Chapter 35

  1. Return to Bethel

    • God told Jacob, “Get up and go live in Bethel and build an altar there to the God you saw when you were running from Esau.”

      • “The whole Shechem incident happened because Jacob went to Shechem instead of Bethel, where he was supposed to be. Now he finally went where God told him to go (Genesis 31:13).” (Guzik)

    • Jacob then told everyone in his household to get rid of all their pagan idols, to purify themselves, and to change their clothes because they were going to Bethel. Jacob told them that he was going to build an altar there to the God who has been with him everywhere he has gone and answered him in his distress.

    • They obeyed, giving Jacob all their pagan gods and earrings which he then buried under a big oak tree near Schechem.

      • Guzik notes an important point here, “Jacob’s family only got right with God after Jacob himself did. This again shows us the tremendous leadership role men have within the family. A man resisting God will see the same effect in his children. A man who gets right with God will see the effect in his family also…Jacob’s children kept foreign gods because their mother did. Rachel clung to the household idols of her father (Genesis 31:19). No matter how hard we try to teach our children godly conduct they will continue to do what we do.”

    • When Jacob and his family left, God protected them by causing a terror to spread over the cities around them so that they wouldn’t chase Jacob and his family.

      • “Jacob and his family needed this protection because the massacre at Shechem made them hated among the Canaanites, as Jacob feared in Genesis 34:30).” (Guzik)

    • When Jacob and his family made it to Luz (also called Bethel), Jacob built an altar and called it “God of Bethel” because it was the very spot where God had appeared to him when he was running from Esau.

    • Rebekah’s nurse, Deborah, died here and they buried her under an oak tree south of Bethel which they named Allon-bacuth (Oak of Weeping).

    • God appeared to Jacob again and blessed him saying, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, it will be Israel. I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. Great nations will come from you and kings will be descended from you. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac is also yours, and I will give the land to your descendants as well.”

      • “God granted Jacob a precious reminder of his place in God’s great covenant, begun with his grandfather Abraham. In this, Jacob did not need to hear anything new from God. He just needed to be reminded of what was true, and encouraged to cling to it all.” (Guzik)

    • God withdrew, and Jacob placed a stone marker there, poured a drink offering on it, anointed it with oil, and named the place Bethel (which means “house of God”).

  1. Rachel’s Death

    • Jacob and his household left Bethel and headed toward Ephrath (Bethlehem) but while they were still a long way away from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor.

    • Rachel had a very difficult labor and her midwife comforted her by telling her not to worry, that she had delivered another son.

    • Rachel was dying, but with her last breath she named her son Ben-oni (which means “son of my sorrow”), but Jacob called him Benjamin (which means “son of my right hand”).

      • “The right side was associated with greater strength and honor, because most people are right handed. Benjamin (son of my right hand) therefore has the idea of “son of my strength” or “son of my honor.” (Guzik)

    • They buried Rachel on their way to Ephrath. Jacob put a marker on her grave and it is still there today.

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Jacob did not carry Rachel’s body to the family tomb at Machpelah, but buried her in the territory that would be Benjamin’s (see Joshua 18:21-28, I Samuel 10:2).

  1. Israel’s Sons

    • Then Israel (Jacob) continued on and pitched a tent just passed Migdal-eder.

    • While they were living here, Reuben slept with Bilhah (Israel’s concubine) and Israel found out about it.

      • “Through their sin, Reuben, Simeon, and Levi seemed to disqualify themselves from the high calling of Abraham’s blessing. It will be up to the fourth son, Judah, to bring forth the Messiah.” (Guzik)

    • These are Jacob’s sons, born to him at Paddan-aram:

      • “This was actually a severely dysfunctional family. God will use this family, but not because they were such great or spiritual men, but because He chose them by His grace alone.” (Guzik)

  1. Isaac’s Death

    • Jacob returned to his father Issac in Mamre (which is now called Hebron) where both Abraham and Isaac had lived.

      • “More than 20 years ago, Jacob left his home thinking his father’s death was at hand. Now, quite unexpectedly, he had the opportunity to see his father one last time before his death.” (Guzik)

    • Isaac lived to be 180 years old. He joined his ancestors in death at a ripe old age. Both Esau and Jacob buried him.