(Gen 35:1 NASB) Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”
Gen 35:1: Elohim is calling Jacob back to Bethel where He wrestled with him all night. It is also where Elohim confirmed the Abrahamic covenant with Jacob. This chapter involves a re-commitment of Jacob and his family to serve Elohim.
(Gen 35:2 NASB) So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your garments;
(Gen 35:3 NASB) and let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and has been with me wherever I have gone.”
Gen 35:3: The household of Jacob and his servants were to put out the foreign gods from among them and purify themselves. The act of purifying themselves and changing their garments was an outward act indicating the cleansing of the heart toward Yahweh (Isa. 1:16-18).
The instructions that Jacob gives here are very similar to the instructions given to Israel before they made the covenant with Elohim. He told them to wash their clothes and then to put away their false gods (Ex. 19:10-14, 20:3-6).
(Gen 35:4 NASB) So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.
(Gen 35:5 NASB) As they journeyed, there was a great terror upon the cities which were around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.
Gen 35:5: The terror spoken of here could be a reference to the events as described in the book of Jasher. In that writing, Jacob states that the sons of Jacob went to several of the cities and killed many of the people there. However, the book of Jasher, as we have it, is not a reliable document since it was not preserved as was the Tanakh. It is possible that the acts of Levi and Simeon to the men in the city of Hamor and Shechem would explain the terror of the people around them.
(Gen 35:6 NASB) So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him.
(Gen 35:7 NASB) And he built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him, when he fled from his brother.
(Gen 35:8 NASB) Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; it was named Allon-bacuth.
Gen 35:8: “El Bethel” means “Elohim of Bethel.” Since Bethel means “House of Elohim,” the altar is referred to as “the Elohim of the house of Elohim.”
The terebinth tree was named “allon bachuth” which means “oak of weeping.”
(Gen 35:9 NASB) Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him.
(Gen 35:10 NASB) And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel.
Gen 35:10: Jacob is blessed by Elohim and is again told that his name is changed to Israel.
(Gen 35:11 NASB) God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you.
(Gen 35:12 NASB) “And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your descendants after you.”
(Gen 35:13 NASB) Then God went up from him in the place where He had spoken with him.
Gen 35:13: The name Elohim calls Himself in verse 11 is “El Shaddai.” Jacob is told to be fruitful and multiply. He already has eleven sons and an untold number of daughters. Israel is told that he will become a “company” (multitude or assembly) of nations. Kings shall proceed from his body.
That land is given to Israel and to his descendants after him (Romans 4:11-12, 16, 9:6-8).
(Gen 35:14 NASB) And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a libation on it; he also poured oil on it.
Gen 35:14: Why did Jacob pour a drink offering (libation) and oil on the pillar? Jacob is now in the land given to him by Elohim and it is the law that he is to do so (Num. 15:2-7).
Jacob had not yet been cultivating the ground and did not have the grain, but it appears that he followed much of this requirement.
(Gen 35:15 NASB) So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel.
(Gen 35:16 NASB) Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and she suffered severe labor.
Gen 35:16: Ephrath is the ancient name of Bethlehem. The prophet Micah prophesied that this would be the birthplace of Messiah (Micah 5:2). Matthew quotes this verse as being one known by the scribes as the one that told from where the King would come from (Matt. 2:4-6).
(Gen 35:17 NASB) And it came about when she was in severe labor that the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for now you have another son.”
(Gen 35:18 NASB) And it came about as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.
Gen 35:18: Rachel called her last son “Ben-Oni” which means “son of my sorrow or misfortune.” Israel changed his name to Benjamin which means “son of the right hand.” In this way he is a picture of the Messiah who came out of Bethlehem who is at the right hand of the Father.
(Gen 35:19 NASB) So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).
(Gen 35:20 NASB) And Jacob set up a pillar over her grave; that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day.
Gen 35:20: While Jacob had four wives, Rachel was the only one that he asked for, worked for, longed for, and was the one he truly loved the most. Without a doubt, he was very sad.
(Gen 35:21 NASB) Then Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.
(Gen 35:22 NASB) And it came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard of it. Now there were twelve sons of Jacob–
Gen 35:22: This is a shameful act that Reuben would pay for. Israel did not forget it even on his deathbed (Gen. 49:3-4). It is strictly prohibited in Torah (Lev. 18:7-8).
(Gen 35:23 NASB) the sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s first-born, then Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Zebulun;
(Gen 35:24 NASB) the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin;
(Gen 35:25 NASB) and the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali;
(Gen 35:26 NASB) and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.
Gen 35:26: The sons of Israel numbered twelve in all from all four of his wives.
(Gen 35:27 NASB) And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.
(Gen 35:28 NASB) Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years.
(Gen 35:29 NASB) And Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, an old man of ripe age; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Gen 35:29: Jacob was present to witness the death of his father. He and his brother buried Isaac at the ripe old age of 180.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas