Genesis 28

1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman.
2 Go at once to Paddan Aram,[a] to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.
3 May God Almighty[b] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples.
4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.”
5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.
6 Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,”
7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram.
8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac;
9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran.
11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.
12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 There above it[c] stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.
14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[d]
15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.
19 He called that place Bethel,[e] though the city used to be called Luz.
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear
21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD[f] will be my God
22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

Genesis 28 Commentary

Chapter 28

Isaac sends Jacob to Padan-aram. (1-5) Esau marries the daughter of Ishmael. (6-9) Jacob's vision. (10-15) The stone of Beth-el. (16-19) Jacob's vow. (20-22)

Verses 1-5 Jacob had blessings promised both as to this world and that which is to come; yet goes out to a hard service. This corrected him for the fraud on his father. The blessing shall be conferred on him, yet he shall smart for the indirect course taken to obtain it. Jacob is dismissed by his father with a solemn charge. He must not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan: those who profess religion, should not marry with those that care not for religion. Also with a solemn blessing. Isaac had before blessed him unwittingly; now he does it designedly. This blessing is more full than the former; it is a gospel blessing. This promise looks as high as heaven, of which Canaan was a type. That was the better country which Jacob and the other patriarchs had in view.

Verses 6-9 Good examples impress even the profane and malicious. But Esau thought, by pleasing his parents in one thing, to atone for other wrong doings. Carnal hearts are apt to think themselves as good as they should be, because in some one matter they are not so bad as they have been.

Verses 10-15 Jacob's conduct hitherto, as recorded, was not that of one who simply feared and trusted in God. But now in trouble, obliged to flee, he looked only to God to make him to dwell in safety, and he could lie down and sleep in the open air with his head upon a stone. Any true believer would be willing to take up with Jacob's pillow, provided he might have Jacob's vision. God's time to visit his people with his comforts, is, when they are most destitute of other comforts, and other comforters. Jacob saw a ladder which reached from earth to heaven, the angels going up and coming down, and God himself at the head of it. This represents, 1. The providence of God, by which there is a constant intercourse kept up between heaven and earth. This let Jacob know that he had both a good guide and a good guard. 2. The mediation of Christ. He is this ladder; the foot on earth in his human nature, the top in heaven in his Divine nature. Christ is the Way; all God's favours come to us, and all our services go to him, by Christ, ( John 1:51 ) . By this way, sinners draw near to the throne of grace with acceptance. By faith we perceive this way, and in prayer we approach by it. In answer to prayer we receive all needful blessings of providence and grace. We have no way of getting to heaven but by Christ. And when the soul, by faith, can see these things, then every place will become pleasant, and every prospect joyful. He will never leave us, until his last promise is accomplished in our everlasting happiness. God now spake comfortably to Jacob. He spake from the head of the ladder. All the glad tidings we receive from heaven come through Jesus Christ. The Messiah should come from Jacob. Christ is the great blessing of the world. All that are blessed, are blessed in him, and none of any family are shut out from blessedness in him, but those that shut out themselves. Jacob had to fear danger from his brother Esau; but God promises to keep him. He had a long journey before him; to an unknown country; but, Behold, I am with thee, and God promises to bring him back again to this land. He seemed to be forsaken of all his friends; but God gives him this assurance, I will not leave thee. Whom God loves, he never leaves.

Verses 16-19 God manifested himself and his favour, to Jacob, when he was asleep. The Spirit, like the wind, blows when and where it listeth, and God's grace, like the dew, tarrieth not for the sons of men. Jacob sought to improve the visit God had made him. Wherever we are, in the city or in the desert, in the house or in the field, in the shop or in the street, we may keep up our intercourse with Heaven, if it is not our own fault. But the more we see of God, the more cause we see for holy trembling before him.

Verses 20-22 Jacob made a solemn vow on this occasion. In this observe, 1. Jacob's faith. He trusts that God will be with him, and will keep him; he depends upon it. 2. Jacob's moderation in his desires. He asks not for soft clothing and dainty meat. If God give us much, we are bound to be thankful, and to use it for him; if he gives us but little, we are bound to be content, and cheerfully to enjoy him in it. 3. Jacob's piety, and his regard to God, appear in what he desired, that God would be with him, and keep him. We need desire no more to make us easy and happy. Also his resolution is, to cleave to the Lord, as his God in covenant. When we receive more than common mercy from God, we should abound in gratitude to him. The tenth is a fit proportion to be devoted to God, and employed for him; though it may be ( 1 Corinthians. 16:2 ) remember our Bethels, how we stand engaged by solemn vows to yield ourselves to the Lord, to take him for our God, and to devote all we have and are to his glory!

