Darby's Bible Synopsis
And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
The following commentary covers Chapters 29 through 35.
I have no doubt that in the two wives, as I have said, we have the Gentiles and Israel: Rachel first loved on the earth, but not possessed; but Leah the fruitful mother of children. Rachel had children also afterwards on the earth. Rachel, as representing the Jews, is the mother of Joseph, and later of Benjamin, that is, of a suffering Christ glorified among the Gentiles, while rejected of Israel; and of a reigning Christ, the son of his mother's sorrow, but of his father's right hand.
Jacob's personal history is the sad tale of deceit and wrong done to him; but God, as He had promised, preserving him throughout. What a difference from Eliezer and Abraham, where the power and character of the Holy Ghost is seen! Here providence preserves, but it is Jacob's history. He is bitterly deceived as he had deceived, but preserved according to promise. At the return of Jacob the hosts of God came to meet him. He receives a new and wondrous proof of God's mighty and gracious care, which should have recalled Bethel to him. But this does not remove his terror. He must anew use the means of unbelief, and sends children and wives and all on before, and presents after presents to appease Esau; but his strength was not there. God would not leave him in the hands of Esau, but He deals with him Himself. He wrestles with him, sustaining at the same time his faith in the wrestling; and, after making him feel his weakness, and that for all his life, gives him, in weakness, the place and part of victor. He is a prince with God, and prevails with God and with men victory in conflict with a God who is dealing with him, but no revelation of, or communion with Him.
This is a wonderful scene: the dealings of God with a soul that does not walk with Him. It is not, however, the calm communion of Abraham with Jehovah: Abraham intercedes for others, instead of wrestling for himself. So also, though God gives Jacob a name and so far recognises his relationship with Himself, He does not reveal to Jacob His name, as He had done to Abraham. Jacob, too, still employs his deceitful ways; for he had no thought of going to Seir, as he said. But he is delivered from Esau, as from Laban, and at last establishes himself at Shechem, buying lands where he ought to have remained a stranger. God removes him out of it, but by strange and humbling circumstances; still God's fear on the nations preserves him. He is not yet back to the point where God had given him the promises and assured the blessing; that was at Bethel. Here, however, he was able to build an altar, using, at the same time, the name which exalted his own position, and which took the ground of the blessing which had been granted to him; an act of faith, it is true, but which confined itself to the blessing, instead of rising up to the Blesser. This, indeed, he was not properly able to do yet. God was dealing with him, and he was, in a measure, thinking on God; but proper communion was not there: so is it in like case with us. However, God led him onward, and now tells him to go up to the place whence he had set out, and there build an altar, where he had entered into covenant with God, the faithful God, who had been with him all the way in which he went. But what a discovery is made here! He must now meet God Himself, and not simply be dealt with for his good God's name still unknown, no full revelation of Him. And this is a great difference. Now he must meet Him. He remembers he knew it well, although he paid no attention to it until he had to meet God there were false gods in his family. Meeting God Himself not in secret and mysterious struggle, but face to face, so to speak brings all to light. He purifies himself, and the false gods are removed, and he goes up to Bethel. There God reveals Himself openly to him, in grace making known His name, unasked, to him as to Abraham, and confers upon him anew the name of Israel, as if he had not received it before. Rachel gives birth to him who, child of his mother's sorrow, is the son of his father's right hand (remarkable type of Christ the Lord); for this is, figuratively, the establishment of the promise in power in his person, though the former standing of Israel, represented by Rachel, must disappear; but her remembrance is kept up in the land.
Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:
And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.
And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.
And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.
So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him.
And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.
But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.
And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.
And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.
And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.
And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.
And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.
And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.
And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.
And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.
And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:
The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:
The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:
And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:
And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram.
And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.
And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.
And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.