1 “And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him,
Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of
the wisdom and propriety of Rebekah's suggestion that a bride should now be sought
for him whom God had so unmistakably declared to be the heir of the theocratic
promise) called Jacob (to his bed-side), and blessed him, - in enlarged form, renewing
the benediction previously given (ch. 27:27) - and said unto him, Thou shalt not take
a wife of the daughters of
of the land was expressly forbidden to the theocratic heir, while his attention was
directed to his mother's kindred.
2 “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.”
thy mother's father; - (see ch. 24:24). If yet alive, Bethuel must have been very
old, since he was Isaac's cousin, and probably born many years before the son of
Abraham - and take thee a wife from thence - though Isaac's wife was found for
him, he does not think of imitating Abraham and dispatching another Eliezer in
search of a spouse for Rebekah s son. Probably he saw that Jacob could attend to
that business sufficiently without assistance from others - of the daughters of
Laban thy mother's brother (see ch. 24:29). "Isaac appears to entertain no doubt
of Jacob's success, which might be the more probable since the same reason
which kept Jacob from marrying in
from being married in
3 “And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee,
that thou mayest be a multitude of people;” And God Almighty - El Shaddai
(see Genesis 17:1) - bless thee, - the Abrahamic benediction in its fullest form was
given by El Shaddai (see ibid. vs. 1-8) - and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee,
that thou mayest be - literally, and thou shalt become (or grow to) - a multitude –
an assembly, or congregation, or crowd called together, from a root signifying to
call together (Gesenius), or to sweep up together (Furst); corresponding to
ἐκκλησία – ekklaesia – assembly in Greek - of people. (I recommend
Genesis 17 – El Shaddai – Names of God by Nathan Stone - # 320 – this website –
CY – 2018)
4 “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.” (see ch. 17:1-8) And give thee the Blessing of Abraham, -
(Septuagint), אביך = τοῦ πατρὸς σου (Samaritan), are unwarranted - to thee, and
to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a
stranger, - literally, the land of thy sojournings (ch. 17:8) - which God gave unto
5 “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.”
And Isaac sent away Jacob (Rebekah only counseled, Isaac commanded): and he
went to Padan-aram unto Laban,
the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother. The historian here perhaps ]\
intentionally gives the first place to Jacob.
6 “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
obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram; 8 And Esau
seeing that the daughters of
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.” When (literally,
and) Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padan-aram,
to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, -
literally, in his blessing him (forming a parenthesis), and he commanded him - saying,
Thou shalt not
take a wife of the daughters of
Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone (or went) to Padan-aram;
and Esau seeing that (more correctly, saw
that) the daughters of
(literally, were evil in the eyes of) Isaac his father; then (literally, and) went Esau
unto Ishmael (i.e. the family or tribe of Ishmael, aiming in this likely to please his
father), and took unto the wives which he had (so that they were neither dead nor
divorced) Mahalath (called Bashemath in ch. 36:3) the daughter of Ishmael (and
therefore Esau's half-cousin by the father's side, Ishmael, who was now dead
thirteen years, having been Isaac's half-brother) Abraham's son, the sister of
Nebajoth, - Ishmael's firstborn (see ch. 25:13) - to be his wife.
Jacob and Esau, or Diverging Paths (vs. 1-9)
Ø The path of duty. Entered on in obedience to his mother s wish and his
father’s commandment, it was an evidence of filial piety. It is the token of a
good son that he “hears the instruction of his father, and forsakes not the
law of his mother” (Proverbs 1:8). Sons come to mature age should
respect and, where not inconsistent with allegiance to God, yield
submission to parental authority (ibid. 6:20; Malachi 1:6; Ephesians 6:1-3).
Ø The path of blessing. The benediction already bestowed upon Jacob was
repeated with greater amplitude and tenderness before he left the
patriarchal tent. Happy the youth who enters upon life’s journey carrying
on his head and in his heart a father’s blessing! much more who goes forth
beneath the canopy of Heaven’s benediction! and this is ever the
experience of him who travels by the way of filial obedience. Pious children
seldom fail to come to honor, and never lack the favor of the Lord
(Psalm 37:26; Proverbs 4:20-22; 8:32).
