Jacob dismissed in peace. — V.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 Canaan. What Rebekah had planned came to pass; Isaac saw the point of her objection and took the hint given in her words. Isaac formally called Jacob, welcomed him with all kindness, and then gave him the definite command not to marry a Canaanitish woman. V.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. There was evidently some, at least occasional, communication between the two families of relatives, since Isaac knew of the daughters of Laban. V.3. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; v.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. The words of Isaac unmistakably point to the fact that he now openly recognized Jacob as the chosen heir. The consciousness of his patriarchal calling was awakened in him, and he had the strength to give the blessing of Abraham, which included the Messianic promise, to the son whom he would have rejected, but whom God had chosen. V.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. Bethuel had by this time either died or was no longer actively engaged in business, therefore Laban, Jacob’s uncle, is spoken of as the head of the household. V.6. When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, thus openly acknowledging him as the bearer of the patriarchal blessing, 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 Canaan; v.7. and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram; v.8. and Esau, seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac, his father, literally, were evil in his eyes; v.9. then went Esau unto Ishmael, that is, to the house of Ishmael, the father himself having been dead more than twelve years, and took unto, in addition to, the wives which he had Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife. This woman, chap. 36, 2, is called Bashemath, and she was called the sister of Nebajoth, because he was her oldest brother. Esau probably intended to regain the full regard of his father by this act, since this third wife was a descendant of Abraham, but merely betrayed his utter lack of understanding, so far as the relation of the patriarchs to the prophecies of the Lord with regard to the possession of this land was concerned, for Ishmael and his children were not to be heirs with the son of Sarah.
Jacob’s dream at Bethel. — V.10. And Jacob went out from Beersheba, in the extreme southern part of Canaan, where Isaac then had his camp, and went toward Haran, traveling first toward the north. V.11. And he lighted upon a certain place, he apparently struck this place by chance, although it was a matter of God’s guidance, 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. The place where this occurred is designated even here in such a manner as to draw attention to its later importance. V.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. V.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; v.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. This was a wonderful revelation of God, together with a confirmation of the Messianic promise given through the mouth of Isaac. The entire picture shows the uninterrupted communication, the intimate communion between God and the believers on earth. The angels of God accompany the believers and protect them in all their ways, and represent them in their difficulties and tribulations, bringing God’s help and protection down from heaven in return. The ladder stood on the earth, where Jacob lay, apparently all alone and forsaken, with not a foot of ground to call his own, but at its top stood the almighty God, whose promises never fail. It was in one of his first speeches that Jesus referred to this vision of Jacob, John 1, 51. In the person of Jesus Christ heaven and earth, God and man, are united in a singular and most marvelous manner, and through Christ, the incarnate Son of God, we enter into communion with God. V.15. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again in to this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. In addition to the Messianic promise, which ever afterward was the greatest comfort of Jacob, just as it is the hope of all believers, the Lord gave him an assurance concerning his own personal welfare on his journeys. Jacob was able to rely upon the definite, infallible fulfillment of the Lord’s promises, which are just as certain today as they were then and therefore require the same unquestioning acceptance.
Jacob’s vow. — V.16. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. The presence of God was in this place, remote as it was from the spot where the true worship of God was fostered, namely, in his father’s house, and he had had no knowledge of it. Jehovah in His merciful grace was near to him, surrounded him even at this distance from his home with His kindness. V.17. And he was afraid, filled with reverent awe, and said, How dreadful is this place! Cp. Ex. 3, 5. The associations of this place would ever afterward fill his mind with that holy fear and reverence which sinful creatures are bound to feel in the presence of God. This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Where God reveals Himself, whether in a vision or in His Word, there is the place of His habitation, there His grace opens heaven itself to the sinner seeking only His mercy. V.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. He thus observed the usual ceremonies of consecration in setting apart this spot as one hallowed by the appearance of the Lord and setting up the stone which had sewed as his head-rest as an earnest of the sanctuary to be erected there in the future. V.19. And he called the name of that place Bethel (the house of God); but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. The name Luz was used by the Canaanites to designate both the city and the surrounding country, but the children of Israel, after the conquest, named the district Bethel, after the name that it bore since this happening. V.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, v.21. so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God; v.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. It was not a condition which Jacob here expressed, but a thankful acknowledgment of the divine assurance. By this vow Jacob accepted the promise of the Lord and declared what, in his estimation, was included in it. He had a definite event before his eyes, for the stone which at present served only as a reminder of the miraculous vision, would be replaced by a monument of the presence and dwelling of God with His people, and of the gifts of God which would come to him as a result of that promise he herewith dedicated the tenth part to the Lord in return. That is the proper form of trust in God, to accept His promises in simple faith, and to worship and serve Him in turn.