A. Isaac blesses Jacob and sends him to Padanaram.
a. Jacob obtained Isaac’s blessing through fraud. We mean that Jacob deceived his father, regardless now of the question whether Isaac was actually deceived or not.
b. What does this emphasize? It emphasizes that God blessed Jacob in spite of his fraud. It emphasizes Jacob’s sinful nature and that God loved him, sovereignly and not because of any good in him.
2. Isaac blesses Jacob and sends him away.
a. Why does Isaac do this, seeing that Rebecca had told Jacob the same?—Ch. 27:43. Is this because of Isaac’s position as the patriarchal head of the family; and thus the authority to do so rests with him?
b. Was Rebecca only concerned about Jacob’s safety?—Ch. 27:42-46.
c. Why may Jacob not marry a woman of Canaan? Why a woman of Padanaram? Does this have anything to say to us?
d. Do verses 1-4 of Ch. 28 establish again Isaac’s faith, that he believes the word of God that the “elder would serve the younger” and that “in Isaac shall thy seed be called”?
3. Meaning of the blessing of Abraham.
a. See Gen. 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 17:2, 4-6; 18:18; 22:17; 26:4, 24.
b. Who are the seed of Abraham?—see Gal. 3:16, 22, 28-29.
c. The blessing of Abraham is the promise of God to give unto him and his seed (all the elect in Christ, of the Old and New Dispensation) the land of Canaan, type of the heavenly Canaan; hence, the promise of God to translate all His elect Church, in and through Christ Jesus, into heavenly glory, the heavenly City, the Father’s house with its many mansions.
B. Esau’s reaction—Verses 6-9.
1. What prompted him to act as he did?
a. Notice the facts.
1/ One, he saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob. This refers not only to Ch. 27:35, but also to Isaac’s renewal of the blessing in Ch. 28:1-4.
2/ Secondly, he saw that Isaac had sent Jacob to Padanaram to take a wife from thence.
3/ Thirdly, he knew of Isaac’s charge to Jacob not to take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
4/ Fourthly, he knew that Jacob had obeyed his father.
5/ Fifthly, he knew that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac.
b. Hence, was he prompted by a carnal hope that the blessing might still become his?
1/ Did he reason that Jacob was now gone?
2/ Did he try to appease his father by marrying a daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son?
3/ However, he must have known that Jacob went to Padanaram only to get a wife and that he, therefore, would return.
2. How to be explained.
a. One, Isaac had blessed Jacob. So, that was settled.
b. Secondly, Jacob had fled and Isaac was still alive. Hence, his resolve to kill Jacob was as of now impossible. Notice what we read in Ch. 27:41.
c. Thirdly, Esau is spiritually wholly carnal and superficial. He does not care for God’s covenant. So, he will “smother” his guilt because of having been outwitted by Jacob and marry another woman. Only, he sympathizes with Isaac, who had always befriended him and imagines that his father will feel better toward him by marrying “into the family”, a daughter of Ishmael. Of course, this new wife of Esau is just as carnal as he is.
d. In all this, Esau remains wicked and does not repent.
C. Jacob at Bethel.
1. The place called “Bethel”.
a. Bethel was approximately 40 miles from Jacob’s parental home at Beersheba (Ch. 26:23-25).
b. What do we know of Bethel? See Gen. 12:8, 13:3.
c. That Jacob meets the Lord at Bethel surely indicates that he is in the covenant way of God’s promise to Abraham, meeting the Lord where Jehovah had also blessed Abraham. Abraham had made an altar to call upon the name of the Lord at this place.
d. This place was a dreary place, according to Edersheim. It was an uneven valley, covered, as with gravestones, by large sheets of bare rock. It was a lonely, weird place, this valley of stones, in which to set up quarters for the night.
2. Jacob called the name of this place Bethel.—verse 18.
a. The name of the city was called Luz, later changed to Bethel. Jacob called the place where he slept Bethel; he was in the vicinity of Luz. Later the name Bethel was transferred to the city.
b. What is the meaning of Bethel? Why did Jacob call it Bethel? Such a lonely and weird place Bethel? How can this be?
c. Churches are often called Bethel. What really makes any church Bethel? Is our church a Bethel church?
