Genesis 32:2
And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.
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(2) Mahanaim.—That is, the two camps, his own and that of the angels; or, possibly, two camps of angels, one on either side of him. Mahanaim was in the tribe of Gad, and became an important town. (See 2Samuel 2:8; 2Samuel 17:24; 1Kings 4:14.)

Genesis 32:2. This is God’s host — Or army; so the angels are justly called, because of their great number, their excellent order, their mighty power, and the service they perform for God and his church, for the protection of which they are sent. A good man may see by faith what Jacob saw with his bodily eyes. To preserve the remembrance of this favour Jacob named the place Mahanaim, two hosts, or two camps. Probably they appeared to him in two hosts, one on either side, or one in the front and the other in the rear, to protect him from Laban behind and Esau before, and be a complete guard: or Jacob’s family made one army, representing the church militant and itinerant on earth, and the angels another army, representing the church triumphant, and at rest in heaven.32:1-8 The angels of God appeared to Jacob, to encourage him with the assurance of the Divine protection. When God designs his people for great trials, he prepares them by great comforts. While Jacob, to whom the promise belonged, had been in hard service, Esau was become a prince. Jacob sent a message, showing that he did not insist upon the birth-right. Yielding pacifies great offences, Ec 10:4. We must not refuse to speak respectfully, even to those unjustly angry with us. Jacob received an account of Esau's warlike preparations against him, and was greatly afraid. A lively sense of danger, and quickening fear arising from it, may be found united with humble confidence in God's power and promise.Jacob has a vision of the heavenly host. This passage, recording Laban's farewell and departure, closes the connection of Jacob with Haran and all its toils of servitude, and is hence, annexed to the previous chapter in the English version. In the distribution of the original text, it is regarded as the counterpart of the two following verses, in which Jacob's onward progress is mentioned, and so placed with them at the beginning of a new chapter. "The angels of God met him." Twenty years ago Jacob saw the mystical ladder connecting heaven and earth, and the angels of God thereupon ascending and descending from the one to the other. Now, in circumstances of danger, he sees the angels of God on earth, encamped beside or around his own camp Psalm 34:8. He recognizes them as God's camp, and names the place Mahanaim, from the double encampment. This vision is not dwelt upon, as it is the mere sequel of the former scene at Bethel. Mahanaim has been identified with Mahneh, about eight miles from the cairn of Laban and Jacob.2. Mahanaim—"two hosts," or "camps." The place was situated between mount Gilead and the Jabbok, near the banks of that brook. God’s host; so the angels are justly called for their great number, Daniel 7:10 Luke 2:13, excellent order, mighty power, and for their use and service to God, and to his church, for whose protection they are sent. See 2 Kings 6:17 Psalm 34:7.

Mahanaim, i.e. two hosts; so called, either because the angels divided themselves into two companies, and placed themselves some before, others behind him, or some on each side of him, for his greater comfort and security; or because the angels made one host, and his family another. And when Jacob saw them,.... These appeared in a visible form, most probably human, and in the habit, and with the accoutrements of soldiers, and therefore afterwards called an host or army. Aben Ezra thinks that Jacob alone saw them, as Elisha first saw the host of angels before the young man did that was with him, 2 Kings 6:17,

he said, this is God's host: or army, hence he is often called the Lord of hosts; angels have this name from their number, order, strength, and military exploits they perform:

and he called the name of the place Mahanaim; which signifies two hosts or armies; either his own family and company making one, and the angels another, as Aben Ezra observes; or they were the angels, who very probably appeared in two companies, or as two armies, and one went on one side of Jacob and his family, and the other on the other side; or the one went before him, and the other behind him; the latter to secure him from any insult of Laban, should he pursue after him, and distress him in the rear, and the former to protect him from Esau, near whose country Jacob now was, and of whom he was in some fear and danger; thus seasonably did God appear for him. The Jewish writers (t) say, the host of God is 60,000, and that the Shechinah, or divine Majesty, never dwells among less, and that Mahanaim, or two hosts, are 120,000; there was afterwards a city of this name near this place, which very likely was so called in memory of this appearance, Joshua 21:38; and there seems to be an allusion to it in the account of the church, Sol 6:13; it was in the land of Gilead, and tribe of Gad, forty four miles from Jerusalem to the southeast (u).