Ø The path of promise. In addition to his father’s blessing and the
benediction, Jacob carried with him as he left
promise of a seed and an inheritance to be in due time acquired; and in like
manner now has the saint exceeding great and precious promises to cheer
him in his heavenward pilgrimage, promises the full realization of which is
attainable only in the future (John 14:2; I Peter 1:4).
Ø The path of hope. Sad and sorrowful as Jacob’s heart must have been as
he kissed his mother and bade farewell to Isaac, it was at least sustained by
pleasant expectation. Gilding the horizon of his future was the prospect of
a wife to love as Isaac had loved Rebekah, and to be the mother of the
seed of promise. So the pathway of the children of promise, though often
painful, arduous, and protracted, is always lighted by the star of hope, and
always points to a bright and beautiful beyond.
1. The way of sin. His former wives being neither dead nor divorced, the
conduct of Esau in adding to them a third was wrong.
2. The way of shame. In the selection of Ishmael’s daughter he hoped to
please his father, but was apparently indifferent about the judgment of
either Rebekah or Jehovah. Daring transgressors, like Esau, rather glory in
their shame than feel abashed at their wickedness.
3. The way of sorrow. If not to himself, at least to his pious parents, this
fresh matrimonial alliance could not fail to be a grief. The daughter of
Ishmael was certainly better than a daughter of the Hittites, being almost as
near a relative on Isaac’s side as Rachel and Leah were on Rebekah’s; but,
unlike Rachel and Leah, who belonged to the old family stock (the
been removed from the Abrahamic tree.
1. The care which pious parents should take to see their sons well
2. The piety which children should delight to show to their parents.
3. The connection which subsists between true religion and
4. The inevitable tendency of sin to produce shame and sorrow.
5. The wickedness of violating God’s law of marriage.
Life with, and Life without, God (vs. 1-9)
The divergence of the two representative men is seen in this short
statement of their marriage relations.
1. Domestic life under the blessing of God and apart from that blessing.
2. The true blessing is the blessing of Abraham, the blessing which God has
already provided, promised, and secured.
3. The heir of the blessing must be sent away and learn by experience how
to use it.
4. The disinherited man, who has scorned his opportunity, cannot recover
it by his own devices. Esau is still Esau. Polygamy was suffered, but never
had the blessing of God upon it.
10 “And Jacob went out from
And Jacob went out from
to seek a wife (v. 2), but also in compliance with his mother's counsel to evade the
and went towards
(compare ch. 24:10).
11 “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.” And he lighted upon a certain
place, - literally, he struck upon the place; i.e. either the place best suited for him
to rest in (Inglis), or the place appointed for him by God (Ainsworth, Bush), or
more probably the well-known place afterwards mentioned (Keil, Wordsworth,
'Speaker's Commentary'). Situated in the mountains of Ephraim, about three hours
(compare ch. 22:4) - and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; - being
either remote from the city Luz when overtaken by darkness, or unwilling to enter
the town; not because he hated the inhabitants (Josephus), but because he was a
stranger - and he took of the stones of that place, - i.e. one of the stones (see v. 18).
"The track (of pilgrims) winds through an uneven valley, covered, as with
gravestones, by large sheets of bare rock; some few here and there standing up
like the cromlechs of Druidical
and put them for his pillows, - literally, and put for his head-bolster, the word
12 “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.”
