Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.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.
1760 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.
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.The house of Bethuel. See Genesis 22:22,23 25:20.
And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.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.
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;No text from Poole on this verse.
And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram;No text from Poole on this verse.
And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;No text from Poole on this verse.
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.1760
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.
And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.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.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.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.
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;No text from Poole on this verse.
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.i.e. The nations of the earth, as that word is used.
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.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.
And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.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.
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.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.
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.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 Deu 7:5 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 30:25,26 40:9.
And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.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
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,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.
So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:I will publicly own him for my God and the Saviour of men, and will establish his solemn worship, as it follows.
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.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 35:1,3,7.
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, Deu 14:28,29.