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Let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

The Bible in fewer words

Episode 13: Stairway to heaven

(Genesis 28:1 - 29:12)

Isaac's instruction to his son Jacob: Don't marry a Canaanite

28 1 Isaac called Jacob, blessed him, and said to him,

Don't marry a Canaanite. Go marry one of your uncle Laban's daughters.

5 So Jacob went to visit his uncle Laban (the son of Bethuel).

Esau takes a third wife, a daughter of Ishmael

8 When Esau heard that his brother Jacob was obeying his parents by traveling to Haran to marry one of Laban's daughters, he decided to marry a local Canaanite girl because he knew it would upset Isaac and Rebekah.

9 So Esau married Mahalath, the daughter of his uncle Ishmael.

Jacob dreams on a pillow of stones

10-11 On his journey to visit his uncle Laban, Jacob stopped for the night, gathered some stones for pillows, and went to sleep.

12-14 Jacob dreamed that night about a ladder set up on earth but reaching to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. And God himself stood above it, and said,

I'm Abraham and Isaac's God.

I'm going to give you and your seed the land that you are lying upon. You'll spread abroad, to the east, west, north, and south. Your seed will be like the dust of the earth.

Jacob's Ladder, c.149, unknown artist

29 1 Jacob traveled to the land of the people of the east. 2 When he arrived, he saw a well.

4 He asked some people watering sheep, "Where are you from?"

They said, "Haran."

5 "Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?," Jacob asked.

"Yes, we know him."

"How's he doing?"

"He's doing okay. And look, here comes Rachel with the sheep."

9-11 When Rachel arrived, Jacob kissed Rachel and cried.

Flemish School, 16th Century, Jacob and Rachel at the well

12 Rachel told her father Laban about Jacob.


Don't marry a Canaanite (v.1)
Like his father Abraham before him, Isaac had only one concern for his son Jacob: Don't marry a Canaanite.
Esau decided to marry a local Canaanite girl (v.9)
This is Esau's third wife. The first two were Hittites, which his parents weren't happy about either. This time he selects a Canaanite, who is also his cousin -- the daughter of his father's brother, Ishmael.
Your seed will be like the dust of the earth (v.14)

In Jacob's dream, God repeats the same (land/progeny) promise that he previously made to Abraham (13:15, 15:18, 17:8) and Isaac(26:1-6).

And once again, the promise wasn't kept. The descendents of Jacob (the Jews) are not particularly numerous, have seldom possessed much of the land in question, and the nations on earth haven't been blessed by them.