He said, "Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them."
New American Standard Version
Verse Genesis 29:7. It is yet high day — The day is but about half run; neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together-it is surely not time yet to put them into the folds; give them therefore water, and take them again to pasture.
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Genesis 29:7". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​acc/​genesis-29.html. 1832.
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Bridgeway Bible Commentary
28:10-36:43 JACOB ESTABLISHES THE FAMILY
Jacob’s marriages (28:10-29:30)
Before Jacob left Canaan, God appeared to him in a dream. In spite of Jacob’s shameful behaviour, God repeated to him the covenant promises given earlier to Abraham and Isaac, promising also to bring him back safely to Canaan (10-15; cf. 12:1-3; 26:24). In return for God’s favour to him, Jacob promised to be loyal in his devotion and generous in his offerings. He named the place where he met God, Bethel (16-22).
From Bethel Jacob journeyed on and finally reached Haran. He first met his cousin Rachel at a well, and she took him home to her father Laban (29:1-14). Laban was as deceitful with Jacob as Jacob had been with Isaac. When Jacob had worked for Laban seven years as payment of the bride price for Rachel, Laban gave him the older daughter Leah instead. After the week-long wedding celebrations for Jacob and Leah were over, Laban gave Rachel to Jacob as a second wife, but only on the condition that Jacob worked an additional seven years as payment of the second bride price. According to custom, each wife received a slave-girl as a wedding gift (15-30; cf. 24:59).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 29:7". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​genesis-29.html. 2005.
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Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible
"And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them. And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep. While he was speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep; for she kept them. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept. And he told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father."
It is absolutely untenable to suppose that the shepherds thus admonished by Jacob could have been grown men. The language here would never have been addressed to grown men, being clearly beyond what any stranger would have uttered. Their being juveniles prompted Jacob to rebuke them, in essence, for not getting on with feeding the flock, especially since it was about high noon, or at least a long while still until nightfall. Also, the admitted inability of these boys to remove the stone indicates the same thing.
"Jacob rolled away the stone ..." It is preposterous the way some interpreters refer to this as a "superhuman" task, inspired by "love at first sight," etc. Nothing here even suggests that this feat was anything that was very difficult for Jacob. Of course, some critics would like to make this event some kind of a "miraculous event" imagined in the folklore of the Hebrews.
Certainly, there is no problem here that is not solved completely by the fact that Jacob was indeed a very strong man. But there have been strong men in all ages and all countries. In New England, there is the story of Ethan Allen Crawford, seven-foot giant son of old Abel Crawford, for whom Crawford Notch, New Hampshire, is named, his family having received the Notch as a grant from the state because he fulfilled the conditions for its acquisitions by being the first one to ride a horse to the area. This he did by hoisting a horse over a 12-foot ledge, saddle and all! He also carried a 400-pound kettle over a mile, crossing the Ammonoosuc River on a log. He also carried a 300-pound bear two miles to place it in his private zoo! He carried an injured woman down Mount Washington, and rode a horse up that peak when he was 75 years old! (He was a veteran of The War of 1812).
Besides, the text makes nothing special about this act. Peake's allegation that, "Jacob, single-handed, removes the immense stone," is nothing but an "addition to the word of God." Nothing in the Bible forbids the conclusion, that, if Jacob needed help, he would have procured it from the lads he had just addressed. We agree with Adam Clarke that, "It is not likely that he did it by himself." No matter which way one understands the text here, there is absolutely no problem with it. It is a characteristic of language in all ages and countries that men are said to DO whatever they initiate and take the lead in accomplishing.
"Kissed Rachel ... lifted up his voice and wept ..." These were tears of joy, for the realization that at last Jacob had reached his destination and that God had blessed him all the way. Rachel, of course, made haste to tell her father of the arrival of this kinsman. Jacob seems to have been left in charge of the sheep.
"Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother ..." Here again we have an example of the Hebrew usage of the word "brother" in the extended sense of relative. The New English Bible renders "friend" here, and "kinsman" in Genesis 29:12 and Genesis 29:15. The words "son," "brother," and "seed" in Genesis are all used with multiple denotations.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Genesis 29:7". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bcc/​genesis-29.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
Leah bears four sons to Jacob. “The Lord saw.” The eye of the Lord is upon the sufferer. It is remarkable that both the narrator and Leah employ the proper name of God, which makes the performance of promise a prominent feature of his character. This is appropriate in the mouth of Leah, who is the mother of the promised seed. “That Leah was hated” - less loved than Rachel. He therefore recompenses her for the lack of her husband’s affections by giving her children, while Rachel was barren. “Reuben” - behold a son. “The Lord hath looked on my affliction.” Leah had qualities of heart, if not of outward appearance, which commanded esteem. She had learned to acknowledge the Lord in all her ways. “Simon” - answer. She had prayed to the Lord, and this was her answer. “Levi” - union, the reconciler. Her husband could not, according to the prevailing sentiments of those days, fail to be attached to the mother of three sons. “Judah” - praised. Well may she praise the Lord; for this is the ancestor of the promised seed. It is remarkable that the wife of priority, but not of preference, is the mother of the seed in whom all nations are to be blessed. Levi the reconciler is the father of the priestly tribe. Simon is attached to Judah. Reuben retires into the background.
Reuben may have been born when Jacob was still only eighty-four, and consequently Judah was born when Jacob was eighty-seven.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Genesis 29:7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​genesis-29.html. 1870.
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Smith's Bible Commentary
Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the people of the east. And he looked, behold there was a well in the field, and, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth. And all of the flocks were gathered together here: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again on the well's mouth in this place. And Jacob said unto the young people that were there, My brothers, where do you come from? And they said, We're from Haran. And he said unto them, Do you know Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, Sure, we know him. And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, Sure: and, look, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep ( Genesis 29:1-6 ).
So God had His hand upon Jacob, had guided him to the place of Haran and actually at that very moment, Rachel his cousin was coming with her father's sheep.
Now this well had this big rock over it and they would gather at the well to water their sheep. Well, here it was in the early afternoon and these people were already there. But the rock was so big. Evidently it took a lot of them to move the rock. And so they have to wait till the whole group came, but yet they had sort of a process where first come, first served. And so they'd come early and just sort of lie around and let the sheep lie there while they were waiting to get enough people to move the rock so that they could water it. And then they would wait until all the flocks that were gathered in turn and each one being watered, and then they would roll the rock back over the well.
So Jacob is talking to them, perhaps cannot understand why they'd just be there so early or being sort of lazy really in their job of watching their sheep and is talking to them, "Where are you from?" "We're from Haran". "Do you know Laban?" "Yeah, we know him and in fact there comes his daughter right now".
And he said, Hey, it's high it's still early afternoon, really about noontime. It's yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water the sheep, and then go out and feed them ( Genesis 29:7 ).
Hey, you shouldn't be just sitting around here at this time of the day. Go ahead and water your sheep and then take them out to the pasture, you know. It's too early to have them just standing around here.
And they said, We cannot, until all of the flocks are gathered together, and they roll the stone from the well's mouth; and then we water the sheep. And while he was yet talking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother ( Genesis 29:8-10 ).
Probably just showing off a little bit his strength. You know it took a whole group of them to roll that stone back but when you've got incentive, it's amazing what you can do. And so Jacob went up by himself and rolled the stone back.
And so then Jacob [overcome with emotion] kissed Rachel, and lifted up her voice, and wept ( Genesis 29:11 ).
She probably thought, "Who in the world is this", you know. He is doing these marvelous feats of strength; now kissing me and crying.
And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, he was Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father. And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things. And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him for the space of a month. And Laban said to Jacob, Because you are my brother, should you serve me for nothing? tell me, what should your wages be ( Genesis 29:12-15 )?
Notice Laban is allowing Jacob to set his own wages.
And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. And Leah was tender eyed ( Genesis 29:16-17 );
Some believe that that means she was blue-eyed. Her eyes were not the real deep dark brown which were considered the strong, stronger eyes.
but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. And Jacob loved Rachel ( Genesis 29:17-18 );
Sort of a love at first sight.
and he said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter ( Genesis 29:18 ).
Now it was a custom in those days for a man to pay a dowry for a wife. And in those cultures today, it is still a cultural thing to pay a dowry. Now what a dowry actually amounts to is alimony in advance. In case you're not treating your wife right and she has to leave you, rather than being destitute, the dowry is to be saved for the wife. It's actually for her and for her future. In case you put her away, in case you divorce her, she has enough to get along on. The dowry was used for that. It was actually alimony in advance and it was the responsibility of the father to keep that for the wife for the future in case something didn't work out in the marriage. It was then to take care of her and to provide for her.
