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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 28

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Isaac calls Jacob; charges him not to marry a Canaanite, but one of his kindred in Padan-aram, Genesis 28:1-2; confirms the blessing to him, Genesis 28:3-4.

Jacob obeys his father, and goes to Laban, Genesis 28:5.

Esau perceiving this, marries one of his kindred, but of Ishmael's family, Genesis 28:6-9.

Jacob journeys towards Haran; in his way takes of the stones of the place for pillows, Genesis 28:10-11.

In a dream sees a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, angels ascending and descending on it, Genesis 28:12.

The Lord standing above it, renews his covenant concerning Canaan and the promised seed, &c., Genesis 28:13-15.

Jacob awakened, acknowledges God's presence there, and is afraid, Genesis 28:16-17; sets up the stones for a pillar, pours oil on it, Genesis 28:18.

Names the place Beth-el, Genesis 28:19; makes a vow to be the Lord's, if God will return him in peace, Genesis 28:20-22.

Verse 1

Blessed him, confirmed his former blessing, being now thoroughly sensible both of God's purpose, and of his own duty, wishing him also a prosperous and successful journey, as the word is used, Joshua 22:7.

Verse 2

The house of Bethuel. See Genesis 22:22-23; Genesis 25:20

Verse 5

Bethuel the Syrian.

Object. He was no Syrian, but a Mesopotamian.

Answ. Syria is sometimes largely taken, and so it comprehends Mesopotamia, or Chaldea, yea, and Assyria, as appears from Isaiah 36:11; Daniel 2:4.

Verse 9


Esau went unto Ishmael; either to his person, or rather to his family, called Ishmael by their father’s name, as David is sometimes put for David’s posterity; for Ishmael seems to have been dead before this, from Genesis 25:17, though that may possibly be a prolepsis, and then this may be Ishmael himself.

Mahalath, called also Bashemath, Genesis 36:3. He thought by this means to ingratiate himself with his father, and so to get another and a better blessing; but he takes no care to reconcile himself to God, nor observes his hand in the business. Besides, he mends one fault by committing another, and taking a third wife when he had one too many before, and her too he unwisely fetcheth out of that stock which was begotten to bondage, and was utterly uncapable of the inheritance.

Nebajoth was Ishmael’s eldest son, Genesis 25:13, who alone is here mentioned, either in the name of all the rest, whose sister she is by consequence supposed to be; or because peradventure she and Nebajoth were Ishmael’s children by the same mother, and the rest by another.

Verse 10

It is not strange that Jacob went alone, as it appears that he did from Genesis 32:10, when his grandfather’s servant was attended with a so great retinue, Genesis 24:1-67, because attendance was then necessary to procure him reputation, and to obtain the consent of the virgin and her parents to long a journey; but here, as it was unnecessary, so it would have been troublesome and prejudicial, exposing him both to the envy and snares of his brother Esau, which by this private departure he did avoid. Besides, God in his wise providence did so order this, and some other matters of the like nature, for the greater illustration of his care and kindness towards his children. Add to this the great simplicity, humility, and innocency of those times, if compared with ours, which made many things then usual which now would be ridiculous.

Verse 12

This ladder may be considered, either,

1. Literally, and so it represented to Jacob the providence of God, who, though he dwell in heaven, extends his care and government to the earth, and particularly makes use of the angels as ministering spirits for the good of his people. And these angels do not appear idle, or standing still, but always in motion, either ascending to God to receive his commands, or descending to earth for the execution of them. Which was a most seasonable vision for Jacob in his sad and sorrowful condition, that he might see that though he was forsaken and persecuted by men, and forced to flee away secretly for fear of his life, yet he neither was, nor should be, neglected or forsaken by God in this whole journey. Or,

2. Mystically, and so it represents Christ, by whom heaven and earth are united, who is called the way to heaven, which this ladder was, who, as the Head of angels, is perpetually sending them forth either to God or from God to minister to the heirs of salvation, Hebrews 1:14; and this explication or accommodation of this vision, is warranted by our Saviour himself, John 1:51.

Verse 14

i.e. The nations of the earth, as that word is used.

Verse 15

Nor ever after; for so the word until is frequently used, as 2 Samuel 6:23; Matthew 1:25; not so as to exclude the time following, but so as to include all the foregoing time, wherein the thing spoken of might be most suspected or feared; as here the worst and most dangerous state in which Jacob was, or was like to be, was this time of his banishment from his country and kindred, against which he is therefore particularly armed and comforted in these words.

Verse 16

Surely the Lord is in this place, by his special and gracious presence, and the manifestation of his mind and will to me; and I little expected to meet with such a revelation out of my father’s house, much less in this desert and doleful state and place, when I thought myself rejected by God, as well as abandoned by men.

Verse 17

How dreadful is this place, or venerable, both for the majesty of the Person present, and for the glorious manner of his discovery of himself!

The house of God; the habitation of God and of his holy angels.

Verse 18

As a monument of God’s great kindness and gracious manifestation of himself to him, which might bring this mercy to his remembrance in his return, Genesis 31:13. This was an ancient practice among the patriarchs, Genesis 35:14; but afterwards, upon the growing abuse of it among the heathens, it was forbidden by God, Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3. The

oil he brought with him either for food or medicine, or for the anointing of himself, as need required;

and poured it upon the top of the stone, as a token of his consecration thereof to this use to be a memorial of God’s favour to him. Oil was used in sacrifices, and in the consecration of persons and places, Exodus 30:25,Exodus 30:26; Exodus 40:9.

Verse 19

Either of that city which was nearest to the field in which Jacob lay; or of that city which afterwards was built in or near to this place, and was known by the name of


Verse 20

Jacob vowed a vow, i.e. bound himself by a solemn promise or obligation. Compare Genesis 14:22; Ecclesiastes 5:4.

If God will be with me. He speaks not thus as if he doubted of the truth of God’s promises, or would, like a mercenary person, make a bargain with God, but rather supposeth that God will do this for him, as he had in effect promised, Genesis 28:15, and thereupon obligeth himself to a grateful return to God for this mercy:

If God will be with me, & c., as he hath just now assured me he will; or, Seeing God will be with me, & c., for the Hebrew im doth not always imply a doubt, but rather a supposition, and is oft rendered seeing that, as Exodus 20:25; Numbers 36:4; 1 Samuel 15:17; Amos 7:2. And so the Greek particle answering to the Hebrew im is used, Matthew 6:22; Luke 11:34.

Bread; food convenient, as it is called, Proverbs 30:8, which is oft signified by the name of

bread. See Genesis 3:19.

Verse 21

I will publicly own him for my God and the Saviour of men, and will establish his solemn worship, as it follows.

Verse 22

God’s house, i.e. a place where I will offer prayers and sacrifices to God; such places being commonly called God’s houses, and God is oft said to dwell in them, in regard of his special presence there. See Exodus 20:24. Compare Genesis 28:17, and Genesis 35:1,Genesis 35:3,Genesis 35:7.

I will surely give the tenth unto thee, to be laid out in thy service, and for sacrifices, and for the use and benefit of those who shall attend upon sacred things; as also for the relief of the poor and needy, whom God hath substituted in his room, and to whom part of the tithes were to be given by a following law, Deuteronomy 14:28,Deuteronomy 14:29.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 28". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/genesis-28.html. 1685.
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