And he dreamed. This dream, which has been pronounced "beautifully ingenious,"
"clever" and "philosophical," the work of a later Hebrew poet and not of Jacob
(De Wette), was not wonderful considering the state of mind and body in which he
must have been - fatigued by travel, saddened by thoughts of home, doubtless
meditating on his mother, and more than likely pondering the great benediction
of his aged and, to all appearance, dying father. Yet while these circumstances
may account for the mental framework of the dream, the dream itself was Divinely
sent. And behold a ladder - the rough stones of the mountain appearing to form
themselves into vast staircase (Stanley, Bush) - set up an the earth, and the top
of it reached to heaven: - symbolically intimating the fact of a real, uninterrupted,
and close communication between heaven and earth, and in particular between God
in His glory and man in his solitude and sin - and behold the angels of God - literally,
ascending and descending on it - see John 1:51, which shows that Christ regarded
either the ladder in Jacob's vision as an emblem of Himself, the one Mediator
between God and man (Calvin, Luther, Ainsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Murphy),
or, what is more probable, Jacob himself as type of him, the Son of man, in whom the
living intercourse between earth and heaven depicted in the vision of the angel-trodden
staircase was completely fulfilled (Hengstenberg, Baumgsrten, Lange, Bush).
A Stairway to Heaven (v. 12)
“And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it
reached to heaven.” Jacob in fear of his life leaves home. The last kiss of his
mother is taken. During the day Jacob goes forward cheerfully. Night
comes on at length. The path is no longer distinct. The wind moans sadly.
A sense of loneliness creeps over him. Fear of Esau haunts him. He sees
the figure of his brother behind this shrub and that rock. Had Esau outrun
to murder him in that lonely spot? He trembles at every shadow, and
shudders at every sound. He thinks of the God of his father and mother,
and prays. He lies down in the desert; a furze-bush is his only shelter, and a
stone his hard pillow. He looks up into the dark vault all glittering with the
silent stars. More intense becomes his loneliness, for the stars have no
voice for him. Plotting and far-seeing Jacob had deep home-longings,
mystic inquirings, and a wealth of affection in his nature. Of such God can
make something; to such God can reveal something. To idolatrous, carnal
Esau’s how little can God make known. Selfishness hinders. Here in the
desert Jacob draws his camel-hair robe more tightly over his feet, and
dreams of parents and home, and heaven and God. It might surprise us that
he could have such sweet dreams when he was fleeing from the one whom
he had undoubtedly wronged. God would over-rule the wrong, and
therefore sent him this vision.
men are seeking, whether sought in the way of business, or pleasure, or
politics, or literature. Even skeptics have their heaven in their doubt and
intellectual pride. That which is our highest object is our heaven. As water
cannot rise above its level, so the heaven of some cannot be above their
thoughts. There will be a future state answering to the highest longings
of the believer, a place of existence in glory far beyond anything here.
author (Hazlitt) says, “In the days of Jacob there was a ladder between
heaven and earth, but now the heavens are gone further and become
astronomical.” True science opens up an infinite number of worlds and
densely-peopled spaces. Material discoveries lessen the sense of spiritual
realities. It need not be so. If the universe is great, how great also is the
soul, which can embrace in its thoughts the universe! And it is in the soul
that God can and does reveal heaven. Peace, hope, love is the spirit of
heaven, and that is revealed by Christ. Purify the spirit and heaven comes
near. (James 4:8)
COMMUNICATION WITH HEAVEN. In the dream of Jacob he saw a
picture of his own struggling ascent in life. Angels might flit up and down,
but man had to struggle and put forth earnest effort to maintain the union.
Early in life the ascent seems easy. A mountain never appears so far to its
summit as it is in reality. As we go on we become more conscious of the
difficulties in the way of maintaining the open communications. Often we
find ourselves with heads between our hands, pondering whether we shall
ever overcome the evil and attain to the good.
EFFORT TO MAINTAIN THE COMMUNICATION. A voice comes to
Jacob. A promise of guidance and support was given. Christ in His
conversation with Nathaniel shows us how all good comes through Him. In
Christ all goodness centers. All heaven rays out from Him in the pardon and
reconciliation He has brought. He is the Word made flesh. He is the Divine
voice from above. Through him the Holy Spirit is given, and that Holy
Spirit shows us things to come, makes heaven plain, and the way direct.