(t) In Bereshit Rabba, sect. 75. fol. 66. 1.((u) Bunting's Travels, p. 74.

And when Jacob saw them, he said, {a} This is God's host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

(a) He acknowledges God's benefits: who for the preservation of his, sends hosts of angels.

2. This is God’s host] The Heb. word for “host” (maḥaneh) is usually, and ought here to be, rendered “camp.” The angels are regarded as the warriors of Jehovah; cf. the narrative in Joshua 5:13-15, and 1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 103:21; Psalm 148:2.

Mahanaim] That is, Two hosts, or, companies. The termination -aim denotes the dual. Possibly Jacob here refers to the two “companies,” or “encampments,” one of the angels, and the other of his own followers. The LXX renders παρεμβολαί = “camps”; Lat. Mahanaim, id est, Castra, without reference to the dual number. For another derivation of the name, see on Genesis 32:7; Genesis 32:10.

Mahanaim was in later times a place of considerable importance. During Absalom’s rebellion it was the residence and head-quarters of David; see 2 Samuel 17:24; 2 Samuel 17:27. Cf. 2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 2:12; 2 Samuel 2:29; 1 Kings 2:8. The site is uncertain: from Genesis 32:11 it would appear to be not far from the banks of the Jordan, and from Genesis 32:22 to lie north of the Jabbok (modern Zerka). In Joshua 13:26-30, it appears to lie on the confines of Gad and Manasseh.Verse 2. - And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host: - Mahaneh Elohim; i.e. the army (cf. Genesis 1:9; Exodus 14:24) or camp (1 Samuel 14:15; Psalm 27:3) of God, as opposed to the Mahanoth, or bands of Jacob himself (vide ver. 7, 10) - and he called the name of that place Manahan. - i.e. Two armies or camps, from the root חָנַה decline or bend, and hence to fix oneself down or encamp; meaning either a multitudinous host, reading the dual for a plural (Malvenda), or two bands of angels, one before, welcoming him to Canaan, and another behind, conducting him from Mesopotamia (Jarchi and others), or one on either side to typify the completeness of his protection, as in Psalm 34:8 (Calvin, Bush, Gcrlach, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or, as the best expositors interpret, his own company and the heavenly host (Abort Ezra, Clericus, Dathe, Keil, Lange, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Murphy). Mahanaim, afterwards a distinguished city in the territory of Gad (Joshua 13:26), and frequently referred to in subsequent Scripture (2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 17:24; 27; 19:32; 1 Kings 4:14), as well as mentioned by Josephus ('Ant.,' 7.9, 8), as a strong and beautiful city, has been identified with Mahneh, a deserted ruin six or seven miles north-west by north of Ajlun (Mount Gilead), and about twenty miles from the Jabbok (vide 'Robinson,' vol. 3. App. 166; and cf. Tristram, 'The Land of Israel, p. 483); but the narrative appears to say that Mahanaim lay not north of Ga-leed, but between that place and Jabbok. Hence Porter suggests Gerasa, the most splendid ruin east of the Jordan, and bordering on the Jabbok, as occupying the site of Mahanaim (vide Kitto s 'Cyclopedia,' art. Mahanaim, and cf. 'Handbook for S. and P.' 2. 311, seq.). These words of Jacob "cut Laban to the heart with their truth, so that he turned round, offered his hand, and proposed a covenant." Jacob proceeded at once to give a practical proof of his assent to this proposal of his father-in-law, by erecting a stone as a memorial, and calling upon his relations also ("his brethren," as in Genesis 31:23, by whom Laban and the relations who came with him are intended, as Genesis 31:54 shows) to gather stones into a heap, which formed a table, as is briefly observed in Genesis 31:46, for the covenant meal (Genesis 31:54). This stone-heap was called Jegar-Sahadutha by Laban, and Galeed by Jacob (the former is the Chaldee, the latter the Hebrew; they have both the same meaning, viz., "heaps of witness"),

