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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Genesis 28

Verses 1-5

Isaac Sends Jacob Away

Here Jacob’s departure is not presented as fleeing as in the previous chapter (Gen 27:43). Here his departure is presented as an assignment that Isaac gives him to look for a wife. The wife of Jacob, like that of Isaac (Gen 24:2-3), may not come from the nations around him, but must come from the family that has a relationship with God.

On his departure Jacob receives a blessing from Isaac that is greater than the one he has been given through his deceit. So he leaves the land, from which Isaac never left, to go to his mother’s family. Rebekah is here called “the mother of Jacob and Esau”. Jacob is mentioned first, not because he is his mother’s darling, but because he is the heir.

Verses 6-9

Reaction of Esau

At first sight, it seems as if Esau is concerned about everything he has heard about the choice of a wife. He takes someone from Abraham’s family. But in the first place it is an additional wife. That is never God’s purpose. Secondly, it is a wife from a family sent away by Abraham (Gen 21:9-14). Ishmael represents the works of the flesh. With that Esau connects himself.

Verses 10-15

The Dream of Jacob

When Jacob is on his way, he gets his first encounter with God. That happens in a dream. It is intended as an encouragement. While Jacob lies there lonely, possibly regretting his past conduct, he sees how earth and heaven are connected by means of a ladder. At the top of the ladder stands the LORD, Who says Who He is and what He will do for Jacob.

What he sees and hears makes it clear to him that heaven oversees him and goes with him wherever he goes on earth. Angels rise up to bring the needs for living on earth to God, after which God’s help and protection for man is given from heaven.

About the connection between heaven and earth that Jacob sees, the Lord Jesus speaks to Nathanael (Jn 1:51). This connection will become a reality in the realm of peace when the Son of man, the Lord Jesus, is on earth. The Lord Jesus also says there, as Jacob sees in the dream, that the angels of God first ascend to heaven and then descend from heaven. The earth shall be united with heaven, the Son of man shall reign, and His servants, the angels, shall maintain the connection between the earth and the heaven.

The LORD appears to Jacob, and makes him four promises:
1. He will give him and his descendants the land on which he lies.
2. His descendants will be like the dust of the earth.
3. In him and his descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
4. He will be with him and bring him back to the land.

God does not say that His descendants will be like the stars of the heaven. He said this to Isaac. He mentioned both to Abraham. Because the fulfillment of the promises lies in the far future, the LORD assures Jacob that until that time He will be with him and keep him and that He will not leave him. We may also apply the promise Jacob receives here to ourselves, especially if we are tested in our living conditions (Heb 13:5).

Verses 16-19

Jacob’s Reaction to the Dream

When Jacob wakes up, he is afraid. This is the reaction of someone who is not accustomed to the presence of God and who is not standing right before Him. He realizes that he is in the presence of God. He even says he is in God’s house. That is why he also calls this place “Bethel”, which means “house of God”.

Today the church is the house of God (1Tim 3:15). In the house of God there is no room for the flesh. For the flesh, the presence of God is a terrible place. Only faith feels at home there.

Jacob wants to hold on to this meeting with the LORD. At the place where he was, he erects the stone that served as a pillow. He makes it a sacred place by pouring oil on it. It is good if we too erect, spiritually applied, such stones as a memorial. All that the Lord has said to us should be held by us. This is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit, of which the oil is a picture.

Verses 20-22

The Vow of Jacob

After God made His promises to Jacob, Jacob still presents his conditions. He is “so good” to acknowledge God as his God if God will behave in the way Jacob thinks it is proper.

In this way, many Christians enter into ‘negotiations’ with God. They are reluctant to accept God’s gift in His Son in faith and offer God to deserve His favor through their works. Jacob bases himself on the law: if God keeps His conditions, Jacob will also do what he has promised.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 28". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.