And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
Verse 1. - And Isaac (recognizing the wisdom and propriety of Rebekah's suggestion that a bride should now be sought for him whom God had so unmistakably declared to be the heir of the theocratic promise) called Jacob (to his bed-side), and blessed him, - in enlarged form, renewing the benediction previously given (Genesis 27:27) - and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan (cf. Genesis 14:3). Intermarriage with the women of the land was expressly forbidden to the theocratic heir, while his attention was directed to his mother's kindred.
Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother.
Verse 2. - Arise, go to Padan-aram (vide Genesis 14:10; Genesis 25:20; Genesis 27:43), to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; - (vide Genesis 14:24). If yet alive, Bethuel must have been very old, since he was Isaac's cousin, and probably born many years before the son of Abraham - and take thee a wife from thence - though Isaac's wife was found for him, he does not think of imitating Abraham and dispatching another Eliezer in search of a spouse for Rebekah s son. Probably he saw that Jacob could attend to that business sufficiently without assistance from others - of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother (vide Genesis 14:29). "Isaac appears to entertain no doubt of Jacob's success, which might be the more probable since the same reason which kept Jacob from marrying in Canaan might prevent Laban's daughters from being married in Haran, the worshippers of the Lord being few (Inglis).
And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
Verse 3. - And God Almighty - El Shaddai (vide Genesis 17:1) - bless thee, - the Abrahamic benediction in its fullest form was given by El Shaddai (vide Genesis 17:1-8) - and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be - literally, and thou shalt become (or grow to) - a multitude - an assembly, or congregation, or crowd called together, from a root signifying to call together (Gesenius), or to sweep up together (Furst); corresponding to ἐκκλησία ιν Greek - of people.
And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.
Verse 4. - And give thee the Blessing of Abraham, - i.e. promised to Abraham (vide Genesis 12:2; Genesis 22:17, 18). The additions of τοῦ παρός μου (LXX.), אביך = τοῦ πατρὸς σου (Samaritan), are unwarranted - to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, - literally, the land of thy sojournings (Genesis 17:8) - which God gave unto Abraham - by promise (cf. Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:7, 18; Genesis 17:8).
And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.
Verse 5. - And Isaac sent away Jacob (Rebekah only counseled, Isaac commanded): and he went to Padan-aram unto Laban, son of Bethel the Syrian (vide Hosea 12:12), the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother. The historian here perhaps intentionally gives the first place to Jacob.
When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padanaram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan;
Verses 6-9. - When (literally, and) Esau saw that Issue had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padan-aram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, - literally, in his blessing him (forming a parenthesis), and he commanded him - saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; and that (literally, and) Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone (or went) to Padan-aram; and Esau seeing that (more correctly, saw that) the daughters of Canaan pleased not (literally, were evil in the eyes of) Isaac his father; then (literally, and) went Esau unto Ishmael (i.e. the family or tribe of Ishmael, aiming in this likely to please his father), and took unto the wives which he had (so that they were neither dead nor divorced) Mahalath (called Bashemath in Genesis 36:3) the daughter of Ishmael (and therefore Esau's half-cousin by the father's side, Ishmael, who was now dead thirteen years, having been Isaac's half-brother) Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, - Ishmael's firstborn (vide Genesis 25:13) - to be his wife.
And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram;
And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;
Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.
And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
Verse 10. - And Jacob went out from Beersheba, - in obedience to his father's commandment to seek a wife (ver. 2), but also in compliance with his mother's counsel to evade the wrath of Esau (Genesis 27:43; cf. Hosea 12:12. On Beersheba vide Genesis 21:31; Genesis 26:33 - and went towards Haran - probably along the route traversed by Abraham's servant (cf. Genesis 14:10).
And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
Verse 11. - And he lighted upon a certain place, - literally, he struck upon the place; i.e. either the place best suited for him to rest in (Inglis), or the place appointed for him by God (Ainsworth, Bush), or more probably the well-known place afterwards mentioned (Keil, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary'). Situated in the mountains of Ephraim, about three hours north of Jerusalem, it was not reached after one, but after several days' journey (cf. Genesis 22:4) - and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; - being either remote from the city Luz when overtaken by darkness, or unwilling to enter the town; not because he hated the inhabitants (Josephus), but because he was a stranger - and he took of the stones of that place, - i.e. one of the stones (vide ver. 18). "The track (of pilgrims) winds through an uneven valley, covered, as with gravestones, by large sheets of bare rock; some few here and there standing up like the cromlechs of Druidical monuments" (Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 219; cf. 'Lectures on Jewish Church,' p. 59) - and put them for his pillows, - literally, and put for his head-bolster, the word signifying that which is at the head of any one (cf. 1 Samuel 19:13; 1 Samuel 26:7, 11, 16; 1 Kings 19:6) - and lay down in that place to sleep (cf. Genesis 19:4; 1 Samuel 3:5, 6, 9).
