Genesis 28:11
And he lighted on a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) He lighted upon a certain place.—Heb., he lighted upon the place. The article probably signifies that it was the place appointed for the revelation, though lighted upon by Jacob by chance. As it lay twelve miles north of Jerusalem, in the mountains of Ephraim, Jacob had already been at least four days on the route (see Note on Genesis 22:4); and though we are not to suppose that Isaac would send away the son who was heir of the blessing without a few trusty servants (nor does the expression in Genesis 32:10 require it), yet Jacob would none the less feel the solemnity of the journey, and the difficulties which surrounded him. Well may he have asked whether El Shaddai would confirm him in the possession of that which he had defiled by fraud and cunning. And thus, meditating much and praying much, he had in those four days drawn near to God, and is at last accepted. The interest in Jacob’s life lies in the gradual improvement and progress of his character. Religion was always a reality with him; but at first it was of a low type, and marred by duplicity and earthly scheming. His schemes succeed, but bring with them sorrow and trial; and trial purifies him, and gradually he advances into a region of unselfish and holy piety. Though to the last he was a man sagacious, and full of expedients, yet the nobler part of his character finally had the supremacy.

He took of the stones. . . . —Heb., he took one of the stones of the place, and put it as his bolster. Jewish commentators identify the place with Mount Moriah, and say that the stone which Jacob placed under his head was one of those which had formed the altar upon which Isaac had been bound for sacrifice. The name Beth-el signified, they add, the temple, and as makôm—place—is thrice used in this verse, it mysteriously foreshadowed the three temples—Solomon’s, Ze-rubbabel’s, and Herod’s—which successively occupied the site. More probably Beth-el was really the town of that name, and these explanations are allegorical rather than expository.

Genesis 28:11. The stones for his pillows, and the heavens for his canopy! Yet his comfort in the divine blessing, and his confidence in the divine protection, made him easy, even when he lay thus exposed: being sure that his God made him to dwell in safety, he could lie down and sleep upon a stone!28:10-15 Jacob's conduct hitherto, as recorded, was not that of one who simply feared and trusted in God. But now in trouble, obliged to flee, he looked only to God to make him to dwell in safety, and he could lie down and sleep in the open air with his head upon a stone. Any true believer would be willing to take up with Jacob's pillow, provided he might have Jacob's vision. God's time to visit his people with his comforts, is, when they are most destitute of other comforts, and other comforters. Jacob saw a ladder which reached from earth to heaven, the angels going up and coming down, and God himself at the head of it. This represents, 1. The providence of God, by which there is a constant intercourse kept up between heaven and earth. This let Jacob know that he had both a good guide and a good guard. 2. The mediation of Christ. He is this ladder; the foot on earth in his human nature, the top in heaven in his Divine nature. Christ is the Way; all God's favours come to us, and all our services go to him, by Christ, Joh 1:51. By this way, sinners draw near to the throne of grace with acceptance. By faith we perceive this way, and in prayer we approach by it. In answer to prayer we receive all needful blessings of providence and grace. We have no way of getting to heaven but by Christ. And when the soul, by faith, can see these things, then every place will become pleasant, and every prospect joyful. He will never leave us, until his last promise is accomplished in our everlasting happiness. God now spake comfortably to Jacob. He spake from the head of the ladder. All the glad tidings we receive from heaven come through Jesus Christ. The Messiah should come from Jacob. Christ is the great blessing of the world. All that are blessed, are blessed in him, and none of any family are shut out from blessedness in him, but those that shut out themselves. Jacob had to fear danger from his brother Esau; but God promises to keep him. He had a long journey before him; to an unknown country; but, Behold, I am with thee, and God promises to bring him back again to this land. He seemed to be forsaken of all his friends; but God gives him this assurance, I will not leave thee. Whom God loves, he never leaves.Jacob's dream and vow. Setting out on the way to Haran, he was overtaken by night, and slept in the field. He was far from any dwelling, or he did not wish to enter the house of a stranger. He dreams. A ladder or stair is seen reaching from earth to heaven, on which angels ascend and descend. This is a medium of communication between heaven and earth, by which messengers pass to and fro on errands of mercy. Heaven and earth have been separated by sin. But this ladder has re-established the contact. It is therefore a beautiful emblem of what mediates and reconciles John 1:51. It here serves to bring Jacob into communication with God, and teaches him the emphatic lesson that he is accepted through a mediator. "The Lord stood above it," and Jacob, the object of his mercy, beneath. First. He reveals himself to the sleeper as "the Lord" Genesis 2:4, "the God of Abraham thy father, and of Isaac." It is remarkable that Abraham is styled his father, that is, his actual grandfather, and covenant father. Second. He renews the promise of the land, of the seed, and of the blessing in that seed for the whole race of man. Westward, eastward, northward, and southward are they to break forth. This expression points to the world-wide universality of the kingdom of the seed of Abraham, when it shall become the fifth monarchy, that shall subdue all that went before, and endure forever. This transcends the destiny of the natural seed of Abraham. Third. He then promises to Jacob personally to be with him, protect him, and bring him back in safety. This is the third announcement of the seed that blesses to the third in the line of descent Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4.11. he lighted upon a certain place—By a forced march he had reached Beth-el, about forty-eight miles from Beer-sheba, and had to spend the night in the open field.

he took of the stones, etc.—"The nature of the soil is an existing comment on the record of the stony territory where Jacob lay" [Clarke's Travels].

No text from Poole on this verse. And he lighted upon a certain place,.... Without any design to take up there, but as it were casually to him, though very providentially, after he had travelled forty eight miles; for so far it seems it was from Beersheba to Luz or Bethel (k), as this place was called:

and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; which hindered his pursuing his journey any further that day, and therefore took a night's lodging here: and he took of the stones of that place; one of the stones that lay there, as Aben Ezra and Ben Melech rightly interpret it, as appears from Genesis 28:13; though the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem will have it, that these were four stones that he took, and that by a miracle they became one, and is one of the five miracles they say were done for Jacob on that day:

and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place and slept; being weary with his journey though he had no other bed than the earth, and for his pillow a stone, and for his canopy or curtain the open heaven; a different lodging this from what he had been used to in his father's house, and under the indulgence of his mother; and one would wonder how he could sleep in such circumstances, and that he did not take cold, after such a journey: but it must be considered that it was in a warm climate, and in an age when they did not use themselves to such soft beds as now, and especially that he was under the particular care of divine Providence.

(k) Bunting's Travels, p. 72.

And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. And he lighted] i.e. he by chance reached, like our colloquial “hit upon.” The Divine purpose of the revelation made to Jacob is contrasted in this word with the fortuitousness of Jacob’s action.

a certain place] Heb. the place. For the special significance of “place,” with the possible meaning of “sacred spot,” see note on Genesis 12:6. The scene of this story is afterwards (Genesis 28:19) identified as Bethel: and it is natural to assume that the famous story of the Theophany to Jacob was preserved and honoured at the shrine of Bethel.

put it under his head] Jacob makes a pillow of the stone: his action in so doing, though it may sound strange to English readers, can be illustrated by the ordinary experience of those who are acquainted with Arab life and Oriental travel.Verse 11. - And he lighted upon a certain place, - literally, he struck upon the place; i.e. either the place best suited for him to rest in (Inglis), or the place appointed for him by God (Ainsworth, Bush), or more probably the well-known place afterwards mentioned (Keil, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary'). Situated in the mountains of Ephraim, about three hours north of Jerusalem, it was not reached after one, but after several days' journey (cf. Genesis 22:4) - and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; - being either remote from the city Luz when overtaken by darkness, or unwilling to enter the town; not because he hated the inhabitants (Josephus), but because he was a stranger - and he took of the stones of that place, - i.e. one of the stones (vide ver. 18). "The track (of pilgrims) winds through an uneven valley, covered, as with gravestones, by large sheets of bare rock; some few here and there standing up like the cromlechs of Druidical monuments" (Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 219; cf. 'Lectures on Jewish Church,' p. 59) - and put them for his pillows, - literally, and put for his head-bolster, the word signifying that which is at the head of any one (cf. 1 Samuel 19:13; 1 Samuel 26:7, 11, 16; 1 Kings 19:6) - and lay down in that place to sleep (cf. Genesis 19:4; 1 Samuel 3:5, 6, 9). Jacob's Departure from his Parents' House. - Rebekah's complaint reminded Isaac of his own call, and his consequent duty to provide for Jacob's marriage in a manner corresponding to the divine counsels of salvation.

Genesis 28:1-5

He called Jacob, therefore, and sent him to Padan-Aram to his mother's relations, with instructions to seek a wife there, and not among the daughters of Canaan, giving him at the same time the "blessing of Abraham," i.e., the blessing of promise, which Abraham had repeatedly received from the Lord, but which is more especially recorded in Genesis 17:2., and Genesis 22:16-18.

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