One day we shall be called to follow the way the angels go, and after death
shall ascend that stairway which “slopes through darkness up to God.”
13 “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;” And, behold, - "the dream-vision is so glorious that
the narrator represents it by a threefold הִגֵּה (Lange) - the Lord stood above it, - the
change in the Divine name is not to be explained by assigning vs. 13-16 to the
Jehovistic editor (Tuch, Bleek) or to a subsequent redactor (Davidson), since without
it the Elohistic document would be abrupt, if not incomplete (Kalisch), but by recalling
the fact that it is not the general providence of the Deity over His creature man, but the
special superintendence of the God of Abraham and of Isaac over his chosen people,
that the symbolic ladder was intended to depict (Hengstenberg) - and said, I am the
Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: - thus not simply proclaiming
His personal name Jehovah, but announcing Himself as the Elohim who had solemnly
entered into covenant with his ancestors, and who had now come, in virtue of that
covenant, to renew to him the promises He had previously given them - the land
whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed - given to Abraham,
names of God – excerpts from Names of God by Nathan Stone – see:
Psalm 19 – Names of God – Elohim – by Nathan Stone - # 1268
Psalm 19 – Names of God – Jehovah – by Nathan Stone - # 1269
this website – CY – 2018).
14 “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.” And thy seed shall be as the
dust of the earth, - promised to Abraham, ch. 13:16; to Isaac, under a different
emblem, ch. 26:4 - and thou shalt spread abroad (literally, break forth) to the west,
and to the east, to the north, and to the south: - (compare ch. 13:14-16; Deuteronomy
12:20). In its ultimate significance this points to the world-wide universality of the
15 “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.” And, behold, I am with thee, -
spoken to Isaac (compare ch. 26:24); again to Jacob (ch. 31:3); afterwards to
Christ's disciples (Matthew 28:20) - and will keep thee in all places whither thou
goest, - literally, in all thou goest - in all thy goings (compare ch. 48:16; Psalm
121:5, 7-8) - and will bring thee again into this land; - equivalent to an intimation
that his present journey to Padan-aram was not without the Divine sanction, though
apparently it had been against the will of God that Isaac should leave the promised
land (see ch. 24:6, 8) - for I will not leave thee, - a promise afterwards repeated to
28:20), to the poor and needy (Isaiah 41:17), to Christians (Hebrews 13:5) –
until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of - compare Balaam's testimony
to the Divine faithfulness (Numbers 23:19), and Joshua's (Joshua 21:45), and
Solomon's (1 Kings 8:56). It is impossible, in connection with this sublime theophany
granted to Jacob at
to Abraham beneath the starry
God’s Providential Care (v. 15)
“Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou
goest.” Among things believed; but not sufficiently realized, is the truth of
God’s constant overruling care. We can trace cause and effect a little way,
then lose the chain, and feel as if it went no further, as if events had no
special cause. This a common evil in the life of Christians. Its root, walking
by sight more than by faith. Jacob — what made him try craft? Did not
trust God fully. Had no habit of faith. But God had not forgotten him. And
he slept on the stone at
known to him (Isaiah 43:2; Matthew 28:20) and recorded for our learning.
not a new thing; it had existed always. The vision showed what exists
everywhere (II Kings 6:17). The ladder shows the truth which should
stamp our lives. GOD IS LOVE and love means care. This is for all. It is
not our love that causes it. Our love, trust, and life spring from that truth.
The living God is close to us. His hand touches our life at every point.
How is it that we are unconscious of this?
find Him near. Because year by year the world goes on as before,
unbelievers deny God’s active presence, worldly men think not of it,
(Psalm 10:4; 36:1; Romans 3:18) and even godly men sometimes forget,
for we cannot see the top of the ladder. But God is there and directs all.
Many angels, messengers (Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:14); natural
agents, the elements, &c.; human agents, men good and bad alike carrying
out His will; spiritual beings (Psalm 91:11). How often those who pray
for spiritual blessings forget that common things also are ruled by God.
