Genesis 28:16
And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.
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(16) Surely the Lord (Jehovah) is in this place.—Jacob was not unaware of the omnipresence of the Deity: what astonished him was that Jehovah should thus reveal Himself far away from the shrines where He was worshipped. Rebekah had gone to one of these to inquire of Jehovah (Genesis 25:22), and probably to a shrine in the very neighbourhood of the place where Jacob was sleeping (Genesis 12:8). But first Abraham, and then Isaac, had for so long made Beer-sheba their home, that Jacob probably knew little about the sanctity of the spot, and felt himself far away from all the religious associations of his youth, and from that “presence of Jehovah” which in antediluvian times had also been supposed to be confined to certain localities (Genesis 4:16). But one great object of the dream was to show that Jehovah watches over the whole earth, and that messengers to and fro come from Him and return unto Him.

Genesis 28:16. Surely the Lord is in this place; I knew it not — God’s manifestations of himself to his people carry their own evidence along with them. God can give undeniable demonstrations of his presence, such as give abundant satisfaction to the souls of the faithful, that God is with them of a truth; satisfaction not communicable to others, but convincing to themselves. We sometimes meet with God there, where we little thought of meeting with him. He is there where we did not think he had been; is found there where we asked not for him.

28:16-19 God manifested himself and his favour, to Jacob, when he was asleep. The Spirit, like the wind, blows when and where it listeth, and God's grace, like the dew, tarrieth not for the sons of men. Jacob sought to improve the visit God had made him. Wherever we are, in the city or in the desert, in the house or in the field, in the shop or in the street, we may keep up our intercourse with Heaven, if it is not our own fault. But the more we see of God, the more cause we see for holy trembling before him.Jacob awakes, and exclaims, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not." He knew his omnipresence; but he did not expect a special manifestation of the Lord in this place, far from the sanctuaries of his father. He is filled with solemn awe, when he finds himself in the house of God and at the gate of heaven. The pillar is the monument of the event. The pouring of oil upon it is an act of consecration to God who has there appeared to him Numbers 7:1. He calls the name of the place Bethel, "the house of God." This is not the first time it received the name. Abraham also worshipped God here, and met with the name already existing (see on Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:3; Genesis 25:30.)16. Jacob awaked out of his sleep—His language and his conduct were alike that of a man whose mind was pervaded by sentiments of solemn awe, of fervent piety, and lively gratitude (Jer 31:36). Surely the Lord is in this place, by his special and gracious presence, and the manifestation of his mind and will to me; and I little expected to meet with such a revelation out of my father’s house, much less in this desert and doleful state and place, when I thought myself rejected by God, as well as abandoned by men.

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep,.... Which had been sweet unto him, and out of his dream, it being now over; and it having left such a weight upon his mind, and such an awe upon his spirits, it might tend the sooner to awaken him; what time it was is not said, perhaps it was in the middle of the night or towards morning, since after this it is said that he rose early in the morning:

and he said, surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not; God is everywhere, in a general way, upholding all things by his power, as he is immense and omnipresent; but here he was in a special sense, by some signal token of his presence; by a stream of light and glory darting from the heavens, hence Onkelos and Jonathan paraphrase it,"the glory of the Lord, and the glory of the majesty of the Lord;''and by the appearance of angels, and by the communications of his mind and will, and grace to Jacob, and that communion he had with him in his dream, of which he was very sensible: for, when he says, "I knew it not", the meaning is, he did not think or expect to meet with God in such a place; he did not know that God ever appeared anywhere but in the houses of his people, such as his father's house; and in the congregation of the faithful, or where the saints met for public worship, or where an altar was erected for God: though sometimes God is present with his people, and they are not sensible of it; as the church in Isaiah 41:10; and as Mary, when Christ was at her elbow, and she knew him not, John 20:13.

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.
16. in this place] Jacob’s words express astonishment that Jehovah should have manifested Himself (a) in a place remote from his father’s home; (b) to himself a solitary wanderer.

this place] Compare Exodus 3:5, “the place whereon thou standest is holy ground”; Joshua 5:15, “the place whereon thou standest is holy.”

Verse 16. - And Jacob awaked out of his sleep (during which he had seen and talked with Jehovah), and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. Jacob does not here learn the doctrine of the Divine omnipresence for the first time (Knobel), but now discovers that the covenant God of Abraham revealed himself at other than consecrated places (Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange, Murphy); or perhaps simply gives expression to his astonishment at finding that whereas he fancied himself alone, he was in reality in the company of God - so plus adeptum ease quam sperare ausus fuisset (Calvin). Genesis 28:16Jacob gave utterance to the impression made by this vision as soon as he awoke from sleep, in the words, "Surely Jehovah is in this place, and I knew it not." Not that the omnipresence of God was unknown to him; but that Jehovah in His condescending mercy should be near to him even here, far away from his father's house and from the places consecrated to His worship-it was this which he did not know or imagine. The revelation was intended not only to stamp the blessing, with which Isaac had dismissed him from his home, with the seal of divine approval, but also to impress upon Jacob's mind the fact, that although Jehovah would be near to protect and guide him even in a foreign land, the land of promise was the holy ground on which the God of his fathers would set up the covenant of His grace. On his departure from that land, he was to carry with him a sacred awe of the gracious presence of Jehovah there. To that end the Lord proved to him that He was near, in such a way that the place appeared "dreadful," inasmuch as the nearness of the holy God makes an alarming impression upon unholy man, and the consciousness of sin grows into the fear of death. But in spite of this alarm, the place was none other than "the house of God and the gate of heaven," i.e., a place where God dwelt, and a way that opened to Him in heaven.
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