And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him, Bethel.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Jacob called . . . —See Genesis 28:19. The name had, of course, remained unknown and unused, as what then passed had been confined to Jacob’s own inward consciousness. He now teaches the name to his family, explains the reason why he first gave it, and requires them to employ it. But with so grand a beginning the town was debased to unholy uses, and from being Beth-el, the house of God, it became Bethaven, the house of iniquity (Hosea 10:5).Genesis 28:13-14. Again. The writer here refers to the former meeting of God with Jacob at Bethel, and thereby proves himself cognizant of the fact, and of the record already made of it. "When he went out of Padan-aram." This corroborates the explanation of the clause, Genesis 35:6, "which is in the land of Kenaan." Bethel was the last point in this land that was noticed in his flight from Esau. His arrival at the same point indicates that he has now returned from Padan-aram to the land of Kenaan. "He called his name Israel." At Bethel he renews the change of name, to indicate that the meetings here were of equal moment in Jacob's spiritual life with that at Penuel. It implies also that this life had been declining in the interval between Penuel and Bethel, and had now been revived by the call of God to go to Bethel, and by the interview.
The renewal of the naming aptly expresses this renewal of spiritual life. "I am God Almighty." So he proclaimed himself before to Abraham Genesis 17:1. "Be fruitful, and multiply." Abraham and Isaac had each only one son of promise. But now the time of increase is come. Jacob has been blessed with eleven sons, and at least one daughter. And now he receives the long-promised blessing, "be fruitful and multiply." From this time forth the multiplication of Israel is rapid. In twenty-six years after this time he goes down into Egypt with seventy souls, besides the wives of his married descendants, and two hundred and ten years after that Israel goes out of Egypt numbering about one million eight hundred thousand. "A nation and a congregation of nations," such as were then known in the world, had at the last date come of him, and "kings" were to follow in due time. The land, as well as the seed, is again promised.
Jacob now, according to his wont, perpetuates the scene of divine manifestation with a monumental stone. "God went up;" as he went up from Abraham Genesis 17:22 after a similar conferencc with him. He had now spoken to Jacob face to face, as he communed with Abraham. "A pillar" in the place where he talked with him, a consecrated monument of this second interview, not in a dream as before, but in a waking vision. On this he pours a drink-offering of wine, and then anoints it with oil. Here, for the first time, we meet with the libation. It is possible there was such an offering when Melkizedec brought forth bread and wine, though it is not recorded. The drink-offering is the complement of the meat-offering, and both are accompaniments of the sacrifice which is offered on the altar. They are in themselves expressive of gratitude and devotion. Wine and oil are used to denote the quickening and sanctifying power of the Spirit of God. "Bethel." We are now familiar with the repetition of the naming of persons and places. This place was already called Bethel by Jacob himself; it is most likely that Abraham applied this name to it: and for aught we know, some servant of the true God, under the Noachic covenant, may have originated the name.Genesis 28:22, both building an altar for sacrifice, and setting up a pillar, which was beginning an house for God. And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 15. - And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel. This name was first given after the dream vision of the ladder (Genesis 28:19); already on this occasion it had been changed into El-beth-el (ver. 7); now its old name is reimposed.
CHAPTER 35:16-29 Genesis 28), "on his coming out of Padan-Aram," as He had appeared to him 30 years before on his journey thither, - though it was then in a dream, now by daylight in a visible form (cf. Genesis 35:13, "God went up from him"). The gloom of that day of fear had now brightened into the clear daylight of salvation. This appearance was the answer, which God gave to Jacob on his acknowledgement of Him; and its reality is thereby established, in opposition to the conjecture that it is merely a legendary repetition of the previous vision.
(Note: This conjecture derives no support from the fact that the manifestations of God are ascribed to Elohim in Genesis 35:1 and Genesis 35:9., although the whole chapter treats of the display of mercy by the covenant God, i.e., Jehovah. For the occurrence of Elohim instead of Jehovah in Genesis 35:1 may be explained, partly from the antithesis of God and man (because Jacob, the man, had neglected to redeem his vow, it was necessary that he should be reminded of it by God), and partly from the fact that there is no allusion to any appearance of God, but the words "God said" are to be understood, no doubt, as relating to an inward communication. The use of Elohim in Genesis 35:9. follows naturally from the injunction of Elohim in Genesis 35:1; and there was the less necessity for an express designation of the God appearing as Jehovah, because, on the one hand, the object of this appearance was simply to renew and confirm the former appearance of Jehovah (Genesis 28:12.), and on the other hand, the title assumed in Genesis 35:11, El Shaddai, refers to Genesis 27:1, where Jehovah announces Himself to Abram as El Shaddai.)
The former theophany had promised to Jacob divine protection in a foreign land and restoration to his home, on the ground of his call to be the bearer of the blessings of salvation. This promise God had fulfilled, and Jacob therefore performed his vow. On the strength of this, God now confirmed to him the name of Israel, which He had already given him in Genesis 32:28, and with it the promised of a numerous seed and the possession of Canaan, which, so far as the form and substance are concerned, points back rather to Genesis 17:6 and Genesis 17:8 than to Genesis 28:13-14, and for the fulfilment of which, commencing with the birth of his sons and his return to Canaan, and stretching forward to the most remote future, the name of Israel was to furnish him with a pledge. - Jacob alluded to this second manifestation of God at Bethel towards the close of his life (Genesis 48:3-4); and Hosea (Hosea 12:4) represents it as the result of his wrestling with God. The remembrance of this appearance Jacob transmitted to his descendants by erecting a memorial stone, which he not only anointed with oil like the former one in Genesis 28:17, but consecrated by a drink-offering and by the renewal of the name Bethel.
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