Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 28

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2244. B.C. 1760.

We have here,

(1,) Jacob’s parting with his parents to go to Padan-aram; the charge his father gave him, Genesis 28:1-2 , the blessing he sent him away with, Genesis 28:3-4 , his obedience to the orders given him, Genesis 28:5-10 , and the influence this had upon Esau, Genesis 28:6 .

(2,) Jacob’s meeting with God, and his communion with him by the way. And, 1, His vision of the ladder, Genesis 28:11-12 . Genesis 28:2 , The gracious promises God made him, Genesis 28:13-15 . Genesis 28:3 , The impression this made upon him, Genesis 28:16-19 . Genesis 28:4 , The vow he made to God upon this occasion, Genesis 28:20-22 .

Verse 1

Genesis 28:1. Isaac blessed him That is, purposely and designedly, and in faith now confirmed that blessing to him, which before he had given him unknowingly. And hereby God confirmed Jacob’s faith against doubts and fears, and comforted him against future troubles that might befall him. And charged him Those that have the blessing must keep the charge annexed to it, and not think to separate what God has joined.

Genesis 28:3-4 . God Almighty bless thee Two great promises Abraham was blessed with, and Isaac here entails them both upon Jacob. 1st, The promise of heirs; God make thee fruitful and multiply thee. Through his loins that people should descend from Abraham which should be numerous as the stars of heaven; and through his loins should descend from Abraham that person in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed. 2d, The promise of an inheritance for those heirs, Genesis 28:4. That thou mayest inherit the land of thy sojournings (So the Hebrew.) Canaan was hereby entailed upon the seed of Jacob, exclusive of the seed of Esau. Isaac was now sending Jacob away into a distant country to settle there for some time; and lest this should look like disinheriting him, he here confirms the settlement of it upon him. This promise looks as high as heaven, of which Canaan was a type. That was the better country which Jacob, with the other patriarchs, had in his eye when he “confessed himself a stranger and pilgrim on the earth,” Hebrews 11:16.

Verse 6

Genesis 28:6. This passage comes in, in the midst of Jacob’s story, to show the influence of good example. Esau now begins to think Jacob the better man, and disdains not to take him for his pattern in this particular instance of marrying a daughter of Abraham.

Verse 9

Genesis 28:9. Esau went unto Ishmael That is, the family of Ishmael, for Ishmael himself, no doubt, was dead before this time, (see Genesis 25:17,) and took Mahalath to be his wife. It is probable that he thought by this means to ingratiate himself with his father, and so to get another and a better blessing. But, alas! he mends one fault by committing another, and taking a third wife, when he had one too many before.

Verse 10

Genesis 28:10. Jacob went out from Beer-sheba Unattended and alone, God, in his wise providence, so ordering it, for the greater illustration of his care over, and kindness toward him. But the great simplicity, humility, and innocence of those times, made many things usual then, which would now appear ridiculous.

Verse 11

Genesis 28:11. The stones for his pillows, and the heavens for his canopy! Yet his comfort in the divine blessing, and his confidence in the divine protection, made him easy, even when he lay thus exposed: being sure that his God made him to dwell in safety, he could lie down and sleep upon a stone!

Verse 12

Genesis 28:12. Behold a ladder set up on the earth This might represent, 1st, The providence of God, by which there is a constant correspondence kept up between heaven and earth. The counsels of heaven are executed on earth, and the affairs of this earth are all known in heaven. Providence doth his work gradually and by steps; angels are employed as ministering spirits to serve all the designs of Providence, and the wisdom of God is at the upper end of the ladder, directing all the motions of second causes to his glory. The angels are active spirits, continually ascending and descending; they rest not day nor night. They ascend to give account of what they have done, and to receive orders; and descend to execute the orders they have received. This vision gave seasonable comfort to Jacob, letting him know that he had both a good guide and good guard; that though he was to “wander from his father’s house,” yet he was the care of Providence, and the charge of the holy angels. 2d, The mediation of Christ. He is this ladder: the foot on earth in his human nature, the top in heaven in his divine nature; or, the former is his humiliation, the latter is his exaltation. All the intercourse between heaven and earth since the fall is by this ladder. Christ is the way: all God’s favours come to us, and all our services come to him, by Christ. If God dwell with us, and we with him, it is by Christ: we have no way of getting to heaven but by this ladder; for the kind offices the angels do us, are all owing to Christ, who hath reconciled things on earth and things in heaven, Colossians 1:20.

Verse 14

Genesis 28:14. In thy seed shall the families of the earth be blessed All that are blessed, whatever family they are of, are blessed in Christ, and none of any family are excluded from blessedness in him, but those that exclude themselves.

Verse 15

Genesis 28:15. Behold, I am with thee Wherever we are, we are safe, if we have God’s favourable presence with us. He knew not, but God foresaw, what hardships he would meet with in his uncle’s service, and therefore promiseth to preserve him in all places. God gives his people graces and comforts accommodated to the events that shall be, as well as to those that are. He was now going an exile into a place far distant, but God promiseth him to bring him again to this land. He seemed to be forsaken of all his friends, but God gives him this assurance, I will not leave thee.

Verse 16

Genesis 28:16. Surely the Lord is in this place; I knew it not God’s manifestations of himself to his people carry their own evidence along with them. God can give undeniable demonstrations of his presence, such as give abundant satisfaction to the souls of the faithful, that God is with them of a truth; satisfaction not communicable to others, but convincing to themselves. We sometimes meet with God there, where we little thought of meeting with him. He is there where we did not think he had been; is found there where we asked not for him.

Verse 17

Genesis 28:17. He was afraid So far was he from being puffed up with this divine vision. The more we see of God, the more cause we see for holy fear and blushing before him. Those to whom God is pleased to manifest himself, are laid and kept very low in their own eyes, and see cause to fear even “the Lord and his goodness,” Hosea 3:5. And said, How dreadful is this place! That is, the appearance of God in this place is never to be thought of but with a holy awe and reverence; I shall have a respect for this place, and remember it by this token as long as I live. Not that he thought the place itself any nearer the divine visions than any other place; but what he saw there at this time was, as it were, “the house of God,” the residence of the Divine Majesty, and “the gate of heaven,” that is, the general rendezvous of the inhabitants of the upper world, as the meetings of a city were in their gates; or, the angels ascending and descend ing, were like travellers passing and repassing through the gates of a city.

Verse 18

Genesis 28:18. He set up the stone for a pillar To mark the place against he came back, and erect a lasting monument of God’s favour to him: and because he had not time now to build an altar here, as Abraham did in the places where God appeared to him, Genesis 12:7, he therefore “poured oil on the top of this stone,” which probably was the ceremony then used in dedicating their altars, as an earnest of his building an altar when he should have conveniencies for it, as afterward he did, in gratitude to God, Genesis 35:7. Grants of mercy call for our returns of duty; and the sweet communion we have with God ought ever to be remembered.

Verse 19

Genesis 28:19. It had been called Luz, an almond-tree, but he will have it henceforward called Beth-el, the house of God. This gracious appearance of God to him made it more remarkable than all the almond-trees that flourished there.

Verse 20

Genesis 28:20. Jacob vowed a vow That is, bound himself by a solemn promise and obligation. This being the first instance of a religious vow which occurs in Scripture, it may be proper to observe, that such a vow is a binding of the soul by a solemn and voluntary promise, made to God, to do, or more carefully to do a thing, which otherwise by our duty and God’s law we are bound to do; or to do certain things, lawful in themselves, but otherwise left indifferent to be done or not; or to abstain from some things otherwise lawful to be used; and all this in a way of thankfulness to God for some extraordinary blessings received, (Jonah 1:16,) or for the obtaining of some special benefits which we greatly desire, and stand in need of, Numbers 21:1-2; Judges 11:30; 1 Samuel 1:2;

Proverbs 31:2. Jacob was now in fear and distress; and in times of trouble it is seasonable to make vows. Jacob had now a gracious visit from heaven, and when God ratifies his promises to us, it is proper for us to repeat our promises to him. If thou wilt be with me and keep me We need desire no more to make us easy and happy wherever we are, but to have God’s presence with us, and to be under his protection. Then shall the Lord be my God Then I will believe, love, and rejoice in him as my God, and I will be the more strongly engaged to abide with him. And this pillar shall be God’s house That is, an altar shall be erected here to the honour of God. And of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee To be spent either upon God’s altars, or upon his poor, which are both his receivers in the world. The tenth is a very fit proportion to be devoted to God, and employed for him; though, as circumstances vary, it may be more or less, as God prospers us.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 28". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/genesis-28.html. 1857.
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