From Eternity Past


Chapter 19—Jacob Comes Home

This chapter is based on Genesis 43; 35; 37.

Crossing the Jordan, “Jacob came in peace to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan.” Here he “bought the parcel of ground, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for a hundred pieces of money. And he erected there an altar.” It was here also that he dug the well to which, seventeen centuries later, came Jacob's Son and Saviour, and beside which, resting during the noontide heat, He told His wondering hearers of that “well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14. EP 133.1

The tarry of Jacob and his sons at Shechem ended in bloodshed. One daughter of the household had been brought to shame and sorrow; two brothers were involved in the guilt of murder; a whole city had been given to ruin and slaughter in retaliation for the lawless deed of one rash youth. The beginning that led to results so terrible was the act of Jacob's daughter venturing to associate with the ungodly. He who seeks pleasure among those that fear not God is inviting temptations. EP 133.2

The treacherous cruelty of Simeon and Levi toward the Shechemites was a grievous sin. The tidings of their revenge filled Jacob with horror. Heartsick at the deceit and violence of his sons, he said, “Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, ... I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.” EP 133.3

Jacob felt that there was cause for deep humiliation. Cruelty and falsehood were in the character of his sons. False gods and idolatry had to some extent gained a foothold even in his household. EP 134.1

While Jacob was thus bowed down with trouble, the Lord directed him to journey southward to Bethel. The thought of this place reminded the patriarch not only of his vision of the angels and of God's promises of mercy, but of the vow he had made there that the Lord should be his God. Determined that before going to this sacred spot his household should be freed from the defilement of idolatry, he gave direction to all, “Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments. And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.” EP 134.2