The conflict between the two brothers continued to the point of a murder-threat. The narrative focused on Jacob, who was forced to leave home due to the threat and at the same time, was commanded to go to an unfamiliar place for safety. Jacob’s journey teaches us about obedience, God’s providence in midst of hopelessness and personal relationship and trust with the Lord.
Did You Know...?
- Haran (27:43) is also called the “city of Nahor” (Gen 24:10). The city stood on the river Belik, an affluent of the Euphrates about 70 miles above where it joins that river in Padan-Aram (Upper Mesopotamia). [ref]
- Padan-Aram (28:2) is the plain of Aram (Gen 25:20, 28:2, 5-7, 31:18) and commonly regarded as the region of Mesopotamia lying around Haran. [ref]
- God Almighty (28:3): In Hebrew, the pronunciation of this expression is “El-Shaddai.” This specific reference of the God Almighty is recorded in Gen 17:1, 35:11, 43:14, 48:3; Ex 6:3 and Ezek 10:5. In some other parts of the Scriptures, the term “El-Shaddai” is simply shortened as “Shaddai” or “The Almighty.”
- From Beersheba toward Haran (28:10): The distance between the two places is around 435 miles. [ref]
- Bethel (28:19) in Hebrew can be literally translated as “the house of God.”
- Luz (28:19) can be literally translated in Hebrew as “almond tree, almond wood” [ref] or “to turn aside, depart.” [ref]
Why did Esau hate Jacob? And what did he propose to do?
What warning does this passage give us concerning hatred?Hide Answer
Esau’s hatred began to emerge when Jacob took his blessing, which led Esau to the thought and plan of killing his brother, Jacob (Gen 27:41). This narrative is similar to the narrative of Cain, who killed his brother, Abel, out of his anger and jealousy over the Lord’s acceptance of Abel’s offering (Gen 4:4-8). The example of Esau warns us that when we are influenced by hatred, we are prone to do other evil things. The apostle Paul emphasizes to us that hatred is listed as one of the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19-20). Once we live according to the lust of the flesh, then we are led to do things which we do not wish, such as: contentions, jealousies, selfish ambitions, dissensions and so on—the things which Esau and Cain did to their brothers.
What was Rebekah’s command to Jacob?
How did Rebekah’s command affect her two sons? Affecting Jacob;Hide Answer
Rebekah commanded Jacob to flee from his brother. Jacob was a mild-man who dwelled in tents (Gen 25:27). The command of Rebekah forced Jacob to leave his home in fear of being killed by Esau. In other words, Rebekah’s command caused Jacob to live in fear after he was separated from his brother. This fear continued even years after Jacob had his own families and about to return home (Gen 32:3-11).
Affecting Esau;Hide Answer
Rebekah’s decision to send Jacob away caused the fury of Esau became unresolved. Rebekah expected Esau’s anger to subside after a period of time so that she could send someone to fetch Jacob home. But she never did, which meant that Esau’s fury never subsided. Rebekah’s decision to send Jacob away caused Esau to live in fury. Even after twenty years later, when Esau heard news concerning Jacob’s location, he went to meet him with four hundred men—ready to wage war and to kill Jacob (Gen 32:3-5).
Share your experience in mediating or solving family conflicts:(The answer is empty)Hide Answer
What made Rebekah bereave her two sons in one day in Genesis 27:45? Jacob;Hide Answer
The book of Genesis explains that Rebekah loved Jacob (Gen 25:28). On one hand, sending Jacob away from her was indeed a heart-breaking decision, especially knowing that Jacob would leave her for an unpredictable amount of time. On the other hand, Rebekah’s sadness was due to the knowledge that Jacob was about to be killed by Esau.
Rebekah’s sadness with Esau was caused by Esau’s intention to kill his brother, the younger son of Rebekah (Gen 27:42). Both Esau and Jacob, were the twin-sons of Rebekah given by the Lord in her barrenness (Gen 25:21-24), yet in their life journey, the older one intended to eliminate the younger one. This was the irony that Rebekah, their mother, could not accept.
Apart from sending Jacob away, what else did Rebekah propose to Isaac?
How did Rebekah think of the wives chosen by Esau? What do you think cause the grief of Rebekah from the Hittite women? See Lev 20:33.Hide Answer
In responding to the wives of Esau, Rebekah felt that her life was weary and there was no more good in her life (Gen 27:46). According to the scriptures, the grief of Rebekah towards the daughters of Heth can be caused by their corrupt lifestyles. The book of Leviticus mentions how the Lord detested the customs of the Canaanites, such as the sexual perversion committed among them (Lev 20:10-23). Thus, Rebekah emphasized to her husband, Isaac, that the customs and the lifestyles of the daughters of Heth, the ones who stayed with Rebekah, had caused nothing good in her life.
