God of Abraham.—According to Knobel, this is an addition of the Jehovistic enlargement, which does not fit the connection here, where the question is simply about Jacob’s protection and guidance. Just as if this could be detached from his theocratic position and importance! First of all, Jacob must now know that Jehovah is with him as his God; that the God of Abraham—his ancestor in faith—and the God of Isaac, will henceforth also prove himself to be the God of Jacob.—The land whereon thou liest.—The ground on which he sleeps as a fugitive, is to be his possession, to its widest limits. Canaan, from the heights of Bethel, extends in all directions far and wide. His couch upon the bare ground is changed into an ideal possession of the country.—As the dust of the earth (see Genesis 22:17; Genesis 26:4). —To one sleeping upon the bare ground, this new symbol of the old promise was peculiarly striking.—Thou shalt spread abroad.—The wide, indefinite extension to all quarters of the heavens, introduces the thought, that all the nations of the earth are to be blessed in him. [That which is here promised transcends the destiny of the natural seed of Abraham. Murphy, p. 386.—A. G.] In the light of this promise, the personal protection and guidance here promised to him has its full significance and certainty. Jehovah guarantees the security of his journey, of the end sought, of his return, and finally, of the divine promises given to him. But the security against Esau is not yet clearly given to him; still the expression: I will not leave thee, until—does not mean, that he would at one time forsake him, but indicates the infallible fulfilment of all the promises. [The dream-vision is a comprehensive summary of the history of the Old Covenant. As Jacob is now at the starting-point of his independent development, Jehovah now standing above the ladder, appears in the beginning of his descent, and since the end of the ladder is by Jacob, it is clear that Jehovah descends to him, the ancestor and representative of the chosen people. But the whole history of the Old Covenant is nothing else than, on one side, the history of the successive descending of God, to the incarnation in the seed of Jacob, and, on the other, the successive steps of progress in Jacob and his seed towards the preparation to receive the personal fulness of the divine nature into itself. The vision reaches its fulfilment and goal in the sinking of the personal fulness of God into the helpless and weak human nature in the incarnation of Christ. Kurtz.—A. G.]

