Genesis 33:20
And he erected there an altar, and called it EleloheIsrael.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) He erected there an altar.—Abraham had already built an altar in this neighbourhood (Genesis 12:7), and Jacob now followed his example—partly as a thanksoffering for his safe return, partly also as taking possession of the country; but chiefly as a profession of faith, and public recognition of the new relation in which he stood to God. This especially appears in his calling the altar “El, the Elohim of Israel.” Of course the title of Jehovah could not be used here, as the altar had a special reference to the change of Jacob’s name, and was an acknowledgment on his own part of his now being Israel, a prince with El, that is. with God.

Genesis 33:20. He erected there an altar — 1st, In thankfulness to God, for the good hand of his providence over him. 2d, That he might keep up religion and the worship of God in his family. He dedicated this altar to the honour of El-elohe-Israel, God the God of Israel: to the honour of God in general, the only living and true God, the best of Beings, the first of causes: and to the honour of the God of Israel, as a God in covenant with him. God had lately called him by the name of Israel; and now he calls God the God of Israel. Though he be styled a prince with God, God shall still be a prince with him, his Lord and his God.33:17-20 Jacob did not content himself with words of thanks for God's favour to him, but gave real thanks. Also he kept up religion, and the worship of God in his family. Where we have a tent, God must have an altar. Jacob dedicated this altar to the honour of El-elohe-Israel, God, the God of Israel; to the honour of God, the only living and true God; and to the honour of the God of Israel, as a God in covenant with him. Israel's God is Israel's glory. Blessed be his name, he is still the mighty God, the God of Israel. May we praise his name, and rejoice in his love, through our pilgrimage here on earth, and for ever in the heavenly Canaan.Jacob at length crosses the Jordan, and enters again the land of Kenaan. "In peace." The original word (שׁלם shālēm "safe, in peace") is rendered Shalem, the name of the town at which Jacob arrived, by the Septuagint. The rendering safe, or in peace, is here adopted, because (1) the word is to be taken as a common noun or adjective, unless there be a clear necessity for a proper name; (2) "the place" was called Shekem in the time of Abraham Genesis 12:6, and the "town" is so designated in the thirty-fifth chapter Genesis 35:4; and (3) the statement that Jacob arrived in safety accounts for the additional clauses, "which is in the land of Kenaan," and "when he went from Padan-aram," and is in accordance with the promise Genesis 28:21 that he would return in peace. If, however, the Salim found by Robinson to the west of Nablous be the present town, it must be called the city of Shekem, because it belonged to the Shekem mentioned in the following verse and chapter. "Pitched before the city."

Jacob did not enter into the city, because his flocks and herds could not find accommodation there, and he did not want to come into close contact with the inhabitants. "He bought a parcel of the field." He is anxious to have a place he may call his own, where he may have a permanent resting-place. "For a hundred kesitahs." The kesitah may have been a piece of silver or gold, of a certain weight, equal in value to a lamb (see Gesenius). "El-Elohe-Israel." Jacob consecrates his ground by the erection of an altar. He calls it the altar of the Mighty One, the God of Israel, in which he signalizes the omnipotence of him who had brought him in safety to the land of promise through many perils, the new name by which he himself had been lately designated, and the blessed communion which now existed between the Almighty and himself. This was the very spot where Abraham, about one hundred and eighty-five years ago, built the first altar he erected in the promised land Genesis 12:6-7. It is now consecrated anew to the God of promise.

- Dinah's Dishonor

This chapter records the rape of Dinah and the revenge of her brothers.

20. and he erected … an altar—A beautiful proof of his personal piety, a most suitable conclusion to his journey, and a lasting memorial of a distinguished favor in the name "God, the God of Israel." Wherever we pitch a tent, God shall have an altar. Or, called upon El-elohe-Israel, the particle lo being redundant, as such pronouns oft are, as Genesis 12:1 Joshua 20:2. And he erected there an altar,.... To offer sacrifice upon to God, by way of thanksgiving, for the many mercies he had received since he went out of the land of Canaan, whither he was now returned; and especially for his safety in journeying hither from Padanaram, and for deliverance from Laban and Esau, and for all other favours that he and his had been partakers of. And this he also erected for the sake of religious worship, to be continued in his family; he intending to reside here for some time, as appears by the purchase he had made, and as it is certain he did:

and called it Elelohe-Israel: God, the God of Israel; that is, he called the altar the altar of God, who is the God of Israel, who had been his God, his preserver and protector; and had lately given him the name of Israel, and had made good what answered to it, and was designed by it, that as he had had power with God, and prevailed, so he should with man; and as a memorial of all these favours and mercies, he erected this altar, and devoted it to God and his service, and called it by this name: or "he called upon God, the God of Israel", as the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions; he prayed unto him at the time he offered sacrifice on the altar, and gave him praise for all the great and good things he had done for him. Jacob must have stayed at Succoth, and at this place, many years, especially at the latter; since, when he came into those parts, Dinah was a child of little more than six years of age, and Simeon and Levi were very young, not above eleven or twelve years of age; and yet, before he left Shechem, Dinah was marriageable, and Simeon and Levi were grown strong and able bodied men, and did a most strange exploit in slaying all the males in Shechem, as recorded in the next chapter.

And he erected there an altar, and called {g} it Elelohe-Israel.

(g) He calls the sign, the thing which it signifies, in token that God had mightily delivered him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. erected] Lit. “set up.” A verb used elsewhere, not of an altar, but of a “pillar” or upright stone. Cf. Genesis 35:14; Genesis 35:20 and Joshua 24:26. Hence many prefer here to read “pillar” (maṣṣêbah) instead of “altar” (mizbêaḥ).

El-elohe-Israel] R.V. marg. That is, God, the God of Israel. The altar, or stone, is denoted by the name of Êl, the God of Israel. The origin of some sacred stone, well known to the Israelites, was thus accounted for. The stone and the Divine Being associated with it are identified: see Genesis 28:22, Genesis 35:7. “Israel’s God is El” is a profession of faith in the one true God made at the moment when Jacob comes to dwell among the heathen Canaanites.Verse 20. - And he erected there an altar, - as Abram his ancestor had done (Genesis 12:7) - and called it - not invoked upon it, invocavit super illud (Vulgate), ἐτεκαλήσατο (LXX.), but named it (Dathe, Rosenmüller, Keil, &c.) - El-elohe-Israel - i.e. God, the God of Israel; meaning, he called it the altar of God, the God of Israel (Rosenmüller), or, reading el as a preposition, "To the God of Israel" (Quarry, p. 508).



Lastly, Esau proposed to accompany Jacob on his journey. But Jacob politely declined not only his own company, but also the escort, which Esau afterwards offered him, of a portion of his attendants; the latter as being unnecessary, the former as likely to be injurious to his flocks. This did not spring from any feeling of distrust; and the ground assigned was no mere pretext. He needed no military guard, "for he knew that he was defended by the hosts of God;" and the reason given was a very good one: "My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds that are milking (עלות from עוּל, giving milk or suckling) are upon me" (עלי): i.e., because they are giving milk they are an object of especial anxiety to me; "and if one should overdrive them a single day, all the sheep would die." A caravan, with delicate children and cattle that required care, could not possibly keep pace with Esau and his horsemen, without taking harm. And Jacob could not expect his brother to accommodate himself to the rate at which he was travelling. For this reason he wished Esau to go on first; and he would drive gently behind, "according to the foot of the cattle (מלאכה possessions equals cattle), and according to the foot of the children," i.e., "according to the pace at which the cattle and the children could go" (Luther). "Till I come to my lord to Seir:" these words are not to be understood as meaning that he intended to go direct to Seir; consequently they were not a wilful deception for the purpose of getting rid of Esau. Jacob's destination was Canaan, and in Canaan probably Hebron, where his father Isaac still lived. From thence he may have thought of paying a visit to Esau in Seir. Whether he carried out this intention or not, we cannot tell; for we have not a record of all that Jacob did, but only of the principal events of his life. We afterwards find them both meeting together as friends at their father's funeral (Genesis 35:29). Again, the attitude of inferiority which Jacob assumed in his conversation with Esau, addressing him as lord, and speaking of himself as servant, was simply an act of courtesy suited to the circumstances, in which he paid to Esau the respect due to the head of a powerful band; since he could not conscientiously have maintained the attitude of a brother, when inwardly and spiritually, in spite of Esau's friendly meeting, they were so completely separated the one from the other.
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