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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 28

Verse 1

Gen 28:1 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.

Ver. 1. Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him. ] He doth not rate him, or rail at him. Anger must have an end. The prodigal’s father met him and kissed him, when one would have thought he should rather have kicked him and killed him. Pro peccato magno, paululum supplicii satis est patri . a

a Terent.

Verse 2

Gen 28:2 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.

Ver. 2. Arise, go to Padanaram. ] Jacob was no sooner blest, but banished. So our Saviour was no sooner out of the water of baptism, and had heard, "This is my beloved Son," &c., but he was presently in the fire of temptation, and heard, "If thou be the Son," &c. Matthew 3:1-17 ; Mat 4:1-11 When Hezekiah had set all in good order, 2Ch 31:1-21 then up came Sennacherib with an army. 2Ch 32:1 God puts his people to it; and often, after sweetest feelings.

Verse 3

Gen 28:3 And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;

Ver. 3. And God Almighty bless thee. ] Here Isaac establishes the blessing to Jacob, lest haply he should think, that the blessing so got, would be of no force to him. God passeth by the evil of our actions, and blesseth the good.

Verse 4

Gen 28:4 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.

Ver. 4. And give thee the blessing of Abraham. ] Here he is made "heir of the blessing," as are also all true Christians. 1Pe 3:9 Caesar, when he was sad, said to himself, Cogita te esse Caesarem :so, think thou art an heir of heaven, and be sad if thou canst.

Verse 5

Gen 28:5 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.

Ver. 5. Isaac sent away Jacob. ] With his staff only, Gen 32:10 and to "serve for a wife". Hos 12:12 It was otherwise, when a wife was provided for Isaac. But Jacob went as privately as he could; "he fled into Syria," probably, that his brother Esau might not know of his journey, and wait him a shrewd turn by the way. Theodoret saith, it was that the divine providence might be the better declared toward him, no better attended or accommodated.

Verse 6

Gen 28:6 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;

Ver. 6. When Esau saw, &c. ] But he was ever too late ( Oψινοος ), and therefore what he did was to little purpose. An overlate sight is good neither in piety nor policy. They will find it so that are semper victuri , a and never can find time to begin till they are shut out of heaven for their trifling. How many have we known taken away in their offers and essays; before they had prepared their hearts to cleave to God!

a Seneca.

Verse 7

Gen 28:7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram;

Ver. 7. And was gone to Padanaram. ] Which was distant from Beersheba almost five hundred miles. This was the father of the that family of travellers; and his affliction is our instruction. Romans 15:4 1Co 10:11

Verse 8

Gen 28:8 And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;

Ver. 8. Pleased not Isaac his father. ] Whether himself or they pleased God or not, was no part of his care. God is not in all the wicked man’s thoughts. Psa 10:4 What he strives for is, to be well esteemed of by others, to have the good will and good word of his neighbours and friends, such especially as he hopes for benefit by. Thus Julian counterfeited zeal, till he had got the empire: afterwards, of Julian, he became Idolian, as Nazianzen saith he was commonly called, because he set open again the idols’ temples, which had been shut up by Constantine, and restored them to the heathens.

Verse 9

Gen 28:9 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.

Ver. 9. Then went Esau unto Ishmael. ] Stulta haec fuit κακοζηλια , et hypocrisis , saith Pareus rightly. Apes will be imitating men: spiders have their webs, and wasps their honeycombs. Hypocrites will needs do something, that they may seem to be somebody: but, for want of an inward principle, they do nothing well: they amend one error with another, as Esau here; and as Herod prevents perjury by murder. Thus, while they shun the sands, they rush upon the rocks, and while they keep off the shallows, they fall into the whirlpool. a Sed nemo ira perplexus tenetur inter duo vitia, quin exitus pateat absque tertio , saith an ancient.

a Incidit in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdim .

Verse 10

Gen 28:10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.

Ver. 10. And Jacob went out from Beersheba. ] A long journey, but nothing so long as Christ took, from heaven to earth, to serve for a wife, his Church; who yet is more coy than Rachel, and can hardly be spoken with, though he stand clapping and calling, "Open to me, my sister, my spouse." Stupenda dignatio , saith one; a wonderful condescending.

Verse 11

Gen 28:11 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.

Ver. 11. And he lighted upon a certain place. ] Little thinking to have found heaven there. Let this comfort travellers, and friends that part with them. Jacob never lay better than when he lay outdoors; nor yet slept sweeter than when he laid his head upon a stone. a He was a rich man’s son, and yet inured to take harsh situation.

a Male cubans suaviter dormit, et foeliciter somniat.

Verse 12

Gen 28:12 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.

Ver. 12. Behold a ladder. ] Scala est, piorum in hoc mundo peregrinatio , saith Pareus, after Junius. But besides this interpretation, our Saviour offereth us another, Joh 1:51 applying it to himself, the true ladder of life, per quem solum in coelum ascendere possimus . He that will go up any other way must, as the emperor once said, erect a ladder and go up alone. He touched heaven, in respect of his Deity; earth, in respect of his humanity; and joined earth to heaven, by reconciling man to God. Gregory speaks elegantly of Christ, γεφυρωσας , that he joined heaven and earth together, as with a bridge; being the only true Pontifex , or bridge-maker . Heaven is now open and obvious, to them that acknowledge him their sole Mediator, and lay hold, by the hand of faith, on his merits, as the rungs of this heavenly ladder: these only ascend; that is, their consciences are drawn out of the depths of despair, and put into heaven, as it were, by pardon, and peace with God, rest sweetly in his bosom, calling him, Abba, Father, and have the holy angels ascending to report their needs, and descending, as messengers of mercies. We must also ascend, saith St Bernard, by those two feet, as it were, - meditation and prayer: yea, there must be continual ascensions in our hearts, as that martyr a said: and as Jacob saw the angels ascending, and descending, and none standing still; so must we be active, and abundant in God’s work, "as knowing that our labour is not in vain in the Lord": 1Co 15:58 and that, non proficere est deficere , b not to go forward is to go backward.

a M. Philpot.

b Bern.

Verse 13

Gen 28:13 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;

Ver. 13. I am the Lord God of Abraham, &c. ] What an honour is this to Abraham, that God was not ashamed to be called his and his son’s God! Eusebius the historian, was called Eusebius Pamphili, for the love that was between him and the martyr Pamphilus, as St Jerome testifieth. "Friend to Sir Philip Sidney," is engraven upon a nobleman’s a tomb in this kingdom, as one of his titles. Behold the goodness of God, stooping so low as to style himself "the God of Abraham"; and Abraham again, "the friend of God."

a The old Lord Brook.

Verses 14-15

Gen 28:14 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.

Ver. 14, 15. And thy seed shall be as the dust. ] Against his fourfold cross, here is a fourfold comfort, as Pererius well observeth, a plaster as broad as the sore, and sovereign for it. (1.) Against the loss of his friends, "I will be with thee": (2.) Of his country; "I will give thee this land": (3.) Against his poverty; "Thou shalt spread abroad, to the east, west," &c. (4.) His solitariness and aloneness; angels shall attend thee, and "thy seed shall be as the dust," &c. And "who can count the dust of Jacob?" Num 23:10 saith Balaam, that spellman of the devil, as one calls him. Whereunto we may add that which surpasseth and comprehendeth all the rest; "In thee, and thy seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Now whatsoever God spake here with Jacob, he spake with us, as well as with him, saith Hosea. Hos 12:4

Verse 15

Gen 28:15 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.

Ver. 15. See Trapp on " Gen 28:14 "

Verse 16

Gen 28:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew [it] not.

Ver. 16. And I knew it not, ] viz., That God is graciously present in one place, as well as in another. Our ignorance and unbelief is freely to be confessed and acknowledged. Thus David; Psa 73:22 Agur. Pro 30:2 Pray for me, saith Father Latimer to his friend; pray for me, I say: for I am sometimes so fearful, that I would creep into a mouse hole. a And in a certain sermon; b I myself, saith he, have used, in mine earnest matters, to say, "Yea, by St Mary"; which indeed is naught.

a In his letter to Ridley, Act. and Mon., 1565.

b Sermon in 3d Sunday in Advent.

Verse 17

Gen 28:17 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.

Ver. 17. How dreadful is this place! ] The place of God’s public worship is a place of angels and archangels, saith Chrysostom; a it is the kingdom of God; it is very heaven. What wonder, then, though Jacob be afraid, albeit he saw nothing but visions of love and mercy? "In thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple," saith David. Psa 5:7 The very Turk, when he comes into his temple, lays by all his state, and hath none to attend him all the while. Omnino opertet nos, orationis tempore, curiam intrare coelestem , saith St Bernard, b in qua Rex regum stellato sedet solio ,& c. Quanta ergo cum reverentia, quanto timore, quanta illuc humilitate accedere debet e palude sua procedens et repens vilis ranuncula ? Our addresses must be made unto God with the greatest reverence that is possible.

a Tοπος ‘ Aγγελων και ‘ Aρχαγγελων, Bασιλεια, Yεου, αυτος ο ουρανος .

b Bern., De Divers ., 25.

Verse 18

Gen 28:18 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.

Ver. 18. And set it up for a pillar. ] The better to perpetuate the memory of that mercy he had there received; and that it might be a witness against him, if hereafter he failed of fulfilling his vow. It is not amiss, in making holy vows, to take some friend to witness, that, in case we be not careful to fulfil them, may mind us, and admonish us of our duty in that behalf. Jacob, that was here so free, when the matter was fresh, to promise God a chapel at Bethel, was afterwards backward enough; and stood in need that God should pull him by the ear, once and again, with a "Go up to Bethel," and punish him for his delays, in the rape of his daughter, cruelty of his sons, &c. Gen 35:1

Verse 19

Gen 28:19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city [was called] Luz at the first.

Ver. 19. Bethel, ] i.e., The house of God; yet afterwards for the calf worshlp there set up by Jeroboam, it became Bethaven. Hos 4:15 See the note there. God grant that Anglia , once called Regnum Dei , never become Thronus Satanae , the place "where Satan’s seat is". Rev 2:13 And let all true hearted Englishmen with one mind and one mouth say, Amen and Amen.

Verse 20

Gen 28:20 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,

Ver. 20. And Jacob vowed a vow. ] The first holy vow that ever we read of: whence Jacob also is called the father of vows; which, out of this text, may be thus described. A vow is nothing else but a religious promise made to God in prayer, and grounded upon the promise of God; whereby we tie ourselves, by way of thankfulness, to do something that is lawful, and within our power; with condition of obtaining some further favour at the hands of God. Thus Jacob vows to God only: he is the sole object of fear, therefore also of vows. See them set together, Psalms 76:11 . Next, he prays when he vows. Eυχη ετ προσευχη : a vow and a prayer are of near and necessary affinity. See Psa 61:8 Judges 11:30-31 . That was a blasphemous vow of Pope Julius, that said, he would have his will, al despito di Dio . a And not unlike of Solyman the great Turk, in a speech to his soldiers: So help me great Mohammed, I vow, in despite of Christ and John, in short time to set up mine ensigns with the Moon, in the middle of the market place in Rhodes. b Jacob, as he vowed only by the fear of his father Isaac, so he presented his vow in a holy prayer, not in a hellish execration. I add, that it is a promise grounded upon God’s promise; so was Jacob’s here, in all points, as is to be seen if compared with Genesis 28:15 . Next, I say, that by this vow we bind ourselves, &c. Not as casting any new snare upon ourselves thereby; but rather a new provocation to the payment of an old debt. For what can Jacob vow to God that he owes him not beforehand, without any such obligation? This he doth, too, by way of thankfulness; as doth likewise David in Psalms 116:8-9 , and otherwhere. And that which he voweth is lawful and possible: not as theirs was, that vowed Paul’s death, Act 23:14 or as Julian the apostate’s, who, going against the Persians, made this vow; that if he sped well, he would offer the blood of Christians. Or as that Constable of France, who covenanted with God, that if he had the victory at St Quintin’s, he would attack Geneva. c These men thought they had made a great good bargain with God; but did not his hot wrath kindle against them? So Gerald Earl of Desmond’s Irishmen were justly consumed with famine and sword, which had barbarously vowed to forswear God, before they would forsake him. d Lastly, all this that Jacob doth, is on condition of some further favour: "If God will be with me, and will preserve me, and provide for me," &c. All which he doubts not of, as having a promise; but yet helps forward his faith by this holy vow; then shall God have the utmost, both in inward and outward worship: for God shall be his God; and he will build him a house, and pay him tithes, &c.

And will give me bread to eat. ] "Having food and raiment," saith the apostle, "let us therewith be content." Nature is content with little; e grace with less. Insaniae damnandi sunt, qui tam multa, tam anxie congerunt, quum sit tam paucis opus , saith Ludovicus Vives. Oλιγοδεης ο σπουδαιος , saith Clem. Alex. Cibus et potus sunt divitiae Christianorum , saith Jerome. Bread and water, with the gospel, are good cheer, saith Greenham. Cui cum paupertate bene convenit, pauper non est . f The disciples are bid pray for bread, not biscuit: they dined, on a Sabbath day, with grain rubbed in their hands, with broiled fish, &c. Luther made many a meal of a herring; g Junius, of an egg. One told a philosopher, If you will be content to please Dionysius, you need not feed upon green herbs. He replied, And if you be content to feed upon green herbs, you need not please Dionysius.

a Act. and Mon.

b Turk. Hist.

c Act. and Mon., 1914.

d Camd. Elisab. , fol. 258. A.D. 1583.

e Vir bonis paucis indiget .

f Seneca.

g Melch. Adam.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 28". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/genesis-28.html. 1865-1868.