Genesis xxviii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 2. Take. Septuagint, “flee;” as if Isaac began at last to be apprized of Esau’s designs. Wisdom (x. 10) conducted the just when he fled from his brother’s wrath, &c. — Thy uncle. He points out the house, but leaves the woman to his choice.

Ver. 4. Grandfather. Isaac, out of modesty, does not mention that the same promises had been made to himself. He determines the right over Chanaan to belong solely to Jacob, and to his posterity. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. To Ismael’s family; for he had been dead fourteen years. Esau asks no advice. It is doubtful whether he meant to appease or irritate his parents, (Menochius) by this marriage with the daughter of Ismael. She lived with her brother, the head of the Nabutheans, and is called Basemath, chap. xxxvi. 3. (Calmet)

Ver. 11. Head for a pillow. Behold the austerity of the heir of all that country! (Haydock) — He departs from home in haste, with his staff only, that Esau might not know. (Worthington)

Ver. 12. A ladder and angels, &c. This mysterious vision tended to comfort the patriarch, with the assurance that God would now take him under his more particular protection, when he was destitute of human aid. (Haydock) — The angels ascending, foretold that his journey would be prosperous; and descending, shewed that he would return with safety. (Menochius) — Or rather, the ladder represented the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, born of so many patriarchs from Adam, who was created by God, to the blessed Virgin Mary. He is the way by which we must ascend, by observing the truth, till we obtain life eternal. (Haydock) — Mercy and truth are like the two sides; the virtues of Christ are signified by the steps. Angels descend to announce this joyful mystery to men; they ascend to convey the prayers and ardent desires of the ancient saints, to hasten their redemption. (Menochius) — Our Saviour seems to allude to this passage, John i. 51; xiv. 6. The Providence of God, watching over all things, appears here very conspicuous.

Ver. 13. Thy father, or grandfather. God joins the dead with the living, to shew that all live to him, and that the soul is immortal. (Haydock)

Ver. 16. Knew it not. Jacob was not ignorant that God fills all places. But he thought that he would not manifest himself thus in a land given to idolatry. He begins to suspect that the place had been formerly consecrated to the worship of the true God, (Calmet) as it probably had by Abraham, who dwelt near Bethel, (Chap. xii. 8, ) and built an altar on Mount Moria, chap. xxii. 14. Interpreters are not agreed on which of these places Jacob spent the night. St. Augustine, q. 83, supposes it was on the latter, “where God appointed the tabernacle to remain.” The Chaldean paraphrases it very well in this sense, ver. 17, “How terrible is this place! It is not an ordinary place, but a place beloved by God, and over against this place is the door of heaven.” (Haydock)

Ver. 18. A title. That is, a pillar or monument. (Challoner) — Or an altar, consecrated by that rite to the service of the true God. This he did without any superstition; as the Catholic Church still pours oil or chrism upon her altars, in imitation of Jacob. (Rabanus, Instit. i. 45.) If pagans did the like, this is no reason why we should condemn the practice. They were blamable for designing thus to worship false gods. (St. Clement of Alexandria, strom. vii; Apuleius, Florid. i; &c.) If Protestants pull down altars, under the plea of their being superstitious, we cannot but pity their ignorance or malice. (Worthington)

Ver. 19. Bethel. This name signifies the house of God. (Challoner) — Bethel was the name which Jacob gave to the place; and the town, which was built after his return, was called by the same name. Hence those famous animated stones or idols, received their title (Bethules, Eusebius, pręp. i. 10.) being consecrated to Saturn, the Sun, &c. Till the days of Mahomet, the Arabs adored a rough stone, taken from the temple of Mecca, which they pretended was built by Abraham. (Chardin) — Luza, so called from the number of nut or almond trees. Here the golden calf was afterwards set up, on the confines of the tribes of Benjamin and of Ephraim, (Calmet) the southern limits of the kingdom of Jeroboam. (Haydock)

Ver. 20. A vow; not simply that he would acknowledge one God, but that he would testify his peculiar veneration for him, by erecting an altar, at his return, and by giving voluntarily the tithes of all he had. (Worthington) (Chap. xxxv. 7.) How he gave these tithes, we do not read. Perhaps he might hereby engage his posterity to give them under the law of Moses. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Jacob’s journey to Mesopotamia: his vision and vow.

1 And Isaac called Jacob, *and blessed him, and charged him, saying: Take not a wife of the stock of Chanaan:

2 But go, and take a journey to Mesopotamia of Syria, to the house of Bathuel, thy mother’s father, and take thee a wife thence of the daughters of Laban, thy uncle.

3 And God almighty bless thee, and make thee to increase and multiply thee: that thou mayst be a multitude of people.

4 And give the blessings of Abrabam to thee, and to thy seed after thee: that thou mayst possess the land of thy sojournment, which he promised to thy grandfather.

5 *And when Isaac had sent him away, he took his journey and went to Mesopotamia of Syria, to Laban, the son of Bathuel, the Syrian, brother to Rebecca, his mother.

6 And Esau seeing that his father had blessed Jacob, and had sent him into Mesopotamia of Syria, to marry a wife thence; and that after the blessing he had charged him, saying: Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Chanaan:

7 And that Jacob obeying his parents, was gone into Syria:

8 Experiencing also, that his father was not well pleased with the daughters of Chanaan:

9 He went to Ismael, and took to wife, besides them he had before, Maheleth, the daughter of Ismael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nabajoth.

10 But Jacob being departed from Bersabee, went on to Haran.

11 And when he was come to a certain place, and would rest in it after sun-set, he took of the stones that lay there, and putting under his head, slept in the same place.

12 And he saw in his sleep a ladder standing upon the earth, and the top thereof touching heaven: the angels also of God ascending and descending by it.

13 And the Lord leaning upon the ladder, saying to him: *I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: The land, wherein thou sleepest, I will give to thee and to thy seed.

14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth:* thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and thy seed, all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed.

15 And I will be thy keeper whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee back into this land: neither will I leave thee, till I shall have accomplished all that I have said.

16 And when Jacob awaked out of sleep, he said: Indeed the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.

17 And trembling, he said: How terrible is this place? this is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven.

18 And Jacob arising in the morning, took the stone which he had laid under his head, and set it up for a title, pouring oil upon the top of it.*

19 And he called the name of the city Bethel, which before was called Luza.

20 And he made a vow, saying: If God shall be with me, and shall keep me in the way, by which I walk, and shall give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,

21 And I shall return prosperously to my father’s house: the Lord shall be my God:

22 And this stone, which I have set up for a title, shall be called the house of God: and of all things that thou shalt give to me, I will offer tithes to thee.



1: Year of the World 2245.

5: Osee xii. 12.

13: Genesis xxxv. 1. and xlviii. 3.

14: Deuteronomy xii. 20. and xix. 8.; Genesis xxvi. 4.

18: Genesis xxxi. 13.