Genesis 28:19
And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
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(19) Beth-el . . . Luz.—In Joshua 16:1-2, we find that Luz and Beth-el were distinct places, though near one another; and with this agrees the present passage. For plainly, Jacob and his attendants did not go inside the city, but slept on the open ground; and as they would carry their provisions with them, they would need no supplies from its Canaanite inhabitants. Probably at the time of Joshua’s conquest Beth-el was rather a holy place than a town, and when Ephraim seized upon Luz and put the people to the sword (Judges 1:23-25), the victors transferred the name of Beth-el to it. Thus the spot where Jacob slept would not be the town of Beth-el, but some place a mile or two away from it.

Genesis 28:19. It had been called Luz, an almond-tree, but he will have it henceforward called Beth-el, the house of God. This gracious appearance of God to him made it more remarkable than all the almond-trees that flourished there.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.)18, 19. Jacob set up a stone, etc.—The mere setting up of the stone might have been as a future memorial to mark the spot; and this practice is still common in the East, in memory of a religious vow or engagement. But the pouring oil upon it was a consecration. Accordingly he gave it a new name, Beth-el, "the house of God" (Ho 12:4); and it will not appear a thing forced or unnatural to call a stone a house, when one considers the common practice in warm countries of sitting in the open air by or on a stone, as are those of this place, "broad sheets of bare rock, some of them standing like the cromlechs of Druidical monuments" [Stanley]. Either of that city which was nearest to the field in which Jacob lay; or of that city which afterwards was built in or near to this place, and was known by the name of

Bethel. And he called the name of that place Bethel,.... The house of God, which he took this place to be:

but the name of that city was called Luz at the first; which signifies an almond or hazel nut, Genesis 30:37; perhaps from the number of this sort of trees that grew there, under which Jacob might lay himself down, which was probably in the field of Luz; and being at night, he might not know there was a city so near, until the morning. Though Josephus (r) says he did it purposely, out of hatred to the Canaanites, and chose rather to lie under the open air. This was about twelve miles from Jerusalem, as Jerom (s) says.

(r) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 19. sect. 1.((s) De loc. Heb. fol. 89. C.

And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
19. Beth-el] That is, The house of God: see Genesis 35:1; Genesis 35:6. This place was one of the most famous sanctuaries in Canaan. It was selected by Jeroboam as one of the High Places at which he set up the calves of gold (1 Kings 12:29-33). For its repute and popularity as a sanctuary and place of pilgrimage, see Amos 7:13 : close by the altar of Bethel would stand the pillar connected with its worship, and associated with this story of Jacob. The site has been identified with the modern Beitin.

Luz] The old city’s name mentioned also in Genesis 35:6, Genesis 48:3, Jdg 1:23, not identical with, but close to Bethel, Joshua 16:2. The narrative does not suggest that Jacob’s dream was in the vicinity of a town.Verse 19. - And he called the name of that place Bethel - i.e. a house of God. Rosenmüller and Kalisch find a connection between Bethel and Baetylia, the former regarding Beetylia as a corruption of Bethel, and the latter viewing Bethel as the Hebraised form of Beetylion. Keil objects to both that the interchange of τ in βαιτύλιον, and Θ in βαιθήλ), would be perfectly inexplicable. On the site of Bethel (Beitin) vide Genesis 12:8. But the name of that city was called Luz at the first. Originally the Canaanitish town, built according to Calvin after this event, was called Luz, or "almond tree," a name it continued to bear until the conquest (Judges 1:23). From the circumstances recorded in the narrative, Jacob called the spot where he slept (in the vicinity of Luz) Bethel - the designation afterwards extending to the town (Genesis 35:6). Until the conquest both titles appear to have been used - Luz by the Canaanites, Bethel by the Israelites. When the conquest was completed the Hebrew name was substituted for the Hittite, the sole survivor of the captured city building another Luz in another part of the country (vide Judges 1:26). Jacob's Dream at Bethel. - As he was travelling from Beersheba, where Isaac was then staying (Genesis 26:25), to Haran, Jacob came to a place where he was obliged to stop all night, because the sun had set. The words "he hit (lighted) upon the place," indicate the apparently accidental, yet really divinely appointed choice of this place for his night-quarters; and the definite article points it out as having become well known through the revelation of God that ensued. After making a pillow with the stones (מאשׁת, head-place, pillow), he fell asleep and had a dream, in which he saw a ladder resting upon the earth, with the top reaching to heaven; and upon it angels of God going up and down, and Jehovah Himself standing above it. The ladder was a visible symbol of the real and uninterrupted fellowship between God in heaven and His people upon earth. The angels upon it carry up the wants of men to God, and bring down the assistance and protection of God to men. The ladder stood there upon the earth, just where Jacob was lying in solitude, poor, helpless, and forsaken by men. Above in heaven stood Jehovah, and explained in words the symbol which he saw. Proclaiming Himself to Jacob as the God of his fathers, He not only confirmed to him all the promises of the fathers in their fullest extent, but promised him protection on his journey and a safe return to his home (Genesis 28:13-15). But as the fulfilment of this promise to Jacob was still far off, God added the firm assurance, "I will not leave thee till I have done (carried out) what I have told thee."
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