2. Jacob’s awaking, his morning solemnity, and vow (Genesis 28:16-22).—Surely the Lord.—The belief in the omnipresence of God was a part of the faith of Abraham’s house. And that God was even present here, he did not first learn on this occasion (as Knobel seems to think), but it is new to him that Jehovah, as the covenant God, revealed himself not only at the consecrated altars of his fathers, but even here. Jacob (who was not to take, and did not desire to take, any of the Canaanitish women), probably from religious zeal, avoided taking up his abode for the night in the heathen city, Luz. Generally, indeed, he would feel ill at ease in a profane and heathenish country. The greater, therefore, is his surprise, that Elohim here reveals himself to him, and that as Jehovah.—How dreadful (see Exodus 3:5)—House of God.—The dreadfulness of the place results from the awe-inspiring presence of the God of revelation. The place, therefore, is to him a house of God, a Bethel, and the Bethel is to him at the same time the door of heaven. He feels as a sinner rebuked and punished at this sacred place; he trembles and is filled with holy awe, but not disheartened. He did not tremble before men nor wild beasts, but now he trembles before Jehovah in his sanctuary, but it is the trembling of a pious confidence.—And he set it up for a pillar.—Calvin: “A striking monument of the vision.” We must here distinguish between the stone for a pillar, as a memorial of divine help, as Joshua and Samuel erected pillars (Genesis 31:45; Genesis 35:14; Joshua 4:9; Joshua 4:20; Joshua 24:26; 1 Samuel 7:12); and the anointing of the stone with oil, which consecrated it to Jehovah’s sanctuary (Exo 20:30). In the same manner, we must distinguish, on the one hand, between the consecrated stone of Jacob, which marked the place as an ideal house of God and a future place for sacrifice (see Genesis 35:15; comp. Genesis 35:7), and in an unknown-typical prophecy the place of the future tabernacle, and, on the other hand, the anointed stones worshipped with religious veneration (whence the expression: “Oelgötze,” idols of oil), and especially the stones supposed in the heathen world to have fallen from heaven, by whose names we are reminded of Bethel, but whose worship, however, is not to be derived from Jacob’s conduct at Bethel (see Keil, p. 302; Knobel, p. 239; Delitzsch, p. 460; Winer, “Stones”).—Called the name.—Knobel: “According to the Elohist, he assigns the name at his return (Genesis 35:15).” The naming at the last-quoted place, however, clearly expresses the execution of his purpose to sacrifice upon the stone, and thus to change it from an ideal to an actual Bethel, a place for the worship of God. It is evident that this naming of Luz, or the place near by, was of importance only to Jacob and his house, and that the Canaanites called the city Luz now as before, until it became a Hebrew city. According to Keil, Jacob himself called the city Luz by the name of Bethel, but not the place where the pillar was erected. This would be very strange, and it is not proved by Genesis 48:3, where Jacob in Egypt characterizes in general the region of this divine revelation. From Joshua 16:2; Joshua 18:13, too, we receive the impression that Luz and Bethel, strictly taken, were two separate places; for Jacob had not passed the night in the city of Luz, but in the fields or upon the mountain, in the open air. Generally, the whole region was called Luz, in the time of the Canaanites, but Bethel at the time of the Israelites.—Vowed a vow.—The vow seems to unite the faith in Jehovah with external and personal interests. But the following points should be considered: First, the vow is only an explanation and appropriation of the promise immediately preceding; second, it is a very modest appropriation of it (meat and drink and raiment); thirdly, Jacob emphasizes especially that point which the promise had left dark for his further trial (Genesis 32:7), viz., the desire to return to his paternal home in peace, i.e., especially, free from Esau’s avenging threats.—The vow too: Then shall the Lord be my God, is emphatical, and explains itself by the following promises. Jacob fulfilled the first after his return (Genesis 35:7; Genesis 28:16), and Israel fulfilled it more completely. The tithes, that first appear in Abraham’s history (Genesis 14:20), were no doubt employed by Jacob, at his return, for burnt-offerings and thank-offerings and charitable gifts (see below) (Genesis 31:54; Genesis 46:1). [Murphy says, the vow of Jacob is a step in advance of his predecessors. It is the spirit of adoption working in him. It is the grand and solemn expression of the soul’s free, full, and perpetual acceptance of the Lord to be its own God. The words, If God will be with me, do not express the condition on which Jacob will accept God, but are the echo and thankful acknowledgment of the divine assurance, I am with thee. The stone shall be God’s house, a monument of the presence and dwelling of God with his people. Here it signalizes the grateful and loving welcome which God receives from his saints. The tenth is the share of all given to God, as representing the full share, the whole which belongs to him. Thus Jacob opens his heart, his home, and his treasure, to God. As the Father is prominently manifested in Abraham, and the Son in Isaac, so also the Spirit in Jacob.—A. G.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Jacob’s pilgrimage. The patriarchs pilgrims of God (Hebrews 11:0).

2. From Isaac onward the night dream-vision is the fundamental form of revelation in the history of the patriarchs.—Consecrated night-life: 1. As to the occasion: In the most helpless situation, the most solemn and glorious dream. 2. As to the form: A divine revelation in the dream-vision: a. miracles of sight, symbols of salvation; b. miracles of the ear, promise of salvation. 3. As to its contents: The images of the vision: a. the ladder; b. angels, ascending and descending; c. Jehovah standing above the ladder and speaking.—The words of the vision, or the centre of the whole vision (Calov.: Verbum dei quasi anima visionis). General promise; individual promise.