Thus a great door of communion IS CLOSED!
often cannot trace God’s hand. How often is trust confounded, wise
schemes frustrated, earnest self-denial in vain; prayers, real and intense,
without apparent answer. Nay, these are but seeming confusions, to teach
the lesson of faith. Through all these, by all these, God’s purposes are
surely carried out. One great truth is the key of all — the love of God
revealed in Christ. This is the ladder from which He proclaims, “Lo, I am
with thee” (compare Romans 8:32; John 16). He who wrought out redemption,
sense of the word, giving us the victory over evil. God was with Jacob. He
had been from the first, though not recognized. He was so to the end. Not
giving uninterrupted prosperity. Many a fault and many a painful page in
his history; but through all these he was led on. The word to each who will
receive it — “Behold, I am with thee.” Not because of thy faith, still less of
thy goodness. Oh that every Christian would practice trust (Psalm 5:3);
hearing our Father’s voice, “Commit thy way unto the Lord,” and gladly
believing “the Lord is my Shepherd.”
16 “And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this
place; and I knew it not.” And Jacob awaked out of his sleep (during which he
had seen and talked with Jehovah), and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place;
and I knew it not. Jacob does not here learn the doctrine of the Divine omnipresence
for the first time (Knobel), but now discovers that the covenant God of Abraham
revealed Himself at other than consecrated places (Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange,
Murphy); or perhaps simply gives expression to his astonishment at finding that
whereas he fancied himself alone, he was in reality in the company of God –
so plus adeptum ease quam sperare ausus fuisset (Calvin).
17 “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.” And he was afraid, - so were:
the children of
Ø Job (Job 42:5-6),
Ø Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5),
Ø Peter (Luke 5:8),
Ø John (Revelation 1:17-18),
at similar discoveries of the Divine presence - and said, How dreadful is this place! –
i.e. how to be feared! how awe-inspiring! φοβερὸς – phoberos – fearful; terrible
(Septuagint), terribilis (Vulgate) - this is none other but the house of God, and
this is the gate of heaven. Not literally, but figuratively, the place where God
dwells, and the entrance to His glorious abode (Keil); the idea that Jacob was
"made aware by the dream that he had slept on one of those favored spots
singled out for a future sanctuary, and was fearful that he had sinned by
employing it for a profane purpose" (Kalisch), being fanciful.
18 “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.”
stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar - literally, set it up,
a pillar (or something set upright, hence a statue or monument); not as an object
of worship, a sort of fetish, but as a memorial of the vision (Calvin, Keil, Murphy;
upon the top of it. Quasi signum consecrationis (Calvin), and not because he
regarded it as in itself invested with any degree of sanctity. The worship of
sacred stones (Baetylia), afterwards prevalent among the Greeks, Romans,
Hindoos, Arabs, and Germans, though by some (Kuenen, Oort; vide 'The Bible
for Young People,' vol. 1. p. 231) regarded as one of the primeval forms of
worship among the Hebrews, was expressly interdicted by the law of Moses
It was probably a heathen imitation of the rite here recorded, though by some
authorities (Keil, Knobel, Lange) the Baetylian worship is said to have been
connected chiefly with meteoric stones which were supposed to have descended
from some divinity; as, e. g., the
on the Orontes,
consecrated to the sun; the angular rock at Pessinus
worshipped as hallowed by Cybele; the black stone in the Kaaba
to have been brought from heaven by the angel Gabriel. That the present narrative
was a late invention, "called into existence by a desire" on the part of the priests and
prophets of Yahweh (Jehovah) "to proclaim the high antiquity of the sanctuary at
p. 231), is pure assumption. The circumstance that the usage here mentioned is
nowhere else in Scripture countenanced (except in ch. 35:14, with reference to
this same pillar) forms a sufficient pledge of the high antiquity of the narrative.
