SECTION FIVE - JACOB
THE LIE Genesis 26:7-28
26:7 SHE IS MY SISTER
Isaac suddenly found himself repeating the same lie (half-truth) Abraham had used, and for the same reason. Rebekah, though she must have been at least sixty years old by this time, was still a very beautiful and desirable woman, and quickly attracted much attention from the Philistine men. Perhaps Isaac may have reasoned that, even though Abraham had been embarrassed through this type of deception, he had at least come out of it alive and so had Sarah; so maybe it was the best course of action to follow.
The Absence of any mention of Jacob and Esau in this narrative may suggest they remained back in the Negev looking after the possessions which Isaac couldnít bring with him to Gerar. Otherwise, the presence of two grown sons would have made it especially difficult to pass off their mother as his sister.
26:8 ISAAC WAS SPORTING WITH REBEKAH
One wonders about this surprising moral sensitivity on the part of a Philistine king. If his people were really so concerned about their morality, it seems strange that Isaac would have been so fearful of them. Either he was a poor judge of character or else the Philistine men were somehow constrained to follow a different standard with respect to Isaac and Rebekah than with others. Perhaps they had heard of the similar experience with Abraham long ago, when the nation almost died as that earlier Abimelech took Sarah into his harem. In some way, at any rate, God kept the men away from Rebekah. Then, surprisingly, Abimelech, instead of taking vengeance on Isaac for his deception, pronounced a potential capital penalty for any of his subjects who harmed either Isaac or Rebekah.
26:12 A HUNDRED-FOLD
In verse 12 occurs the first mention of seed-sowing in the Bible, along with the information that the Lord blessed it with a hundredfold increase. Seed-sowing is frequently used in the New Testament as symbolic of witnessing; and it is noteworthy that the first mention is in the familiar parable of the sower, in which the good seed likewise brought forth a hundredfold (Matthew 13:23).
26:17-25 ISAAC MOVES TO THE VALLEY OF GERARÖ..TROUBLE OVER WELLS
THE NAMES OF THE WELLS:
Isaac left some of his flocks and herds in this location, with their herdsmen, while he himself went on still farther.
26:25 HE BUILDED AN ALTAR THERE
Years ago, Abraham had made a covenant with the Philistines at Beersheba ("the Well of the Covenant," or "Well of the Seven") and had built an altar there (Genesis 21:32-34). After all the bitter experiences of recent years in Gerar, Isaac apparently felt the need to return to the place where he had been in the closest fellowship to the Lord, perhaps to find again real joy in his walk with God.
And, sure enough, God graciously met him the very first night he was back in Beersheba. God had spoken to him once before, as he was leaving the land, but he had failed to stay as close to Him as he should have there in Philistia. Now God graciously met him and assured him once again that he need not fear the Philistines or any others, for God was with him and would keep His promises, for Abrahamís sake. There Isaac built an altar of his own-apparently the only one he ever built-and worshipped the Lord, pitching his tent and instructing his servants to reopen Abrahamís well.
ISAAC MAKES OATH WITH ABIMELECH Genesis 26:26-33
26:28 THE LORD WAS WITH THEE
The same motive for seeking friendship as in Gen. 21:22 While the well-digging was under way at Beersheba, a delegation of the Philistines again appeared-this time less than king Abimelech himself, along with his chief captain Phjichol (probably a title, like Abimelech, rather than a proper name) and another man. But in contrast, this time they were on a mission of peace, possibly because Isaacís policy of nonresistance had finally shamed them. They decided that God was blessing Isaac and they saw the wisdom of staying on good terms with him.
SHEBAH (SHIBAH) Genesis 26:33 (GOOD FORTUNE - the "Well of the Oath")
26:34,35 ESAUíS WIVES
These last two verses of the chapter, dealing with Esauís wives, are best discussed in context with Genesis 27, which deals with the conflict between Jacob and Esau.
26:35 A BITTERNESS OF SPIRIT
Or, Ďa grief of mindí.í It was against the family Tradition to intermarry with these races; see Gen. 24:3; 27:46. The mention of Esauís wives is introduced here to show how faithless he was to the teachings and example of Abraham and Isaac, and therefore unworthy to be regarded as their spiritual heir to receive his fatherís blessing
THE DUKES OF ESAU
Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, Aholibamah, Elah, Pinon, Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, Magdiel and Eram.
THE MYSTERY OF JACOB AND ESAU Genesis 27-28
How Could God Love Jacob?
One of the most intriguing questions associated with Genesis and with the establishment of Godís chosen people, the children of Israel, is how God could bless and use such a person as Jacob for the accomplishment of His divine purposes for mankind. Jacob seems so obviously to be a sly schemer, a liar and deceiver, a "supplanter," a man intent only on acquiring money by whatever means he can devise. He is shrewd, crafty, covetous, with no ethical scruples except those dictated by his own self-interest. Even granting His covenant obligations to Abraham and Isaac, why would God choose Jacob instead of Esau?
There is never a single instance in the Bible of criticism of Jacob (except on the lips of Esau and Laban, both of whom are unworthy witnesses). Every time God spoke to Jacob, it was in a message of blessing and promise, never one of rebuke or chastisement. Godís judgment concerning Jacob is given in Genesis 32:28: "As a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." "Was not Esau Jacobís brother? Saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob and I hated Esau" (Malachi 1:2,3).
THE CARNALITY OF ESAUíS CHARACTER Genesis 26:34,35
The carnality of Esauís character is further confirmed in these two verses. Knowing well how cautious God had been in selecting a wife for his own father, a selection which carefully guarded the integrity of the line of the promised seed, Esau nevertheless proceeded to take a Hittite woman for his wife. No doubt also knowing that Godís will for the marriage relationship was monogamy, he compounded the insult to God and took still another Hittite woman for a second wife. He was both presumptuous and utterly unconcerned about Godís promised blessings associated with the patriarchal line.
Esau was forty years old when he married these two women; so it was hardly a matter of youthful indiscretion. It was a deliberate choice and was certainly made against the counsel of his parents, as well as against Godís will, as he well knew. These wives "were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah," probably not only because they were "daughters of Canaan" (Genesis 28:8) ands because Abraham had so carefully avoided taking one of "the daughters of the Canaanites" (Genesis 24:3) as a wife for Esauís father, but probably also because they were idolaters and ungodly in life style as well. They no doubt still further alienated Esau from concern for Godís promises and purposes, as well as His standards of holiness.
JACOB GETS ESAUíS BLESSING Genesis 27:1-29
More accurately, Ďwas listening.í To understand Rebekahís action, it is necessary to bear in mind what had been stated in Gen. 25:23. When she had inquired of the Lord about her unborn children, she had been told, Ďthe Elder shall serve the Younger.í This prophecy appeared on the point of being falsified by Isaacís intention to bestow his chief blessing upon Esau (the elder). Knowing how attached Isaac was to him.
27:12 A DECEIVER
Jacobís fear that his father would think him a "deceiver" needs a little clarification. The word in the Hebrew actually means "mocker," and seems to suggest that discovery of the plan by his father would make him seem to be mocking his fatherís blindness. This was Jacobís concern, rather than that his father would think him a liar.
27:15 GOODLY RAIMENT OF HER ELDEST SON ESAU
There is also a possibility that the "goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house," were special garments associated with the priestly functions of the head of the house. It would have been appropriate for the recipient of the fatherís commission, centering as it did in the transfer of Isaacís patriarchal commission to his son, to be so clothed. If so, it would appear that Rebekah had kept these particular garments in her own house for this purpose, since Esau quite probably lived elsewhere with his two wives. This, in any event, was an interpretation of the ancient Hebrew commentators. In this case, we would also have to assume that Esau nevertheless had worn them occasionally while in the fields, in order for the pleasant "smell of a field" to be on them.
27:20 THE LORD THY GOD SENT ME GOOD SPEED
Such words were not of the kind likely to have been spoken by the rough Esau. The name of God was probably rare on his lips. Hence Jacobís voice and statement arouses his fatherís suspicions, who requires to be assured by the very test which Jacob had dreaded, in verse 12.
27:21 COME NEAR
He asked his son to come close, so that he could feel his hands, and thereby satisfy himself that this indeed was Esau. Rebekahís preparations were good, and the skins of the goats on Jacobís hands did seem indeed like the hands of Esau. Nevertheless Isaac asked him point-blank: "Art thou my very son Esau?" And Jacob said, "I am."
