November 15, 2015

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

 

PART III: HISTORY OF ISAAC AND JACOB (Gen. 25:19-36:43)

 

Topic #E:  JACOB'S RESIDENCE AT SHECHEM, BETH-EL AND HEBRON. (Gen. 33:18-36:43.)                

 

 


Lesson III.E.4: The Promises Renewed and a Pillar Set Up. (Gen. 35:9-15)

 

 

 

Genesis 35:9-15 (KJV)

 

9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.

10 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.

11 And God said unto him, 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;

12 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.

13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.

14 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.

15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Jacob traveled on to Beth-el, again in the footsteps of Abraham (see 12:8).  There, as he had before, Jacob saw the Lord in a vision and received yet another promise of the divine presence and blessing.  He would father nations and kings and would inherit the land of his fathers.  The list of his immediate descendants attests to the beginning of promise fulfillment.  Even Esau, who had to settle for a secondary blessing (27:39-40), gave rise to a mighty people.

 

 

 

Commentary

 

9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram {i], and blessed him.

 

Many years before, Jacob had promised to return to Bethel— “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in-this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God” (28:20, 21)—and he made a vow to worship there the God who had “appeared” to him.  The return to Bethel, then, has all the characteristics of a pilgrimage.  For many years Bethel was certainly the most important sanctuary in the northern kingdom—dedicated or set apart for the service and worship of God—and many worshippers went there on pilgrimage.

 

In his first Bethel experience, Jacob had seen God and the angels in a dream (28:12), but now the Lord “appeared” to him in some special way (as a theophany {ii]) “and blessed him.”  The theophany (divine appearance) was an act of God’s commitment to past promises, and a validation of present spiritual realities.  This was something new!  “And God appeared unto Jacob.” He had spoken to Jacob about his standing in the patriarchal line, he had quickened his senses in a dream.  But now He appeared unto him.

 

 

10 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.

 

At Bethel God again appeared to “Jacob” and confirmed the promise He had made to him there earlier— “Your name will no longer be Jacob," the man told him. "From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won” (32:28)—and assured him that his new name, “Israel,” would be a constant reminder of his new character, his new relation to Jehovah, and his kingly walk in the divine way of life.  Jacob’s name-change to Israel was proof of the promised blessing.

 

 

11 And God said unto him, 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;

 

God’s reference to Himself as “God Almighty” (El Shadday, “the all-sufficient One.”)  was also an assurance that His promise would be fulfilled— “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. (28:3).  And by using His great name He showed His strong relationship with Jacob.  Now that the patriarch was back in the land of promise, the promise of the “nation” (“seed”), “kings,” and the “land” (v. 12) was once again confirmed (12:2-3; 15:5, 18; 17:3-8, 22-15-18; 28:13-14).  Jacob could count on El Shadday to supply any and every need, and to give the grace for any emergency.

 

The traditional elements of treaty-making are found here in God’s words, His title, His stipulations and sanction.  The Lord’s directive, “Be fruitful and multiply,” incorporated the creation mandate (1:28) in place of the usual promise of descendants, which indicates that the Abrahamic covenant continued to be in effect. God’s blessing on mankind would be fulfilled in and through Jacob and his offspring.  At that time, Jacob had only eleven sons, but God would give him one more son and abundantly bless all of them and increase their number.

 

 

12 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.

 

The Lord considers that pretty important property, by the way.  This now is the third time He has promised them the “land”—first to “Abraham,” then to “Isaac,” and now to “Jacob.”  The promised land was his despite all appearances to the contrary.  The Lord had to tell each one of these men about it two or three times; in fact, he told Abraham many times.  Here were spiritual truths which Jacob could take two of bank, unchanged by all that had happened since he had last come that way.  They rested upon God’s unbreakable Word, therefore they were unchanged. 

 

Two things are promised him, which we have met with often before; that he should be the father of a great nation (v. 11), and that he should be the master of a good “land” (v. 12).  These two promises had a spiritual significance, which we may suppose Jacob himself had some notion of, though not as clear and distinct as we now have; for, without doubt, Christ is the promised Seed, and heaven is the promised land; the former is the foundation, and the latter the top-stone of all God’s favors.

