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28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman![a] Leave immediately[b] for Paddan Aram! Go to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and find yourself a wife there, among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May the Sovereign God[c] bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants![d] Then you will become[e] a large nation.[f] May he give you and your descendants the blessing he gave to Abraham[g] so that you may possess the land[h] God gave to Abraham, the land where you have been living as a temporary resident.”[i] So Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean and brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.

Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him off to Paddan Aram to find a wife there.[j] As he blessed him,[k] Isaac commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman.”[l] Jacob obeyed his father and mother and left for Paddan Aram. Then Esau realized[m] that the Canaanite women[n] were displeasing to[o] his father Isaac. So Esau went to Ishmael and married[p] Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael, along with the wives he already had.

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

10 Meanwhile Jacob left Beer Sheba and set out for Haran. 11 He reached a certain place[q] where he decided to camp because the sun had gone down.[r] He took one of the stones[s] and placed it near his head.[t] Then he fell asleep[u] in that place 12 and had a dream.[v] He saw[w] a stairway[x] erected on the earth with its top reaching to the heavens. The angels of God were going up and coming down it 13 and the Lord stood at its top. He said, “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father Isaac.[y] I will give you and your descendants the ground[z] you are lying on. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth,[aa] and you will spread out[ab] to the west, east, north, and south. And so all the families of the earth may receive blessings[ac] through you and through your descendants. 15 I am with you![ad] I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you!”

16 Then Jacob woke up[ae] and thought,[af] “Surely the Lord is in this place, but I did not realize it!” 17 He was afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! This is nothing else than the house of God! This is the gate of heaven!”

18 Early[ag] in the morning Jacob[ah] took the stone he had placed near his head[ai] and set it up as a sacred stone.[aj] Then he poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel,[ak] although the former name of the town was Luz. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God is with me and protects me on this journey I am taking and gives me food[al] to eat and clothing to wear, 21 and I return safely to my father’s home,[am] then the Lord will become my God. 22 Then this stone[an] that I have set up as a sacred stone will be the house of God, and I will surely[ao] give you back a tenth of everything you give me.”[ap]


  1. Genesis 28:1 tn Heb “you must not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.”
  2. Genesis 28:2 tn Heb “Arise! Go!” The first of the two imperatives is adverbial and stresses the immediacy of the departure.
  3. Genesis 28:3 tn Heb “El Shaddai.” See the extended note on the phrase “sovereign God” in Gen 17:1.
  4. Genesis 28:3 tn Heb “and make you fruitful and multiply you.” See Gen 17:6, 20 for similar terminology.
  5. Genesis 28:3 tn The perfect verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive here indicates consequence. The collocation הָיָה plus preposition ל (hayah plus lamed) means “become.”
  6. Genesis 28:3 tn Heb “an assembly of peoples.”
  7. Genesis 28:4 tn Heb “and may he give to you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your offspring with you.” The name “Abraham” is an objective genitive here; this refers to the blessing that God gave to Abraham.
  8. Genesis 28:4 tn The words “the land” have been supplied in the translation for clarity.
  9. Genesis 28:4 tn Heb “the land of your sojournings,” that is, the land where Jacob had been living as a resident foreigner, as his future descendants would after him.
  10. Genesis 28:6 tn Heb “to take for himself from there a wife.”
  11. Genesis 28:6 tn The infinitive construct with the preposition and the suffix form a temporal clause.
  12. Genesis 28:6 tn Heb “you must not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.”
  13. Genesis 28:8 tn Heb “saw.”
  14. Genesis 28:8 tn Heb “the daughters of Canaan.”
  15. Genesis 28:8 tn Heb “evil in the eyes of.”
  16. Genesis 28:9 tn Heb “took for a wife.”
  17. Genesis 28:11 tn Heb “the place.” The article may indicate simply that the place is definite in the mind of the narrator. However, as the story unfolds the place is transformed into a holy place. See A. P. Ross, “Jacob’s Vision: The Founding of Bethel,” BSac 142 (1985): 224-37.
  18. Genesis 28:11 tn Heb “and he spent the night there because the sun had gone down.”
  19. Genesis 28:11 tn Heb “he took from the stones of the place,” which here means Jacob took one of the stones (see v. 18).
  20. Genesis 28:11 tn Heb “and he put [it at] the place of his head.” The text does not actually say the stone was placed under his head to serve as a pillow, although most interpreters and translators assume this. It is possible the stone served some other purpose. Jacob does not seem to have been a committed monotheist yet (see v. 20-21) so he may have believed it contained some spiritual power. Note that later in the story he anticipates the stone becoming the residence of God (see v. 22). Many cultures throughout the world view certain types of stones as magical and/or sacred. See J. G. Fraser, Folklore in the Old Testament, 231-37.
  21. Genesis 28:11 tn Heb “lay down.”
  22. Genesis 28:12 tn Heb “and dreamed.”
  23. Genesis 28:12 tn Heb “and look.” The scene which Jacob witnessed is described in three clauses introduced with הִנֵּה (hinneh). In this way the narrator invites the reader to witness the scene through Jacob’s eyes. J. P. Fokkelman points out that the particle goes with a lifted arm and an open mouth: “There, a ladder! Oh, angels! and look, the Lord himself” (Narrative Art in Genesis [SSN], 51-52).
  24. Genesis 28:12 tn The Hebrew noun סֻלָּם (sullam, “ladder, stairway”) occurs only here in the OT, but there appears to be an Akkadian cognate simmiltu (with metathesis of the second and third consonants and a feminine ending) which has a specialized meaning of “stairway, ramp.” See H. R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax Legomena (SBLDS), 34. For further discussion see C. Houtman, “What Did Jacob See in His Dream at Bethel? Some Remarks on Genesis 28:10-22, ” VT 27 (1977): 337-52; J. G. Griffiths, “The Celestial Ladder and the Gate of Heaven,” ExpTim 76 (1964/65): 229-30; and A. R. Millard, “The Celestial Ladder and the Gate of Heaven,” ExpTim 78 (1966/67): 86-87.
  25. Genesis 28:13 tn Heb “the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.” The Hebrew word for “father” can typically be used in a broader sense than the English word, in this case referring to Abraham (who was Jacob’s grandfather). For stylistic reasons and for clarity, the words “your father” are supplied with “Isaac” in the translation.
  26. Genesis 28:13 tn The Hebrew term אֶרֶץ (ʾerets) can mean “[the] earth,” “land,” “region,” “piece of ground,” or “ground” depending on the context. Here the term specifically refers to the plot of ground on which Jacob was lying, but at the same time this stands by metonymy for the entire land of Canaan.
  27. Genesis 28:14 tn This is the same Hebrew word translated “ground” in the preceding verse.
  28. Genesis 28:14 tn The verb is singular in the Hebrew; Jacob is addressed as the representative of his descendants.
  29. Genesis 28:14 tn The translation understands the Niphal stem to be middle voice here; the normal passive for בָּרַךְ (barakh) is Pual. The middle voice may be expressed here as “they may consider themselves blessed,” “they may receive/find blessing,” “the may become blessed.” See the notes at 12:3 and 18:18.
  30. Genesis 28:15 tn Heb “Look, I [am] with you.” The clause is a nominal clause; the verb to be supplied could be present (as in the translation) or future, “Look, I [will be] with you” (cf. NEB).
  31. Genesis 28:16 tn Heb “woke up from his sleep.” This has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  32. Genesis 28:16 tn Heb “said.”
  33. Genesis 28:18 tn Heb “and he got up early…and he took.”
  34. Genesis 28:18 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  35. Genesis 28:18 tn See the note on this phrase in v. 11.
  36. Genesis 28:18 tn Heb “standing stone.”sn Sacred stone. Such a stone could be used as a boundary marker, a burial stone, or as a shrine. Here the stone is intended to be a reminder of the stairway that was “erected” and on which the Lord “stood.” (In Hebrew the word translated “sacred stone” is derived from the verb translated “erected” in v. 12 and “stood” in v. 13.) Since the top of the stairway reached the heavens where the Lord stood, Jacob poured oil on the top of the stone. See C. F. Graesser, “Standing Stones in Ancient Palestine,” BA 35 (1972): 34-63; and E. Stockton, “Sacred Pillars in the Bible,” ABR 20 (1972): 16-32.
  37. Genesis 28:19 tn The name Bethel means “house of God” in Hebrew (see v. 17).
  38. Genesis 28:20 tn Heb “bread,” although the term can be used for food in general.
  39. Genesis 28:21 tn Heb “and I return in peace to the house of my father.”
  40. Genesis 28:22 tn The disjunctive clause structure (conjunction + noun/subject) is used to highlight the statement.
  41. Genesis 28:22 tn The infinitive absolute is used before the finite verb for emphasis.
  42. Genesis 28:22 tn Heb “and all which you give to me I will surely give a tenth of it to you.” The disjunctive clause structure (conjunction + noun/object) highlights this statement as well.

