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Genesis 28:13-22

Context
28:13 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. 1  I will give you and your descendants the ground 2  you are lying on. 28:14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, 3  and you will spread out 4  to the west, east, north, and south. All the families of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another 5  using your name and that of your descendants. 6  28:15 I am with you! 7  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!”

28:16 Then Jacob woke up 8  and thought, 9  “Surely the Lord is in this place, but I did not realize it!” 28:17 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!”

28:18 Early 10  in the morning Jacob 11  took the stone he had placed near his head 12  and set it up as a sacred stone. 13  Then he poured oil on top of it. 28:19 He called that place Bethel, 14  although the former name of the town was Luz. 28:20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God is with me and protects me on this journey I am taking and gives me food 15  to eat and clothing to wear, 28:21 and I return safely to my father’s home, 16  then the Lord will become my God. 28:22 Then this stone 17  that I have set up as a sacred stone will be the house of God, and I will surely 18  give you back a tenth of everything you give me.” 19 

1 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.

2 tn The Hebrew term אֶרֶץ (’erets) 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.

3 tn This is the same Hebrew word translated “ground” in the preceding verse.

4 tn The verb is singular in the Hebrew; Jacob is addressed as the representative of his descendants.

5 tn Theoretically the Niphal stem can be translated either as passive or reflexive/reciprocal. (The Niphal of “bless” is only used in formulations of the Abrahamic covenant. See Gen 12:2; 18:18; 28:14.) Traditionally the verb is taken as passive here, as if Jacob were going to be a channel or source of blessing. But in other formulations of the Abrahamic covenant (see Gen 22:18; 26:4) the Hitpael replaces this Niphal form, suggesting a translation “will bless (i.e., pronounce blessings upon) themselves/one another.” The Hitpael of “bless” is used with a reflexive/reciprocal sense in Deut 29:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 65:16; Jer 4:2. Gen 28:14 predicts that Jacob will be held up as a paradigm of divine blessing and that people will use his name in their blessing formulae (see Gen 12:2 and 18:18 as well, where Abram/Abraham receives this promise). For examples of blessing formulae utilizing an individual as an example of blessing see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11.

6 tn Heb “and they will pronounce blessings by you, all the families of the earth, and by your offspring.”

7 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).

8 tn Heb “woke up from his sleep.” This has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons.

9 tn Heb “said.”

10 tn Heb “and he got up early…and he took.”

11 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 tn See the note on this phrase in v. 11.

13 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.

14 tn The name Bethel means “house of God” in Hebrew (see v. 17).

map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

15 tn Heb “bread,” although the term can be used for food in general.

16 tn Heb “and I return in peace to the house of my father.”

17 tn The disjunctive clause structure (conjunction + noun/subject) is used to highlight the statement.

18 tn The infinitive absolute is used before the finite verb for emphasis.

19 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.



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