Genesis 35 - Outline of Genesis (Book Notes menu page)
35:1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there:
and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee
when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
{cp. 28:11-19}
35:2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that [were] with him,
Put away the strange gods that [are] among you, and be clean, and change your garments:
35:3 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.
35:4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which [were] in their hand,
and [all their] earrings which [were] in their ears;
and Jacob hid them under the oak which [was] by Shechem.
35:5 And they journeyed:
and the terror of God was upon the cities that [were] round about them,
and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.
35:6 So Jacob came to Luz, which [is] in the land of Canaan, that [is], Bethel,
he and all the people that [were] with him.
35:7 And he built there an altar, and called the place El-bethel:
because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.
Arise, go up to Bethel... unto God, who appeared unto you when you fled from Esau...-
God called Jacob back to the place where he had started to walk with Him. (cp. Rev 2:5a)
The intervening years had largely been wasted, since they had not been lived by faith.
Jacob began to take leadership over his household, by faith in God's Word.
He directed his family to prepare to enter Bethel {the house of God).
We also can profit from these points of preparation:
After he had built an altar there, he called the place El-Bethel {the God of the house of God}.
  • Once, Jacob had been terrified by the place (Bethel, cp. Gen 28:16-19).
    Now his attention is drawn to the Person who appeared to him there {El-Bethel}.
  • El-Bethel expresses a higher view of God than El-elohe-Israel {God, the God of Israel} (33:20).
    ''It is vital to know God as personal Savior, but it is a higher spiritual experience to know Him as 'Son over His own house' {Heb 3:6}. At Shechem, [Jacob] kept this Savior and his salvation to himself, and permitted his family and household to retain their idols. But this cannot be [allowed] if God is to be recognized and publicly confessed as... the God of the House of God; for the elect are His House, and 'judgment must begin at the House of God' {1Pet 4:17}, and 'Holiness becometh thy House, O Lord, forever!' {Psa 93:5}'' [GWms]
35:8 But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak:
and the name of it was called Allon-bachuth.
{ie., 'the oak of weaping'}
The fact that Deborah was with Jacob's family group, unaccompanied by Rebekah,
suggests that Rebekah (Jacob's mother) had died previously. Perhaps, Deborah had brought the news to Jacob personally, and then stayed with him.
The weeping at Deborah's death was compounded by the reminder of Rebekah's death.
Jacob mourned also for his mother, whom he never saw again, after his own misconduct (in deceiving his father, to steal his blessing) caused him to flee from home (perhaps 30 years earlier).
     That long period of separation had also brought sorrow to Rebekah, as she longed to see her favorite son. Although she had expected Jacob's exile to be brief, it had extended beyond her lifetime. cp. Gen 27:42-44
35:9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
35:10 And God said unto him, Thy name [is] Jacob:
thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name:
and he called his name Israel.
35:11 And God said unto him, I [am] God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply;
a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
35:12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it,
and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
35:13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.
35:14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, [even] a pillar of stone:
and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.
35:15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.
God appeared unto Jacob again...-
  1. He confirmed the Covenant promises (conveyed in the previous vision at Bethel, 28:13,14).
  2. He confirmed Jacob's covenant name, Israel {'God prevails', cp. 32:28},
    even though Jacob's unfruitful spiritual life had not been in keeping with this name.
  3. He revealed Himself as El-Shaddai, the Almighty God
    (as He had previously revealed Himself to Abraham, see note at Gen 17:1).
    He would fulfill His promises. In spite of Jacob's fleshly propensity to failure, the All-sufficient One would make Israel fruitful.
Jacob's response was to worship God.
The pillar of stone was a memorial to the covenant promises which God had spoken.
The offering, of oil poured out on the rock, depicts utter dependence upon God's provision, for once poured out, it was out of Jacob's hands. Only the Almighty God could bring the matter to the promised conclusion.
35:16 And they journeyed from Bethel;
and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath:
and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
35:17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour,
that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.
35:18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing,
(for she died) that she called his name Benoni
{ie., 'son of my sorrow'}:
but his father called him Benjamin
{ie., 'son of my right hand'}.
35:19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which [is] Bethlehem.
35:20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave:
that [is] the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.
Rachel, Jacob's beloved wife, died in childbirth near Bethlehem.
This account, with its mingled sorrow and joy, foreshadows another birth at this place.
35:21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.
35:22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land,
that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard [it].
Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:
35:23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi,
and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:
35:24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:
35:25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:
35:26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher:
these [are] the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram.
Reuben may have thought his sin was hidden from his father. v.22
But on his death bed, Israel made mention of it. cp. Gen 49:3-4
35:27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre,
unto the city of Arbah, which [is] Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.
35:28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.
35:29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died,
and was gathered unto his people, [being] old and full of days:
and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Isaac lived 180 years, which was far longer than he expected to live (cp. 27:2).
Esau and Jacob were together for their father's funeral,
but there is no record that they ever saw each other again after this.
The terms describing Isaac's death suggest the expectation of resurrection.
The possession promised to Abraham and Isaac (v.12) was not received during their lifetimes.
Yet, they fully expected to receive it, in God's time. cp. Heb 11:13-16
The Almighty God, who will someday raise the dead bodies of Deborah, Rebekah, Rachel and Isaac,
would also raise Jacob out of his spiritual deadness, to live as 'Israel' {'God prevails'}.

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