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GENESIS 28:1-5 (Jacob leaves for Haran with Isaac’s blessing)
28:1-2 Rebekah had told her son Jacob to flee the 500 miles, 800 km, to her relatives in Haran (27:43). Then she told her husband that the Canaanite women whom Esau had maried were making her life a misery (27:46). So Isaac gave Jacob the specific order to marry one of Rebekah’s nieces in Haran.
28:3-4 Then Isaac asked God to bless Jacob with two of the blessings promised to Abraham These related to a large number of heirs and the eventual possession of the land (12:1-2). Unfortunately he omitted the third part of the promise: “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, repeated to Abraham in 22:18). The supreme calling of the Jewish people was for the faith of Abraham to be made known among all nations. Isaac had himself been given this promise in a slightly different wording: “All the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring” (26:4), but he did not communicate this third strand of the promise to his son Jacob.
Note: When the Jewish people failed to convey the faith of Abraham to all nations, Jesus predicted the world-wide spread of the good news (Matthew 21;41; 24:14). After the resurrection he told his apostles to make disciples (learners) among all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Within the next forty years God used Paul and other apostles to establish Messiah believing churches that looked to the faith of Abraham (Acts 8:4; 10:35, 45; 15:17-19; 26:17-18; as explained in Romans 4:9-12).
28:5 Abraham had been told about the family of his brother Nahor (22:20-23), and he sent his servant to bring Rebekah from there as a bride for Isaac (24:15-16, 67). As soon as she saw that her son Esau intended to take his revenge by killing his brother, Rebekah told Jacob to go and live among her relatives in Haran (27:42-45). Isaac then commanded Jacob to go 500 miles, 800 km, north to marry a girl from Rebekah’s family (28:2).
GENESIS 28:6-9 (Esau married a daughter of Ishmael)
28:6-9 Esau saw that Isaac had insisted that his brother Jacob was not to marry a Canaanite woman. He had already married two local women (26:34-35) who had quarreled with his parents. In the hope of getting back into favor with his parents he also married the daughter of his uncle Ishmael (25:13; 36:2-3; see 36:18)
GENESIS 28:10-22 (Jacob’s dream about a ladder into heaven)
28:10-11 On his journey north, his second or third stopping place was 50 miles, 80 km, north of Beersheba (later called Bethel, 28:19). As the night fell Jacob realized he was alone, and he was probably getting apprehensive realizing he had only come one tenth of the way to Haran. He slept on the ground, and used a flat stone as a pillow.
28:12-14 In a dream he saw a ladder going right up into heaven with angels moving up and down. Between him and the ladder he saw the LORD who introduced himself as the one who had been revealed to Abraham and Isaac (the second Person of the Trinity, see notes on 12:1, 7: 13:4, 14; 15:1, 7, 18; 17:1; 18:1, 22; 21:1; 26:2, 24). He repeated the blessing given to Isaac concerning the land (28:4) and concerning becoming a large nation (28:3). But he also reminded him of the third strand of the promise he had given of Abraham’s heirs being a blessing to all peoples of the world (given to Abraham, 12:3; and repeated to Isaac, 26:4).
28:15-19 The LORD also promised to be with him on the long journey to Haran, care for him there, and bring him back safely to fulfil all that he had promised him. Jacob woke up awed, and he named the place Bethel (beth-el meaning the house of God). He probably did not know that Abraham had built an altar and offered sacrifice in that very place (13:7-8). Being unable to offer animal sacrifice, he used the stone he had slept on as a altar and poured on it some of the olive oil he had with him.
28:20-22 Jacob then made a vow that if God protected him on the way, and brought him home safely, the LORD would be his God. Jacob also promised to give the LORD a tithe of all that God blessed him with (see Genesis 14:20; Numbers 18:21-24; Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 26:12-14). God reminded him of his vow after twenty years in Haran (31:13, 41). We wonder if it was in his wrestling with the LORD that Jacob finally came to an assured faith in him (32:24-30). But at this stage he still seemed to be trying to gain an advantage by bargaining with God (as he had done in the deal he had made with Esau, 25:29-33).
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