(Note: These words are the oldest proof, that in the native country of the patriarchs, Mesopotamia, Aramaean or Chaldaean was spoken, and Hebrew in Jacob's native country, Canaan; from which we may conclude that Abraham's family first acquired the Hebrew in Canaan from the Canaanites (Phoenicians).)

because, as Laban, who spoke first, as being the elder, explained, the heap was to be a "witness between him and Jacob." The historian then adds this explanation: "therefore they called his name Gal'ed," and immediately afterwards introduces a second name, which the heap received from words that were spoken by Laban at the conclusion of the covenant (Genesis 31:49): "And Mizpah," i.e., watch, watch-place (sc., he called it), "for he (Laban) said, Jehovah watch between me and thee; for we are hidden from one another (from the face of one another), if thou shalt oppress my daughters, and if thou shalt take wives to my daughters! No man is with us, behold God is witness between me and thee!" (Genesis 31:49, Genesis 31:50). After these words of Laban, which are introduced parenthetically,

(Note: There can be no doubt that Genesis 31:49 and Genesis 31:50 bear the marks of a subsequent insertion. But there is nothing in the nature of this interpolation to indicate a compilation of the history from different sources. That Laban, when making this covenant, should have spoken of the future treatment of his daughters, is a thing so natural, that there would have been something strange in the omission. And it is not less suitable to the circumstances, that he calls upon the God of Jacob, i.e., Jehovah, to watch in this affair. And apart from the use of the name Jehovah, which is perfectly suitable here, there is nothing whatever to point to a different source; to say nothing of the fact that the critics themselves cannot agree as to the nature of the source supposed.)

and in which he enjoined upon Jacob fidelity to his daughters, the formation of the covenant of reconciliation and peace between them is first described, according to which, neither of them (sive ego sive tu, as in Exodus 19:13) was to pass the stone-heap and memorial-stone with a hostile intention towards the other. Of this the memorial was to serve as a witness, and the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father (Terah), would be umpire between them. To this covenant, in which Laban, according to his polytheistic views, placed the God of Abraham upon the same level with the God of Nahor and Terah, Jacob swore by "the Fear of Isaac" (Genesis 31:42), the God who was worshipped by his father with sacred awe. He then offered sacrifices upon the mountain, and invited his relations to eat, i.e., to partake of a sacrificial meal, and seal the covenant by a feast of love.

The geographical names Gilead and Ramath-mizpeh (Joshua 13:26), also Mizpeh-Gilead (Judges 11:29), sound so obviously like Gal'ed and Mizpah, that they are no doubt connected, and owe their origin to the monument erected by Jacob and Laban; so that it was by prolepsis that the scene of this occurrence was called "the mountains of Gilead" in Genesis 31:21, Genesis 31:23, Genesis 31:25. By the mount or mountains of Gilead we are not to understand the mountain range to the south of the Jabbok (Zerka), the present Jebel Jelaad, or Jebel es Salt. The name Gilead has a much more comprehensive signification in the Old Testament; and the mountains to the south of the Jabbok are called in Deuteronomy 3:12 the half of Mount Gilead; the mountains to the north of the Jabbok, the Jebel-Ajlun, forming the other half. In this chapter the name is used in the broader sense, and refers primarily to the northern half of the mountains (above the Jabbok); for Jacob did not cross the Jabbok till afterwards (Genesis 32:23-24). There is nothing in the names Ramath-mizpeh, which Ramoth in Gilead bears in Joshua 13:26, and Mizpeh-Gilead, which it bears in Judges 11:29, to compel us to place Laban's meeting with Jacob in the southern portion of the mountains of Gilead. For even if this city is to be found in the modern Salt, and was called Ramath-mizpeh from the even recorded here, all that can be inferred from that is, that the tradition of Laban's covenant with Jacob was associated in later ages with Ramoth in Gilead, without the correctness of the association being thereby established.

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