Cross References 60

  • 1. S Genesis 24:60
  • 2. Genesis 24:3
  • 3. S Genesis 25:20
  • 4. S Genesis 25:20
  • 5. S Genesis 21:21; S Genesis 24:29
  • 6. S Genesis 17:1
  • 7. Genesis 48:16; Numbers 6:24; Ruth 2:4; Psalms 129:8; Psalms 134:3; Jeremiah 31:23
  • 8. S Genesis 17:6
  • 9. S Genesis 12:2
  • 10. S Genesis 12:2,3
  • 11. S Genesis 15:7
  • 12. S Genesis 17:8
  • 13. S Genesis 11:31
  • 14. Hosea 12:12
  • 15. S Genesis 25:20
  • 16. S Genesis 24:29
  • 17. S ver 1
  • 18. S Genesis 10:15-19; Genesis 24:3
  • 19. S Genesis 26:35
  • 20. S Genesis 16:15
  • 21. S Genesis 25:13
  • 22. S Genesis 26:34
  • 23. S Genesis 21:14
  • 24. S Genesis 11:31
  • 25. S Genesis 12:8
  • 26. ver 18
  • 27. S Genesis 20:3; Genesis 37:19
  • 28. John 1:51
  • 29. S Genesis 12:7; Genesis 35:7,9; Genesis 48:3
  • 30. S Genesis 24:12; Genesis 48:16; Genesis 49:25; Genesis 50:17; Genesis 26:24
  • 31. S Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 35:12
  • 32. Genesis 46:4; Genesis 48:21
  • 33. Genesis 26:4
  • 34. S Genesis 12:2; S Genesis 13:14; S Genesis 26:24
  • 35. S Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 22:18; Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8
  • 36. S Genesis 21:20; Genesis 26:3; Genesis 48:21
  • 37. Numbers 6:24; Ps 121:5,7-8
  • 38. ver 20
  • 39. ver 22; Genesis 35:3
  • 40. ver 21; S Genesis 15:16; Genesis 30:25; Genesis 31:30
  • 41. Deuteronomy 31:6,8; Joshua 1:5; Nehemiah 4:14; Psalms 9:10
  • 42. Leviticus 26:42
  • 43. Psalms 105:10; Numbers 23:19
  • 44. 1 Kings 3:15; Jeremiah 31:26
  • 45. Exodus 3:5; Exodus 19:21; Joshua 5:15; Psalms 68:24,35
  • 46. ver 22; Genesis 32:2; 1 Chronicles 22:1; 2 Chronicles 3:1
  • 47. ver 11
  • 48. ver 22; Ge 31:13,45,51; Genesis 35:14; Exodus 24:4; Joshua 24:26,27; Isaiah 19:19
  • 49. Leviticus 8:11; Joshua 4:9
  • 50. S Genesis 12:8
  • 51. Genesis 35:6; Genesis 48:3; Joshua 16:2; Joshua 18:13; Judges 1:23,26
  • 52. Genesis 31:13; Leviticus 7:16; Leviticus 22:18; Leviticus 23:38; Leviticus 27:2,9; Numbers 6:2; Numbers 15:3; Deuteronomy 12:6; Judges 11:30; 1 Samuel 1:21; 2 Samuel 15:8
  • 53. S ver 15
  • 54. 1 Timothy 6:8
  • 55. Judges 11:31
  • 56. S ver 15
  • 57. Exodus 15:2; Deuteronomy 26:17; Joshua 24:18; Psalms 48:14; Psalms 118:28
  • 58. S ver 18; 1 Samuel 7:12
  • 59. S ver 17; Genesis 35:7,14
  • 60. S Genesis 14:20; S Numbers 18:21; Luke 18:12; Leviticus 27:30

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. That is, Northwest Mesopotamia; also in verses 5, 6 and 7
  • [b]. Hebrew "El-Shaddai"
  • [c]. Or "There beside him"
  • [d]. Or "will use your name and the name of your offspring in blessings" (see 48:20)
  • [e]. "Bethel" means "house of God."
  • [f]. Or "Since God … father’s household, the " Lord
  • [g]. Or "household, and the " Lord"will be my God, " 22"then"

Chapter Summary


In this chapter an account is given of the charge Isaac gave to Jacob not to marry a Canaanitess, but to go to Padanaram, and take a wife from his mother's family, and of his blessing him before he sent him away, Ge 28:1-5; of the notice that Esau took of this blessing and charge, which led him to take a wife of the family of Ishmael, Ge 28:6-9; of the dream of the ladder, which Jacob had in his way to Haran, Ge 28:10-12; of the blessing which God conferred upon him there, Ge 28:13-15; of the awfulness of the place upon his awaking, and of his erecting a pillar in it, and giving a name to it, Ge 28:16-19; and of the vow he made to God, should he be supplied with the necessaries of life, and be kept in safety by him, Ge 28:20-22.

Genesis 28 Commentaries

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