Notes for Gen 28:1LEB

"you must not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan."


Notes for Gen 28:2LEB

"Arise! Go!" The first of the two imperatives is adverbial and stresses the immediacy of the departure.


Notes for Gen 28:3LEB

"El Shaddai." See the extended note on the phrase "sovereign Yahewh" in Gen 17:1LEB.


"and make you fruitful and multiply you." See Gen 17:6-20LEB for similar terminology.


The perfect verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive here indicates consequence. The collocation הָיָה + preposition לְ (hayah + lé) means "become."


"an assembly of peoples."


Notes for Gen 28:4LEB

"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 Yahweh gave to Abraham.


The words "the land" have been supplied in the translation for clarity.


"the land of your sojournings," that is, the land where Jacob had been living as a resident alien, as his future descendants would after him.


Notes for Gen 28:6LEB

"to take for himself from there a wife."


The infinitive construct with the preposition and the suffix form a temporal clause.


"you must not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan."


Notes for Gen 28:8LEB



"the daughters of Canaan."


"evil in the eyes of."


Notes for Gen 28:9LEB

"took for a wife."


Notes for Gen 28:11LEB

"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.


"and he spent the night there because the sun had gone down."


"he took from the stones of the place," which here means Jacob took one of the stones (see v. 18).


"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 Yahewh (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.


"lay down."


Notes for Gen 28:12LEB

"and dreamed."


"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 Yehweh himself" (Narrative Art in Genesis [SSN], 51–52).


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.


Notes for Gen 28:13LEB

"the Yahewh of your father Abraham and the Yahewh 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.


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.


Notes for Gen 28:14LEB

This is the same Hebrew word translated "ground" in the preceding verse.


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


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 12:2LEB; Gen 18:18LEB; Gen 28:14LEB.) 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 22:18LEB; Gen 26:4LEB) 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 29:18LEB; Ps 72:17LEB; Isa 65:16LEB; Jer 4:2LEB. Gen 28:14LEB 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 12:2LEB and Gen 18:18LEB as well, where Abram/Abraham receives this promise). For examples of blessing formulae utilizing an individual as an example of blessing see Gen 48:20LEB and Ruth 4:11LEB.


"and they will pronounce blessings by you, all the families of the earth, and by your offspring."


Notes for Gen 28:15LEB

"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).


Notes for Gen 28:16LEB

"woke up from his sleep." This has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons.




Notes for Gen 28:18LEB

"and he got up early…and he took."


"he"; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


See the note on this phrase in v. 11.


"standing stone."


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 Yehweh "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 Yehweh 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.


Notes for Gen 28:19LEB

The name Bethel means "house of Yahewh" in Hebrew (see v. 17).


Notes for Gen 28:20LEB

"bread," although the term can be used for food in general.


Notes for Gen 28:21LEB

"and I return in peace to the house of my father."


Notes for Gen 28:22LEB

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


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


"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.