Now Jacob didn't-he came out off from home with nothing. All he had was his walking stick. So he had no dowry. But he was so in love with Rachel, he was willing to become a slave for seven years in order that his seven years of service might become a dowry.
Now in reality, in those seven years that he served Laban for Rachel, because God so blessed Jacob and Jacob's service, that Laban was increased with wealth and goods, that which came to Laban by Jacob's service should have been set aside as the dowry for the daughter. But Jacob didn't do that. I mean, Laban didn't do that. He just, you know, used it for himself and did not really set up a true dowry for his daughters. And so Jacob made the deal. "I'll serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel".
And Laban said, It is better that I give her to you, than I should give her to another man: [go ahead and] abide with me. And Jacob served for seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him just like a few days, because he had such great love for her. And Jacob said to Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her ( Genesis 29:19-21 ).
It's sort of the seven years but Laban still just didn't turn her over. I mean, Jacob had to ask for her.
And Laban gathered together all of the men of the place, and he made a great feast ( Genesis 29:22 ).
Because actually they would celebrate for about seven days, the wedding feast would last that long. They'd gather together, have big feasting and big parties and all.
And so it came to pass in the evening ( Genesis 29:23 ),
It was dark.
he took Leah his daughter ( Genesis 29:23 ),
And of course, they were heavily veiled.
and he brought her to him; and he went in unto her. And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for a handmaid. And it came to pass, in the morning [when Jacob saw his new bride], that it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What have you done to me? I served you for Rachel. Why have you beguiled me? And Laban said, It's the custom of the country, that we're not to give the younger before the firstborn. So fulfil her week ( Genesis 29:23-27 ).
In other words, the week wedding thing, go ahead and serve you know fulfill her week, sort of the honeymoon,
and then I'll give you the other daughter and you will serve me yet another seven years ( Genesis 29:27 ).
Now I am certain that in this Jacob could not help but remember the deception that he had pulled upon his dad disguising as his brother. "As a man soweth, so shall he also reap" ( Galatians 6:7 ). And this is a classic example. He had disguised himself as his brother, had deceived his father. Had gone in and received the blessing. And now the old switch-a-roo is pulled on him. And his father-in-law does much the same for him. He serves for seven years, created dowry, and the old man switches daughters.
A lot of questions are unanswered: Where was Rachel? You know, I wonder if they had to whisk her away by force. And what was Leah's mental attitude in this whole thing? I mean, surely she knew that in the morning when he wakes up and sees that it's me, you know, it must have been tough on her as he made love to her that night realizing that he was thinking that he was making love to her younger sister and all. And it wasn't easy; I wouldn't suppose for this whole situation and no doubt created a lot of tensions for the time.
But Jacob was a good sport through it all. I mean, that you have to confess. You know, what would you have done? You know, had the switch-a-roo been pulled on you like that. And it could be that it was because of his own past that he was such a good sport and so understanding about the whole thing. But the old man just-Now if that were the custom then Laban should have told him the custom back at the beginning of the seven years. He should have said, "Well, that's fine, son, but we got a custom here". But he's figuring to, you know, to squeeze out from Jacob everything he can.
Now Jacob is a good sport in that he goes on to serve another seven years for Rachel so that Leah would not feel less in his eyes. In other words, had he been making the deal for Leah in the beginning, he probably wouldn't have said seven years 'cause he really wasn't interested in her. But Jacob consenting to go on for another seven years and there isn't really too much about Jacob's explosion or anger or anything else but he's pretty even and cool through the whole thing. Much more than I think I would be under the similar circumstances.
So Jacob went along with it. Spent the honeymoon with her,
and then he gave him Rachel as a wife also ( Genesis 29:28 ).
In other words, he didn't have to wait a full seven years to get Rachel. He received Rachel the next week but still he then was obligated to serve another seven years to form her dowry.
And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid. And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served yet another seven years ( Genesis 29:29-30 ).
Now here we find the case of polygamy but even as we read of it, we see the difficulties that exist in a polygamous relationship as there begin to develop jealousies and rivalries and so forth among the wives.
Several years ago in a Sociology class at Orange Coast College, the professor of the class asked if we could see any advantage to polygamy. And of course, I was an older student in the class; most of them were young and unmarried. And they couldn't see any advantages in polygamy but I raised my hand and said, "Well, I can see some advantages in polygamy". I mean, I actually can foresee there could be some advantages in polygamy. You marry a wife that's a real sharp secretary, you send her out to make the living and you know, you get enough of them working, you can just kick back and just enjoy it. But though I can see some advantages or possible advantages to polygamy, I can also see enough disadvantages that I would be discouraged from ever trying to have such a relationship.
And so we find that here there is really no strong biblical injunction against it. It was something that was accepted in that culture at that time. And of course, it came to its maximum under Solomon. But by the time we come to the New Testament and the purposes of God are more clearly defined, when the church is developed, polygamy is definitely prohibited. And those who were to be the overseers of the church were to be husbands of one wife and keeping their homes. And this was still in a time in which mistresses and courtesans and so forth were widely accepted in the Grecian culture and in the Roman culture.
So problems did develop; jealousies and all, Rachel, whom he loved more than Leah; yet, even in that you have a difficult situation. That it's going to create hurt feelings. That's going to create difficult living.
but Rachel was barren. But Leah conceived, and she bore a son, and she called his name [look, a son]: for she said, The LORD hath looked upon my affliction ( Genesis 29:31-32 );
She sees that he doesn't love me so much as he loves my sister. So look, a son.
now therefore my husband will love me ( Genesis 29:32 ).
Isn't that rather pathetic? She senses a lack of love from Jacob and she's hoping now that I've born him a son, now will he love me? And reaching out for love. As I say, it's just the tragic by-product of this polygamous relationship.
And she conceived again, and bore another son; and she said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated ( Genesis 29:33 ),
And that word "hated" should not be taken literally; I was loved less. He didn't really hate her but he didn't love her as much as he loved Rachel.
he hath therefore given me this son: and so she called his name Hearing ( Genesis 29:33 ).
Which the Lord has heard me so she called his name, I've been heard or hearing.
And she conceived again, bore another son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined to me, because I have had three sons for him: and so she called his name Joined. And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Praise; and she left off bearing ( Genesis 29:34-35 ).
So the names of the boys were actually indicative of her desires to be accepted, to be loved, and they probably were born within a year of each other.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 29:7". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​genesis-29.html. 2014.
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Dr. Constable's Expository Notes
"More than any other book in the OT, Genesis emphasizes the east (see Genesis 3:24; Genesis 4:16; Genesis 10:30; Genesis 11:2; Genesis 13:11; Genesis 25:6 [and Genesis 29:1]) as a direction of some significance." [Note: Hamilton, The Book . . . Chapters 18-50, p. 252.]
Jacob had travelled about 450 miles from Beersheba to Haran (Genesis 29:4). Notice the absence of prayer for divine guidance to the woman of God’s choosing, which dominates the story of Abraham’s servant’s visit to the same area for the same purpose (ch. 22). Also, Jacob arrived alone on foot whereas Abraham’s servant came with a well-laden camel train.
"True to his character, Jacob proceeds arrogantly, questioning the shepherds’ carefree behavior (Genesis 29:7). For all the criticism one might level at Jacob’s conduct, he was no slacker in his labor ethic (Genesis 31:6; Genesis 31:38-41)." [Note: Mathews, Genesis 11:27-50:26, p. 462.]
The well was probably a cistern that had a mouth with a large circumference (Genesis 29:8). A very large stone that required several men to remove it evidently covered it. After someone moved the stone, the flocks would gather around the edge of the well to drink. The well from which Rebekah drew water for Eliezer (Genesis 24:16) may have been a different kind.
The male shepherds may have been unable to roll the stone away because the well belonged to Laban; their inability may have been moral rather than physical. [Note: Bush, 2:116-17.]
Jacob wept for joy (Genesis 29:11), but he did not praise God. He had ended his journey, was now in the right place, and had met the right person, he thought. This is one of the few places in Scripture that we read of a man kissing a woman. Jacob apparently acted solely on the basis of Rachel’s physical attractiveness.
"When Abraham’s servant had discovered Rebekah’s identity, he worshiped the Lord (Genesis 24:24; Genesis 24:26), but here Jacob flexed his muscle, proving his capacity to serve Laban’s house." [Note: Mathews, Genesis 11:27-50:26, p. 463.]