What were the commands of Isaac to Jacob?
What were the blessings given to Jacob?Hide Answer
Before sending Jacob away to Padan Aram, Isaac blessed Jacob, “May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may be an assembly of peoples; and give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham” (Gen 28:3-4).
In Genesis 27:27-29, Isaac blessed his son out of the family custom to give blessings to the first-born before the day of his death (Gen 27:1-4). When Isaac realized that Jacob had deceived him to obtain the blessings of the first-born, Isaac trembled exceedingly for it was not his intention to bless Jacob (Gen 27:33, 35). But in Gen 28:3-4, Isaac acknowledged the blessings for Jacob. Here, Isaac even blessed Jacob the blessings which God gave to Abraham. Isaac’s acknowledgement of the blessings of Jacob showed that Isaac finally accepted the prophecy of the Lord to Rebekah concerning the younger son’s supremacy over the older (Gen 25:23).
Isaac’s change of attitude serves as an important lesson for us. Acknowledging Jacob’s blessings which were supposed to be for Esau meant that Isaac must set aside his personal will of favoring his first-born, Esau. Obedience to accept God’s decision requires not only the humility to accept one’s wrongdoings but also the willingness to completely follow God’s will though it contradicts with one’s own.
How did Esau’s decision of choosing a wife differ from that of Jacob’s?
What did Esau do next after learning of his father’s reaction toward his Canaanite wives?
Why did Esau do such a deed?Hide Answer
Esau took the daughter of Ishmael, in addition to the wives he had, to regain the favor of his father, Isaac. Esau saw that Isaac now favored Jacob, by blessing him with the blessings of Abraham before Isaac sent Jacob away to Padan Aram (Gen 28:6-7). The blessing which were supposed to be for Esau, now fell into the very brother who had deceived him. By taking Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, Esau tried to prove to Isaac, his father, that he also now became a part of the descendants of Abraham. Thus, Esau should also be entitled to the blessings of Abraham.
Moreover, both Isaac and Rebekah disliked the wives of Esau, who were the daughters of Canaan (Gen 28:8). Taking Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, was an attempt of Esau to gain the favor of his father and mother of having a wife from their own kindred.
What did Isaac and Rebekah feel about Esau’s latter decision?Hide Answer
Esau took Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael in addition to the wives he had. Previously, in Genesis 21:10-12, Ishmael and Hagar, his mother, were cast out by Abraham and could not be an heir with Isaac. Even when Abraham was still alive, he sent away his sons of the concubines eastward, away from Isaac (Gen 25:6). Now, Esau brought back the descendant of the cast-out into the dwelling of the promised heir. In the eyes of Isaac and Rebekah, not only did Esau rebell against the decision which God and Abraham had performed, but Esau’s action also belittled and despised the warning and the reason of the casting out.
What was the dream of Jacob?Hide Answer
When Jacob arrived at a certain place, he lay down in that place to sleep (Gen 28:11). Then Jacob dreamed of a ladder which was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven. There, while the angels of God were ascending and descending on it, the Lord God stood above it (Gen 28:12-13).
How did God introduce Himself to Jacob?
What was the significance of the introduction from the Lord to Jacob?Hide Answer
The Lord God introduced Himself to Jacob as the Lord God of Abraham, his father, and the God of Isaac (Gen 28:13). A similar introduction was made by the Lord to Isaac in Genesis 26:24. Both names were closely related to Jacob. Isaac was his father and Abraham was his grandfather. The purpose of the introduction from God was to let Jacob know that the Lord had a personal relationship with both his father and his grandfather. Thus, through the introduction, the Lord wants to build a personal relationship and covenant with Jacob, just as He has built personal relationships and covenant with Abraham and Isaac.
What were the promises of the Lord to Jacob?Hide Answer
After the Lord had introduced Himself to Jacob in his dream, He promised Jacob that the land on which he lay, God would give to him and to his descendants. Furthermore, the Lord assured Jacob that his descendants would be as the dust of the earth and Jacob would spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south. In Jacob and in his seed, all the families of the earth would be blessed. In addition, God promised Jacob that He would be with him and would keep him wherever he went, and would bring him back to this land (Gen 28:13-15).
According to Genesis 28:12, the ladder was set up on the earth and its top reached to heaven. And the Lord stood above it (Gen 28:13). The ladder was set up on the place where Jacob had lain and which would be given to Jacob and his descendants. The ladder whose top reached to heaven with the Lord standing above it signifies the establishment of the eternal covenant between God and Jacob and his descendants. In other words, through the covenant, the connection between the earth and the heaven was set. Jacob and his descendants would be God’s people and the Lord would be their God, just as the Lord had promised to Abraham in Genesis 17:7-8. In addition, the gospel of John mentions that the ladder signifies the Lord Jesus who was the realization of the covenant between God and His people (Jn 1:51).
