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.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.
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.
And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
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.
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.
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;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.
And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram;
And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;
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.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.
And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.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.
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.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!
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.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.
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;
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.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.
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.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.
And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.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.
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.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 descending, were like travellers passing and repassing through the gates of a city.
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.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.
And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.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.
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,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; Jdg 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.
So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
And 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.