Genesis chapter 28

English Standard Version

New International Version

New American Standard Bible

Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

What does Genesis chapter 28 mean?

Genesis 28 is the story of Jacob leaving home to begin his journey to Mesopotamia. Based on recent events, however, it would be more accurate to describe it as fleeing from his home. Jacob's brother Esau wants to kill him for cheating him out of Isaac's blessing (Genesis 27:41). No mention is made of that in this chapter, but this is the context driving Jacob's flight.

Isaac calls Jacob before him. Apparently, he has made some level of peace with Jacob's deception. Since Rebekah has appealed to Isaac to send him away (Genesis 27:46), it's possible that Jacob needed more convincing, not yet understanding just how angry his brother Esau really was. Isaac commands Jacob to go to Rebekah's brother's household in Paddan-aram to find a wife. Under no circumstances should Jacob marry a local Canaanite woman (Genesis 28:1–2).

Isaac also blesses Jacob again, this time giving to Jacob the full blessing of Abraham including a version of God's promises to Abraham (Genesis 28:3–5).

Once Jacob leaves, Esau learns that Isaac commanded Jacob not to marry a Canaanite woman. Esau becomes aware, perhaps for the first time, that his father is not pleased with Esau's two Canaanite wives from the tribe of the Hittites. Possibly in an attempt to regain some of his father's approval, Esau takes a third wife, one of the daughters of Isaac's half brother Ishmael (Genesis 28:6–9).

On the road to Mesopotamia and apparently alone, Jacob is forced by nightfall to bed down on the ground. The Lord appears to Jacob in a dream atop a ladder—or staircase—connecting heaven to earth. On that ladder, angels are ascending and descending. The Lord repeats to Jacob some of the very same promises in the same words He said to Abraham. He will give to Jacob and his descendants the very ground he is sleeping on while dreaming. He will make Jacob's offspring as the dust of the earth spreading out in every direction. All the peoples of the earth will be blessed through Jacob's offspring (Genesis 28:10–14). More immediately, the Lord promises to be with Jacob wherever he goes, to keep him safe, and to bring him back to the land of promise. The Lord will not leave Jacob (Genesis 28:15).

Jacob wakes up overwhelmed by awe and fear. He makes a powerful connection between the Lord's appearance to him and the place where he slept. He calls the place Bethel, which means "house of God," and sets up a stone pillar to commemorate the spot (Genesis 28:16–19).

Finally, Jacob makes a vow. If God will be with him and provide for his needs and bring him back to his father's household in peace, Jacob will make the Lord his God. He will worship him at this place, and he will give to the Lord ten percent of all God gives to him (Genesis 28:20–22).
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: