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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–5
Verses 1–5

Jacob had no sooner obtained the blessing than immediately he was forced to flee from his country; and, as it if were not enough that he was a stranger and sojourner there, he must go to be more so, and no better than an exile, in another country. Now Jacob fled into Syria, Hos. 12:12. He was blessed with plenty of corn and wine, and yet he went away poor, was blessed with government, and yet went out to service, a hard service. This was, 1. Perhaps to correct him for his dealing fraudulently with his father. The blessing shall be confirmed to him, and yet he shall smart for the indirect course he took to obtain it. While there is such an alloy as there is of sin in our duties, we must expect an alloy of trouble in our comforts. However, 2. It was to teach us that those who inherit the blessing must expect persecution; those who have peace in Christ shall have tribulation in the world, John 16:33. Being told of this before, we must not think it strange, and, being assured of a recompence hereafter, we must not think it hard. We may observe, likewise, that God’s providences often seem to contradict his promises, and to go cross to them; and yet, when the mystery of God shall be finished, we shall see that all was for the best, and that cross providences did but render the promises and the accomplishment of them the more illustrious. Now Jacob is here dismissed by his father,

I. With a solemn charge: He blessed him, and charged him, Gen. 28:1, 2. Note, Those that have the blessing must keep the charge annexed to it, and not think to separate what God has joined. The charge is like that in 2 Cor. 6:14; Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers; and all that inherit the promises of the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, must keep this charge, which follows those promises, Save yourselves from this untoward generation, Acts 2:38-40. Those that are entitled to peculiar favours must be a peculiar people. If Jacob be an heir of promise, he must not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; those that profess religion should not marry those that are irreligious.

II. With a solemn blessing, Gen. 28:3, 4. He had before blessed him unwittingly; now he does it designedly, for the greater encouragement of Jacob in that melancholy condition to which he was now removing. This blessing is more express and full than the former; it is an entail of the blessing of Abraham, that blessing which was poured on the head of Abraham like the anointing oil, thence to run down to his chosen seed, as the skirts of his garments. It is a gospel blessing, the blessing of church-privileges, that is the blessing of Abraham, which upon the Gentiles through faith, Gal. 3:14. It is a blessing from God Almighty, by which name God appeared to the patriarchs, Exod. 6:3. Those are blessed indeed whom God Almighty blesses; for he commands and effects the blessing. Two great promises Abraham was blessed with, and Isaac here entails them both upon Jacob.

1. The promise of heirs: God make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, Gen. 28:3. (1.) Through his loins should descend from Abraham that people who should be numerous as the stars of heaven, and the sand of the sea, and who should increase more than the rest of the nations, so as to be an assembly of people, as the margin reads it. And never was such a multitude of people so often gathered into one assembly as the tribes of Israel were in the wilderness, and afterwards. (2.) Through his loins should descend from Abraham that person in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed, and to whom the gathering of the people should be. Jacob had in him a multitude of people indeed, for all things in heaven and earth are united in Christ (Eph. 1:10), all centre in him, that corn of wheat, which falling to the ground, produced much fruit, John 12:24.

2. The promise of an inheritance for those heirs: That thou mayest inherit the land of thy sojournings, Gen. 28:4. Canaan was hereby entailed upon the seed of Jacob, exclusive of the seed of Esau. Isaac was now sending Jacob away into a distant country, to settle there for some time; and, lest this should look like disinheriting him, he here confirms the settlement of it upon him, that he might be assured that the discontinuance of his possession should be no defeasance of his right. Observe, He is here told that he should inherit the land wherein he sojourned. Those that are sojourners now shall be heirs for ever: and, even now, those do most inherit the earth (though they do not inherit most of it) that are most like strangers in it. Those have the best enjoyment of present things that sit most loose to them. This promise looks as high as heaven, of which Canaan was a type. This was the better country, which Jacob, with the other patriarchs, had in his eye, when he confessed himself a stranger and pilgrim upon the earth, Heb. 11:13.

Jacob, having taken leave of his father, was hastened away with all speed, lest his brother should find an opportunity to do him a mischief, and away he went to Padan-aram, Gen. 28:5. How unlike was his taking a wife thence to his father’s! Isaac had servants and camels sent to fetch his; Jacob must go himself, go alone, and go afoot, to fetch his: he must go too in a fright from his father’s house, not knowing when he might return. Note, If God, in his providence, disable us, we must be content, though we cannot keep up the state and grandeur of our ancestors. We should be more in care to maintain their piety than to maintain their dignity, and to be as good as they were than to be as great. Rebekah is here called Jacob’s and Esau’s mother. Jacob is named first, not only because he had always been his mother’s darling, but because he was now make his father’s heir, and Esau was, in this sense, set aside. Note, The time will come when piety will have precedency, whatever it has now.