"This scene [Genesis 29:1-14] is chiefly about God’s providence versus Jacob’s prayerlessness ..." [Note: Waltke, Genesis, p. 402.]
The suggestion of some interpreters that Laban adopted Jacob as his son is questionable. [Note: See John Van Seters, "Jacob’s Marriages and Ancient Near East Customs: A Reexamination," Harvard Theological Review 62:4 (October 1969):377-95.]
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 29:7". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​genesis-29.html. 2012.
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Dr. Constable's Expository Notes
7. Jacob’s marriages and Laban’s deception 29:1-30
The long account of Jacob’s relationship with Laban (chs. 29-31) is the centerpiece of the Jacob story (chs. 25-35). It is a story within a story, and it too has a chiastic structure. At its center is the account of the birth of Jacob’s sons, the forefathers of the tribes of Israel (Genesis 29:31-35).
Jacob met Rachel at the well and watered the flocks in spite of opposition against doing so. His love for her led him to serve Laban for seven years to obtain her as his wife. Laban deceived Jacob into marrying Leah, the first-born, so Jacob had to work another seven years for Rachel.
"In Laban Jacob met his match and his means of discipline." [Note: Kidner, p. 159.]
"Jacob is now in the greatest of all schools, that of experience, and there are many lessons to learn. These three chapters (xxix-xxxi.) cover forty years [sic, probably twenty years] of his life, and are the record of a large part of his training." [Note: Thomas, p. 269. Cf. Exodus 2:16-21.]
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 29:7". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​genesis-29.html. 2012.
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Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
And he said, lo, [it is] yet high day,.... Noonday, when the sun is highest; at which time in those hot countries flocks used to be made to lie down in shady places, and by still waters, to which the allusion is in Psalms 23:2; or however the sun was still up very high, and there was a great deal of the day yet to come; for so the phrase is, "yet the day is great" or "much" c, a long time still untonight:
neither [is it] time that the cattle should be gathered together; off of the pastures, to be had home, and put into folds, which was usually done in the evening:
water ye the sheep, and go [and] feed [them]; give them water out of the well to drink, and then lead them out the pastures, and let them feed until the night is coming on: this he said not in an authoritative way, or in a surly ill natured manner, and as reproving them for their slothfulness; but kindly and gently giving his advice, who was a shepherd himself, and knew what was proper to be done; and this appears by the shepherds taking in good part what he said, and returning a civil answer.
c גדול "magnus", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; "multus", Junius Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt "multum adhuc suparet diei", Vatablus.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 29:7". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​genesis-29.html. 1999.
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Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
|Jacob's Arrival at Padan-aram.||B. C. 1760.|
1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east. 2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth. 3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place. 4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we. 5 And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. 6 And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep. 7 And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them. 8 And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep.
All the stages Israel's march to Canaan are distinctly noticed, but no particular journal is kept of Jacob's expedition further than Beth-el; no, he had no more such happy nights as he had at Beth-el, no more such visions of the Almighty. That was intended for a feast; he must not expect it to be his daily bread. But, 1. We are here told how cheerfully he proceeded in his journey after the sweet communion he had with God at Beth-el: Then Jacob lifted up his feet; so the margin reads it, Genesis 29:1; Genesis 29:1. Then he went on with cheerfulness and alacrity, not burdened with his cares, nor cramped with his fears, being assured of God's gracious presence with him. Note, After the visions we have had of God, and the vows we have made to him in solemn ordinances, we should run the way of his commandments with enlarged hearts, Hebrews 12:1. 2. How happily he arrived at his journey's end. Providence brought him to the very field where his uncle's flocks were to be watered, and there he met with Rachel, who was to be his wife. Observe, (1.) The divine Providence is to be acknowledged in all the little circumstances which concur to make a journey, or other undertaking, comfortable and successful. If, when we are at a loss, we meet seasonably with those that can direct us--if we meet with a disaster, and those are at hand that will help us--we must not say that it was by chance, nor that fortune therein favoured us, but that it was by Providence, and that God therein favoured us. Our ways are ways of pleasantness, if we continually acknowledge God in them. (2.) Those that have flocks must look well to them, and be diligent to know their state, Proverbs 27:23. What is here said of the constant care of the shepherds concerning their sheep (Genesis 29:2; Genesis 29:3; Genesis 29:7; Genesis 29:8) may serve to illustrate the tender concern which our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, has for his flock, the church; for he is the good Shepherd, that knows his sheep, and is known of them, John 10:14. The stone at the well's mouth, which is so often mentioned here, was either to secure their property in it (for water was scarce, it was not there usus communis aquarum--for every one's use), or it was to save the well from receiving damage from the heat of the sun, or from any spiteful hand, or to prevent the lambs of the flock from being drowned in it. (3.) Separate interests should not take us from joint and mutual help; when all the shepherds came together with their flocks, then, like loving neighbours, at watering-time, they watered their flocks together. (4.) It becomes us to speak civilly and respectfully to strangers. Though Jacob was no courtier, but a plain man, dwelling in tents, and a stranger to compliment, yet he addresses himself very obligingly to the people he met with, and calls them his brethren,Genesis 29:4; Genesis 29:4. The law of kindness in the tongue has a commanding power, Proverbs 31:26. Some think he calls them brethren because they were of the same trade, shepherds like him. Though he was now upon his preferment, he was not ashamed of his occupation. (5.) Those that show respect have usually respect shown to them. As Jacob was civil to these strangers, so he found them civil to him. When he undertook to teach them how to despatch their business (Genesis 29:7; Genesis 29:7), they did not bid him meddle with his own concerns and let them alone; but, though he was a stranger, they gave him the reason of their delay, Genesis 29:8; Genesis 29:8. Those that are neighbourly and friendly shall have neighbourly and friendly usage.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Genesis 29:7". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​genesis-29.html. 1706.
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Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible
Having already shown the position of Isaac, I resume briefly with the remark that he stands before us clearly as the representative of the Son, and this too as dead, risen, and in heaven. All will understand it who remember that we have had His death and resurrection parabolically in Genesis 22:1-24; and then, after the passing away of her who was the figure of the new covenant, come the entirely novel dealings of God in the call of the bride for the Son here carefully and exclusively connected with the type of heaven. The bearing of this on the great mystery of the heavenly Christ and the church, His body and bride, does not need to be further insisted on now.
We have here, before pursuing the history of Isaac to the end, an episode which brings before us the birth of the two sons of Isaac and Rebecca. God had already affirmed the principle of His choice in the son of the free woman Sarah, when the child of the flesh was set aside. But there was this difference. It only in a preparatory way set out the great principle of God's sovereignty. There was a difference in the mother, if not in the father. There was a need, in the wisdom of God, that the sovereignty should be affirmed still more expressly. And so it was now; for Esau was the son of the same father and of the same mother as Jacob, and in fact they were twins. It was therefore impossible to find a closer parity between any than in these two sons of Isaac and Rebecca. Nevertheless, from the first, entirely apart from any grounds such as to determine a preference, God shows that He will be sovereign. He can show mercy to the uttermost, and He does; but He is God, and as such He reserves to Himself His right of choice. Why even a man does so; and God would be inferior to man if He did not. But He claims His choice and makes it, setting it forth in the most distinct manner, which is reasoned on, as we know, in the power of the Spirit of God, in the Epistle to the Romans, and alluded to elsewhere in the Bible. I only refer to it passingly to show how clearly it is brought out in the circumstances.
At the same time there is another thing to be weighed. The after history illustrates the two men and their posterity; for whatever may be said of the failure of Jacob, it is perfectly clear that not Jacob but Esau was profane, despising God and consequently his birthright. This is brought out in the same chapter. But the choice of God was before anything of the sort, and God made it unambiguous. I would only add one other word, that although scripture is abundantly plain that He chose him apart from anything to fix that choice, it is never said nor insinuated in any part of the word of God, that the prophet's solemn expression "Esau have I hated" was applicable from the first. The choice was true, but not the hatred. In fact, so far is it from the truth that we see the plainest facts in opposition to such a thought. In the first book of the Bible the choice of Jacob, and not Esau, is made plain; in the last book of the Bible, the prophecy of Malachi, the hatred of Esau is for the first time clearly affirmed. How admirable the word of God is in this! Let us delight first that God should have His choice; secondly, that God, far from pronouncing His hatred then, waited till there was that which manifestly deserved it waited, as we see, to the very last. To confound two things so distinguished, to mix up the choice at the beginning with the hatred at the end, seems nothing but the narrow folly of man's mind. The truth is that all the good is on God's part, all the evil on man's. He is sovereign; but every condemned soul will himself own the absolute justice of it.
