Genesis 28:19
And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) Beth-el . . . Luz.—In Joshua 16:1-2, we find that Luz and Beth-el were distinct places, though near one another; and with this agrees the present passage. For plainly, Jacob and his attendants did not go inside the city, but slept on the open ground; and as they would carry their provisions with them, they would need no supplies from its Canaanite inhabitants. Probably at the time of Joshua’s conquest Beth-el was rather a holy place than a town, and when Ephraim seized upon Luz and put the people to the sword (Judges 1:23-25), the victors transferred the name of Beth-el to it. Thus the spot where Jacob slept would not be the town of Beth-el, but some place a mile or two away from it.

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.

28:16-19 God manifested himself and his favour, to Jacob, when he was asleep. The Spirit, like the wind, blows when and where it listeth, and God's grace, like the dew, tarrieth not for the sons of men. Jacob sought to improve the visit God had made him. Wherever we are, in the city or in the desert, in the house or in the field, in the shop or in the street, we may keep up our intercourse with Heaven, if it is not our own fault. But the more we see of God, the more cause we see for holy trembling before him.Jacob awakes, and exclaims, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not." He knew his omnipresence; but he did not expect a special manifestation of the Lord in this place, far from the sanctuaries of his father. He is filled with solemn awe, when he finds himself in the house of God and at the gate of heaven. The pillar is the monument of the event. The pouring of oil upon it is an act of consecration to God who has there appeared to him Numbers 7:1. He calls the name of the place Bethel, "the house of God." This is not the first time it received the name. Abraham also worshipped God here, and met with the name already existing (see on Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:3; Genesis 25:30.)18, 19. Jacob set up a stone, etc.—The mere setting up of the stone might have been as a future memorial to mark the spot; and this practice is still common in the East, in memory of a religious vow or engagement. But the pouring oil upon it was a consecration. Accordingly he gave it a new name, Beth-el, "the house of God" (Ho 12:4); and it will not appear a thing forced or unnatural to call a stone a house, when one considers the common practice in warm countries of sitting in the open air by or on a stone, as are those of this place, "broad sheets of bare rock, some of them standing like the cromlechs of Druidical monuments" [Stanley]. 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

Bethel.

And he called the name of that place Bethel,.... The house of God, which he took this place to be:

but the name of that city was called Luz at the first; which signifies an almond or hazel nut, Genesis 30:37; perhaps from the number of this sort of trees that grew there, under which Jacob might lay himself down, which was probably in the field of Luz; and being at night, he might not know there was a city so near, until the morning. Though Josephus (r) says he did it purposely, out of hatred to the Canaanites, and chose rather to lie under the open air. This was about twelve miles from Jerusalem, as Jerom (s) says.

(r) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 19. sect. 1.((s) De loc. Heb. fol. 89. C.

And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. Beth-el] That is, The house of God: see Genesis 35:1; Genesis 35:6. This place was one of the most famous sanctuaries in Canaan. It was selected by Jeroboam as one of the High Places at which he set up the calves of gold (1 Kings 12:29-33). For its repute and popularity as a sanctuary and place of pilgrimage, see Amos 7:13 : close by the altar of Bethel would stand the pillar connected with its worship, and associated with this story of Jacob. The site has been identified with the modern Beitin.

Luz] The old city’s name mentioned also in Genesis 35:6, Genesis 48:3, Jdg 1:23, not identical with, but close to Bethel, Joshua 16:2. The narrative does not suggest that Jacob’s dream was in the vicinity of a town.

Verse 19. - And he called the name of that place Bethel - i.e. a house of God. Rosenmüller and Kalisch find a connection between Bethel and Baetylia, the former regarding Beetylia as a corruption of Bethel, and the latter viewing Bethel as the Hebraised form of Beetylion. Keil objects to both that the interchange of τ in βαιτύλιον, and Θ in βαιθήλ), would be perfectly inexplicable. On the site of Bethel (Beitin) vide Genesis 12:8. But the name of that city was called Luz at the first. Originally the Canaanitish town, built according to Calvin after this event, was called Luz, or "almond tree," a name it continued to bear until the conquest (Judges 1:23). From the circumstances recorded in the narrative, Jacob called the spot where he slept (in the vicinity of Luz) Bethel - the designation afterwards extending to the town (Genesis 35:6). Until the conquest both titles appear to have been used - Luz by the Canaanites, Bethel by the Israelites. When the conquest was completed the Hebrew name was substituted for the Hittite, the sole survivor of the captured city building another Luz in another part of the country (vide Judges 1:26). Genesis 28:19In the morning Jacob set up the stone at his head, as a monument (מצּבה) to commemorate the revelation he had received from God; and poured oil upon the top, to consecrate it as a memorial of the mercy that had been shown him there (visionis insigne μνημόσυνον, Calvin), not as an idol or an object or divine worship (vid., Exodus 30:26.). - He then gave the place the name of Bethel, i.e., House of God, whereas (ואוּלם) the town had been called Luz before. This antithesis shows that Jacob gave the name, not to the place where the pillar was set up, but to the town, in the neighbourhood of which he had received the divine revelation. He renewed it on his return from Mesopotamia (Genesis 35:15). This is confirmed by Genesis 48:3, where Jacob, like the historian in Genesis 35:6-7, speaks of Luz as the place of this revelation. There is nothing at variance with this in Joshua 16:2; Joshua 18:13; for it is not Bethel as a city, but the mountains of Bethel, that are there distinguished from Luz (see my Commentary on Joshua 16:2).

(Note: The fact mentioned here has often been cited as the origin of the anointed stones (βαίτυλοι) of the heathen, and this heathen custom has been regarded as a degeneration of the patriarchal. But apart from this essential difference, that the Baetulian worship was chiefly connected with meteoric stones (cf. F. von Dalberg, @fcb. d. Meteor-cultus d. Alten), which were supposed to have come down from some god, and were looked upon as deified, this opinion is at variance with the circumstance, that Jacob himself, in consecrating the stone by pouring oil upon it, only followed a custom already established, and still more with the fact, that the name βαίτυλοι, Βαιτόλια, notwithstanding its sounding like Bethel, can hardly have arisen from the name Beth-El, Gr. Βαιθήλ, since the τ for θ would be perfectly inexplicable. Dietrich derives βαιτύλιον from בּטּל, to render inoperative, and interprets it amulet.)

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