Genesis 28: 1-22

Jacob makes a deal with God. God is gracious and works with Jacob at this time.  However, if Jacob thinks that he has God wrapped around his little finger he is sorely mistaken.  Jacob is being transformed from a deceitful, self-centred trickster to a grand patriarch.  Jacob’s life is a good study in spiritual transformation.  It is primarily the work of God.  How is God transforming you?

Genesis 28:1-22

1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed <SUP class=footnote value='[a]’>[a] him and commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Go at once to Paddan Aram, <SUP class=footnote value='[b]’>[b] to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty <SUP class=footnote value='[c]’>[c] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. 4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

 6 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,” 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; 9 so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.

 10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway <SUP class=footnote value='[d]’>[d] resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it <SUP class=footnote value='[e]’>[e] stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

 16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, 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! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

 18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, <SUP class=footnote value='[f]’>[f] though the city used to be called Luz.

 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD <SUP class=footnote value='[g]’>[g] will be my God 22 and <SUP class=footnote value='[h]’>[h] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”


  1. From whom is Jacob to take a wife?
  2. What will God do for Jacob?
  3. What is the condition of Jacob’s conditional response to God?
  4. How is Jacob’s response to God inappropriate?
  5. When have you made a deal with God?  Why doesn’t God have to uphold his end of your bargaining?

Going Deeper


  • What did Isaac do regarding Jacob at the beginning of this passage?
  • Who must Jacob not marry?
  • What does Esau realize and what is his remedy?
  • What vision does Jacob have?
  • What does Jacob promise to give God in return for his help?


  • Why was it wrong for Jacob to marry a Canaanite, but perfectly acceptable for him to marry his cousin?
  • How is God’s drive to fulfil his planned blessing emphasized?
  • How do you think Jacob pictured God’s relationship with Bethel as opposed to other locations?
  • How does Jacob put his own life and needs before God’s glory?
  • What would you predict would be the next stage in Jacob’s development?


  • Is there anyone that a follower of God should not marry?
  • Can we marry our cousins?
  • Is there a location such as The Vatican City or The Temple Mount that is more holy than another location?
  • What are your biggest needs right now?  How do they occupy your mind?
  • What would be the first step toward putting your own interests aside to worship God in an uninhibited manner?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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