In Genesis 26:1-35, which follows, Isaac's history is resumed. Let us bear in mind that it is the account of the risen Son. Hence mark the difference when Jehovah appears to Isaac. I call your attention to it as an interesting fact, as well as an instance of the profoundly typical character of the Scriptures. He appears as Almighty God (El-Shaddai) to Abraham: so He is also revealed as the Almighty to Jacob; but I am not aware that He is ever represented as formally proclaiming Himself in this way to Isaac. The reason is manifest. While surely included in fact like his father and son in such a revelation of El-Shaddai, Isaac has an altogether peculiar place in the record, not connected in the same way with the dispensations of God as either Abraham on the one hand, or Jacob on the other. Here we have God either in His own abstract majesty as Elohim, or in special relationship as Jehovah the two forms in which God is spoken of. These are used, but not "the Almighty." Isaac indeed speaks of Him as the Almighty when he blesses Jacob; but when God appears, Scripture describes Him simply as Elohim or as Jehovah. The reason is clear: we are upon the ground where God meant us to appreciate the very peculiar dealings with him who sets forth the Bridegroom of the church. Consequently what was merely of an earthly, passing, or dispensational nature is not brought forward.
Again, when God does appear to Isaac, He says, "Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of." Isaac is always a dweller in the heavenly land. How admirably this suits the position of Christ as the risen Bridegroom will be too plain to call for further proof. "Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee and will bless thee; for unto thee and unto thy seed I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father. And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven." Not a word about the sand of the sea. He is as ever exclusively connected with what is heavenly as far as the figure goes. In the case of Abraham appears the double figure: the children were to be as the stars of the sky, but also as the sands of the sea. Isaac has the peculiar place. Abraham takes in both; as we know, he is connected with that which is heavenly, but also with what is earthly. For Isaac we find the heavenly places, a relationship past resurrection as far as this could be set forth in type. But it was only the shadow, not the very image; and so alas! we find that he who was but the type denies his relationship, which Christ never does. Isaac failed like Abraham before. Unswerving fidelity is true of One only.
At the same time we have the never-failing faithfulness of God. Immediately afterwards he is blessed and blessed a hundred-fold. What is not the goodness of God? And Abimelech seeks his favour too; but Isaac remains always in the emblematic heavenly land, the type of Christ's present position.
The next chapter (Genesis 27:1-46) lets us into the sight of circumstances which searched the heart of all concerned. We see the nature which left room for the mingled character which so evidently belonged to Jacob. He was a believer; but a believer in whom flesh was little judged, and not in him only, but in Rebecca also Between them there is much to pain; and although Isaac might not be without feebleness and fault, there was deceit in both the mother and the son. As to Esau, there was nothing of God, and consequently no ground of complaint on that score. At the same time there was positive unrighteousness, of which God never makes light in any soul. Hence we find that though the blessing was wrested fraudulently from Isaac, he is astonished to find where he had been drifting through yielding to nature; for indeed flesh wrought in Isaac, but for the time it ruled, I may say, in Rebecca and in Jacob. Shocked at himself, but restored in soul, he finds himself through his affections in danger of fighting against the purpose of God. Spite of all the faults of Rebecca and of Jacob, they at least did hold fast the word of God. On the whole it is a humiliating spectacle: God alone shines throughout it all as ever. Isaac therefore, awakened to feel whence he was fallen, affirms the certainty of the purpose of God, and pronounces in the most emphatic terms that, spite of the manner in which Jacob had possessed himself of his blessing, he shall be blessed of God.
In Genesis 28:1-22 we have Jacob called by Isaac, and sent to Padan-Aram for a wife, with El-Shaddai's blessing on him. Now the governmental dealings of God begin to appear, and Jacob is the standing type of the people of God not walking in communion with God like Abraham, and consequently the first type of a pilgrim and of a worshipper too; not as the son, risen from the dead and in the heavenly land, but an outcast; forced to be, if a pilgrim, a pilgrim against his will in the government of God, and consequently the most apt possible type of Israel, for unfaithfulness expelled from their own land, passing under corrective discipline, but blessed at last with rest and joy here below. This is what Jacob represents none more suitable to be such a type, as we shall find by the very name which God gives him. So "Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban, thy mother's brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee."
Jacob accordingly goes out on his lonely way, and went to Padan-aram, and there it is that he dreams; and he beheld standing above the ladder Jehovah, who proclaims Himself to Jacob as the God of his fathers. "I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac. The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth." Mark again the consistency of the word of God. Not a word here about the stars of the sky. Abraham had both; Isaac had the heavenly part alone, and Jacob the earthly alone. And He says, "Behold I am with thee, I will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." Jacob awakes; but, as is always the case when a person is simply under the government of God without being founded in His grace, there is alarm. The presence of God is more or less an object of dread to the soul, as indeed he expressed it. "He was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." Many of us may be astonished to think of such a conjunction, that the house of God should be associated with terror. But so it must always be where the heart is not established in grace; and Jacob's heart was far from it. He was the object of grace, but in no way established in grace. Nevertheless there is no doubt of God's grace towards him, little as he might as yet appreciate its fulness. Jacob then rises up early, and takes the stone that be had put for his pillow, and sets it up, calling the name of the place Bethel, and vowing a vow; for all here is of a Jewish savour: "If God* will be with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on" his demands were by no means large, legalism is of necessity contracted "so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then shall Jehovah be my God; and 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." He was in no way a man delivered from self or from the earth. It is as nearly as possible the picture of a man under law. How appropriate, therefore, for the type of the Jew driven out through his own fault, but under the mighty hand of God for government, but for good in His mercy at the end! This is precisely what Jacob himself has to prove, as we may see.
*There is no real difficulty in understanding the propriety of the various divine names in these chapters according to the motive which governs. Thus El-Shaddai is the peculiar patriarchal name of guaranteed protector; Jehovah of special relationship for covenant blessings of Israel according to promise; but then Jehovah is Elohim in His own majesty, or He would be a merely national deity, Compare Genesis 17:1-27, where it is expressly Jehovah that appears and calls Himself El-Shaddai, yet immediately after talks as Elohim with Abram. See also Genesis 22:1; Genesis 22:8-9; Genesis 22:12; Genesis 22:11; Genesis 22:14-16, where the various document-system is manifestly disproved. Esau in Genesis 27:1-46, has neither covenant nor divine name of any sort.
Thus he goes on his journey; and among the children of the east ensues a characteristic scene, which need not be entered into in a detailed manner the providential introduction to his experiences with Laban and his family. (Genesis 29:1-35)
Now experiences are admirable in their own way as a school for the heart in the soul's finding its way to God; but experiences completely melt away in the presence of God. This and the grace known there in Him who died and rose again alone can give fully either the end of self or communion with God. Experiences may be needed and wholesome; but they are chiefly wholesome as a part of the road while on our way to Him. Before what God is to us in Christ they disappear I do not mean the results, but the processes. So we shall find it was with Jacob. He is a man evidently cared for by God. He shows us much that was exceeding sweet and lovely. No doubt he had often to suffer from Laban's deceit; but was there not a memorial here of the deceit in which he had acted himself? He is deceived about his wife, deceived about his wages, deceived about everything; but how had he dealt with his father, not to speak of his brother? Deceit must meet with deceit under the retributive hands of God. Wonder not overmuch at the tale of .Jacob; but bless with all your heart the God who shows Himself caring for His servant, and, after he had suffered awhile, giving him although slowly yet surely to prosper. At his setting out he was by no means a young man, being somewhere about eighty years of age when he reached Laban. There he receives, not willingly, two wives instead of one. Leah he did not want, Rachel he did. But in his chequered course, as we know, their maids were given as concubines, with many a child and many a sorrow.* And spite of Laban abundance was his in herds and flocks. (Genesis 30:1-43)
*Can it be doubted that this part of Genesis is typical like what goes before and after? Surely Jacob's love for Rachel first, for whom nevertheless he must wait and fulfil the week afresh after Leah had been given him, is not without evident bearing on the Lord's relation to Israel first loved, for whom meanwhile the slighted Gentile has been substituted with rich results in His grace. Rachel is at length remembered by God, who takes away her reproach by adding to her a son (Joseph) type of One glorified among the Gentiles and delivering His Jewish brethren after suffering among both Jews and Gentiles So her history closes in the death of her Benoni and Jacob's Benjamin son of the mother's sorrow and of the father's right hand, as the people of God will prove in the end. I take this opportunity Of noticing the beauty of Scripture in the use of the divine names in these chapters, the best answer to the superficial folly which attributes them to different writers and documents. In the case of Leah (Genesis 29:1-35), who was hated compared with Rachel, Jehovah as such interposed with His special regard to her sorrow, and this was expressed in the name of her first-born son, Reuben; and His hearing in her second, Simeon. At Levi's birth she does not go farther than the hope of her husband's being joined to her; but Jehovah has praise when she bore Judah. In Rachael's case (Genesis 30:1-43) there is no such expression at first of confidence in Jehovah's compassionate interest; but in disappointment of heart she gives Jacob her maid; and, when Dan was born, she accepts it as the judgment of Elohim, and at Naphtali's birth speaks of His wrestlings. Leah, following her example, gains through Zilpah Gad and Asher, but makes no acknowledgment of the divine name in either form. After this comes the incident of using mandrakes for hire, when Elohim acts for Leah in sovereign power and she owns Him as such when Issachar was born, and in Zebulun on the pledge of her husband's dwelling with her. In the same power did Elohim remember Rachael, who not only confesses that the God of creation had taken away her reproach, but calls her son Joseph saying, Jehovah shall add to me another son. This is the more striking because it is an instance of the combined use of these names admirably illustrating both sides of the truth, and irreconcilable with the double-document hypothesis. Rachel rose from the thought of His power to the recognition of His ways with His own. And even Laban (verse 39) is obliged to confess that Jacob enjoyed the blessing of One who was in special relationship with him of Jehovah.
At length, when Laban's sons murmur and their father's countenance was not toward Jacob as before, Jehovah bids him return to the land of his fathers. (Genesis 31:3) His mind is at once made up. He gives a touching explanation to Rachel and Leah, and sets out secretly; for there was no such confidence in God with a pure conscience as divested himself of fear. There was the unseen hand of God; but the power and the honour of God could not be righteously found in such a course. Grace would give these another day: they could not rightly be as yet. He steals away therefore timidly, pursued as if he were a thief by his father-in-law, whom however God takes gravely in hand, coming to him in a dream by night. The Syrian (Laban) is warned to beware what he says or does to Jacob, and even obliged to confess it himself. While Jacob lays his remonstrance before him, Laban after all cannot but seek his aid, and enters into a special covenant with the very man he had overtaken in his flight.
After this we find the angels of God meeting Jacob. (Genesis 32:1-32) "And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host." They were the witnesses of the full providential care of God; but no such intervention can ever set the heats or conscience right with God. This was proved immediately afterwards. The messengers whom Jacob sent to propitiate Esau returned, saying, that the dreaded chief of Seir was coming to meet him with four hundred men. God's host then gave no comfort to Jacob against the host of Esau. He is alarmed more than ever. He sets to work in his own way. He makes his plan-and then he makes his prayer; but after all he is not at ease. He devised with considerable skill; feeble was his faith, and where even generous self-sacrificing love for the family? All bears the stamp of anxiety as well as address, if not craft. This was his natural character; for though eminently a man of God, still it is not God who is prominent to his eyes, and leant on, but his own human resources. Ill at ease, he sends over I am sorry to say himself last of all! That which he valued most came latest. Jacob was not among the first! His flocks, herds and camels set first, wives and children next, Jacob last. The various bands in order were meant to serve as a breakwater between the offended brother Esau and trembling Jacob. But at length, when all were taken or sent over the ford Jabbok, comes another whom Jacob did not expect when left alone. A man struggled with him that night till break of day.
But it is well to remark, though it has been often noticed, that it is not set forth to the honour of Jacob that he wrestled with the man, for it was rather the man, or God Himself, who wrestled with him. There was still not a little in him with which God had a controversy for Jacob's good, not without his humiliation. In short God was dealing with and putting down His servant's dependence on his own strength, devices, and resources in any and every way. Hence, as the symbol of this, what was touched and shrank was the known sign of man's strength. The sinew of: the thigh was caused to wither away. But the very hand which touched the seat of natural strength imparted a strength from above; and Jacob on this occasion has a new name given to him. "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." He asked the name of God, but this could not, consistently with His character, be revealed yet. God keeps His name in secret now. Jacob struggles all night that he might be blessed. It was no question of peaceful fellowship, still less of earnest intercession for others. It was indeed most significant of divine mercy; but of God's mercy in the dark, where there could not yet be communion. Thus nothing could more truly answer to the state of Jacob. He was no doubt strengthened of God, but it was compassionate mercy strengthening him to profit by a needful and permanent putting down of all his own strength love that must wither it up, but would nevertheless sustain himself.
In the next chapter (Genesis 33:1-20) the meeting takes place. Esau receives him with every appearance of generous affection, refusing but at length receiving his gifts. At the same time Jacob proves that his confidence was far from being restored. He is uneasy at the presence of Esau: his conscience was not good. Esau proffers his protection. There was nothing farther from the desire of Jacob. Is it too much to say that the excuse was not thoroughly truthful? Can one believe that Jacob meant to visit him at mount Seir? Certain it is that, directly Esau's back is turned, he goes another way. "He journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth And Jacob came to Shalem,* a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-aram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent.... And he erected there an altar, and called it El-elohe-Israel." Thus, it seems to me evident, that although there was unquestionably progress in Jacob's soul, he was far from being brought to that which we find in Abraham from the very beginning. He is still wandering still under corrective government. All that which hindered the enjoyment of grace was not yet removed. There was earthliness of mind enough to quit the pilgrim's tent and build a house, as well as to buy a piece of ground. What did he want it for? He erected no doubt an altar. There is progress unquestionably; but he does not in this go beyond the thought of God as connected with himself. It was in no way the homage of one who regarded God according to His own being and majesty. Now there never can be the spirit of worship till we delight in God for what He is Himself, not merely for what He has been to you or me. I grant you that it is all right to feel what He has done for us; but it is rather the preparation for worship, or at most worship in its most elementary form. It is more thanksgiving than the proper adoration of God, and in fact a circumscribing of God to our own circumstances. I admit fully that the grace of God does minister to our wants; but then it is to raise us above them and the sense of them, in order that we may freely and fully enjoy what God is, and not merely feel what He has done for us. Jacob had not reached that yet; for him God the God of Israel is all he can say. Shechem is not Bethel.
*Probably, instead of "to Shalem," etc., we should translate it "in peace to," etc. Compare Genesis 28:21, Genesis 34:21.
This conclusion, as to the then state of Jacob, seems to be confirmed by the chapter which follows The settling down in the city ere long became a sorrowful story for Jacob, who proved it in one that was near and dear to him. It was the occasion of his daughter Dinah's shame, as well as of her brother's cruel and deceitful vengeance, that brought trouble on Jacob, and caused him to stink among the inhabitants of the land, as Jacob so sorely confessed. (Genesis 34:1-31)
Once more God said to Jacob, Arise; but now it is to "go to Bethel, and dwell there; and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother." Here he is not met by a host of angels, nor does the mysterious stranger wrestle in the darkness of the night, crippling him in the might of nature, and making the weak to be strong. It is a more open call in Genesis 35:1-29.
Now it is singular to hear, that Jacob says to his household and all that are with him, "Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments." "Strange gods "? Yes, there they were, and he knew it all along, but he never before felt the seriousness of it till summoned to go to Bethel. His conscience is now awake to what previously made no impression on his mind. We easily forget what our bears does not judge as it is before God; but as He knows how to rouse the conscience adequately, so it is a sorrowful thing on the other hand when a saint forgets what ought to be the permanent object of his soul, still more solemn when his conscience is not sensitive to that which utterly sullies the glory of God. Manifestly it was the case with Jacob; but now the presence of God, not providential power, not disciplinary dealings with him, but the call to Bethel, brings light into his soul, and the false gods must be put away. Jacob will have the household in unison with an altar at Bethel. "Be clean, and change your garments, and go to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went." What in his ways can be conceived more blessed than the patient faithfulness of God? Now at length Jacob is alive to his responsibility toward God. "And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. And they journeyed."
But was it a flight now? "And the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob." All was changed from this point. "So Jacob came to Luz which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel. And he built there an altar, and called the place El-beth-el (the God of Bethel)." There Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died and was buried. There God appeared again; and while He repeats the name of Israel instead of Jacob, He reveals Himself as God Almighty, El-Shaddai. "And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and He called his name Israel,"* blotting out in one sense all the history from the day when that name was first conferred on him. It is a sorrowful reflection for the heart when time past is, so to speak, time lost. It is not that God cannot turn it to purpose when grace is at work, but there must be merited self-reproach as we may too well know.
