(1) Isaac called Jacob. . . . —Though Rebekah’s primary motive was her concern for Jacob’s safety, yet we must not imagine that his marriage was a mere pretext. On the contrary, now that he was acknowledged as the firstborn, both he and she would have been abandoning his high position had they not arranged for the fulfilment of his duty in this respect. What is remarkable is the frankness of Isaac’s conduct. There is no attempt to substitute Esau for Jacob, nor to lessen the privileges of the latter, but with hearty cheerfulness he blesses the younger son, and confirms him in the possession of the whole Abrahamic blessing.
A multitude of people.—Heb., a congregation of peoples. This is not the word used in Genesis 17:4, but one that signifies an assembly, especially one summoned for religious purposes. Like the Greek word for church, ecclesia, it comes from a root signifying” to convoke.” It subsequently became the regular phrase for “the congregation of Israel” (Leviticus 16:17), and implies even here that the nations descended from Jacob would have a religious significance.
Genesis 28:6When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, 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;ESAU MARRIES A DAUGHTER OF ISHMAEL.
(6) When Esau.—The solemn transfer of the birthright to Jacob, and Isaac’s complete assent thereto, must have been the cause of no little grief to Esau, and evidently it made him feel that he had greatly contributed to this result by his own illegitimate marriages. When, then, he sees Jacob sent away to obtain a wife, in accordance with the rule established by Abraham, he determines also to conform to it, and marries a daughter of Ishmael. She is called Bashe-math in chap 36:3, and described in both places as “the sister of Nebajoth,” in order to show that as Nebajoth “the firstborn” (Genesis 25:13) was undoubtedly the son of Ishmael by his first wife, “whom Hagar took for him out of the land of Egypt” (Genesis 21:21), so also Mahalath shared in this precedence, and was not the daughter of any of Ishmael’s subsequent wives, or of a concubine.
Genesis 28:7And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram;
Genesis 28:8And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;
Genesis 28:9Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.
Genesis 28:10And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.JACOB’S DREAM.
(10) And Jacob.—Though this history is called the Tôldôth Isaac, yet it is really the history of Jacob, just as the Tôldôth Terah was the history of Abraham, and the Tôldôth Jacob, beginning at Genesis 37:2, is the history of Joseph. Up to this time all had been preparation, but now at length Jacob is confirmed in the possession of the birthright, and made the heir of the Abrahamic blessing; and henceforward his fortunes solely occupy the inspired narrator, though Isaac had still sixty-three years to live. (See Note on Genesis 11:27.)
He took of the stones. . . . —Heb., he took one of the stones of the place, and put it as his bolster. Jewish commentators identify the place with Mount Moriah, and say that the stone which Jacob placed under his head was one of those which had formed the altar upon which Isaac had been bound for sacrifice. The name Beth-el signified, they add, the temple, and as makôm—place—is thrice used in this verse, it mysteriously foreshadowed the three temples—Solomon’s, Ze-rubbabel’s, and Herod’s—which successively occupied the site. More probably Beth-el was really the town of that name, and these explanations are allegorical rather than expository.
It has been pointed out that each of the three stages in the dream has emphasis given to it by the word behold, and that this rises to a climax at the third repetition, when the covenant God is seen stationed at the head of this pathway between earth and heaven. But besides this, the value of Jacob in Jehovah’s sight arises now from his being the appointed ancestor of the Mesciah, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed (Genesis 28:14). Christ, too, is the Way symbolised by this ladder (John 14:6), and the bridge of union between the material and the spiritual world (1 Timothy 2:5). Our Lord, accordingly, Himself claims that “the angels of God ascend and descend upon Him” (John 1:51),
But what was a Beth-Elohim? It has been supposed that it was a sort of cromlech, set up to be itself an object of adoration. Attention has also been called to the Baitylia, or stones “possessed of a soul,” which the Phœnicians are said by Eusebius (Praep. Evang. i. 10) to have worshipped; and it has been thought, with some probability, that the word is a corrupt form of the Hebrew Beth-Elohim. These Baitylia. however, were meteoric stones, and their sanctity arose from their having fallen from heaven. Stones, moreover, set up at first simply as memorials may in time have been worshipped, and hence the prohibition in Leviticus 26:1, Deuteronomy 16:22; but there is no trace of any such idolatrous tendency here. Jacob apparently meant by a Beth-Elohim a place where prayer and offerings would be acceptable, because God ad manifested Himself there; and His vow signified that if, preserved by Jehovah’s care, he was permitted to visit the place again, he would consecrate it to Jehovah’s service, and spend there in sacrifice, or in some other way to His honour, the tithe of whatever property he might have acquired.
Genesis 28:21So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
Genesis 28:22And 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.