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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

They will have reached to heaven; not by flying thither as ghosts upon the wings of angels, but by heaven being brought down to earth, when the Lord Jesus shall descend in glory.

Jacob sojourned with his uncle Laban twenty years.

While residing in Mesopotamia, eleven sons were born to him.

The twelfth, named Benjamin, was born of Rachel, the mother of Joseph, at Bethlehem Ephratah, where she died and was buried.

Now, as Joseph was thirty-nine when Jacob went down into Egypt, being at that time a hundred and thirty years old, it follows that Jacob was ninety-one when Joseph was born, and seventy-seven when he fled to Haran.

After the birth of Joseph, the angel of God appeared to him, and said, "I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out of this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred".

He obeyed.

Having secretly collected together all his substance, he fled from Laban, taking up his route "to go to Isaac, his father, in the land of Canaan".

Having crossed the Euphrates, he arrived at the river Jabbok, which flows into the Jordan about midway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.

Not very far from the confluence of these rivers "the angels of God met him," and on this account he named the place Mahanaim -- that is, God's host.

Having sent messengers to Esau in the land of Seir to propitiate him, and got over all that he had, he remained on the north side alone.

It was here that he wrestled with one of the angels, who blessed him; and changed his name from Jacob to the more honourable one of Israel, which signifies a prince of God.

As a memorial of this honour, the angel touched the tendon in the hollow of his thigh, and caused it to shrink.

So that Jacob became lame, "and halted upon his thigh".

Having crossed the Jabbok to Penuel, and joined his company, he had an interview with Esau, who received him with apparent kindness, though with evident mistrust on the part of Jacob.

A reconciliation ensued.

Esau accepted a liberal present, and pressed upon Jacob the unwelcome protection of his warriors.

Jacob, however, persuaded him to depart without him; and he would follow "softly, until," said he, "I come unto my lord unto Seir".

But as soon as Esau was well on his way Jacob pushed on to Succoth.

Having halted there for a time, he crossed the Jordan and pitched at Shalem, in the land of Canaan.

After his sons had taken vengeance upon the city on account of Dinah, their sister, God appeared to him again, and told him to go and dwell at Bethel, and erect an altar there to God, who appeared to him when he fled from the face of Esau.

The gods of Laban were still in the possession of his family.

In obeying the voice of God, therefore, he ordered his household to put them away.