3. The rainbow in the brightness of its colors, though soon vanishing away, proclaims the mercy of God, descending from heaven, and ruling over the earth; but Jacob’s ladder expresses more definitely the connecting and living intercourse between heaven and earth. The ladder reaching down from heaven to earth, designates the revelations, the words, and promises of God; the ladder reaching upwards from earth to heaven, indicates faith, sighs, confession, and prayer. The angels ascending and descending, are messengers and the symbols of the reality of a personal intercourse between Jehovah and his people.
4. The angelic world develops itself gradually. Here they appear in great numbers, after having been preceded by the symbolic cherubim and the two angels, in company with the Angel of the Lord: 1. These hosts, however, appear in the vision of a dream; 2. they ascend and descend on the ladder; it does not appear, therefore, that they flew. They do not speak, but Jehovah speaks above them. Nevertheless, they indicate the living communion between heaven and earth, the longing for another world, well known to the Lord in the heavens; the help and salvation which comes from above, and with which believing hearts are well acquainted, and the ascending and descending signifies that personal life is only mediated and introduced through personal life. They carry on this mediation, bearing upwards from earth reports and prayers, and from heaven to earth protection and blessings.
5. In this vision and guidance of Jacob the Angel of the Lord unfolds and reveals his peculiar nature in a marked antithesis. Jehovah is the one peculiar personality who, exalted above the multitude of angels, begins to speak, receives and gives the word.
6. Christ brings out the complete fulfilment of Jacob’s vision, John 1:52. From this exegesis of the Lord it follows that Jacob, now already as Israel (see John 1:47; Gen 28:49), not only beheld a constant intercourse between heaven and earth, but foresaw also, in an unconscious, typical representation, the gradual incarnation of God. Baumgarten: “The old fathers, and even Luther and Calvin, are too rash in regarding the ladder, directly and by itself, as the symbol of the mystery of the incarnation. The ladder itself cannot be compared with Christ, but Jacob, who beholds the ladder,” etc. No doubt, Jacob, in his vision, is a type of Christ, and Baumgarten correctly says: “As far as a dream (it is, the night-vision of a believer) stands below the reality, and things that happen but once below those that continually occur, so far Jacob stands below Christ.” Yet the mutual relation and intercourse between God and the elect, of which the advent of Christ is the result and consummation, was doubtless typified by this ladder.

7. From Jacob’s ladder we receive the first definite intimation that beyond Sheol, heaven is the home of man.
8. Just as Jacob established his Bethel at his lonely lodging-place, so Christians have founded their churches upon Golgothas, over the tombs of martyrs, and over crypts; and this all in a symbolic sense. The church, as well as Christians, has come out of great tribulations.—But every true house of God is also, as such, a gate of heaven.
9. The application of oil also, which afterwards, in a religious sense, as a a symbol of the spirit, runs through the entire Scriptures, we find here first mentioned.
10. Jacob’s vow is to be understood from the preceding promise of the Lord. It was to be uttered, according to the human nature, in his waking state, and is the answer to the divine promise.
11. As to the tithes and vows, see Dictionaries. Gerlach: “The number ‘ten’ being the one that concludes the prime numbers, expresses the idea of completion, of some whole thing. Almost all nations, in paying tithes of all their income, and frequently, indeed, as a sacred revenue, thus wished to testify that their whole property belonged to God, and thus to have a sanctified use and enjoyment of what was left.

12. The idea of Jacob’s ladder, of the protecting hosts of angels, of the house of God and its sublime terrors, of the gate of heaven, of the symbolical significance of the oil, of the vow, and of the tithes—all these constitute a blessing of this consecrated night of Jacob’s life.
13. Jacob does not think that Jehovah’s revelation to him was confined to this place of Bethel. He does not interpret the sacredness of the place in a heathen way, as an external thing, but theocratically and symbolically. Through Jehovah’s revelation, this place, which is viewed as a heathen waste, becomes to him a house of God, and therefore he consecrates it to a permanent sanctuary.

14.Genesis 28:20-21. Briefly: If God is to me Jehovah, then Jehovah shall be to me God. If the Lord of the angels and the world proves himself to me a covenant God, then I will glorify in my covenant God, the Lord of the whole world. [There is clear evidence that Jacob was now a child of God. He takes God to be his God in covenant, with whom he will live. He goes out in reliance upon the divine promise, and yields himself to the divine control, rendering to God the homage of a loving and grateful heart. But what a progress there is between Bethel and Peniel. Grace reigns within him, but not without a conflict. The powers and tendencies of evil are still at work. He yields too readily to their urgent solicitations. Still grace and the principles of the renewed man, gain a stronger hold, and become more and more controlling. Under the loving but faithful discipline of God, he is gaining in his faith, until, in the great crisis of his life, Mahanaim and Peniel, and the new revelations then given to him, it receives a large and sudden increase. He is thenceforward trusting, serene, and established, strengthened and settled, and passes into the quiet life of the triumphant believer.—A. G.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

