And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that you shall give me I will surely give the tenth to you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
It is the grand and solemn expression of the soul's free, full, and perpetual acceptance of the Lord to be its own God. This is the most frank and open utterance of newborn spiritual liberty from the heart of man that has yet appeared in the divine record. "If God will be with me." This is not the condition on which Jacob will accept God in a mercenary spirit. It is merely the echo and the thankful acknowledgment of the divine assurance, "I am with thee," which was given immediately before. It is the response of the son to the assurance of the father: "Wilt thou indeed be with me? Thou shalt be my God." "This stone shall be God's house," a monument of the presence of God among his people, and a symbol of the indwelling of his Spirit in their hearts. As it comes in here it signalizes the grateful and loving welcome and entertainment which God receives from his saints. "A tenth will I surely give unto thee." The honored guest is treated as one of the family. Ten is the whole: a tenth is a share of the whole. The Lord of all receives one share as an acknowledgment of his sovereign right to all. Here it is represented as the full share given to the king who condescends to dwell with his subjects. Thus, Jacob opens his heart, his home, and his treasure to God. These are the simple elements of a theocracy, a national establishment of the true religion. The spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind, has begun to reign in Jacob. As the Father is prominently manifested in regenerate Abraham, and the Son in Isaac, so also the Spirit in Jacob.
- Jacob's Marriage
6. רחל rāchēl, Rachel, "a ewe."
16. לאה lê'âh, Leah, "wearied."
24. זלפה zı̂lpâh, Zilpah, "drop?"
29. בלהה bı̂lhâh, Bilhah, "timidity."
32. ראוּבן re'uvbēn, Reuben, "behold a son." A paronomasia in allusion to the phrase בעניי ראה be‛ānyı̂y rā'âh. Derivatives and compounds, being formed by the common speaker, are sometimes founded upon resemblance in sound, and not always on precise forms of the original sentence which prompted them.
33. שׁמעין shı̂m‛ôn, Shim'on, "hearing, answer."
34. לוי lêvı̂y, Levi, "junction, union."
35. יחוּדה yehûdâh, Jehudah, "praised."
In this chapter and the following, Jacob grows from a solitary fugitive with a staff in his hand Genesis 32:10 to be the father of a large family and the owner of great wealth. He proves himself to be a man of patience and perseverance, and the Lord according to promise is with him.
20. Jacob vowed a vow—His words are not to be considered as implying a doubt, far less as stating the condition or terms on which he would dedicate himself to God. Let "if" be changed into "since," and the language will appear a proper expression of Jacob's faith—an evidence of his having truly embraced the promise. How edifying often to meditate on Jacob at Beth-el.God’s house, i.e. a place where I will offer prayers and sacrifices to God; such places being commonly called God’s houses, and God is oft said to dwell in them, in regard of his special presence there. See Exodus 20:24. Compare Genesis 28:17, and Genesis 35:1,3,7.
I will surely give the tenth unto thee, to be laid out in thy service, and for sacrifices, and for the use and benefit of those who shall attend upon sacred things; as also for the relief of the poor and needy, whom God hath substituted in his room, and to whom part of the tithes were to be given by a following law, Deu 14:28,29. Genesis 35:3,
and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee; for the support of his worship; for the maintenance of such that were employed in it; for the provision of sacrifice, and for the relief of the poor, or for any use or service in which God might be glorified: this was imitated by the Heathens in later times, who gave the tenth of their substance to their gods, Jupiter, Hercules, and others (w).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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. God’s house] See note on Genesis 28:17. Here the title “God’s house” is applied to the stone itself.
of all … give the tenth] Very strange is this concluding promise to pay a tithe to Jehovah. In Genesis 14:20, Abraham pays a tithe to Melchizedek of Jerusalem (?). The payment of tithe was maintained at Bethel in the times of the Israelite monarchy, cf. Amos 4:4. The mention of Jacob’s promise at Bethel to pay a tenth to Jehovah, shews that this Israelite religious usage was believed to go back to pre-Mosaic times. For the Levitical tenth or tithe, cf. Leviticus 27:30-33.Verse 22. - And (or then, the apodosis now commencing) this stone which I have set for a pillar (vide on ver. 18) shall be God's house - Bethel, meaning that he would afterwards erect there an altar for the celebration of Divine worship - a resolution which was subsequently carried out (vide Genesis 35:1, 15). "The pillar or cairn or cromlech of Bethel must have been looked upon by the Israelites, and may be still looked upon in thought by us, as the precursor of every "house of God" that has since arisen in the Jewish and Christian world - the temple, the cathedral, the church, the chapel; nay, more, of those secret places of worship that are marked by no natural beauty and seen by no human eye - the closet, the catacomb, the thoroughfare of the true worshipper (Stanley's 'Jewish Church,' lect. 3. p. 60). And of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee. Literally, giving I will give the tenth (cf. Genesis 14:20). The case of Jacob affords another proof that the practice of voluntary tithing was known and observed antecedent to the tune of Moses
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