19 “And he called the name of that place
called Luz at the first.” And he called the name of that place
of God. Rosenmüller
and Kalisch find a connection between
former regarding Beetylia as a corruption of
the Hebraised form of Beetylion. Keil objects to both that the interchange of τ – t in
βαιτύλιον - baitulion, and Θ – th in βαιθήλ - baithael), would be perfectly inexplicable.
On the site of
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)
extending to the town (ch. 35:6). Until the conquest both titles appear to have been
- Luz by the Canaanites,
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 (see Judges 1:26).
20 “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, 21 So that
I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
And Jacob vowed a vow, - not in any mercenary or doubtful spirit, but as an expression
of gratitude for the Divine mercy (Calvin), as the soul's full and free acceptance of the
Lord to be its own God (Murphy), as the instinctive impulse of the new creature
(Candlish) - saying, If (not the language of uncertainty, but equivalent to "since, '
or "forasmuch as;" Jacob by faith both appropriating and anticipating the fulfillment
of the preceding promise) God (Elohim; for the reason of which see below) will be
with me, - as He has promised (v. 15), and as I believe He will - and will keep me in
this way that I go, - a particular appropriation of the general promise (v. 15) - and will
give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on (i.e. all the necessaries of life, included,
though not specially mentioned, in the preceding promise), so that I come again to
my father's house - also guaranteed by God (v. 15), and here accepted by the
patriarch - in peace (i.e. especially free from Esau's avenging threats); then shall
the Lord be my God - literally, and Jehovah will be to me for Elohim (Rosenmüller,
Hengstenberg, Keil, Kalisch, 'Speaker's Commentary'), though the received
translation is not without support (Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, Calvin, Michaelis,
Lange, Murphy, Wordsworth); but to have bargained and bartered with God in the
way which this suggests before assenting to accept Him as an object of trust and
worship would have been little less than criminal. Accordingly, the clause is best
placed in the protasis of the sentence, which then practically reads, "if Elohim
will be Jehovah to me, and if Jehovah will be to me Elohim" (vide Hengstenberg,
'Introduction,' vol. 1. p. 358).
22 “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.” And (or then, the
apodosis now commencing) this stone which I have set for a pillar (see on v. 18)
shall be God's house -
for the celebration of Divine worship - a resolution which was subsequently carried
Genesis 35:1, 15).
"The pillar or cairn or cromlech of
looked upon by the Israelites, and may be still looked upon in thought by us, as the
precursor of every "house of God" that has since arisen in the Jewish and Christian
world - the temple, the cathedral, the church, the chapel; nay, more, of those secret
places of worship that are marked by no natural beauty and seen by no human eye –
the closet, the catacomb, the
thoroughfare of the true worshipper (
Church,' lect. 3. p. 60). And of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth
unto thee. Literally, giving I will give the tenth (compare ch. 14:20). The case of
Jacob affords another proof that the practice of voluntary tithing was known and
observed antecedent to the time of Moses
Ø His desolate condition. Exiled from home, fleeing from the murderous
resentment of a brother, o’er-canopied by the star-lit firmament, remote
from human habitation, and encompassed by a heathen population, on the
summit of the
the wandering son of Isaac makes his evening couch with a stone slab for
his pillow, an emblem of many another footsore and dejected traveler upon
Ø His inward cogitations. The current of his thoughts needs not be
difficult to imagine. Mingling with the sadness of leaving home, and the
apprehension with which he regarded the uncertain future, there could not
fail to be a sense of security, if not a gleam of hope, arising from the
consciousness that he carried with him his father’s blessing; in this again
affording a reflex of most men’s lives, in which joy and sorrow, hope and
fear, continually meet and strangely BLEND!
Ø His heavenly visitation. If the dream by which Jacob’s slumber was
disturbed was occasioned by unusual cerebral excitement, if its
psychological framework was supplied by the peculiar color of his
meditations, it is still true that it was made the medium of a Divine
theophany and revelation. So God, who is “never far from any one of us,”
(Acts 17:27) is specially near to His children in solitude and sorrow,
“in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men,
in slumberings upon the bed, opening the ears of men, and sealing
their instruction” (Job 33:15-16).