*Dr. Davidson (Introd. O. T. pp. 65, 66), in his arguments against unity of authorship on the score of diversities, confusedness, and contradictions, alleges this: "In like manner Jacob's name was changed to Israel, when he wrestled with a supernatural being in human form all night before he met his brother Esau, on his return from Mesopotamia (Genesis 32:28); whereas according toGenesis 35:10; Genesis 35:10 he received the name on another occasion at Bethel, not Penuel, as the first passage states. It is a mere subterfuge to assert that, because no reason is assigned for the change of name in 35: 10, it relates no more than a solemn confirmation of what had been done already. A reason for the change does not necessarily accompany its record. The words are explicit: 'And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob; thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name.' If his name were Israel before, the words plainly assert the contrary. The passages are junior Elohistic, and Elohistic respectively. An analogous example is Bethel, formerly Luz, which was so named by Jacob on his journey to Mesopotamia (Genesis 28:19, Genesis 30:13), but according to Genesis 35:15, on his return. Identical names of places are not imposed twice." It is evident that the rationalist approaches Scripture, not as a believer and learner, but as a judge, and that his criticism is captious, to say nothing of irreverence. There is nothing to hinder a repetition in giving names either to persons or places. Let those who are affected by such petty cavils weigh our Lord's giving Simon the name of Peter twice (John 1:42, Matthew 16:18), and the second time with yet more emphasis than the first. It is the more absurd in the case of Jacob changed to Israel and then confirmed, because the usual plea of Jehovah and Elohim does not apply here. In both cases it is Elohim. Hence the need of inventing a junior Elohist in order to maintain their illusion. Again, the first verse of Genesis 35:1-29. furnishes the most direct and conclusive proof that identical names of places may be imposed twice, for God is represented on this second occasion as bidding Jacob go up to Bethel (not Luz) before he calls the place for the second time Bethel. What is the value of Dr. D.'s denial of what Scripture positively affirms?
Not only then does Jacob receive afresh his new name, but God shrouds His name no longer in secrecy. Now he has not to ask, "What is thy name?" any more than He who wrestled once had to ask him wherefore he asked it. He was not then in the condition to profit by that name; nor was it consistent with God's own honour that He should make it known. Now God can reveal Himself to His servant, saying, "I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins. And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land." And not unlike what was said of Abraham, so on an occasion of singular nearness it is said of Jacob, great honour for one after such an experience, that "God went up from him in the place where he talked with him." If it was a glorious moment in Abraham's history, it was especially gracious in God's ways with Jacob. "And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone, and he poured a drink-offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon, and called the name of the place where God spake with him Beth-el." Afterwards comes the passing away of Rachel at a moment of deep interest already noticed, the birth of her second son, and her burial near Bethlehem. And on the journey there the aged father has a fresh sorrow and shame in the foul sin of his first-born.
Then follows the genealogy of Jacob's sons; and the long-delayed last sight of Isaac at Hebron, where he dies at the age of 180 years, and was buried by his sons Esau and Jacob.
But there is another genealogy (Genesis 36:1-43), and strikingly introduced in this place. The Edomite interrupts the course of the line of God's dealings. We discern at once what remarkable maturity there was here. It is always so first that which is natural, afterwards that which is spiritual. Even then we find a rapid development of power in the family of Esau. They were all great people, to be sure duke this and duke that, to the end of the chapter even kings, as we are told, reigned before there were any such in Israel. I have no doubt that this is given us as an important element to mark how rapidly what is not of God shoots up. Growth according to God is slower, but then it is more permanent.
Genesis 37:1-36 introduces to us a new and altogether different range of events the very attractive account of Joseph. It is not now a fugitive from the land under the righteous hand of God, but a sufferer who is going to be exalted in due time. These are the two main outlines of Joseph's history a more than usually meet type of Christ, in that he shone above all his fellows for unsullied integrity of heart under-the several trials. There is no patriarch on whom the Spirit of God dwells with greater delight; and among those who preceded Christ our Lord it may be questioned where one can find such a sufferer. And his suffering too was not merely outside: he suffered quite as keenly from his brethren. Wherever he lived, in Palestine or in Egypt, he was a sufferer, and this in astonishing grace, never higher morally than when lying under the basest reproach. He was one who had true understanding; and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Such was Joseph's great distinctive trait. Thus we find it brings him, first of all, into collision with his father's house. Jacob indeed felt very differently. It was impossible for one that valued holiness to bring a good report of his brethren. But his father loved him, and when his brethren saw their father's estimate of him, they could so much the less endure Joseph. "They hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him." The wisdom that follows fidelity and I believe it is always so as a rule is furnished and exercised in the communications of God; for if He forms a heart for what is of Himself, He gives the supply of what it craves. He ministers to Joseph dreams that shew the gracious purposes that were before Himself. For first the sheaves pay obeisance, and he with the utmost simplicity of heart tells all to his brethren; for he never thought of himself, and therefore could speak with candour. But they with instinctive dislike and jealousy of what gave glory to their brother did not fail to make the detested application of his dreams. Even the father finds it trying, much as he loved him; for Joseph has another dream, in which the sun and moon, as well as eleven stars, made obeisance to him; and Jacob felt but observed the saying.
The story proceeds: Joseph is sent to see the peace of his brethren, follows them to Dothan, and there the last errand of love brings out their deepest hatred. They determine to get rid of him. They will have this dreamer no more. Reuben sets himself against their murderous intention; but the result is that at Judah's proposal he is cast into the pit, given up for death, yet taken out of it and sold to the Midianites a wonderful type of a greater than Joseph. It was bad to sell him for twenty pieces of silver, but this was not the full extent of the wrong; for the same cruel hearts which thus disposed of a holy and loving brother did not scruple to inflict the deadliest wound on their aged father. Sin against the brother, and sin against the father such is the sorrowful conclusion of this chapter of Joseph's story.
Here again, we have another interruption; but never allow for a moment that anything is not perfect in the word of God. It is right that we should see what the leader in this wickedness was; it is well that we should know what the character and conduct of Judah was, whom we afterwards see the object of wondrous counsels on God's part. The answer lies in the shameful account of Judah, his sons, and his daughter-in-law, and himself. (Genesis 38:1-30) Yet of that very line was He born, with her name specified too, which points to the most painfully humiliating tale that we find perhaps anywhere in the book of Genesis. But what humiliation was He not willing to undergo who had love as well as glory incomparably greater than Joseph's!
In Genesis 39:1-23 Joseph is seen in the land of Egypt, for there the Midianites sold him. He is in slavery, first of all in the house of Potiphar, captain of the guard; but "Jehovah was with Joseph; and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian." Here again he comes into suffering; here again most unworthily is he misrepresented and maligned, and hastily cast into the dungeon. But Jehovah was with Joseph in the prison, just as much as in Potiphar's house. In verse 2, it is written, He was with Joseph; in verse 21, He was with Joseph, "and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand." It mattered little where he was, since Jehovah was with him. What a difference it makes when God is with us God too in His special known relationship, which is implied in the use of "Jehovah" here as everywhere. "He looked not to anything that was under his hand, because Jehovah was with him; and that which he did Jehovah made it to prosper."
But God works for Joseph, and in the prison puts him in contact with the chief butler and the chief baker of the king of Egypt. (Genesis 40:1-23) They too have their dreams to tell. Joseph willingly listens, and interprets according to the wisdom of God that was given him. His interpretation was soon verified. With the remarkable prudence which marks his character, he had begged not to be forgotten. But "his soul came into iron" a little longer. The word of Jehovah tried him. God would work in His own way. If the chief butler forgot Joseph in his prosperity, God did not.
Pharaoh now had a dream; but there was none to interpret. (Genesis 41:1-57) It was two years after a long while to wait, especially in a dungeon; but the chief butler, remembering his faults, and confessing them, tells his master of the young Hebrew in the prison, servant to the captain of the guard, who had interpreted so truly.
"Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon," and presented him duly before the king. His interpretation carried its own light and evidence along with it; and Pharaoh recognized the wisdom of God not only in this but also in the counsel that Joseph gave. And what wiser man than Joseph could take in hand the critical case of Egypt, to husband its resources during the seven years of plenty, and to administer the stores during the seven years of famine that would surely follow? So the king felt at once, and his servants too in spite of the usual jealousy of a court. Joseph was the man to carry out what he had seen beforehand from God; and Joseph accordingly becomes ruler next to Pharaoh over all the land of Egypt.