See Doctrinal and Ethical paragraphs.—Jacob, the third patriarch. How he inherited from his grandfather: 1. The active deeds of faith, and from his father; 2. the endurance of faith, and therefore even he appears; 3. as the wrestler of faith.—Or the patriarch of hope in a special sense.—Jacob’s pilgrimage.—His couch upon the stony pillow becomes his Bethel.—The night-vision of Jacob at Bethel becomes more and more glorious: 1. The ladder; 2. the angels ascending and descending; 3. Jehovah and his promise.—The ladder: a. From heaven to earth: the word of God; b. from earth to heaven: prayer (cries and tears, prayer, intercession, thanks, praise).—The Angel of God over our life.—Jehovah speaking above the silent angels, or the peculiar glory of the word of God, especially of the gospel.—Jacob’s noble fearlessness, and his holy fear.—Bethel, or the sacred places and names upon this earth.—Jacob’s vow, the answer to Jehovah’s promise.—How the God of Abraham and Isaac becomes also the God of Jacob, or, Jehovah always the same in the kingdom of God: 1. The living results; 2. the living nature of the results.

Section First, Genesis 28:10-15. Starke: Jacob left his home secretly and alone, with all possible speed, before his brother Esau was aware of it. He took nothing with him but his staff (Genesis 32:10).—(Josephus: Unfavorable opinion of the people at Luz.)—Jacob, in this wretched condition upon his journey, a symbol of the Messiah. (Explained allegorically by Rambach: 1. Wooing a wife in a strange country; 2. the true heir appearing in poverty; 3. the sojourn at Bethel. Christ had not where to lay his head.)—This ladder, a symbol of God’s paternal care, by which, as by a heavenly ladder, heaven and earth are connected.—But that this ladder was to typify something far higher, we learn from Christ himself. The mystery of Christ’s incarnation, and of his mediatorial office, was typified by this.—Freiberger Bibel: In this ladder we see the steps and degrees: 1. Of the state of Christ’s humiliation; 2. of the state of his exaltation.—Chrysostom: “Faith is the ladder of Jacob reaching from earth to heaven.—Bernh.: The ladder of Jacob is the church, as yet partly militant upon the earth, and partly triumphant in heaven.—The Lord (Jehovah). Chaldee: The glory of the Lord. Arab.: The right of the Lord.—(Freiberger Bibel: Grotius and Clericus are wrong in not being willing to give the name, the Angel of the Lord, to Christ, but to one of the highest angels, to whom they attribute the name of Jehovah, contrary to the sense and usage of the Holy Spirit.)

Genesis 28:15. God, in comforting him, proceeds gradually: 1. He himself is with him, not a mere angel; 2. he will bring him back again; 3. he will never leave him (Romans 8:28).—Parents ought not to bring up their children too delicately, for they never know in what circumstances they may be placed.—Hall: God is generally nearest to us when we are the most humble.—Bibl. Tub.: Even in his sleep Jacob had intercourse with the Lord; in a like manner our sleep should be consecrated to the Lord.—Christ, the true Jacob’s ladder (Psalms 91:2; Isaiah 33:2).

Gerlach: That the angels here neither hover nor fly, is owing to the representation and typical significance of the vision. By this very fact Jacob was assured that the place where his head lies, is the point to which God sends his angels, in order to execute his commands concerning him, and to receive communications from him; a symbol of the loving and uninterrupted care for his servants, extending to individuals and minute events.—Dreadful. The old church called the Lord’s supper a dreadful mystery (sacramentum tremendum).—Lisco: Now Jacob, like Abraham and Isaac, stands as the elect of Jehovah. This is of greater importance, since Jacob is the ancestor of the Israelites only. The promises of Jehovah, therefore, that were given to him, must have appeared as the dearest treasure to his descendants.—Schröder: Ver: 10. Because the sun was set. A symbol corresponding with his inward feeling. The paternal home with the revelations and the worship of the only true God, is far behind him, a strange solitude around him, and a position full of temptation before him.—The living stone, the rock of salvation, is the antitype of that typical stone in the wilderness; do with it what the patriarch did with his (F. W. Krummacher), Hebrews 1:14.—In the symbol of the ladder lies the prediction of the special providence of God.—Earth is a court of paradise; life, here below, is a short pilgrimage; our home is above, and the light of a blessed eternity illuminates our path (F. W. Krummacher).

Section Second, Genesis 28:16-22. Starke: Surely the Lord. Chald.: The glory of the Lord.

Genesis 28:17. His feeble nature trembled before this heavenly manifestation, because he was well aware of his unworthiness, and the sublimity of God’s majesty considered in the light of the Spirit.—Where God’s word is found, there is a house of God. There heaven stands open.—(The ancients believed that the divinity, after having forsaken the greater part of the earth (as to his gracious presence), could be found at that place, whither they would be called after their departure from Chaldæa (Cyrill Alex.)

Genesis 28:18. As Jacob was not induced to set up this stone and worship at it by any superstition or idolatry, so the papists gain nothing in deriving their image-worship from this act; although we read in Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3. that God has expressly prohibited these things.—(The Orientals, in their journeys, use oil for food, for anointing, and for healing.)—Cramer: Although the Lord God is everywhere present (Jeremiah 23:24), he is yet especially near to his church with his grace, his spirit, and his blessing (John 14:18; Matthew 18:20).—Bibl. Wirt.: Wherever the Lord God shows himself in his word, or by deeds of his grace, there is his house, and the gate of heaven, there heaven with its treasures is open.—A Christian walks with great reverence and fear before God, and bows in humble submission before his most sacred majesty.—(Christ, the corner-stone, anointed with the oil of gladness.)—Freiberger Bibel: A church, though built of wood and stones, nevertheless bears this beautiful title, and is called God’s house, or house of the Lord. So frequently were named: a. the tabernacle (Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26); b. the first and second temple at Jerusalem, etc.

Genesis 28:20-21. Vows must be regarded as holy.—The duty of gratitude.—Whatever a Christian gives to the establishment of divine service, and to the support of pious teachers, he gives to God.—Lisco: How God reveals himself through facts and the experiences of life, by means of which he enlarges the store of our knowledge (still, not here the knowledge of his omnipresence).—Gerlach: The vow, which Jacob here took, was based entirely upon the promise given to him, and served as an encouragement to gratitude, to faith, and to obedience, just as afterwards, in the law, in a similar way, sacrifices were vowed and offered. It belonged to the time of childhood under tutors and governors (Galatians 4:1).—The stone is to become a place of sacrifice.—Calwer Handbuch: Perhaps Jacob accomplished the vow concerning the tithes in a similar sense, as at the feast of tithes and sacrifices (Deuteronomy 14:28-29), which afterwards occurred every three years, and at which the Levites, the stranger, widows, and orphans should be invited, and at which they should eat and be satisfied. This feast may, perhaps, have existed voluntarily, before it became legal and was introduced as a fixed usage.— Schröder: Generally, the outward connection with the chosen generation, the residence at a place pointed out to them by God, constituted the condition of a participation in Jehovah. Ishmael, leaving the paternal home and Canaan, immediately passed over to Elohim’s dominion. By this manifestation the fear (?) that he, like Ishmael, might be cut off as a branch from its vine, which soon withereth, is taken away from Jacob, and the blessing spoken over him by Isaac at his departure, receives its sanction (Hengstenberg). (The circumstances were more personal and intense; holy persons constituted sacred places, not vice versâ; nor did the promise lie in Isaac’s individuality, but in the house of Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob was conscious that he was the heir of blessing. The place of God’s special care, the ideal church of Jehovah now, is also transferred in a certain sense, from Beer-sheba to Haran.)—Here God himself erected a pulpit, and preached, that his church shall stand forever and ever. But Jacob and the angels of heaven are his hearers. But you must not run to St. Jacob, etc., but in faith look at the place where the word and the sacraments are, for there is the house of God, and the gate of heaven (Luther).—The oil, which, from without, penetrates objects gently but deeply, symbolizes holiness which is to be imparted to common things and persons as a permanent character (Baumgarten).—As God has become ours by faith, so we must cheerfully yield ourselves to our neighbor by love (Berleb. Bibel).

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 28". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/genesis-28.html. 1857-84.