What does Genesis 28 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Genesis 28:1–5 describes how Isaac sent Jacob to Rebekah's brother Laban, in Paddan-aram in Mesopotamia, to find a wife. Jacob must not marry a Canaanite woman. Rebekah wants Jacob sent away so he won't be killed by his jealous brother, Esau. Esau's rage is due to Jacob tricking Isaac and stealing a blessing. Apparently having made some level of peace with Jacob's deception, Isaac gives Jacob the full blessing of the covenant promises of Abraham.
Genesis 28:6–9 describes Esau's reaction to learning that Isaac instructed Jacob not to marry a Canaanite woman. It seems likely that Esau only now realizes how greatly his two Canaanite wives have displeased his father. Apparently to earn Isaac's approval, Esau marries one of the daughters of Isaac's step-brother Ishmael. Her name is Mahalath.
Genesis 28:10–22 describes the Lord's appearance in a dream, given to Jacob while on the road to Haran in Mesopotamia, the region where Rebekah's brother Laban lives. Forced by nightfall to sleep on the ground with a rock for a pillow, Jacob dreams of a ladder, connecting earth to heaven, and full of angels going in both directions. Atop the ladder, the Lord stands and gives to Jacob the very promises He gave to Abraham. He also promises to be with Jacob on his journey from and back to the land of promise. Jacob wakes up and worships the Lord, vowing to make the Lord his God.
Chapter Summary:
Isaac sends Jacob away from his household to find a wife in Mesopotamia, in Paddan-aram, where Rebekah's brother lives. First, though, he gives to Jacob the full blessing of the promises of Abraham. Esau marries one of the daughters of Ishmael to try to please Isaac. The Lord appears to Jacob in a dream, giving to him the promises of Abraham personally, along with the assurance that He will be with Jacob to Mesopotamia and back again. Jacob vows that if the Lord does this, he will make the Lord his God and will worship Him and tithe to Him.
Chapter Context:
The previous chapter concluded with Rebekah urging Jacob to run for his life to her brother's household in Mesopotamia to escape the wrath of Esau. Now Isaac, too, sends Jacob to Laban, except to find a non-Canaanite wife. Hearing this, Esau marries one of the daughters of Ishmael. On the road to Mesopotamia, the Lord appears to Jacob in a dream. God personally delivers the covenant promises of Abraham and assurances to be with Jacob. In awe and fear, Jacob renames the place Bethel, ''house of God,'' and vows to worship the Lord as his God. In the next chapter, Jacob will get a taste of his own deceptive medicine, as he seeks a wife.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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