Jacob's parting with his parents to go to Padan - aram:
the charge his father gave him, ver. 1, 2.
the blessing he sent him away with, ver. 3, 4.
his obedience to the orders given him, ver. 5 - 10.
and the influence this had upon Esau, ver. 6.
Jacob's meeting with God, and his communion with him by the way.
His vision of the ladder, ver. 11, 12.
The gracious promise God made him, ver. 13, 14, 15.
The impression this made upon him, ver. 16 - 19.
The vow he made to God upon this occasion, ver. 20, 21, 22.
1: Isaac blessed 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.
3-4: Two great promises Abraham was blessed with, and Isaac
here entails them both upon Jacob.
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.
Through his loins should descend from Abraham that person in whom all
the families of the earth should be blessed.
The promise of an inheritance for those heirs, (Ge 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,(Heb 11:16).
5: Rebekah is here called Jacob's and Esau's mother - Jacob
is named first, not only because he had always been his mother's darling,
but because he was now made his father's heir, and Esau was postponed.
6: This passage comes in, in the midst of Jacob's story, to shew
the influence of a 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 with a daughter of Abraham.
11: The stones for his pillow, 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
12: Behold a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached
heaven, the angels ascending and descending on it, and the Lord stood
above it - This might represent
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 desend 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.
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, (Col 1:20).
14: In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed
- Christ is the great blessing of the world: all that are blessed, whatever
family they are of, are blessed in him, and none of any family are excluded
from blessedness in him, but those that exclude themselves.
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 knows how to give his people graces
and comforts accommodated to the events that shall be, as well as to
those that are. He was now going as 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.
16: Surely the Lord is in this place, and 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.
17: He was afraid - So far was he from being puffed up. The more we
see of God, the more cause we see for holy trembling and blushing before
him. Those whom God is pleased to manifest himself to, are laid and kept
very low in their own eyes, and see cause to fear even the Lord and his
goodness, (Ho 3:5).
And said, How dreadful is this place! - That is, the appearance of God in
this place is 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 places; 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.
18: He set up the stone for a pillar - To mark the place again, if 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, (Ge 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 afterwards he did, in gratitude
to God, (Ge 35:7). Grants of mercy call for our returns of duty and the
sweet communion we have with God ought ever to be remembered.
19: It had been called Luz, an almond - tree, but he will have
it henceforth 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.
20: And Jacob vowed a vow - By religious vows we give glory to God,
and own our dependance upon him, and we lay a bond upon our own souls, to
engage and quicken our obedience to him. Jacob was now in fear and
distress, and in times of trouble it is seasonable to make vows, or
when we are in pursuit of any special mercy,(Jon 1:16,Ps 66:13,14,1Sa 1:11,Nu 21:1-3).
Jacob had now had a gracious visit from heaven, God had renewed his
covenant with him, and the covenant is mutual; 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. It is comfortable in a journey to have a guide in an
unknown way, a guard in a dangerous way, to be well carried, well
provided for, and to have good company in any way; and they that have
God with them, have all this in the best manner. Then shall the Lord be
my God - Then I will rejoice in him as my God, then 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 altar 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.