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selves into God's care ; and how must Jacob's heart have been strengthened, when God himself then spoke and said, “ Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again unto this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”
This event was very comforting to Jacob; and as we ought to remember the mercies of God at all times, he set up a stone on the spot, that he might know it when at any distant time he should return home; and he poured oil upon it, probably in token that there he would build an altar to worship God; for “ he called the name of that place Bethel,” which means the house of God, for there he had seen God, and there he hoped again to see him in his gracious goodness towards him. “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God :” not that he meant he should not be his God if he did not do all these things for him, for Jacob showed he would have no other God by resolving to take no wife but one that would serve God; but he meant that then he would make a particular mention of him, and declare what a God his God was.
from what he further says: “This stone which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house : and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee."
Jacob and the Daughters of Laban.
GENESIS XXIX. 15–20. Jacob, now knowing well that God would protect him, went on gladly to Haran, or “The Land of the People of the East,” as it lay east of Canaan.
On coming to Haran he saw a well—perhaps the same where Abraham's servant stopped ; and there is a well near that spot still, called by some Jacob's Well, although Jacob was there between three and four thousand years ago. There he also stopped ; and there were flocks of sheep resting near it, waiting for water, attended by their shepherds.
Jacob very civilly spoke to the shepherds, and asked if they knew Laban. They told him that they did know him—that he was well, and that Rachel, his daughter, was then coming with her father's sheep, to get water for them.
Jacob rolled away the great stone which covered the well, to keep the water clean, “and watered the flock of Laban, his mother's brother.”
He then kissed his dear relation, Rachel, telling her who he was; and she ran and told her father.
Laban hastened to the well, and was glad to see Jacob, and asked him to go home with him.
Jacob then told him “all these things;"—that he had got his brother's birthright—that Esau had for this cause said that he would kill him—that he had come there for safety—that God had appeared to him in a dream, and had promised to protect him and prosper him—that he had met with Rachel at the well—and that he had come to take a wife out of his family.
Laban told him that he might live with him and mind his flocks; but he should have wages for his work.
As Jacob had no presents to make for his daughter, according to the custom of the country, he told his uncle that he would serve him seven years, if he would agree that Rachel should then become his wife.
When the seven years were gone, Jacob said, “ Give me my wife,”—but his uncle cheated him, and gave him Leah. He, however, promised him Rachel, if he would serve seven years more.
Here you see that Jacob, having cheated Isaac by pretending to be Esau, was just served in the same way by Laban, who gave him Leah instead of Rachel.
After seven days' feasting, as was usual, Jacob had also Rachel for his wife, for whom he was to serve another seven years.
Jacob and his Flocks.
GENESIS Xxx. 25—28; XXXI. 3. The fourteen years which Jacob had engaged to serve for Rachel and Leah being expired, he wanted to return to see his father; having got no other reward for very hard service than Laban's daughters, with their families.
But Laban did not like to part with Jacob, for God had blessed him for Jacob's sake. It is a great blessing to be connected with really good people.
Now Laban knew that Jacob was not a covetous man, as he himself was, and that he would not ask him too much for his services ; so he said to him, “Appoint me," or fix, “thy wages, and I will give it."
Then said Jacob, you shall give me all the speckled and spotted goats and sheep that may from this time be brought forth among the flocks.
So we learn, “ the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maid-servants, and men-servants, and camels and asses."
Laban and his sons, seeing how Jacob prospered, put on very black looks
towards him. Being under the divine direction, and having consulted his wives upon the subject, he therefore resolved to quit Laban, and return to Canaan.
" Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels; and be carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the eattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Padan-aran (or Mesopotamia), for to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.”
“ And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob was fled. And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead,” a distance of three hundred and eighty miles from Haran.
Laban might have designed to bring Jacob back by fair promises, or else to have avenged himself upon him in case of refusal ; but “God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.” Laban, therefore, only accused Jacob of running away from him, and of taking away his gods.
For Rachel, unknown to Jacob, had stolen some things supposed to have been images or brass-work, which Laban used to consult like a conjuror, to know what would come to pass. Probably, Rachel knew better than to suppose that they were of any use, but wished to take such silly things from her deluded father. He, therefore, supposing that Jacob had got them, said, “Wherefore hast thou stolen my gods ?" “ Foolish man! to call those his gods that could be stolen !" And yet, there are millions of our fellow-creatures, in distant parts of the world, who now worship as gods things of the most absurd kind, made of wood and other articles, and know nothing of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of perishing sinners. Here is one of them, worshipped by the Hindoos, in India, and an ugly thing it is.
Laban searched everywhere for his gods, but could not find them; and he made Jacob angry by his rude behaviour: however, if Jacob was wrong in being angry, Laban was not less so in provoking him by his bad conduct.
Jacob told him how hard a master he had been, for he had made him pay for the cattle torn by wild beasts and stolen ; he had had fourteen years' service for his two daughters, and six years' for the cattle, and had changed his wages no less than ten times ; being never contented with his bargains : so that if God had not prospered him, he would never have had anything for all his labour.
Laban then proposed an agreement between them, which Jacob was very ready to make ; and they set up some stones as a mark, and gave a promise that they would never pass those stones with designs to do harm to each
and “the God of Abraham " was asked to witness the promise : for, wherever we are, we are under God's eye, and he knows all that we say and do. They also offered a sacrifice and ate bread together, as a proof that they both parted friends. Thus the quarrel ended, and God protected Jacob.
“ And early in the morning Laban rose up and kissed his sons,"—that is, in this place, grandsons," and his daughters, and blessed them; and Laban departed, and returned unto his place.”
Jacob and the Angels.
GENESIS XXXII. 1. “ And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.” Angels are God's servants, to protect them that trust in him, and these spirits were made known to Jacob to encourage him in his journey.
Now Jacob had great need of this encouragement, for he had to pass by the way in which he might meet with his brother Esau ; and remembering how he had obtained his birthright, and, therefore, how much reason Esau had to be angry, he was afraid of his vengeance—Esau not being a good man.
“ And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.” These were to tell him of his long absence, and troubles under a hard master, that Esau's heart might be softened. They were also to speak of his prosperity, that he might not suppose that he wanted more of him; and to address him from Jacob in language of respect, and express his wish that they might meet each other as brothers.
The messengers returned, and said that Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him.
Poor Jacob was now sadly frightened; for he feared that his brother would kill him and the children, and take all that he had.
He therefore divided the people and flocks into two bands, so that if he fell upon one, the other might have time to escape ; and so, his wife and children being in the hindmost band, he might save their lives.
He also prayed to God to protect him, for all our wisdom or courage cannot protect us in danger without God's care.
He then thought that he would send presents to his brother, to gain his good will : and after a night had passed away full of much care, he ordered servants to go one after another with different droves of cattle of various sorts, amounting in all to the number of five hundred and eighty; which, when they met Esau, they were to tell him were sent by his brother for his acceptance.
“So went the present over before him," and another night passed.
And now having passed his family over the river Jabbok, Jacob was left alone on the side nearest to Haran, and here an angel of God met him. How he conversed with and wrestled with the angel, as related in the chapter, it is not possible to say, but so it was; and before they parted, the angel gave him the name of Israel, or a Prince of God, and blessed him.
Meeting of Jacob and Esau.
GENESIS XXXIII. Jacob, having divided the people and flocks into separate bodies, now went forward to meet Esau ; and after the custom of the East, he bowed himself frequently to the ground. The manner of bowing in the East is different from ours—here is a picture of a person so doing.