Genesis 35:4

Genesis 35:4

They gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which [were] in
their hands
Whether in the hands of his servants or of the captives taken at Shechem, or in the hands of his sons, who had them along with the spoil they took there; so the Targum of Jonathan,

``they delivered, into the hand of Jacob all the idols of the people which were in their hands, which they had took of the idols of Shechem:''

and [all their] earrings which [were] in their ears;
not the earrings that women wore in common, such as Abraham's servant gave to Rebekah, and which Jacob's wives might wear, for such were not unlawful; but either which were worn in the ears of the strange gods or idols; for such used, it seems, according to some writers, to be decorated and ornamented after that manner; or rather in the ears of the idolaters themselves, worn by them in a superstitious way, having the images of these idols on them: so the Targum of Jonathan,

``and the earrings which were in the ears of the inhabitants of the city of Shechem, in which were formed the likeness of their idols:''

and Jacob hid them under the oak which [was] by Shechem;
that is, the idols, which, after he had broke to pieces, perhaps, he dug a hole under an oak, and there buried them, that they might be no more made use of in an idolatrous way; and he chose to put them under an oak, because it is a tree which often stands many years before it is cut down, and besides was used for religious purposes, and had in great veneration, and therefore seldom felled. Those idols seem not to be made of anything valuable, perhaps of wood or stone, for had they been of gold or silver, Jacob would doubtless have melted them, and converted them to other uses, and not have buried them under ground. The Jews F20 say, that the idol Jacob hid under the oak was in the form of a dove, which the Samaritans after some time found, and set it on the top of Mount Gerizim. Some take this oak to be the same with that mentioned in ( Joshua 24:26 ) ; but of that there can be no certainty, since Jacob, as it is highly probable, laid these images alone, and never intended any should know anything of them where they were.


F20 Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 3. 2.