 


  13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.

 

The living God had made His will known and now he returned to His abode in heaven.  The expression “God went up from him” suggests that God was present in some visible form.

 


  14 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.

 

This second meeting at Bethel, with God, gave “Jacob” a fresh reason to “set up” a memorial “pillar” and to name the place Bethel.  Here the Sacred Author has given us a brief look at the common way to make a covenant.

 

Jacob’s actions here are almost identical with those in his earlier Bethel experience; setting up a “stone pillar,” pouring “oil” on it, naming the place . . .  Bethel (35:6-7, 14-15; 28: 16-19).  And both times God promised Jacob many descendents in the land (28:13-14; 35:11-12).  But here he added that kings would be included in Jacob’s offspring.

 

Here is the first mention of a “drink offering.”  In the Book of Leviticus, five offerings are given, but not a “drink offering.”  In fact, no instruction is given about it at all, but it is mentioned.  Evidently this is one of the oldest offerings, and it has a very wonderful meaning to the believer today.  The “drink offering” (probably wine) was just “poured” on the other offerings and it went up in Steam.  The “drink offering” was a supplement to the regular sacrifices and was “poured” out on the altar as the sacrifice was burning (Exodus 29:40-41; Numbers 6:17; 15:5-10, 24; 29:22-38).  This was a public witness that Jacob’s God was in truth the God who reveals himself to man.  The proclamation of the place’s new name, Bethel (v. 15, house of God) was likewise a witness to Jacob’s faith.  It was a symbol of dedication, the worshipper’s life “poured” out for the Lord (2 Samuel 23:16; Philippians two: 17). Paul told the Philippians that that is the way he wanted his life to be—just “poured” out like a “drink offering.”

 

There is spiritual symbolism in Jacob’s memorial to God that we don’t want to miss.  The stone would speak to us of Christ; the “drink offering” (doubtless an offering of wine) of the outpoured blood that saves; the “oil” of the outpoured Holy Spirit.  “Jacob,” with his quickened understanding of spiritual truths, would dimly apprehend these things perhaps.  Thus he staked afresh his claim to Canaan, not basing his claim on his personal merits nor on his pedigree as a child of Abraham, but on the finished work of Christ.

 

 

15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.

 

“Jacob’s” restoration was now complete.  He was back in the “place” of Gods choosing; he had offered himself and his sacrifices to the Lord; the Lord had spoken to him; and the covenant promises had been reaffirmed.  He had come from the house of Laban to the house of God; and though he still had much to learn about his walk with the Lord, “Jacob” was starting to be “Israel” and live like a prince instead of a pauper.

 

 

 

 

 

END NOTES

{i] Padan-aram. The plain of Aram, or the plain of the highlands (Genesis 25:20; 28:2, 5-7; 31:18, etc.), commonly regarded as the district of Mesopotamia lying around Haran.  The Hebrews also called it the Aram-naharaim, "Aram of the two rivers," the Greek Mesopotamia (Genesis 24:10) and "the field (country, Authorized Version) of Syria" (Hosea 12:13). The term was perhaps more especially applied to that portion which bordered on the Euphrates, to distinguish it from the mountainous districts in the north and northeast of Mesopotamia. In Genesis 48:7 it is called simply PADAN. Abraham obtained a wife for Isaac from Padan-aram (Genesis 25:20). Jacob's wives were also from Padan-aram (Genesis 28:2,5,6,7; 31:1-8; 33:18).

 

{ii] Theophany. Theophany is essentially a theological term, and is used of any temporary, normally visible, manifestation of God. It is to be distinguished from that permanent manifestation of God in Jesus Christ, called the Incarnation. Most of its examples must be sought in the OT. In the Bible no stress is laid on the manner of the theophany; what is important is what God does and says. Normally the theophany is for the ear, the visible merely attracting and riveting the attention. This perhaps is most clearly seen in the story of the burning bush (Exod 3:2-6) and of the giving of the law with all its physical manifestations (19:18f.; 20:18); the physical is merely secondary, and in the latter case it is stressed that no form was seen (Deut 4:12, 15).

 

 

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