3. Jacob’s dream.
a. What is the significance of dreams in the Old Testament?—see Gen. 40, 41:1-7. Are our dreams significant? What are dreams? Dreams in the Bible are Divine media of revelation. In the Old Testament, God’s revelation was not complete. We have the full Bible.
b. What was his dream?
c. See the reference to it in John 1:51.
d. God reveals Himself to a sleeping Jacob. Jacob is asleep. Hence, this communication is wholly of the Lord and Jacob is completely passive.
e. This ladder connects Jacob with the Lord, who stood above the ladder, heaven with earth. The angels, ascending and descending, emphasize he bond uniting God with Jacob.
f. What does God promise Jacob here?
g. Can we say that Christ is really this ladder? Is He our fellowship with God? How? Is Christ our fellowship with God, at His birth, on the cross, as the Lord of lords?
4. Verses 16-17.
a. Why was Jacob afraid? Are God’s people always afraid when confronted by God’s revelation of Himself? See many passages, such as Luke 1:12, 29-30; 24:5, etc. I know only of one who is not afraid, namely Mary Magdalena, in John 20. Would we be afraid if suddenly confronted by God or His angels? Why? Explain the contrast between God’s holiness and us.
b. The “Lord” of verse 16 is Jehovah. What does this name mean?—see Ex. 3:14. This is God’s covenant name. Why? Here Jacob declares that the covenant God, not merely God, had revealed Himself to him.
c. Why is the “House of God” a dreadful place? How does it become beautiful?
5. Verses 18-22.
a. In verse 18, Jacob dedicates the stone (his pillow, which had been “Bethel”) and he does so by pouring oil upon the top of it.
b. Jacob’s vow.
1/ Does Jacob here bargain with the Lord? Doesn’t it sound like a bargain? And, if so, it would be a good bargain, wouldn’t it? Keep 9/10 and give the Lord 1/10?
2/ Does Jacob mean that if he would not come back he would no longer serve God, but idols? Isn’t this impossible of Jacob? He is surely a child of God. Did he doubt whether he would return?
3/ Doesn’t Jacob rather mean that if the Lord will preserve him and return him to his father’s house and Canaan (after all, Canaan was the promised land in the promise of Abraham), then this will assure him that the Lord Jehovah is his God.
4/ And he vows in verse 22 to return to this place and give a tenth to God of all he had received. This was fulfilled in Gen 35:1-15. A tenth or tithe does not mean that we may keep everything else for ourselves. But it does mean that we recognize all as received of the Lord.
A. Jacob’s arrival in Padanaram—verses 1-14.
1. How far, approximately, is it from Beersheba to Haran in Padanaram?
2. What must have lived in Jacob’s soul as he journeyed to his uncle’s home?
3. Did the Lord guide Jacob on his way? Was it merely accidental that he and these flocks should meet here at the well at this time?
4. What was the custom to which verse 7 refers?
5. How do we explain Jacob’s rolling away of the stone from the well’s mouth?
a. Describe a well such as mentioned in this chapter.
b. Was Jacob as strong as all the shepherds of these flocks; were these “shepherds” mere boys; or, could one man remove the stone, but must wait until the several flocks had gathered?
6. How must we understand verse 11? Was this “love at first sight”? Or, is it more plausible to assume that Jacob felt happy because the Lord had led him to the goal of his flight?
7. What are “all these things” of verse 13? Does Jacob merely refer to the verses 1-12? Did “these things” also include Jacob’s full introduction of himself to Laban? Is this latter thought suggested in verse 14? And, wouldn’t he explain to Laban his action of verse 11?
B. Jacob’s double marriage—verses 14-35.
1. How was Jacob related to Laban?—verse 13
2. What do we know of Laban?—Gen. 24:29-31, 18-19, 26; 30:27; 31:2, 7, 8, 14-15, 19, 22-24, 39-42.
a. How did he treat Jacob during these 20 years? As an uncle should treat his nephew? Or, as a miser who would use him for material advantage?
b. Did he fear God?
c. Did his daughters respect him?
d. Did he treat Jacob fairly and honestly?
e. Is he not one of the most miserable, carnal, selfish, miserly characters in Holy Writ?
