Verse 11. Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance. This repetition of the great covenant promise is recorded in Genesis 35:9-12 in connection with the change of Jacob's name, and very soon after that slaughter of the Shechemites, which had put the patriarch into such great alarm and caused him to use language almost identical with that of the next verse.
When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it. Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me, and I shall be destroyed, and my house." Thus the fears of the man of God declared themselves, and they were reasonable if we look only at the circumstances in which he was placed, but they are soon seen to be groundless when we remember that the covenant promise, which guaranteed the possession of the land, necessarily implied the preservation of the race to whom the promise was made. We often fear where no fear is.
The blessings promised to the seed of Abraham were not dependent upon the number of his descendants, or their position in this world. The covenant was made with one man, and consequently the number could never be less, and that one man was not the owner of a foot of soil in all the land, save only a cave in which to bury his dead, and therefore his seed could not have less inheritance than he. The smallness of a church, and the poverty of its members, are no barriers to the divine blessing, if it be sought earnestly by pleading the promise. Were not the apostles few, and the disciples feeble, when the good work began? Neither because we are strangers and foreigners here below, as our fathers were, are we in any the more danger: we are like sheep in the midst of wolves, but the wolves cannot hurt us, for our shepherd is near.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 11. -- The lot of your inheritance: literally lbh, the cord of your inheritance, an expression taken from the ancient method of measuring land by the cord or line; whence the measuring cord is metonymically put for the part measured, and divided by the cord. Thus, "the lines, ~ylbx, the cords, are fallen unto me in pleasant places," i.e., as the psalmist explains it: "I have a goodly heritage." Psalms 16:6 --Samuel Chandler.
Verse 11. -- Your inheritance. The change of the number (from "thee" to "your") points out that God made a covenant with all the people in general, though lie spake the words only to a few individuals; even as we have seen a little before, that it was a decree or an everlasting law. The holy patriarchs were the first and principal persons into whose hands the promise was committed; but they did not embrace the grace which was offered to them as belonging only to themselves, but as a blessing which their posterity in common with them were to become sharers of. --John Calvin.