Jacob Sent to Laban
28 Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!” Thus Isaac sent Jacob away. And he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.
Esau Marries an Ishmaelite
Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.
Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made 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 clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”
Genesis 28 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It was a significant dream. It was a moment for Jacob that would set his course.
It’s not hard to imagine the emotional difficulty Jacob was under. His homestead was in an uproar with the deception that had gone on by all. His brother had put a bounty on his head. His father had brought him back in and blessed him then sent him off to his mother’s family to marry a family relative. Here he was on his journey to a people he did not know, a destiny he did not want, a life of the unknown.
It was a strategic time for Jacob. Falling asleep he had a magnificent dream. Seeing a ladder reaching to the heavens to God he watched as angels ascended and descended upon it. And… God spoke to him. This may have been Jacob’s first real encounter with the God of his grandfather Abraham.
God gave the same promises He had given to his grandfather and father. At this critical crossroads of Jacob’s life, marked by uncertainty, God was making it known He was working. Jacob would face incredible trials once he arrived and as he started a family but this moment would be something of God revealing He was working despite the hardships he would endure.
The promise of God was rich. He said, “I am the Lord God. I will give you… I am with you… I will not leave you until I have done what I’ve spoken…” And although Jacob’s response back was fairly man-centered – God honored it and him. Again, this may have been Jacob’s first real interaction with God.
There are many things God calls us toward which are marked by hardship and endurance. There are lands He calls us to and places He directs our journey. The promises given to Jacob resonate so clearly through Jesus Christ for us. He is the Lord. He will give, He is with us, He will not leave us.”
I think of this moment for Jacob with all the fears and uncertainty he faced. We often have the same things. God calls us toward a reliance beyond anything we’ve ever imagined as he forges our faith and relationship with Him.
Wherever you may be personally, hold onto this promise. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) Wherever your journey is taking you, He is right beside, He is with you, He is leading.
Genesis 28 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Jacob was a slick wheeler and dealer as we will find out later. He certainly didn’t deserve Isaac’s blessing or a divine dream, but God was faithful despite. This fact alone is staggering as we read about the life of Jacob. But what’s most fascinating to me in this chapter is the swiftness with which Jacob is ready to make a deal with the God of his father and grandfather.
Surely he had heard the stories of God appearing to both Abraham and Isaac, but this is his first encounter. In fairness, when I first encountered God, I know I made deals just like this one…
Then Jacob made a vow: “If God will be with me and watch over me on this journey, if He provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, 21 and if I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God. 22 This stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to You a tenth of all that You give me.”Genesis 28:20-22 HCSB
If God does this for me, then I’ll do that. Have you ever prayed a prayer like this? I have.
Look at the mixed responses from commentators…
“Many people even today say they will serve the Lord if He will do such and such. You won’t do anything of the kind, my friend. He doesn’t do business that way. He will extend mercy to you, and He will be gracious to you without asking anything in return.” -J. Vernon McGee
“Although Jacob made a conditional promise to be faithful to God, he based it on God’s promises to him.” -Nelson’s Commentary
“His vow underscores how utterly dependent Jacob is upon his God. He who so easily and callously manipulated his brother and father is now pictured as one who is completely beyond his own resources and at the mercy of another. What Esau once was to Jacob, Jacob now is to God. In contrast to what he did with Esau, Jacob cannot manipulate God.”New International Commentary – Old Testament
God is going to break Jacob, one way or another. What begins as a “deal” will eventually end in a wrestling match.