- Oct 24, 2015
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Considering the whole context of family..
• Gen 28:8 . . Esau realized that the Canaanite women displeased his father Isaac.
Now that Esau no longer enjoyed the status of a pampered athlete, he's a little
more attuned to the opinions of others around him; most especially to the dad who
at one time gave the impression his eldest was so wonderful.
• Gen 28:9a . . So Esau went to Ishmael and took to wife, in addition to the wives
Some feel that Esau did that to create an alliance with Ishmael; since he too was a
disfavored son. But Ishmael was already deceased by this time. He was at least
fourteen years older than Isaac, who was by this time around 135. Ishmael died at
137; twelve years prior to this chapter. It is much more likely that Esau betrothed a
woman from Ishmael's family in an attempt to redeem his marriages to the Hittite
girls. Ishmael's girls, at least, were kin.
• Gen 28:9b . . Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, sister of
Ishmael being long dead; his son Nebaioth made the arrangements for marriage.
You know, life sometimes dealt cruelly with girls in that day. Romance was out of
the question. Even if there was a boy in the neighborhood that took their breath
away, the girls weren't allowed to even date, let alone marry him. They had to
marry a man their dads or their brothers selected-- oftentimes a total stranger and
often someone quite a bit older than themselves. You'll often see it said in the Bible
that so and so loved a particular girl; but hardly ever will you see where she loved
I believe that Abraham was a conscientious parent and made certain Ishmael
received religious training. By the time Ishmael was evicted at fifteen or so, he had
a pretty good basic knowledge regarding Abraham's god. And his mom Hagar was
familiar with Him too. So it would not surprise me if Mahalath was pretty sound in
the correct beliefs. She was a much better choice than the Hittite girls, and she is
never once said to be a heartbreak to either Isaac or Rebecca. I would like to think
Mahalath was very good company for Rebecca; which would have been a real
comfort to her now that Jacob was gone.
Unfortunately, Mahalath was too little too late. It was like closing the gate after the
horses have run out of the corral. I'm sure Mahalath was okay; but Esau's new wife
could never change God's decree concerning Jacob. Esau lost out: and he lost out
• Gen 28:10 . . Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran.
It's difficult for me to believe that Jacob made the 450 miles trip to Haran all by
himself. He may have, I don't know. I'm not saying he didn't. After all, Hagar was
apparently traveling alone when she ran away from Sarah back in chapter 16. But
that was a very dangerous, foolish thing to do. A lone person in wild country is just
asking for trouble. What if they were to fall and break a leg? Or were attacked by
brigands and/or wild animals?
The route to Haran was used by caravans so Jacob may have traveled along with
one for safety's sake; and if not, then maybe with travelers on foot like himself sort
of like the pilgrims who trek the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
• Gen 28:11a . . He came upon a certain place
According to Gen 28:19, the "certain place" was Bethel. The site started out as Luz;
but later came to be known by the name Jacob gave it. Today it's commonly
believed Bethel was somewhere around Beitin, about twelve miles north of
Jerusalem and maybe two and a half miles northeast of Ramallah. At this point,
Jacob was maybe sixty miles from Beer-sheba-- probably the second or third day of
• Gen 28:11b . . and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set.
Travel at night without a car with good electric headlights was not a good idea in
those days. Palestine was once the habitat of bears and lions; and the odds were
against you of getting lost and losing your way in the dark.
• Gen 28:11c . .Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and
lay down in that place.
I doubt the stone was very large. Probably just enough to elevate his head a little
so he wouldn't lie with his cheek right down on flat dirt. That is so uncomfortable.
Try it. Put a towel or something down on the floor and lie down on the side of your
head. It's much more comfortable to stack a few books first and then put the towel
down. He probably did it like that and cushioned the stone with a bag or a coat.
• Gen 28:12a . . He had a dream;
In the book of Genesis, dreams are a common means of communication between
God and humans. Is that still going on? I really don't know. But if it ever happened
to me, I would consider it a nightmare.
Its very likely that Jacob and Rachael met at a younger age and Rebekah saw their connection.
And then there are many blessings given Jacob in his travels to find and ask his soul mate to journey with him further into the blessings of HaShem.