Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
God dissipates Jacob's well-grounded fears, and sends him to perform his vow, chap. xviii. 13. (Haydock)
Strange gods, which his servants had reserved in the plundering of Sichem; perhaps he had also been informed of Rachel's theft. (Du Hamel) --- Garments; put on your cleanest and best attire, to testify the purity with which you ought to approach to the service of God. (Menochius) --- See Exodus xix. 10; Leviticus xv. 13.
And the ear-rings. Hebrew, hanezamim; such as had been consecrated to some idol, and adorned the ears of those false but gaudy deities. (Menochius) --- Men and women used them likewise, as phylacteries or talismans, to which many superstitious virtues were attributed. (St. Augustine, ep. 73, ad Posid. 9, iii. in Gen.; Ezechiel xvi. 12; Proverbs xxv.; Exodus xxxv.; Judges viii. (Calmet) --- The turpentine tree; or "an oak tree," as the Hebrew haela means also. Septuagint adds, "and he destroyed them till this present day;" which seems intended to refute the story of their being found and adored by the Samaritans, or employed by Solomon when he built the temple. Jacob buried them privately. (Calmet) See Deuteronomy vii. 5.
Terror of God. A panic fear, which the pagans thought was sent by Pan. (Calmet) --- God can easily make the most powerful flee before a few. St. Augustine, q. 112.
Chanaan, to distinguish it from another. Judges i. 26, (Menochius) or because Moses wrote this in Arabia. (Calmet)
To him. Hebrew literally, "He called that place the God of Bethel, because there God (or the angels) appeared to him." Haelohim, with a verb plural, generally refers to angels; when it is applied to God, the article is omitted, and the verb is singular. (Calmet)
Debora. The Rabbin say she had been sent to urge Jacob's return. (Menochius) --- Perhaps she was come to see him and the daughters of Laban, for whom she would naturally have a great regard, as she lived with Laban. --- Weeping. This shews the great respect they had for this good old servant. (Haydock)
Israel. This name signifies one that prevaileth with God; (Challoner) and is more honourable and expressive than that of Jacob. God confirms what had been declared by his angel, chap. xxxii. 28.
And to, &c. And is often put by way of explanation. Chanaan was possessed by all the twelve sons of Jacob. Those of the handmaids are not excluded, as Ismael had been. (Worthington)
Set up either a fresh altar, or restored the stone which he had formerly used for sacrifice. (St. Augustine q. 116.) --- Drink, wine. --- Oil. Theophrastus, speaking of a man addicted to superstition, says, "he adores every anointed stone." (Calmet)
Spring. Hebrew, cibrath. Septuagint leave it untranslated, Chalratha, though they render it horse-race, (ver. 19.) and join both together, chap. xlviii. 7. The word occurs again, 4 Kings v. 19; and St. Jerome translates it the spring, or the finest time of the earth. Others suppose it signifies the high road, (ver. 19.) or horse-course, or a mile, &c. as if the place, where Rachel died, and not the season of the year, were designated. Calmet concludes, she died about the distance of an acre (sillon, furrow or ridge) from Ephrata. But there seems to be no reason why we should recede from the Vulgate. (Haydock)
That is. These etymologies are given by St. Jerome. (Du Hamel) --- Right hand, (jemini) as he is often styled in Scripture. Jamin has the same meaning; though it may also signify of the south, with respect to Bethel and Sichem; or of days and old age, chap. xliv. 20. 1. (Calmet) Jacob chooses to give his son a more auspicious name; as the other would have reminded him too sensibly of his loss. (Haydock)
A pillar; or sepulchral monument, about 500 paces north of Bethlehem, (Haydock) which was called Ephrata afterwards, from Caleb's wife. (Calmet)
Tower. Hebrew, Heder, about a mile to the east of Bethlehem, where the angels appeared to announce the birth of Christ. St. Helen built a temple there in honour of the angels. (Tirinus) --- Shepherds had such places to keep watch. (Calmet) --- There was a tower of this name near Jerusalem. (Micheas iv. 8; St. Jerome, q. His.)
The concubine. She was his lawful wife; but according to the style of the Hebrews, is called concubine, because of her servile extraction. (Challoner) --- Ignorant of; and therefore, to mark his displeasure, he deprived him of the birth-right, chap. xlix. 4. Jacob approached no more to Bala, as David had no farther commerce with the wives whom Absalom had defiled, 2 Kings xvi. 22. (Menochius) --- The Septuagint add, and it appeared evil in his sight; an omission which the Hebrew editions seem to acknowledge, by leaving a vacant space. (Kennicott)
Syria, all except Benjamin. (Calmet) --- All frequently means the greatest part. (Haydock)
Spent. He lived 42 years, after he had blessed Jacob. --- His people, in the bosom of Abraham, in limbo. --- Full of days, quite satisfied. Cedat uti conviva satur. (Hor.[Horace?] Sat. i. 1.) He was one of the brightest figures of Jesus Christ, on account of him miraculous birth, name, willingness to be sacrificed, marriage with a woman sought at a great distance, &c. (Calmet) --- Esau, who had always shewn a great regard for his father, joins his brother in rendering to him the last rites of burial. (Haydock) --- Rebecca was probably dead. (Menochius) --- The death of Isaac is mentioned out of its place, that the history of Joseph may not be interrupted, as it happened when Joseph was in prison, in the year of the world 2288. (Calmet)