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
Verse 12. - And he dreamed. This dream, which has been pronounced "beautifully ingenious," "clever" and "philosophical," the work of a later Hebrew poet and not of Jacob (De Wette), was not wonderful considering the state of mind and body in which he must have been - fatigued by travel, saddened by thoughts of home, doubtless meditating on his mother, and more than likely pondering the great benediction of his aged and, to all appearance, dying father. Yet while these circumstances may account for the mental framework of the dream, the dream itself was Divinely sent. And behold a ladder - the rough stones of the mountain appearing to form themselves into vast staircase (Stanley, Bush) - set up an the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: - symbolically intimating the fact of a real, uninterrupted, and close communication between heaven and earth, and in particular between God in his glory and man in his solitude and sin - and behold the angels of God - literally, the messengers of Elohim, i.e. the angels (Psalm 103:20, 21; Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:14) - ascending and descending on it - vide John 1:51, which shows that Christ regarded either the ladder in Jacob's vision as an emblem of himself, the one Mediator between God and man (Calvin, Luther, Ainsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Murphy), or, what is more probable, Jacob himself as type of him, the Son of man, in whom the living intercourse between earth and heaven depicted in the vision of the angel-trodden staircase was completely fulfilled (Hengstenberg, Baumgsrten, Lange, Bush).
And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
Verse 13. - And, behold, - "the dream-vision is so glorious that the narrator represents it by a threefold הִגֵּה (Lange) - the Lord stood above it, - the change in the Divine name is not to be explained by assigning vers. 13-16 to the Jehovistic editor (Tuch, Bleek) or to a subsequent redactor (Davidson), since without it the Elohistic document would be abrupt, if not incomplete (Kalisch), but by recalling the fact that it is not the general providence of the Deity over his creature man, but the special superintendence of the God of Abraham and of Isaac over his chosen people, that the symbolic ladder was intended to depict (Hengstenberg) - and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: - thus not simply proclaiming his personal name Jehovah, but announcing himself as the Elohim who had solemnly entered into covenant with his ancestors, and who had now come, in virtue of that covenant, to renew to him the promises he had previously given them - the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed - given to Abraham, Genesis 13:15; to Isaac, Genesis 26:3.
And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Verse 14. - And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, - promised to Abraham, Genesis 13:16; to Isaac, under a different emblem, Genesis 26:4 - and thou shalt spread abroad (literally, break forth) to the west, and to the east, to the north, and to the south: - (cf. Genesis 13:14; Deuteronomy 12:20). In its ultimate significance this points to the world-wide universality of the kingdom of Christ (Murphy) - and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed (vide Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 22:18 (Abraham); 26:4 (Isaac).
And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
Verse 15. - And, behold, I am with thee, - spoken to Isaac (cf. 26:24); again to Jacob (Genesis 31:3); afterwards to Christ's disciples (Matthew 28:20) - and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, - literally, in all thou goest - in all thy goings (cf. Genesis 48:16; Psalm 121:5, 7, 8) - and will bring thee again into this land; - equivalent to an intimation that his present journey to Padan-aram was not without the Divine sanction, though apparently it had been against the will of God that Isaac should leave the promised land (vide Genesis 14:6, 8) - for I will not leave thee, - a promise afterwards repeated to Israel (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8), to Joshua (Genesis 1:5), to Solomon (1 Chronicles 28:20), to the poor and needy (Isaiah 41:17), to Christians (Hebrews 13:7) - until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of - cf. Balaam's testimony to the Divine faithfulness (Numbers 23:19), and Joshua's (Genesis 21:45), and Solomon's (1 Kings 8:56). It is impossible, in connection with this sublime theophany granted to Jacob at Bethel, not to recall the similar Divine manifestation vouchsafed to Abraham beneath the starry firmament at Hebron (vide Genesis 15:1).
And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.
Verse 16. - And Jacob awaked out of his sleep (during which he had seen and talked with Jehovah), and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. Jacob does not here learn the doctrine of the Divine omnipresence for the first time (Knobel), but now discovers that the covenant God of Abraham revealed himself at other than consecrated places (Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange, Murphy); or perhaps simply gives expression to his astonishment at finding that whereas he fancied himself alone, he was in reality in the company of God - so plus adeptum ease quam sperare ausus fuisset (Calvin).
And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
Verse 17. - And he was afraid, - so were Moses (Exodus 20:18, 19), Job (Genesis 42:5, 6), Isaiah (Genesis 6:5), Peter (Luke 5:8), John (Revelation 1:17, 18), at similar discoveries of the Divine presence - and said, How dreadful is this place! - i.e. how to be feared! how awe-inspiring! φοβερὸς (LXX.), terribilis (Vulgate) - this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Not literally, but figuratively, the place where God dwells, and the entrance to his glorious abode (Keil); the idea that Jacob was "made aware by the dream that he had slept on one of those favored spots singled out for a future sanctuary, and was fearful that he had sinned by employing it for a profane purpose" (Kalisch), being fanciful.
And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
Verse 18. - And Jacob rose up early in the morning (cf. Genesis 19:27; Genesis 22:3), and took the stone that he had put for his pillows (vide supra), and set it up for a pillar - literally, set it up, a pillar (or something set upright, hence a statue or monument); not as an object of worship, a sort of fetish, but as a memorial of the vision (Calvin, Keil, Murphy; cf. Genesis 31:45; Genesis 35:14; Joshua 4:9, 20; 14:26; 1 Samuel 7:12) - and poured oil upon the top of it. Quasi signum consecrationis (Calvin), and not because he regarded it as in itself invested with any degree of sanctity. The worship of sacred stones (Baetylia), afterwards prevalent among the Greeks, Romans, Hindoos, Arabs, and Germans, though by some (Kuenen, Oort; vide 'The Bible for Young People,' vol. 1. p. 231) regarded as one of the primeval forms of worship among the Hebrews, was expressly interdicted by the law of Moses (cf. Exodus 22:24; Exodus 34:13; Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 12:3; Deuteronomy 16:22). It was probably a heathen imitation of the rite here recorded, though by some authorities (Keil, Knobel, Lange) the Baetylian worship is said to have been connected chiefly with meteoric stones which were supposed to have descended from some divinity; as, e. g., the stone in Delphi sacred to Apollo; that in Emesa, on the Orontes, consecrated to the sun; the angular rock at Pessinus in Phrygia worshipped as hallowed by Cybele; the black stone in the Kaaba at Mecca believed to have been brought from heaven by the angel Gabriel (vide Kalisch in /Gee). That the present narrative was a late invention, "called into existence by a desire" on the part of the priests and prophets of Yahweh (Jehovah) "to proclaim the high antiquity of the sanctuary at Bethel, and to make a sacred stone harmless" ('The Bible for Young People,' vol. 1. p. 231), is pure assumption. The circumstance that the usage here mentioned is nowhere else in Scripture countenanced (except in Genesis 35:14, with reference to this same pillar) forms a sufficient pledge of the high antiquity of the narrative (vied Havernick's 'Introd.,' § 20).
And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
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).
And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
Verses 20, 21. - And Jacob vowed a vow, - not in any mercenary or doubtful spirit, but as an expression of gratitude for the Divine mercy (Calvin), as the soul's full and free acceptance of the Lord to be its own God (Murphy), as the instinctive impulse of the new creature (Candlish) - saying, If (not the language of uncertainty, but equivalent to "since, ' or "forasmuch as;" Jacob by faith both appropriating and anticipating the fulfillment of the preceding promise) God (Elohim; for the reason of which vide infra) will be with me, - as he has promised (ver. 15), and as I believe he will - and will keep me in this way that I go, - a particular appropriation of the general promise (ver. 15) - and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on (i.e. all the necessaries of life, included, though not specially mentioned, in the preceding promise), so that I come again to my father's house - also guaranteed by God (ver. 15), and here accepted by the patriarch - in peace (i.e. especially free from Esau's avenging threats); then shall the Lord be my God - literally, and Jehovah will be to me for Elohim (Rosenmüller, Hengstenberg, Keil, Kalisch, 'Speaker's Commentary'), though the received translation is not without support (LXX., Vulgate, Syriac, Calvin, Michaelis, Lange, Murphy, Wordsworth); but to have bargained and bartered with God in the way which this suggests before assenting to accept him as an object of trust and worship would have been little less than criminal. Accordingly, the clause is best placed in the protasis of the sentence, which then practically reads, "if Elohim will be Jehovah to me, and if Jehovah will be to me Elohim" (vide Hengstenberg, 'Introduction,' vol. 1. p. 358).
So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
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.
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