28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed(A) him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman.(B) Go at once to Paddan Aram,[a](C) to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel.(D) Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.(E) May God Almighty[b](F) bless(G) you and make you fruitful(H) and increase your numbers(I) until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham,(J) so that you may take possession of the land(K) where you now reside as a foreigner,(L) the land God gave to Abraham.” Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way,(M) and he went to Paddan Aram,(N) to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean,(O) the brother of Rebekah,(P) who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,”(Q) and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women(R) were to his father Isaac;(S) so he went to Ishmael(T) and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth(U) and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.(V)

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

10 Jacob left Beersheba(W) and set out for Harran.(X) 11 When he reached a certain place,(Y) he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head(Z) and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream(AA) in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.(AB) 13 There above it[c] stood the Lord,(AC) and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.(AD) I will give you and your descendants the land(AE) on which you are lying.(AF) 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you(AG) will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south.(AH) All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[d](AI) 15 I am with you(AJ) and will watch over you(AK) wherever you go,(AL) and I will bring you back to this land.(AM) I will not leave you(AN) until I have done what I have promised you.(AO)(AP)

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep,(AQ) he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place!(AR) This is none other than the house of God;(AS) this is the gate of heaven.”

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head(AT) and set it up as a pillar(AU) and poured oil on top of it.(AV) 19 He called that place Bethel,[e](AW) though the city used to be called Luz.(AX)

20 Then Jacob made a vow,(AY) saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me(AZ) on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear(BA) 21 so that I return safely(BB) to my father’s household,(BC) then the Lord[f] will be my God(BD) 22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar(BE) will be God’s house,(BF) and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.(BG)


  1. Genesis 28:2 That is, Northwest Mesopotamia; also in verses 5, 6 and 7
  2. Genesis 28:3 Hebrew El-Shaddai
  3. Genesis 28:13 Or There beside him
  4. Genesis 28:14 Or will use your name and the name of your offspring in blessings (see 48:20)
  5. Genesis 28:19 Bethel means house of God.
  6. Genesis 28:21 Or Since God … father’s household, the Lord
  7. Genesis 28:22 Or household, and the Lord will be my God, 22 then