Ø The celestial vision.
o A ladder reaching from earth to heaven; suggesting the thought of an
open pathway of communication between God and man, and in
particular between the heirs of the promise and their covenant God.
o The angels of God ascending and descending upon it; symbolizing
God’s providential government of the world by means of the celestial
hosts (Psalm 103:20-21; 104:4), but especially the ministry of angels
towards the heirs of salvation (Psalm 91:11; Hebrews 1:14). A
truth henceforward to be exemplified in the experience of Jacob, and
afterwards more fully, indeed completely and ideally, realized in
o Jehovah standing above it. The situation occupied by the symbolic
presence of Jehovah was designed to indicate two things:
§ first, that Jehovah was the true and only source whence
blessing could descend to man; and,
§ second, that the, pathway which had been opened up for
sinful man conducted straight into God s immediate
Thus it was a visible unveiling of the grace and glory
comprehended in the covenant, and now fully revealed by the
Ø The accompanying voice.
o Proclaiming the Divine name; as the covenant God of Abraham and of
Isaac, of which the New Testament interpretation is the God and
Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the true seed of Abraham.
o Renewing the covenant promises:
§ of a land,
§ of a seed, and
§ of a blessing.
o Personally engaging to extend to Jacob continual attendance,
“Behold, I am with thee,” — constant protection, — “and will keep
thee in all thy goings,” — complete fidelity, — “I will not leave
thee,” &c.; in all which again the voice was but an anticipatory
echo of the heavenly voice that sounds in the gospel.
Ø Devout impression. The night having passed in contemplation of the
unseen world, the morning found the startled sleeper with a strong sense of
the supernatural upon his soul, which filled him with alarm. Even to God’s
reconciled children awe-inspiring (compare Job 42:6; Isaiah 6:5; Luke
5:8; Revelation 1:17), a vivid realization of the Divine presence is to
the sinful heart overwhelmingly terrible.
Ø Reverent adoration. “This is none other but the house of God” —
implying ideas of Divine residence, — “Surely the Lord is in this place!”
Divine provision, — the thoughts of “bread to eat and raiment to put on”
appear to have been suggested to Jacob’s mind, — and Divine communion
— Jacob realizes as never before the conception of personal intercourse
between Jehovah and His people; — “and the gate of heaven” — in which
lie embedded the fundamental notions of nearness, vision, entrance.
Ø Grateful commemoration.
o He sets up the stone slab on which his head had rested as a visible
memorial of the sublime transaction which had there occurred, and
in token of his gratitude pours the only gift he carried with him on it,
viz., oil. Sincere piety demands that God’s merciful visitations
should be remembered and thankfully acknowledged by offerings
of the choicest and best of our possessions.
calls the name of the place
his own comfort and satisfaction, but also, there is little doubt, with
an eye to the instruction and encouragement of his descendants. It is
dutiful in saints not only to rejoice their own hearts by the recollection
of Divine mercies, but also to take measures for transmitting the
knowledge of them to future generations.
Ø Faith’s expectation. In a spirit not of mercenary stipulation, but of
believing anticipation, Jacob expresses confidence in henceforth enjoying:
o Divine companionship — “If,” or since, “God will be with me;”
o Divine protection “and will keep me in this way that I go;”
o Divine sustenance — “and will give me bread to eat, and raiment
to put on;”
o Divine favor — “so that I come again to my father’s house in peace;”
o Divine salvation — “then,” or rather, and since, “Jehovah shall be my
God;” — five things promised to the poorest and most desolate of
Ø Faith’s resolution. Confidently anticipating the fulfillment of God’s
promises, Jacob resolves:
erect an altar at
which he afterwards fulfilled. (ch. 35) Whatever vows God’s
people make should be paid, and no vows are more agreeable
to God’s will than those which have for their objects the cultivation
of personal piety and the perpetuation and spread of the knowledge
of God among men.
o To consecrate the tenth part of his increase to God, i.e. to the
maintenance of God’s worship — an example of pious liberality
which has seldom been approached by Christ’s followers, though,
considering their higher privileges and obligations, it ought to have
been frequently surpassed.
