Genesis Chapter Twenty-Eight

 

Read Genesis 28:1-5 – Jacob Blessed, Sent to Padanaram

 

v.1And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan

 

            Reacting to Rebekah’s concern about Jacob marrying women from the tribes in Canaan, Isaac calls Jacob to him and gives him instruction.  First of all he is not to take a wife from the Canaanite tribes who did not worship God, a prohibition given to Abraham by God for Isaac himself:

 

Genesis 24:3And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:”

 

This prohibition was repeated to the Israelite nation in Exodus 34 and again in Deuteronomy 7, a prohibition that continued even through the return of the remnant of Judah from Babylon (Nehemiah 13).  We are told the same though most of the time we don’t hear this scripture applied to the marriage vows:

 

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

 

These lessons should be taught to all of our children and grandchildren nearing marriageable age to encourage them to seek a mate that is faithful to God.

 

v.2Arise, 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.”

 

            So Isaac sends Jacob to the house of his grandfather in Padanaram, or Haran as it was called in earlier studies.  He is to seek a wife from among his cousins, the daughters of Laban, Rebekah’s brother.  One commentator writes that this banishment of Jacob from his father’s house is punishment for the way he deceived Isaac.  We can see that Jacob did not immediately enjoy the wealth of his father but rather fled even Canaan where he was a sojourner, a wanderer to a foreign land and worked there as a servant or tenant to Laban.  This is supported somewhat by him being used as an example given by the prophet of one being punished for iniquity:

 

Hosea 12:12  And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.”

 

v.3-4And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; 4And 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.”

 

            So Isaac proclaims the same blessing upon Jacob that was given to Abraham and Isaac himself.  That he would be the one that was to continue the linage of the Israelite nation and the seed promise for the coming of Jesus Christ, and that he would inherit the land that God promised.

 

v.5And 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.”

 

            So Jacob is sent away, apparently alone, on foot, without servants or help; to make his way to a city that is at least 40 days away by camel.

 

Read Genesis 28:6-9 – Esau’s Reaction

 

v.6-7When 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; 7And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram;”

 

            Esau takes a lesson from Jacob.  He has sold his birthright to Jacob.  The blessing normally reserved for the eldest son has now been given to his brother, who was perhaps only younger by seconds.  Now he listens when Jacob is told not to take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.  He sees that Jacob obeys Isaac and seems to understand that the blessings that Jacob will enjoy are because he is an obedient son.

 

v.8-9And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; 9Then 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.

 

            But Esau is like those of the denominational world today and like what many of our brethren are becoming.  Esau did it his way.  He didn’t divest himself of the Canaanite wives that he had already taken.  He has two, both daughters of the Hitites with whom Abraham made the covenant for his burial ground.  Instead he takes another but chooses one who is a daughter of Ishmael, actually a cousin in relationship.  When we study the generations of Esau in Genesis 36 we will see that he had other wives as well.

 

Read Genesis 28:10-15Jacob’s Ladder

 

v.10  And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.”

 

            Jacob is now on the road, traveling north toward his destination, called Haran again here but Padanaram in prior verses.  It is the same place, a city of Syria from the time of Abram until the time of the prophet Hosea (Hosea 12:12) as we noted in our study of an earlier verse.

 

v.11And 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.”

 

            Jacob has traveled all day.  He reaches a certain place, a place that he names Bethel about 40 miles north of Beersheba.  He lays down to rest, apparently in the open, bare ground taking stones for his pillow.  Those who have had occasion to spend a night or more in a fox hole will understand that there are sometimes when a rock for a pillow seems soft.

 

v.12And 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.

 

            Jacob, in his sleep, receives a visit from God and receives three promises that will be detailed in the following verses.  Elihu, in his discourse with Job tells him that because man does not always seek to hear God nor is he able to discern God’s purpose.  So God visits him and speaks to him in visions and dreams.

 

Job 33:14-16  For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. 15In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; 16Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, “

 

And so it is with Jacob.  This ladder had angels, representing the messengers of God ascending and descending it with God at the top.  Jesus tells his disciple, Nathanael something very similar to this using it to emphasize his role as a messenger of God to men:

 

John 1:5151And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”

 

v.13And, 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; “

 

            First God renews the land promise with Jacob that was first given to Abram:

 

Genesis 13:15For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.”

 

Later we find God giving Jacob instructions to move to the very place that he is sleeping and to dwell there:

 

Genesis 35:1And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.”

 

v.14And 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.”

 

            Then he renews the seed promise made to Abram and Isaac:

 

Genesis 13:16And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.”

 

v.15And, 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.”

 

            Because of the situation that we find Jacob in; having to flee his homeland and the land that God has promised to give to him and his descendants God makes Jacob another promise.  He promises to protect Jacob and to return him to the land that he has promised to give him.  He also promises to be with him and to keep him through whatever trials that life brings him.  A promise in which we can take comfort as well; first through Moses to Joshua:

 

Deuteronomy 31:8And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”

 

Then to Israel through Solomon:

 

I Kings 8:57The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:”

 

And finally through the Hebrew writer to us:

 

Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

 

Read Genesis 28:16-22Bethel and Jacob’s Vow

 

v.16-17And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 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.”

 

            Jacob realizes that he has been in the presence of God; that this is holy ground and he is afraid.  He’s like Moses at the burning bush:

 

Exodus 3:6Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

 

Or Joshua at Jericho:

 

Joshua 5:14-15And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? 15And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.”

 

Jacob describes the place where he is standing as a “dreadful” place, a place to fear as he stands in awe and reverence to God.  He continues, calling it the “house of God” and the “gate of heaven”, but are we ever absent from the house of God or even the gate of heaven?  Are we not in the presence of God at all times?

 

v.18-19And 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. 19And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.”

 

            Jacob’s first thought is to worship God.  He takes the stone that he used for a pillow, sets it up and consecrates it as an altar.  Just as Moses did when Aaron and his sons were consecrated as priests of God:

 

Leviticus 8:10And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.”

 

            In addition Jacob changed the name of the place where he was from Luz; which means “an almond tree” to Bethel, which means the “house of God”.  It now deserved a name of greater honor than the original name given by the Hittites.  It remained Bethel until ultimately changed to Bethaven, the “house of vanity” when Jeroboam erected one of his golden calves there for Israel to worship instead of going to the temple in Jerusalem to worship God.

 

v.20And 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,”

 

            Jacob vows a vow unto God, makes God a promise, in effect accepts the promise that God has already made to him in verse 15.  Is it appropriate for us to make vows to God today?  We are neither commanded to do so nor commanded not to do so, but we have examples in the New Testament of those who did.  Paul had made a vow to God at Corinth (Acts 18:18) concerning his return to Jerusalem and shaved his head as a sign.  In Acts 21:23 we find other men who had a vow that they must perform.  One thing is sure:

 

When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 5Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” Ecclesiastes 5:4-5

 

The most common vows in our day are those given by two people to each other and to God at the time of their marriage.  I wonder how many people really think of them as seriously as Jacob did his vow before God.

 

v.21So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:”

 

            Jacob wants to be able to return to his father’s house in peace.  He has made a promise to serve God and asks only in return that he be provided bread to eat and clothing to wear, that which God already gives us through his providence and to be able to return to his father’s house without his brother’s threat hanging over him.

 

v.22And 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.”

 

            So Jacob erects and consecrates this stone as an altar to God.  He provides a place to be called God’s house, a place reserved to be used to honor God.  In time (Genesis 31:13) God will instruct Jacob to return to that place which he has consecrated.  Jacob further makes a commitment to return to God a tenth of all that God gives him.  This follows the pattern of Abraham before Melchizedek and the pattern given to the Israelite nation in God’s covenant with them (Leviticus 27:30).