Verses of Genesis 28


Genesis 28:12 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)


Gen 28:12-13. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it.

NOW that God has given to the world a complete revelation of his mind and will, we are no longer to expect any extraordinary and personal communications with him: but, in former days, he frequently instructed his more favoured servants by dreams and visions. The particular vision recorded in the passage before us is almost universally considered as typical, though few, if any, have given any satisfactory account wherein the type consists. We shall endeavour therefore to put the subject in a just point of view; and for that purpose shall consider,


The immediate end of the vision—

When so remarkable a revelation is vouchsafed to man, we may conclude that some end, worthy of the divine interposition, is to be answered by it. The intent of the vision here given to Jacob, seems to be,


To dispel his fears of merited evils—

[Jacob could not but be conscious that he had acted a base and treacherous part: and that therefore he had incurred the divine displeasure, at the same time that he had excited a murderous rancour in the breast of his injured brother. He was now fleeing to avoid the effects of his brother’s wrath, and had but too much reason to dread some righteous judgment from the hand of God. But God, who is altogether sovereign in the distribution of his favours, and frequently bestows them at seasons, when, according to our conceptions, they could be the least expected, appeared to him, with expressions of love and mercy. He assured the unhappy fugitive, that he was reconciled towards him, and would give his angels charge over him to keep him in all his way, to protect him from all danger, and to supply his every want [Note: 5.]. Thus were all his apprehensions at once removed, and his mind restored to perfect peace.]


To confirm his hope of promised blessings—

[He had received a promise of the birthright, while yet he lay in his mother’s womb; and doubtless he had expected its accomplishment. But when he saw his father dying, and knew that the rights of primogeniture were about to be confirmed to his elder brother, his faith failed him; and, instead of waiting like David for the throne of Saul, he yielded to the solicitations of his mother, and sought to obtain by craft, what, if he had waited God’s time, he would have received in a fair and honourable way. And now he had good reason to doubt, whether he had not forfeited his interest in God’s promise, and entailed a curse upon himself instead of a blessing. But God, on this occasion, renewed his promise to him, almost in the very terms, in which, but a few hours before, it had been declared by his father [Note: Compare 3, 14 with, 4.] ; and thus assured to him, not only a numerous seed, and the inheritance of Canaan, but (which was infinitely the dearest right of primogeniture) the descent of Christ from his loins. From henceforth therefore we behold him walking steadfastly in the faith of Abraham, looking forward with joy to the day of Christ, and maintaining a conduct suitable to his profession.]

While the vision was replete with personal benefit to Jacob, it conveyed instruction also to the Church, by,


Its typical reference—

Instead of supposing, with all writers upon this subject, that the ladder was a type of Christ in his divine and human nature mediating between heaven and earth (which is fanciful, and without any warrant from Scripture), we rather think that the vision itself was the type (if it was indeed a type), and that it prefigured,


The testimony which angels were to give to Christ—

[Our Lord himself has cast the true light on this passage. In his conversation with Nathanael, he tells the young convert, that he should one day see that realized in him, which had been shadowed forth in Jacob’s vision [Note: Joh 1:51.]. Accordingly we find that as, from the first conception of Christ in the womb to that very hour, the angels had deeply interested themselves in every thing that related to him, so they continued on all occasions to wait upon him, to soothe his sorrows, to animate his courage, to fulfil his will, and to bear testimony on his behalf [Note: Mat 4:11; Luk 22:43; Luk 24:4-7; Luk 24:23.]. More than twelve legions of them would have come to his succour if he had desired their aid [Note: Mat 26:53.]. Here then is a correspondence between the type and antitype: Jesus was a man of sorrows, and cast out by his brethren, who said, “This is the heir, come let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours [Note: Luk 20:14.].” But God would not leave his beloved Son without witness, or without support; and therefore opened a communication between heaven and earth, that the angels might have continual access to him, whilst “he himself stood, as it were, at the top of the ladder” to direct their operations.]


The confirmation which his people’s faith was to receive from that testimony—

[The circumstances of Nathanael and his other disciples, to whom this ocular demonstration was to be given, were not unlike to those of Jacob, to whom the vision was vouchsafed. They had believed in Jesus; but their faith was to be sorely tried, so that they should be reduced almost to despair. There was however a seasonable support to be afforded them by the intervention and agency of angels. It was the repeated testimony of angels that first inspired them with hope [Note: Joh 20:12.], and that, afterwards, at the time of Christ’s ascension into heaven, filled them all with a pleasing expectation, that they should one day see him come again in power and great glory [Note: Act 1:11.]. In consequence of their declarations, no less than of the declarations of Christ himself, “they returned to Jerusalem with great joy,” and waited for the promised effusion of the Holy Ghost, “knowing in whom they had believed, and assured, that he would keep that which they had committed to him.” Thus in this respect also did the type receive a suitable accomplishment.]

For our further improvement of this history, we may observe,

There is no person so guilty, but God is willing and desirous to shew mercy to him—

[We cannot but admire the extent and freeness of that mercy with which God revealed himself to this guilty fugitive. We have a similar instance in the mercy shewn to Saul, at the very instant he was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Christ [Note: Act 9:1-6.].” And, has not the Apostle told us, that he was intended of God to be in this respect a monument of God’s long-suffering, and a pattern to those who should hereafter believe on him [Note: 1Ti 1:16.] ?” Let none then despair; but, whatever evils they have brought upon themselves by their iniquities, and whatever reason they may have to dread the wrath, either of God or man, let them call to mind the example before us; and turn unto him, who has promised “that he will in no wise cast them out.”]


There is no distress so great, but God is able and willing to deliver us from it—

[God has thousands of angels at his command, and has appointed them to “minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation [Note: Heb 1:14.].” These he orders to “encamp round about his people, and deliver them [Note: Psa 34:7.].” Let us then suppose ourselves as destitute as Jacob himself, having only the earth for our bed, a stone for our pillow, and no other canopy than the heavens; still, a vision of God, with the ministry of his angels, shall render our situation both comfortable and happy; yea, shall make it appear to us as “the very house of God, the gate of heaven [Note: 7.].” And such a confirmation will these “visions of the Almighty” give to our faith and hope, that we shall be fitted for all future trials, and be enabled to testify on God’s behalf, that “he will never leave his people, till he has fulfilled to them his promises in their utmost extent [Note: 5.].”]

Verses of Genesis 28


Consult other comments:

Genesis 28:12 - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 28:12 - Calvin's Complete Commentary

Genesis 28:12 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Genesis 28:12 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Genesis 28:12 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Genesis 28:12 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 28:12 - Discovering Christ In Selected Books of the Bible

Genesis 28:12 - Geneva Bible Notes

Genesis 28:12 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Genesis 28:12 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 28:12 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 28:12 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Genesis 28:12 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Genesis 28:12 - Scofield Reference Bible Notes

Genesis 28:12 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Genesis 28:12 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Genesis 28:12 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)