3. Jacob’s marriage with Leah.
a. What do we read of Leah in verse 17? What does this mean? Of Rachel in verse 17?
b. What did Laban learn about Jacob the first month of Jacob’s stay?—see verse 14. Did Laban watch him closely to ascertain whether he could use Jacob for his advantage?
c. How must we understand verse 15? Did Laban surmise, after the first month, that Jacob loved Rachel? Could and did he notice this? What do you think Laban expected Jacob to answer to his question of verse 15?
d. Did Laban sell his daughter to Jacob? It is said that a man was expected to pay a dowry. What is a dowry, its purpose? Did Laban have cause to fear that Jacob could not provide for his daughter? Although Jacob was poor now, would he remain poor?
e. What must we think of Laban’s deception?—verse 25.
1/ Was Leah guilty also? If we bear in mind that a woman had no choice in the selection of her husband, to what extent was she guilty? Should she have revealed herself to Jacob? Did she agree with Laban’s decision to “marry her off” to Jacob because she loved Jacob for God’s sake and the sake of His covenant?
2/ Is Laban’s excuse of verse 26 valid? Why not?—see verses 18-19.
f. Did Jacob have this deception of Laban “coming to him”? Why?
g. Why did not Jacob seek annulment of his marriage with Leah? Is it possible that he recognized in the God fearing Leah God’s gift to him?
4. Jacob’s marriage with Rachel.
a. Was this double marriage sin on Jacob’s part? Why? Did the result of this sin reveal itself in Jacob’s home and family? Can a man love more than one wife? What terrible evil showed up in Jacob’s family?
b. Was it sin for Jacob to marry Rachel only because she was so beautiful? Why had he come to Padanaram? Should he have satisfied himself with a wife of God’s choice? Should he have sought such a wife? Was he really interested in God’s covenant and promise when he insisted on Rachel?
c. Presuppose that Jacob had been satisfied with Leah. How long, then, would he have stayed in Padanaram? Does not his sin of marrying Rachel extend his stay; add to his misery, also in his later family life?
d. Yet, God chose Leah to be the mother of Judah. Jacob wanted Rachel; Laban gave him Leah so that Jacob could work 7 more years for him; God willed that Leah be the mother of the covenant line that runs into Christ, through Judah.
e. When did Jacob marry Rachel, after he worked 7 or 14 years for Laban?
5. Leah’s children.
a. Was the Lord gracious to Leah?—see verse 31. Did He help her in her affliction? By whom was she hated? Why did God fearing women desire children so intensely?
b. What is the meaning of the names of Leah’s first 4 sons? Why did she call them thus?
c. What name does she give God in the verses 32-35? What is the meaning of this Name?
d. Does Leah’s mentioning of this Name reveal her faith in the promise and God’s faithfulness to maintain His promise? Did Leah here reveal her faith in the truth that God would fulfill His promise in the line of Abraham-Isaac-Jacob?
A. Jealousy in Jacob’s household.
1. Is this jealousy to be expected? Why?
2. Rachel’s jealousy—verses 1-8.
a. What is Rachel’s complaint against Jacob in verse 1? Was it just?
b. What is Jacob’s answer to this complaint in verse 2? Was it just?
c. How does Rachel solve her predicament? Does this indicate that she must have acknowledged the fairness of Jacob’s reply in verse 2? Is this action of Rachel, giving Jacob a third wife, justifiable?
d. Why does Rachel regard Bilhah’s children as her own? Was she correct?
e. What does Rachel say when Dan is born? What is the meaning of the name, Dan? Rachel evidently means that God heard and justified her. Is this correct? Or, is this merely Rachel’s own subjective judgment?
f. What is the meaning of “Naphtali”? To what do these “great wrestlings” refer? Should she have blamed herself for these wrestlings? Is there any indication in these names that Rachel is thinking of God’s covenant promise? Or, do these names indicate that Rachel is thinking only of herself? Believing that Rachel was principally a child of God, what does this history reveal of her? Is she petulant, self-centered? How would you compare Leah and Rachel?
g. Should Jacob have catered to the whims of Rachel and later of Leah?
3. Leah’s jealousy—verses 9-13.
a. Jealousy now also takes hold of Leah. Is this unusual in the life of a child of God? Explain.
b. Does the name, Jehovah, appear in the name of Leah’s fifth and sixth sons as in the case of her first four sons? Does this indicate that Leah has suffered a “spiritual let-down”, resorted to carnality? What do the names, Gad and Asher, mean?