Letís stop here to fully understand the situation:
It would seem that the only way of understanding this situation is to conclude that, whatever may have been wrong with the stratagem and deception of Jacob and Rebekah, the sin of Esau and Isaac was infinitely Moore grievous. God does not approve of lying, and Jacob and Rebekah well knew this. They were sensitive and spiritual people; but they had decided that, as bad as deception might be in Godís sight, it had become necessary in this case in order to prevent a much worse sin, that of blasphemously presuming to convey the most holy of Godís promises to a man who neither wanted it nor would honor it, and to do so directly in the face of Godís commandment against it. Such an eventuality surely would have incurred Godís most severe judgment on both Isaac and Esau, and this they felt they must prevent at all costs.
A somewhat parallel situation is found in Exodus 1:15-20. The Hebrew midwives deliberately disobeyed the king of Egypt (this also normally is a sin - note Romans 13:2 and I Peter 2:13) and blatantly lied to him, because to do otherwise would have been cowardly and cruel, resulting in the death of large numbers of male infants. Furthermore, Scripture says: "Therefore God dealt well with the midwives" (Exodus 1:20). There is no way of understanding this passage except that God was pleased with this particular deception practiced by these Hebrew women.
Another instance of Godís blessing on a lie was His preservation of Rahab and her family because she had the two Israelite spies and told the king of Jericho they were not there (Joshua 2:3-6; 6:25). Both Rahab and the Hebrew midwives risked their lives by their deceptions. They would seem to have been much better off, temporally speaking, to tell the truth; but this would have resulted in death to Godís people.
We have to recognize this fact, in order to do full justice to Scripture as God has revealed it to us. At the same time, we must emphasize strongley the fact that such instances as these constitute rare exceptions to the rule, and can only be justified by very special and unusual circumstances. The one overriding criterion seems to be that such an exception can at best be warranted only when a still greater principle, associated with the greater revealed purposes of God, will be sacrificed by legalistic adherence to the letter of the law.
27:23 SO HE BLESSED HIM
If that be the meaning of the Hebrew, we should expect the wording of the blessing to follow immediately. We do not, however, have that until v. 28. It is therefore possible that the Hebrew should here be rendered: Ďhe greeted him.í
27:26-29 THE BLESSING AND THE TEARS
That this blessing was definitely the same as the blessing given to Abraham and Isaac is clear from the words spoken by Isaac at its climax. First, however, Isaac referred to the material aspects of life which so occupied Esau and which had apparently increasingly concerned Isaac. He did, of course, recognize that these also were gifts of God, and so invoked Godís material blessings on his son. There is nothing in his words to suggest, however, that this also involved an actual bequeath of his own property. The latter was a transaction more associated with the birthright, which Jacob had also secured by direct purchase as well as by Godís instruction. Then, however, Isaac got to the heart of the matter, as he repeated Godís own promise to Abram: "Cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee" (Gen. 12:3). As he thought Esau: "Be lord over thy brethren, and let thy motherís sons bow down to thee." This is in direct opposition to Godís statement in Gen. 25:23.
In any case, he did pronounce the blessing; and he did so under the inspiration of God, even though he himself was trying to thwart the will of God as he was speaking. Just so, many years later, the prophet Balaam was forced to bless Israel even against his will (Numbers 23:11,12). In Jesusí day, likewise , the high priest spoke prophetically of the meaning of Jesusí death, though he himself did not understand the real import of what he was saying (John 11:49-52). The blessing which, by Godís command, should have gone to Jacob was indeed pronounced by his father on Jacob.
ESAU DISCOVERS THE DECEIT 27:30-40
27:30 JACOB WAS YET SCARCE GONE OUT
The fine timing of Godís counsel, as well as a capsule commentary on the urgency of the drama from Jacobís standpoint, is shown by the immediate arrival of Esau on the scene, just as Jacob left Isaacís presence.Though Esau had despised his birthright enough to sell it to Jacob, and though he had no real interest in the spiritual aspects of the blessing, he did understand enough about it to realize it would include political and military superiority for himself and his children.
27:32 WHO ART THOU?
Then it began to dawn on Isaac what had happened. He answered haltingly: "But if you are Esau, who was it who has just brought me venison and received my blessing?" Who, indeed! The truth suddenly came home to Isaac like a mighty blast of icy wind. In spite of all his intentions, God had overruled, and he had blessed Jacob instead of Esau. Furthermore, he realized that he had been deceived by his beloved wife and his faithful son, in order to prevent him from doing what he knew he had no right to do. God had spoken through him in spite of himself; so he told Esau: "Therefore, Jacob indeed shall receive the blessing." This was clearly the will of God, and there was nothing he could do to change that! He had tried to do so, but God had stopped him.
27:33 ISAAC TREMBLED VERY EXCEEDINGLY
Hebrew scholars tell us the original language is extremely graphic, something like "Isaac trembled most excessively with a great trembling." Emotions of all sorts overwhelmed him. Anger with
Jacob, concern over Esau, grief over Rebekahís act, resentment at having his own plans thwarted-all these contributed to his trembling. But far more than any of these, he quickly came to see that God Himself had spoken to him in judgment, and that he had incurred great peril to himself in so ignoring the will of God. He had betrayed the trust of his father Abraham and had practically destroyed his own home, all because of a carnal appetite and adulation of his sonís physical exploits. These thoughts (and who knows what others) flooded upon him. Indeed, it was enough to make a man exceedingly quake and shake.
27:36 HE HATH SUPPLANTED ME THESE TWO TIMES
He commented on the relevance of Jacobís very name to the situation. It will be recalled that he was named "Jacob" because, as he was born, he was holding his brother by the heel. The name means something like "heel-gripper" and, therefore, by extension, "one who trips another by the heel." If someone overtakes another by tripping him up by the heel, then he will supplant him in the race. By this kind of etymology, "Jacob" came to mean "supplanter." Esauís anger and frustration were very bitter.
27:38 ESAU LIFTED UP HIS VOICE, AND WEPT
The sad commentary in Hebrews refers to his pleading in these words: "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears" (Hebrews 12:16,17). The benediction, having been uttered, was irrevocable. There was no way of changing Godís mind.
27:39,40 THE PROPHECY
Isaac did finally, no doubt as God led him, make a prophecy concerning Esau. Esau (meaning his descendants) would, in contrast to Jacob, dwell in a region away from the fertile and well-watered places of the earth. The King James translation is apparently not quite correct at this point: the words "away from" should be inserted ("thy dwelling shall be away from the fatness of the earth"). This was fulfilled by the very nature of the rugged region that came to be known as the land of Edom. The Edomites would generally live in violence and in subjection to Israel. However, whenever he would "shake himself" (not "have dominion," as in the King James Version), he would be able to loosen the yoke. The Edomites remained essentially independent, however, until Davidís time. Finally, Edom disappeared completely as a nation.
27:40 BY THY SWORD SHALT THOU LIVE
In other words, by campaigns of plunder. The life of marauders dwelling in mountain fastnesses will be his. He will raid his brotherís borders, and cut off the merchants traveling with their caravans. We read of revolts on the part of the Edomites in I Kings 11:14, and 2 Kings 8:20.
ESAU SEEKS REVENGE 27:41-46
27:41 THEN WILL I SLAY MY BROTHER JACOB
Uttered in the hearing of some of the servants, his threatening words were brought to his motherís attention. Again showing herself to be a woman of quick decision, she called Jacob and instructed him to leave the house "for a few days," in order to visit her brother Laban in Haran. Knowing Esauís nature, she assumed his anger would pass away quickly and he would soon return to his carefree ways.
However, her "few days" turned out to be over twenty years! So far as the record goes, she never saw Jacob again after that day. Her stratagem did indeed prove costly to her, but it would have been worse had Esau actually slain Jacob. As a matter of fact, later events proved that she was correct. Esau did soon forget his anger, and he did prosper quite adequately in a material sense, which was really all he cared about (Genesis 33:1,4,9). Isaac repented and gave Jacob his sincere blessing, instructing him to marry a woman of their own people, not a Canaanite, as Esau had done (Genesis 28:1-4). Rebekah was never able, however, to "send and fetch" Jacob from Laban, as she had planned-for what reason we are not told. We do not know when Rebekah died; all we know about later events concerning her has to do with her burial in the cave of Machpelah, along with Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac (Genesis 49:30,31).
THE FLIGHT OF JACOB
28:8 DAUGHTERS OF CANAAN PLEASED NOT ISAAC
Esau perhaps thought until this point that he still had the full backing of Isaac; but now, knowing that Isaac had again blessed Jacob much more specifically this time, and without any question of deception, he realized that he himself was on dangerous ground. The fact that Isaac had sent Jacob far away to find a wife from Rebekahís people emphasized to Esau that his father, as well as his mother, was highly displeased with Esauís choice of wives.
28:9 THEN WENT ESAU UNTO ISHMAEL
In a belated attempt to partially correct this situation, Esau went to the home of his Uncle Ishmael (Ishmael himself was already dead at this time) and secured one of his daughters, Mahalath (probably the same as Bashemath in Genesis 36:3), as another wife. But even in this attempt, he still was wrong, because Ishmael and his descendants had already been cast out by God, so far as the national promises were concerned.
As to why God allowed these developments, resulting in Jacobís prolonged absence from home (rather than, as in Isaacís case, the dispatch of a servant to find a wife for him), it can be said that Jacobís roll in establishing the tribes of Israel required the strengthening of his character through a long period of forced dependence on God alone. He had spent many decades in a rather restrictive family situation, dominated in many respects by his mother but also affected seriously by his brotherís wordiness and his fatherís weakness. It was essential that he get out on his own if his character and faith were ever to be built into the stature which his role in Godís economy would require. Though it is one of Godís commandments that young people honor their parents, the time must also come when a man must "leave his father and his mother" if he is to fulfill Godís will for his own life, especially when he takes a wife (Genesis 2:24).
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN Genesis 28:10-22
(The ladder is Jesus John 1:51)
As Jacob started out on the long road northward, all he had to go on were the promises implicit in Godís blessing. He was alone and traveling light, hastening to escape the wrath of his brother. He had no caravan to sustain him, not even a tent under which he could rest. There were no armed servants to protect him against beasts or bandits, and he was not a huntsman like Esau, experienced in living off the land by his skill with spear and bow. Rebekah no doubt had packed such food and other supplies as he could carry on his back, and presumably he had money with which to purchase the necessaries as he traveled, but otherwise he was alone in a strange and dangerous country. Except for God, that is!
28:10 WENT TOWARD HARAN
So far as the record goes, Jacob had spent most of his life to date in the family home in Beersheba (Gen. 22:19; 26:33; 28:10). It was five hundred miles to Haran and, even though he no doubt had either a camel or ass to ride on, it would be many weeks before he could hope to reach his destination. The region around the town of Haran was called Padan-aram (meaning, probably, the "field of Aram," Aram having come essentially to mean the land of Syria).
28:11 THE PLACE
In the Hebrew it is Ďupon the placeí. The Rabbis stress the definite article in the Hebrew idiom, and state that if was Mount Moriah.
It was near Bethel that Abraham had built an altar (Genesis 12:8; 13:3,4), and this was a place to which Jacob would later return (Genesis 35:1). Bethel would become to him a lifelong memorial of Godís promises to him and of His ability to fulfill those promises. The word Bethel itself means "the house of God." Though it was to have many such sacred connotations and memories, apostasy eventually developed there, over a thousand years later, and it had to be destroyed (I Kings 12:28-33; II Kings 23:15-17).
28:12 AND HE DREAMED
It was on this occasion, as Jacob slept on the stones of Bethel, that God once again came down in a theophany (Manifestation of God in human form), the first of about eight which Jacob would experience during his lifetime.
This theophany was in the form of a dream. Though not the only way-or even the usual way-in which God had appeared to men in these ancient times, such a means was certainly used on many occasions. "God at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets" (Hebrews 1:1).
The dominant feature of Jacobís dream was a mighty ladder (see St. John 1:51), reaching from the earth far up into the sky and even into the very heaven of Godís presence itself. The ladder was wide as well as high, so that streams of heavenly angels could be seen going both up and down the ladder simultaneously.
It is to be noted that the angels are First mentioned as Ascending, as though they had been accompanying Jacob on his journey for protection.
28:12 A LADDER
It is obvious that this was no ordinary ladder. The word is the Hebrew sullam, and is used only this one time in the Bible. Whatever its exact form may have been, it clearly pictured to Jacob the interrelationships of earth and heaven. Angels are normally invisible to human eyes, Scripture teaches that there does indeed exist "an innumerable company of angels" (Hebrews 12:22), that these are mighty beings "angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word" (Psalm 103:20), and that their main function is to serve as "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). They take very special interest in Godís people and in the working out of their salvation and growth in grace (Luke 15:10; I Corinthians 4:9; Ephesians 3:10; I Peter 1:12; Psalm 91:11).
In the accomplishment of their ministries on behalf of the heirs of salvation, there is frequent occasion for liaison between earth and heaven (II Kings 6:17; II Chronicles 18:18,19; Job 1:6; 2:1; Daniel 9:21-23; 10:10-13; Mark 1:13; Luke 22:43; Acts 12:11; 27:23). Angels therefore do move back and forth, up and down, between God and man, as they carry out their assignments from God on behalf of men.
Almost two thousand years in the future from Jacobís day, a devout Israelite named Nathanael was meditating on the things of God, and quite probably was reading in Scripture this very account of Jacobís dream, wondering himself how it would ever be possible for there to be a reconciliation between man and God, how there could ever be a real ladder from earth to heaven. He knew that, somehow, all these promises were centered in the promised Messiah; But would Messiah ever come?
As he was meditating and praying about these matters under his fig tree, a dear friend of his suddenly appeared, Philip, knowing Nathanielís great interest in these spiritual matters, excitedly told him of Jesus and urged him to come meet the One who was indeed the Messiah! Nathanael was skeptical at first, but Jesus soon convinced him, telling him things about himself and his activities which He could only have known supernaturally. And it was then that Jesus made the tremendous claim and promise, referring to Jacobís dream: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51).
In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ claimed that He Himself was Jacobís Ladder, the one means by which one could go from earth to heaven. He is the Way, He is the one Mediator, between man and God. All the infinite ministries and activities of the mighty angels depend on Him. He is none other than God, the Creator, the Sustainer, and the Redeemer of all things.
Throughout in past ages angels had frequently traveled from heaven to earth and back again, at the time when Jesus spoke these words, "no man [had] ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (John 3:13). The preincarnate Christ (The Word) had on occasion come down to speak to man, as was true on this very occasion as Jacob slept, and sometimes such theophanies were in the "appearance" of men. But now, finally, God had actually become man and had entered the earthly sphere to redeem man, as He had promised. After His crucifixion and descent into Hades, Jesus rose from the dead and opened the way henceforth into the presence of God. "When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things)" (Ephesians 4:8-10).
From that time on, whenever a believer died, his spirit would enter directly into heaven "to be with Christ" (Philippians 1:23), "to be present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:8). Angels would accompany him up the ladder (Luke 16:22) from earth to heaven. When the Lord finally comes to earth again, to complete His work of reconciliation, He "shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels" (II Thessalonians 1:7). Quite literally, at that time, the angels will be "descending upon the Son of man."
28:13 I AM THE LORD
As Jacob marveled at the ladder in his dream, he saw God Himself standing above the ladder and heard Him speak words of blessing, repeating all the promises He had made to Abraham and Isaac concerning the Seed and the Land. Regarding his own immediate situation, God promised Jacob that He would be with him wherever he would go, protecting him, and then one day bringing him back to the land he was leaving.
It should be noted again that God did not offer a single word of rebuke to Jacob, but only of blessing and promise. Jacobís character and actions should be built on Godís evaluation.
28:18 FOR A PILLAR
Not intended as an altar or as an act of worship, but to mark the spot where he had the fateful dream-vision. He hoped to come back at a later time to erect a Sanctuary on the spot. (see v. 22)
The holy place Beth-el was outside the old city of Luz. Jacob did not spend the night in Luz but on its outskirts. We learn from Chapter 19 of the dangers which might attend a traveler who entered a strange town at night.
Jacob resolved to devote a part of the prosperity which God had promised him to His service. This is the first mention of a Vow in the Bible. So Jacobís vow, therefore, was given in appreciation of Godís promise, not because of legal compulsion or as a means of assuring Godís blessings. Godís promise had been unconditional and hence did not require the payment of tithes to keep it in force. It is legitimate, in the Hebrew to read Jacobís statement in this way:
"Since [instead of "if] God will be with me, and will keep meÖ.then shall Jehovah be my GodÖ..and
of all that thou givest me I will surely give the tenth to thee."
Later, tithing would become a definite obligation of the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:21,24), and it actually was a political law among many ancient kingdoms (a form of taxation, that is). But so far as both Abraham and Jacob were concerned, it was purely voluntary, as an expression of their thanksgiving to God.