And it came to pass, when Israel dwelled in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it…
Moses expresseth not how Jacob grieved when he heard this, but only saith, "It came to Israel's ears" that it was done. Surely the reason was this, that we might thereby conceive that the grief was greater than could be expressed, to have his bed defiled by his own son. So read we, the painter that portrayed the intended sacrifice of Iphigenia, painted her father Agamemnon's face covered, because it was not possible to express well the countenance of a man so plunged in woe. Think we then earnestly of Jacob's sorrow, but know that we cannot think how it was. And what crossing griefs the Lord sends us, let us strive to patience by these examples. Yea, let us grow by these examples to a Christian strength against worldly scandals and offences, not moved by them to waver up and down as some do, condemning truth, and judging persons by faults and offences that do happen. As if one should say, See the religion of these men; can it be true, can it be good, when the professors of it have such spots? Simeon and Levi cruel bloodshedders, Dinah wanton and wantonly defiled, and now Reuben an incestuous person, defiling his own father's bed. How should the religion of these men be good? Surely the idolatrous ignorance, and ignorant idolatry of the Gentiles, of the Canaanites, Perizzites, Jebusites, or such like, was the good religion, and not the way that Jacob served God by. But let us be wise, and learn by this to take a surer course to judge both of men and of religion. Jacob and his family had the true religion, though their sinful flesh offended sometimes. All were not evil in such degrees, though some offended too much. Bewail the falls we may of those that profess the truth, nay, bewail them we ought with a sighing heart; but forsake truth for them, or condemn truth to be no truth, we may not, we dare not, we ought not. Let God be true, and all men liars. Let truth be truth, and all men sinful; yea, such great patriarchs as these were not ever free.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve: