Genesis Study 11

Bible Class – Study #11 (Ge 28-29) – Notes and Discussion questions

Genesis Study #11: The evacuation of Jacob

Main passage of study:  Ge 28:1 – 29:30

Related passages:
Pt A: Ge 9:25; 17:1; 24:3; 25:20; 26:3-4; 2Co 6:14
Pt B: Ge 25:13; 26:34; 36:2-3
Pt C: Ge 12:2-3; 13:16; 15:5,12,18; 17:7-8; 20:3; Nu 23:10; Jn 1:51; He 13:5
Pt D: Ge 14:20; 31:13; 35:14; 48:3; Ex 3:6; Lev 27:30; 1Sa 7:16; 1Ki 12:32; Job 9:11; Ps 76:11; 1Ti 3:15
Pt E: Ge 24:13, 29; 33:4; 2Sa 5:1
Pt F: Ru 4:11; Hos 12:12
Pt G: Mt 7:2; He 12:6

Outline & Notes

  1. Jacob’s departure – Ge 28:1-5
    1. The exhortation regarding a wife – Ge 28:1-2
    2. The expectation of God’s blessing – Ge 28:3
    3. The expedition from the land – Ge 28:4-5
  2. Esau’s determination – Ge 28:6-9
    1. His incentivizing observations – Ge 28:6-8
    2. His imitated obedience – Ge 28:9
  3. Jacob’s dream – Ge 28:10-15
    1. The Lord’s providence – Ge 28:10-11
    2. The Lord’s projection – Ge 28:12
    3. The Lord’s promise – Ge 28:3-15
  4. God’s dwelling – Gen 28:16-22
    1. The Lord’s presence – Ge 28:16-17
    2. Jacob’s pillar – Ge 28:18-19
    3. Jacob’s pledge – Ge 28:20-22
  1. The intersection with Laban’s family – Ge 29:1-14
    1. Jacob arrives at the well – Ge 29:1-3
    2. Jacob ascertains his whereabouts – Ge 29:4-8
    3. Jacob anticipates a wife – Ge 29:9-12
    4. Jacob accepts his welcome – Ge 29:13-14
  2. The selection from Laban’s family – Ge 29:15-21
    1. Jacob arranges his wages – Ge 29:15-19
    2. Jacob accomplishes his week – Ge 29:20-21
  3. The misdirection in Laban’s family – Ge 29:22-30
    1. Laban applies his wiles – Ge 29:22-25
    2. Laban amends his word – Ge 29:26-27
    3. Laban adds to Jacob’s work – Ge 29:28-30

Despite receiving instructions for seeking a wife and a further blessing from his father, Jacob leaves the comforts of home behind with what was likely a heavy heart, and fear and uncertainty about what the future might hold.  Little did he know that as he settled in on the hard ground of Luz with a stone for a pillow that he would wake up a changed man!   Of course, this was just the beginning of the transformation that Jacob the deceiver would undergo at the hands of Almighty God.  At Bethel, he would receive the sure promises of the covenant made with his father and grandfather before him and the assurance of a link between heaven and earth and the presence of God to go with him wherever he went.  This would not mean an absence of trial and difficulty, however, as Jacob learns under the disciplining hand of the Sovereign Lord and so, deceit and disguise which Jacob practised is going to be used upon him.  Through the experience, Jacob will end up with four women in his household, from whom the twelve sons would be born that will fulfil the promise of God to make of him a great nation. 

Textual notes

●     Esau’s wives have been a cause for confusion for careful readers of the Scriptures. The end of Ge 26 identifies Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite as two Canaanite wives that Esau took. Our current chapter 28 gives Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael as a 3rd wife. Then Ge 36, which gives the Genealogy of Esau, mentions 3 wives: Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite, Aholibamah, daughter of Anah, daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, and Basemath, daughter of Ishmael. Defending Inerrancy provides the reasonable explanation that Esau had 4 wives: 1) Judith – not mentioned in the Genealogy as she bore no children 2) Basemath, daughter of Elon also known as Adah       3) Aholibamah, daughter of Anah 4) Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael also known as Basemath.

●     Beth-el means ‘house of God’. We first read of Bethel in Ge 12:8 as one of the places through which Abram first travelled in coming to the land of promise. But there is particular significance here as the LORD first speaks to Jacob directly here. Jacob would rename the place El-Bethel (God of the house of God) in Ge 35:7, emphasising that it is God’s presence that makes Bethel the house of God.  Interesting also is that the former name, Luz, means ‘separation’

●     There is a personal touch at the end of chapter 28 and Jacob’s encounter with God as in his vow, he switches to the pronoun ‘you’ in speaking to God – “of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.

●        At the beginning of chapter 29, the text translated “Jacob went on his journey” is literally ‘Jacob lifted up his feet’, indicating a bounce in his step after the encounter with the living God and the assurance that He would go with him wherever he went.

●        In conjunction with Jacob’s first sight of Rachel, inside of one verse we have 3 references to Laban as “his mother’s brother”.  Perhaps the Spirit is indicating to us here Jacob’s strong emotional connection to the mother he had left behind.

●        In Ge 29:17, we read that “Leah’s eyes were delicate”.  Commentators have surmised what this might mean and most take it to refer to a physical inferiority to her sister Rachel in possibly a paleness in colour, a lack of sparkle or a squint.

Discussion questions

1. What differences can be observed between Isaac’s calling of Esau at the beginning of chapter 27 and his calling of Jacob at the beginning of chapter 28?

2. What similarities and differences are there between the mission to find Isaac a wife in Ge 24 and the mission here to find Jacob a wife in Ge 28?

3. What can we see from Esau’s desire and decision to seek a wife from Ishmael’s family?

4. How do the circumstances of Jacob’s first real encounter with God enhance the picture of the grace of God toward a sinner?

5. What are some important things to note about the words spoken by the LORD to Jacob in Ge 28:13-15?

6. The house of God is an important theme that runs through the Scriptures.  What characteristics of a NT local assembly do we see in seed form in Jacob’s experience at Bethel?

7. What details in the first dozen verses of chapter 29 teach us about God’s sovereignty and God’s timing?

8. What might we surmise about Jacob’s outpouring of emotion in Ge 29:11?

9. Although God has graciously protected and guided Jacob all the way to Laban’s house, He will also exact discipline upon the man elected by His grace.  How do we see that discipline manifested in this chapter?

10. Jacob’s great disappointment and anger seem to be quite easily appeased by Laban’s response.  What could be some possible reasons for this?

11. How might we interpret Rachel’s role in her Jacob’s deception?  Could she have been aware of her father’s scheme?  What about Leah?

12. What lessons can we learn about God’s intention for marriage from this episode?