The descending and ascending of the angels of God;Hide Answer
Genesis 28:12 narrates how the angels in Jacob’s dream were ascending and descending on the ladder. In the gospel of John, the writer describes how the Lord Jesus referenced the dream of Jacob and explained that the angels were ascending and descending on the Son of Man (Jn 1:51). The ascending and descending of angels signifies that the angels are at their ministry through the Lord’s command. In His promise to Jacob, the Lord assured him that He would be with him and keep him wherever he went (Gen 28:15). The Scriptures several times also mention how the angel of the Lord is sent by God to protect, to keep (Ex 23:20) and to encamp with the people of God (Ps 34:7).
Why did Jacob not know the Lord’s presence?Hide Answer
After he woke up from his dream, Jacob realized that the Lord was there but he did not know it (Gen 28:16). Jacob’s unawareness of the Lord’s presence stemmed from the conditions which he had fallen into. Apart from being sent away to find a wife in Padan Aram, Jacob was actually forced to leave his home and parents. He left his home in loneliness, in fear of being killed and in guilt of deceiving his brother. In addition, Jacob left home in uncertainty of his safety in the journey, of the food to be eaten or of the clothes to be worn—the worries of his livelihood (Gen 28:20). All of these became a hindrance to Jacob to know the presence and the guidance of the Lord in his life.
Under what conditions might we ignore the presence and guidance of the Lord in our life?Hide Answer
The worries of life made Jacob unaware of the Lord’s presence. Similarly, the worries and the troubles which we face in our life cause us to be distracted to the promise of the Lord’s protection. The writer of the gospel of Luke mentions that the cares or worries of life are like thorns which choke our spiritual lives and cause us to bring no fruit to maturity (Lk 8:14). Thus, drowning ourselves in the worries of life will eventually choke our spirituality, causing us to disregard any guidance and providence from the Lord.
What did Jacob call the place where he had his dream? For what reasons?Hide Answer
After Jacob woke up from his sleep, he was afraid and said that the place was awesome and was none other than the house of God, the gate of heaven (Gen 28:17). Jacob’s words here showed that he was filled with the sense of awe to God’s power and thankfulness to God’s promise of guidance. Furthermore, Jacob’s words reflected his sense of comfort from the Lord for all his worries, burdens and troubles of life which he carried along in his journey.
What did Jacob do with the place?
Why did Jacob do so and what can we learn from his deeds about faith and worship?Hide Answer
Jacob’s setting up of a pillar and calling that place the house of God was similar to the act of his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham. When the Lord appeared to Isaac and strengthened him, Isaac built an altar and called on the name of the Lord (Gen 26:24-25). Furthermore, after the Lord appeared and promised Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, he built an altar and called on the name of the Lord (Gen 12:7-8). While Isaac did so against his distress, Abraham did the act against his uncertainty of his journey. Here, Jacob set up the pillar and called the name of that place the house of God against of his fear, distress, hopelessness and uncertainty of his journey and future.
Calling on the name of the Lord in times of distress is found elsewhere in the Bible. According to the Psalmist, one calls upon the Lord when one is in distress (Ps 18:6). The prophet Jeremiah in his sighing and crying for help also called on the name of the Lord (Lam 3:55-56). In
1 Kings 8:50-52, when the Israelites were calling on the name of the Lord, they presented their supplication and their need for God’s compassion in their lives. Additionally, from the example of Jabez in the book of First Chronicles, the act of calling on the name of the Lord signifies the request of God’s blessing and guidance in life (1 Chr 4:10). Therefore, Jacob’s acts of setting up the pillar and calling the name of that place the house of God are reflections of a personal relationship with the Lord, thanking and being comforted by the Lord’s guidance to ease Jacob’s distress and hopelessness of his future.
Jacob’s deeds teach us the importance of building a personal relationship with the Lord. The introduction of the Lord to Jacob and Jacob’s response to Him show us that the worship of God involves a personal level between God and us. Not only does God know our distress and uncertainty, He also will comfort and give us hope and guidance in our troubles. However, the worship of God requires faith and trust from our side toward His promise of protection.
What were the vows of Jacob?Hide Answer
After Jacob had set up a pillar, he made a vow to God consisting of three parts. The first part described Jacob’s plea of God’s providence: “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on” (Gen 28:20). And the second part described Jacob’s statement of commitment to God: “So that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God” (Gen 28:21). Lastly, the third part described Jacob’s promise for the LORD: “And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will surely give a tenth to you” (Gen 28:20-22).
Share your personal “vows” or commitment which you have made with the Lord.(The answer is empty)Hide Answer