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5Thus Isaac sent Jacob away; and he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.
3. And God Almighty bless thee. Here follows the form of benediction, which slightly differs in words from the former, but nevertheless tends to the same end. First, he desires that Jacob should be blessed by God; that is, that he should be so increased and amplified in his own offspring, as to grow into a multitude of nations; or, in other words, that he should produce many people who might combine into one body under the same head; as if he had said, Let there arise from thee many tribes, who shall constitute one people. And this truly was, in some measure, fulfilled when Moses distributed the people into thirteen divisions. Nevertheless, Isaac looked for a further result, namely, that many were at length to be gathered together out of various nations, to the family of his son, that, in this manner, from a vast and previously scattered multitude, might be formed one assembly. For it is not to be doubted, that he wished to hand down what he had received; seeing that he immediately afterwards celebrates the memory of the original covenant, deriving his present benediction from thence as its source: as if he had said, that he transferred whatever right he had from his father; to his son Jacob, in order that the inheritance of life might remain with him, according to the covenant of God made with Abraham. They who expound this as being said in the way of comparison, as if Isaac5353 In the editions of Amsterdam and Berlin, the name Jacob is here inserted; and the old English version has it too. The mistake is obvious, and stands corrected in the French translation. — Ed. wished those benefits which God had before conferred on Abraham to be in the same manner granted to his son, attenuate the meaning of the words. For since God, in making his covenant with Abraham, had annexed this condition, that it should descend to his posterity, it was necessary to trace its commencement to his person as its root. Therefore, Isaac constitutes his son Jacob the heir of Abraham, as successor to the benediction deposited with him, and promised to his seed. This also appears more clearly from the context following, where he assigns to him the dominion over the land, because it had been given to Abraham. Moreover, we perceive, in this member of the sentence, with what consistency of faith the holy fathers rested on the word of the Lord; for otherwise, they would have found it no small temptation to be driven about as strangers and pilgrims in the very land, the possession of which had been divinely assigned them a hundred years before. But we see, that in their wanderings and their unsettled mode of life, they no less highly estimated what God had promised them, than if they had already been in the full enjoyment of it. And this is the true trial of faith; when relying on the word of God alone, although tossed on the waves of the world, we stand as firmly as if our abode were already fixed in heaven. Isaac expressly fortifies his son against this temptation, when he calls the land of which he constitutes him lord, the land of his wanderings. For by these words he teaches him that it was possible he might be a wanderer all the days of his life: but this did not hinder the promise of God from being so ratified, that he, contented with that alone, might patiently wait for the time of revelation. Even the plural number5454 Terram peregrinationum — the land of wanderings. seems to express something significant, namely, that Jacob would be a wanderer not once only, but in various ways and perpetually. Since, however, the Hebrew plural has not always such emphasis, I do not insist on this interpretation. It is more worthy of notice, that the faith of Jacob was proved by a severe and rigid trial, seeing, that for this very reason, the land is promised to him in word only, while in fact, he is cast far away from it. For he seems to be the object of ridicule, when he is commanded to possess the dominion of the land, and yet to leave it and to bid it farewell, and to depart into distant exile.