4. More bitterness in Jacob’s family—verses 14-21.
a. What are mandrakes? It was generally believed that they were helpful in the bringing forth of children.
b. Do not the actions of Rachel and Leah here smack of superstition? How is this possible?
c. What does verse 15 indicate of the relation between Leah and Rachel? Is this understandable in a family when a man has more than one wife?
d. Notice that Leah uses the name, God, in the verses 18 and 20. Does this indicate a “spiritual decay” on the part of Leah? We must remember that Jehovah is God’s covenant name.
e. In verse 21, we read that Leah bore a daughter. Did Jacob have more daughters?—Gen. 46:7. Why, then, is only the name of Dinah mentioned in Scripture?
B. God remembers Rachel—verses 22-24.
1. In verse 22 we read that God hearkened to Rachel. Does this indicate a spiritual change in Rachel? Does this not indicate that Rachel sought the Lord in prayer rather than continue in bitterness against Leah?
2. In verse 24, Rachel uses the name, Lord (Jehovah). Does this also indicate this spiritual change?
C. Jacob’s prosperity—verses 25-43.
1. Jacob’s arrangement to work for Laban.
a. Notice Jacob’s request in verses 25-26. Why does Jacob request this of Laban? Did he not have the right to leave for his father’s home if he so desired? Or, does he request this because he wishes to leave Laban on friendly terms? His wives and children were his, were they not?
b. Is Jacob also here “running ahead of the Lord”? We read in Ch. 31:3 that the Lord commands Jacob to return. We do not read this in this passage in Ch. 30.
c. Laban is reluctant to let him go. Why? What had Laban learned by experience? What does the expression, “that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake”, mean and imply? Does it imply that there is a favor or general love of God upon the wicked? See also Gen. 39:5.
d. Jacob, however, hesitates—verses 29-30. Of what does he remind Laban in these verses?
e. Notice Jacob’s proposition. We must remember that animals raised by Laban were usually of a solid color, either solid white (sheep) or solid brown (goats). Why did Jacob make this offer, seeing that Laban must have had few off-colour animals? Did he make this modest proposition because he had learned to seek his all from God? But, does this agree with what we read in the rest of this chapter and in chapter 31? Did he make this offer because he knew he would not get much from his avaricious uncle? And, is it possible that he knew what he intended to do (verses 37-42)?
f. Notice that Laban agrees. Do you think that Laban, when agreeing, rejoiced inwardly? Why?
g. Laban, however, does not carry out the agreement fully. His wicked and avaricious nature reveals itself again. Who removes the off-colour animals? Why does Laban do it? How do you think he did it? To whom does Laban give the off-colour animals? Who now takes care of Laban’s sheep and goats, of Jacob’s? Why does Laban set a three-day journey between his animals and the animals of Jacob? Is it Laban’s determination that Jacob’s flock remain small? Why must Jacob care for Laban’s s flock?
2. Jacob’s scheme—verses 37-42.
a. Notice what we read in verses 37-40.
1/ I believe we can understand what Jacob did here.
2/ Was this a popular motion in those days? Today?
3/ Hereupon Jacob separated the off-colour young from the rest of the animals. He set the off-colour animals by themselves, as belonging to him according to the agreement with Laban. Then, he set the faces of Laban’s flock toward his ringstraked and speckled flock, in the hope that Laban’s flock would continue to produce off-colour young.
b. However, Jacob did more—verses 41-42.
1/ He distinguished, we read, between the stronger and weaker animals of Laban’s flock. Does this indicate a good understanding and knowledge of animals on Jacob’s part?
2/ He placed the stronger animals before the rods whereof we read in verse 38.
3/ And what was the result of this maneuver of Jacob?
3. Verse 43 informs us that Jacob increased exceedingly.
a. Was this maneuver of Jacob wrong? Taking care of Laban’s flock, was he allowed to do this? Did Laban object to it? Did he claim Jacob’s off-colour animals to be his own?
b. Why was Jacob blessed so exceedingly? Did he gain his riches by his own ingenuity? If not, did the Lord, then, bless Jacob “in spire” on his cleverness? And, why did the Lord increase Jacob’s goods and possessions? Chapter 31 will have more to say about this.
c. Besides, was not Jacob’s success a severe condemnation of the Lord upon Laban?