Jacob’s Dream (vs. 10-22)
Where revelations had been vouchsafed it was supposed that they would be
repeated. The stony pillow on which the weary head rested may be
changed by the visitation of Divine grace into the meeting-place of heaven
and earth. The morning beams breaking in upon the shadowy refuge of the
night are transfigured into a dream of covenant blessing. The ladder set up
on the earth, the top of it reached to heaven. Angels of God on the way of
mediation, ascending, descending, carrying up the wants and services of
the man of God, bringing down the messages of consolation, the
vouchsafements of help and deliverance. “Behold, the Lord stood above
it,” as the source of all the blessing, standing ready to work for His chosen.
This is the first direct communication of Jehovah to Jacob, the first in a
long line of revelations of which he was the recipient. It is a renewal of the
covenant made to his fathers, it is a republication of the promises. But we
require to hear the Lord say to us, “I am with thee, I will not leave thee,”
especially when we are already on the journey of faith, when we are
obeying the commandment of God, and of the father and mother speaking
in His name. Such a place as Jacob found may be made known to us:
wilderness and light upon a certain place where we think we are only
among stony facts, where we can find but a harsh welcome; but the Lord is
in the place, though we know it not till he reveals Himself. Then we cry
with trembling gratitude, This is the house of God, &c.
customary is lifted up by special gift of the Spirit’ ‘into’ the opened heaven,
the visiting, angels, the vision of the throne of God. “The house of God,
the gate of heaven.” Such may be the awaking of our soul in the sanctuary
of our own private devotions or of our public worship.
WHOLE. The Church has often laid itself down upon the stones and slept
with weariness in its passage through the desert, and the Lord has revealed
the ladder of His covenant, connecting together that very place and time of
hardship with the throne of grace and glory, and the ascending and
AS A TYPICAL PROPHECY OF THE
open, and the angels of God Ascending and descending upon the Son of
man,” the true Jacob, the Prince prevailing with God and with men
(John 1:51). The cross is the ladder of mediation. It was set up on the
earth. It was not of earthly origin as a means of atonement, but its foot
was on the earth as it came forth out of the method and course of earthly
history in connection with DIVINE COUNSELS. Its top reached to
heaven, for it was a Divine Mediator whose sacrifice was offered upon it.
Angels of God ascended and descended upon the ladder, for only through
the atoning merit of Christ is angelic ministration maintained. It is for them
“who shall be heirs of salvation.” (Hebrews 1:14) At the summit of the cross,
representing the whole mediatorial work of Christ, is the Lord standing,
speaking His word of covenant, and stretching forth His right hand on
behalf of His people. Resting at the foot of the cross we hear the voice
of a faithful Guide, saying, “I will not leave thee.” In every place one
who is conscious of surrounding covenant mercy can say, “This is none
other BUT THE HOUSE OF GOD.”
The Grateful Retrospect and the Consecrated Prospect (vs. 18-22)
God and commits the future to Him. We can always find a pillar of blessed
memorial and consecration. The
Ø Providential care.
Ø Religious privilege.
Ø Special communications of the Spirit.
God with us (Immanuel) as a fact. (Isaiah 7:14)Our
Ø Personal. The pillow of rest the pillar of praise.
Ø Practical. The testimony which speaks of the journey and the traveler.
Ø Coming out of fellowship.
Ø Pledging the future at the house of God, and in sight of Divine
Ø Blessed exchange of gifts, confirmation of love. Jehovah keeping and
guiding and feeding; His servant serving Him and giving Him a tenth
of all he received. The patriarch’s vow was the result of a distinct
advance in his religious life. The hope of blessing became the
covenant of engagement, service, worship, sacrifice. The highest
form of religious life is that which rests on a solemn vow of grateful
HOUSE IN PEACE!”
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