"And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-paaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth handfuls. And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same. And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number. And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On bare unto him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended. And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do. And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands."
Then comes another wonderful working of God. The sheaves had not yet stood and bowed; the sun, moon, and stars had not paid obeisance yet; but all was to follow not long after. The famine pressed upon the land where Jacob sojourned, while Joseph was in Egypt with a new family, children of the bride that was given him by the king, evidently corresponding with the place of Christ cast out by Israel, sold by the Gentiles, but exalted in a new place and glory altogether, where He too can say during His rejection and separation from Israel, "Behold I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me." Nothing can be more transparent than the application of the type.
But there is more in the type than that we have just seen. The brethren that remained with Israel have yet to be accounted for; and the pressure of the famine is upon them. It is so with Israel now, a famine indeed, and in the deepest sense. But. ten of the brethren come down to buy corn in Egypt; and there it is that God works marvellously by Joseph. He recognizes his brethren. His heart is towards them when they are altogether ignorant who he was that enjoyed the glory of Egypt. The result is that Joseph puts in execution a most solemn searching of the heart and conscience of his brethren. It is exactly what the Lord from a better glory will do ere long with His Jewish brethren. He is now outside in a new position quite unlooked for by them: they know Him not. But He too will cause the pinch of famine to press upon them. He too will work in their hearts in consequence, that He may be made righteously known to them in due time. (Genesis 42:1-38)
We find, accordingly, that first of all one of the brethren is taken, Simeon; and the charge is given that, above all, Benjamin should be brought down. There can be no restoration, no reconciliation, relief it is true, but no deliverance for Israel till Joseph and Benjamin are united. He that was separated from his brethren, but now in glory, must have the son of his father's right hand. It is Christ rejected but exalted on high, and taking the character also of the man of power for dealing with the earth. Such is the meaning of the combined types of Jacob's sons, Joseph and Benjamin Christ has nothing to do with the latter yet; He admirably answers to the type of Joseph, but not yet of Benjamin. As long as He is simply filling up the type of Joseph, there is no knowledge of Himself on the part of his brethren. Hence, therefore, this became the great question how to bring down Benjamin how to put him into connection with Joseph. But the truth is, there was another moral necessity which must be met how to get their hearts and their consciences set right all round. This part of the beautiful tale is typical of the dealings of the Lord Jesus, long severed and exalted in another sphere, first with the remnant, and then with the whole house of Israel. There are various portions. We have Reuben and Simeon; and then others come forward, Judah more particularly at the close, and Benjamin.
The famine still pressing (Genesis 43:1-34), Jacob sorely against his will is obliged to part with Benjamin; and here it is that we find affections altogether unheard of before in the brethren of Joseph. We might have thought them incapable of anything that was good; and it is very evident that their hearts were now strewn to be under a most mighty power which forced them anew, as far as, of course, the type was concerned. More particularly we see how the very ones who had so shamefully failed are now distinctly brought into communion with God's mind about their ways. Reuben is quick to feel, recalls the truth as far as he knew it about Joseph, and shows right feelings towards his father. Yet we know what he had been. Judah is even more prominent, and clearly knew yet deeper searchings of the heart, and particularly too in the way of right affections about both their father and their brother. These, as is plain, were just the points in which they had broken down before. On these they must be divinely corrected now; and so they were.
The issue of all is this, that at last Judah and his brethren return to Joseph's house. (Genesis 44:1-34) Judah speaks. Here indeed we have a most earnest pleading, and full of touching affection. "O my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh. My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?" There we have evidently a heart that has been brought right, exactly where the sin lay. "We said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man." Ah, there was no lacerating of his heart now! "And a child of his old age, a little one." How little they thought of that once! "And his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him." Do we not feel how far the hearts of all his brethren were from hating Joseph now because of Jacob's love to him! "And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him. And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die. And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more. And it came to pass, when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. And our father said, Go again and buy us a little food. And we said, We cannot go down. If our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man's face, except our youngest brother be with us. And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons, and the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces, and I saw him not since; and if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us, seeing that his life is bound up in the lad's life, it shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die; and thy servants shall bring down the grey hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave; for thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. Now, therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father." The moral restoration was complete.
In the following chapter follows the unveiling of the typical stranger, the glorified man, to his brethren, who up to this were wholly ignorant of him. "Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me; and there stood no man with him while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud; and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard; and Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph. Doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him, for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you; and they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years in the which there shall be neither earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. Haste ye, and go up to my father." (Genesis 45:1-9) And so they do. Benjamin then is embraced by Joseph; and now there is no let to the accomplishment of the purpose of God for the restoration of Israel for this complete blessing where the reality comes under Christ and the new covenant.
Jacob comes down at length, and on his way God speaks to Israel "in the visions of the night; and said, Jacob, Jacob; and he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes." (Genesis 46:2-4)
Then after the genealogies of the chapter,* we have the meeting between Jacob and Joseph. Not this only; for some of Joseph's brethren are presented to Pharaoh; and Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. (Genesis 47:1-31) It was a fine sight spiritually (the more so, because unconsciously, without a definite thought, I presume, on his own part) that "the less is blessed of the greater." But so it is. A poor pilgrim blesses the monarch of the mightiest realm of that day; but the greatest of earth is little in comparison with the blessed of God. Jacob now is not merely blessed, but a blesser. He knows God well enough to be assured that nothing Pharaoh teas could really enrich him, and that there is very much which God could give, on which Jacob could count from God even for Pharaoh.
*It may be worth while to observe in this and other genealogies not often the object of infidel attack, that the differences between Genesis, Numbers' and Chronicles in their form are due to the motive for their introduction in each particular connection ; that the difficulties clearly spring from the design, in no way from error in the writer, but in fact because of ignorance in ouch readers as misapprehend them; and that both the difference and the difficulties are the strongest evidence of their truth and inspired character, for nothing would have been easier than to have assimilated their various forms and to have eliminated that which sounds strange to western ears.
This table enumerates 32 of Leah, 16 of Zilpah, 11 of Rachel, 7 of Bilhah=66. But the head also goes with his house; and so with the larger list of Leah's children we see Jacob counted (verse 8), which is confirmed by the fact of 33 attributed to Leah, whereas no more than 32 literally are named, reckoning Dinah, and excluding Er and Onan who died in Canaan as we are expressly told. Objectors have failed to take into account the peculiarity in the mention of Hezron and Hamul in verse 12. It is merely said (and said only in their case) that the sons of Pharez "were" Hezron and Hamul, not that they were born in Canaan, where those had died for whom they were substitutes; next, that the Hebrew of verse 26 does not go so far as to say with the Authorised Version, "came with Jacob into Egypt," but of, i.e. belonging to, Jacob. It should be borne in mind that there is no reason, but rather the contrary from scriptural usage for construing "at that time," of an isolated point of time, but rather of a general period, consisting as here of a number of events, the last and not the first of which might synchronize with the event recorded just before. It seems clear that Stephen (Acts 7:14) cites the LXX. where 76 are given, as the Greek version (Genesis 46:20) adds five sons and grandsons of Manasseh and Ephraim. Is it not monstrous for a man professing Christianity and ostensibly in the position of bishop, to neglect elements so necessary to a judgment of the question, and to pronounce the Biblical account "certainly incredible," mainly on the assumption that Pharez's sons were born in Canaan, which is nowhere said but rather room left for the inference that it was not so in the exceptional form of Genesis 46:12? Yet after citing this verse we are told, "It appears to me certain (!) that the writer here means to say that Hezron and Hamul were born in the land of Canaan." Is scepticism only certain that its own dreams are true, and that scripture is false? There was a natural and weighty motive for selecting two grandsons of Judah, though no other of Jacob's great- grandsons are mentioned in the list. For they only were substitutional, as the very verse in which they occur implies. And it was of the deeper interest too, as one of them (Hezron) stands in the direct line of the Messiah, which was, as it appears to me, one chief reason for introducing the details of Judah's history and its shame in Genesis 38:1-30.. It is vain to quote Numbers 3:17 to set aside the peculiar force of the allusion to the sons of Pharez in Genesis 46:12, with which there is no real analogy.
In Genesis 48:1-22 tidings of Jacob's sickness brings Joseph and his two sons to the bed of the patriarch. The closing scene of Jacob approaches, and I scarcely know a more affecting thing in the Bible. It is a thorough moral restoration. Not merely is there that which typifies it for Israel by and by, but Jacob's own soul is as it never was before. There is no such bright moment in his past life as in the circumstances of his death-bed. I grant that so it ought to be in a believer; and that it is really so in fact where the soul rests simply on the Lord. But whatever we may see in some instances and fear in others, in Jacob's case the light of God's presence was evident. It is striking that here was the only occasion on which the brightness of Joseph's vision was not so apparent. All flesh is grass. The believer is exposed to any evil when he ceases to be dependent, or yields to his own thoughts which are not of faith. Jesus is the only "Faithful Witness." Failure is found in the most blessed servant of God. So fact, so scripture teaches. Joseph, ignorant of the purpose of God about his sons, allows his natural desires to govern him, and arranges the elder before the right hand of his dying father, the younger before his left. So Joseph would have had it; but not so Jacob. His eyes were dim with age, but he was in this clearer-sighted than Joseph after all. There never was a man who saw more brightly than Joseph; but Jacob, dying, sees the future with steadier and fuller gaze than the most famous interpreter of dreams and visions since the world began.
And what thoughts and feelings must have rushed through the old man's heart as he looked back on his own early days! Did he fail to discern then how easily God could have crossed the hands of his father Isaac against his own will? Certainly God would have infallibly maintained His own truth; and as He had promised the better blessing to Jacob, not to Esau, so, spite of Esau and the fruits of his success in hunting, he would have proved that it was not to him that willed like Isaac, nor to him that ran like Esau. All turns on God, who shows mercy and keeps His word.
On this occasion, then, Jacob pronounces the blessing the superior blessing on the younger of the two boys; and this too in terms which one may safely say, were equal to so extraordinary a conjuncture, in terms which none but the Spirit of God could have enabled any mouth to utter.
In Genesis 49:1-33 we find the general prophetic blessing of Jacob's sons. Here one may convey the scope without ceasing to be brief. As the blessings allude to the history of the twelve heads of the nation, so naturally we have the future that awaits the tribes of Israel. But as this is a matter of tolerably wide-spread knowledge amongst Christians, there is no need for much to be said about it.
Reuben is the starting-point, and alas! it is, like man always, corruption. It was the first mark of evil in the creature. The second is no better, rather worse it may be in some respects, violence. Simeon and Levi were as remarkable for the latter, as Reuben for the former a sorrowful vision for Jacob's heart to feel that this not only had been but was going to be; for undoubtedly he knew, as he says, that what he then uttered would sweep onward and befall the people "in the last days." This did not hinder his beginning with the history of Israel from his own days. Corruption and violence, as they had been the two fatal characteristics of his three eldest sons, so would stamp the people in their early history. Israel under law broke the law, and was ever leaving Jehovah for Baalim; yet the sons would be no better, rather worse, than the father; but the grace of God would interfere for the generations to come as it had for their father Jacob, and the last day would be bright for them as in truth for him.
Then Judah comes before us. It might be thought, that surely there will be full blessing now. ''Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.* Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: his eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon."
*The real difficulty inGenesis 49:10; Genesis 49:10 is neither so much the unusual application of the word Shiloh, nor doctrinal zeal, as the desire to get rid of a prophecy. Unbelief sets out with the foregone conclusion that there is and can be no such thing. Hence the effort to destroy its only just and worthy sense. "The Deity (says Dr. D., Introd. O. T. i. 198) did not see fit, as far as we can judge, to impart to any man like Jacob the foreknowledge of future and distant events. Had He done so, He would not have left him in darkness respecting the immortality of the soul (!) and a future state of rewards and punishments (!) He would not have left him to speak on his deathbed, like an Arab chief, of no higher blessings to his sons than rapine and murder, without the least reference to another and better state of existence on which he believed he should enter, and in relation to which he might counsel his sons to act continually. The true way of dealing with the prophecy is simply to ascertain by internal evidence the time in which it was written, on the only tenable and philosophical ground of its having been put into the mouth of the dying patriarch by a succeeding writer. It has the form of a prediction; but it is a vaticinium post eventum. We believe that the time of the prophetic lyric falls under the kings. The tribes are referred to as dwelling in the localities which they obtained in Joshua's time. The announcement respecting Judah's pre-eminence brings down the composition much later than Joshua, since he is represented as taking the leadership of the tribes in subduing the neighbouring nations. We explain the tenth verse in such a manner as to imply that David was king over the tribes, and had humbled their enemies." The proper translation according to this sceptic is:
"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the stuff of power from between his feet,
Until he come to Shiloh,
And to him the obedience of the peoples be"
But, first, the ruling position of Judah was not till but after he came to Shiloh. That any one, therefore, during the kings would falsify the events in a pretended prophecy put into dying Jacob's lips is too much for the credulity of any one but a rationalist. Secondly, one who speaks of others so scornfully as this writer ought not to have exposed himself to the charge of such ignorance as confounding "the peoples" or nations with the people or tribes of Israel. I believe, therefore, with the amplest authority in Hebrew, that as the language admits of our taking Shiloh as the subject, not object, so the sense in the context demands that we render it "until Shiloh (i.e. Peace, or the Man of Peace' the Messiah) come."
Yes, Jacob speaks of Shiloh. But Shiloh was presented to the responsibility of the Jew first; and consequently all seemed to break down, and in one sense all really did. "To him shall the gathering of the peoples be;" and so certainly it will be, but not yet. Shiloh came; but Israel were not ready, and refused Him. Consequently the gathering (or the obedience) of the peoples, however sure, is yet in the future. The counsel of God seemed to be abortive, but was really established in the blood of the cross, which unbelief deems its ruin. It is postponed, not lost.
Zebulun gives us the next picture of the history of Israel. Now that they have had Shiloh presented but have refused Him, the Jews find their comforts in intercourse with the Gentiles. This is what they do now seeking to make themselves happy, when, if they weigh their own prophets, they must suspect fatal error somewhere in their history. They have lost their Messiah, and they court the world. "Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for a haven of ships, and his border shall be unto Zidon."
The consequence is that the Jews sink under the burden, falling completely under the influence of the nations. This is shown by Issachar "a strong ass crouching down between two burdens."
Then we come to the crisis of sorrows for the Jew. In Dan we hear of that which is far more dreadful than burdens inflicted by the Gentiles, and their own subjection, instead of cleaving to their proper and distinctive hopes. In the case of Dan there is set forth the power of Satan (ver. 17). "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward." We see here the enemy in the serpent that bites, and the consequent disaster to the horseman. It is the moment of total ruin among the Jews, but exactly the point of change for blessing. It is then accordingly we hear the cry coming forth, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Jehovah." It is the sudden change from the energy of Satan to the heart looking up and out to Jehovah Himself.
From that point all is changed. "Gad, a troop shall overcome him; but he shall overcome at the last." Now we have victory on the side of Israel.
This is not all. There is abundance too. "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties."
Again, there will be liberty unknown under law, impossible when merely dealt with under the governing hand of God because of their faults. "Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words." What a difference from him who was bearing like an ass two burdens!
But, more than that, we have Joseph. Now we have the glory in connection with Israel; and finally power in the earth: Joseph and Benjamin are now as it were found together. What was realised in the facts of the history at last terminates in the blessedness the predicted blessedness of Israel.
The last chapter (Genesis 50:1-26) gives us the conclusion of the book, the burial of Jacob, the reappearance of his sons left with Joseph, and at last Joseph's own death, as lovely as had been his life. He who stood on the highest pinnacle in the land next to the throne, type of Him who will hold the kingdom unto the glory of God the Father, that single-eyed saint now breathes forth his soul to God. "By faith Joseph when he died made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, and gave commandment concerning his bones." His heart is out of the scene where it enjoyed but a transient and at best typical glory. In hope he goes onward to that which would be lasting and true unto God's glory, when Israel should be in Emmanuel's land, and he himself be in a yet better condition even resurrection. He had been exalted in Egypt, but he solemnly took an oath of the sons of Israel, that when God visits them, as He surely will, they will carry up his bones hence. He had served God in Egypt, but to him it was ever the strange land. Though he dwelt there, ruled there, there had a family, and there died fuller of honours than of years, an hundred and ten years old, he feels that Egypt is not the land of God, and knows that He will redeem His people from it, and bring them into Canaan. It was beautiful fruit in its season: no change of circumstances interfered with the promises of God to the fathers. Joseph waited as Abraham, Isaac. and Jacob. Earthly honours did not settle him down in Egypt.
On another day we may see how this oath was kept when God brought about the accomplishment of Israel's deliverance, the type of its ultimate fulfilment.
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Kelly, William. "Commentary on Genesis 29:7". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​wkc/​genesis-29.html. 1860-1890.
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