Genesis 35

1 And God said to Jacob, Arise, go up to the place, Baethel, and dwell there; and make there an altar to the God that appeared to thee, when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
2 And Jacob said to his house, and to all that were with him, Remove the strange gods that are with you from the midst of you, and purify yourselves, and change your clothes.
3 And let us rise and go up to Baethel, and let us there make an alter to God who hearkened to me in the day of calamity, who was with me, and preserved me throughout in the journey, by which I went.
4 And they gave to Jacob the strange gods, which were in their hands, and the ear-rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the turpentine tree which is in Secima, and destroyed them to this day.
5 So Israel departed from Secima, and the fear of God was upon the cities round about them, and they did not pursue after the children of Israel.
6 And Jacob came to Luza, which is in the land of Chanaan, which is Baethel, he and all the people that were with him.
7 And he built there an altar, and called the name of the place Baethel; for there God appeared to him, when he fled from the face of his brother Esau.
8 And Deborrha, Rebecca's nurse, died, and was buried below Baethel under the oak; and Jacob called its name, The Oak of Mourning.
9 And God appeared to Jacob once more in Luza, when he came out of Mesopotamia of Syria, and God blessed him.
10 And God said to him, Thy name shall not be called Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name; and he called his name Israel.
11 And God said to him, I am thy God; increase and multiply; for nations and gatherings of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.
12 And the land which I gave to Abraam and Isaac, I have given it to thee; and it shall come to pass that I will give this land also to thy seed after thee.
13 And God went up from him from the place where he spoke with him.
14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where God spoke with him, a pillar of stone; and offered a libation upon it, and poured oil upon it.
15 And Jacob called the name of the place in which God spoke with him, Baethel.
16 [ ] and it came to pass when he drew nigh to Chabratha, to enter into Ephratha, Rachel travailed; and in her travail she was in hard labour.
17 And it came to pass in her hard labour, that the midwife said to her, Be of good courage, for thou shalt also have this son.
18 And it came to pass in her giving up the ghost (for she was dying), that she called his name, The son of my pain; but his father called his name Benjamin.
19 So Rachel died, and was buried in the way of the course of Ephratha, this is Bethleem.
20 And Jacob set up a pillar on her tomb; this is the pillar on the tomb of Rachel, until this day.
21 And it came to pass when Israel dwelt in that land, that Ruben went and lay with Balla, the concubine of his father Jacob; and Israel heard, and the thing appeared grievous before him.
22 And the sons of Jacob were twelve.
23 The sons of Lea, the first-born of Jacob; Ruben, Symeon, Levi, Judas, Issachar, Zabulon.
24 And the sons of Rachel; Joseph and Benjamin.
25 And the sons of Balla, the hand-maid of Rachel; Dan and Nephthalim.
26 And the sons of Zelpha, the hand-maid of Lea; Gad and Aser. These the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Mesopotamia of Syria.
27 And Jacob came to Isaac his father to Mambre, to a city of the plain; this is Chebron in the land of Chanaan, where Abraam and Isaac sojourned.
28 And the days of Isaac which he lived were an hundred and eighty years.
29 And Isaac gave up the ghost and died, and was laid to his family, old and full of days; and Esau and Jacob his sons buried him.

Genesis 35 Commentary

Chapter 35

God commands Jacob to go to Beth-el, He puts away idols from his family. (1-5) Jacob builds an altar, Death of Deborah, God blesses Jacob. (6-15) Death of Rachel. (16-20) Reuben's crime, The death of Isaac. (21-29)

Verses 1-5 Beth-el was forgotten. But as many as God loves, he will remind of neglected duties, one way or other, by conscience or by providences. When we have vowed a vow to God, it is best not to defer the payment of it; yet better late than never. Jacob commanded his household to prepare, not only for the journey and removal, but for religious services. Masters of families should use their authority to keep up religion in their families, Jos. 24:15 . They must put away strange gods. In families where there is a face of religion, and an altar to God, yet many times there is much amiss, and more strange gods than one would suppose. They must be clean, and change their garments. These were but outward ceremonies, signifying the purifying and change of the heart. What are clean clothes, and new clothes, without a clean heart, and a new heart? If Jacob had called for these idols sooner, they had parted with them sooner. Sometimes attempts for reformation succeed better than we could have thought. Jacob buried their images. We must be wholly separated from our sins, as we are from those that are dead and buried out of sight. He removed from Shechem to Beth-el. Though the Canaanites were very angry against the sons of Jacob for their barbarous usage of the Shechemites, yet they were so kept back by Divine power, that they could not take the opportunity now offered to avenge them. The way of duty is the way of safety. When we are about God's work, we are under special protection; God is with us, while we are with him; and if He be for us, who can be against us? God governs the world more by secret terrors on men's minds than we are aware of.

Verses 6-15 The comfort the saints have in holy ordinances, is not so much from Beth-el, the house of God, as from El-beth-el, the God of the house. The ordinances are empty things, if we do not meet with God in them. There Jacob buried Deborah, Rebekah's nurse. She died much lamented. Old servants in a family, that have in their time been faithful and useful, ought to be respected. God appeared to Jacob. He renewed the covenant with him. I am God Almighty, God all-sufficient, able to make good the promise in due time, and to support thee and provide for thee in the mean time. Two things are promised; that he should be the father of a great nation, and that he should be the master of a good land. These two promises had a spiritual signification, which Jacob had some notion of, though not so clear and distinct as we now have. Christ is the promised Seed, and heaven is the promised land; the former is the foundation, and the latter the top-stone, of all God's favours.

Verses 16-20 Rachel had passionately said, Give me children, or else I die; and now that she had children, she died! The death of the body is but the departure of the soul to the world of spirits. When shall we learn that it is God alone who really knows what is best for his people, and that in all worldly affairs the safest path for the Christian is to say from the heart, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good. Here alone is our safety and our comfort, to know no will but his. Her dying lips called her newborn son Ben-oni, the son of my sorrow; and many a son proves to be the heaviness of her that bare him. Children are enough the sorrow of their mothers; they should, therefore, when they grow up, study to be their joy, and so, if possible, to make them some amends. But Jacob, because he would not renew the sorrowful remembrance of the mother's death every time he called his son, changed his name to Benjamin, the son of my right hand: that is, very dear to me; the support of my age, like the staff in my right hand.

Verses 21-29 What a sore affliction Reuben's sin was, is shown, " and Israel heard it." No more is said, but that is enough. Reuben thought that his father would never hear of it; but those that promise themselves secrecy in sin, are generally disappointed. The age and death of Isaac are recorded, though he died not till after Joseph was sold into Egypt. Isaac lived about forty years after he had made his will, chap. 27:2 . We shall not die an hour the sooner, but much the better, for timely setting our hearts and houses in order. Particular notice is taken of the agreement of Esau and Jacob at their father's funeral, to show how God had wonderfully changed Esau's mind. It is awful to behold relations, sometimes for a little of this world's goods, disputing over the graves of their friends, while they are near going to the grave themselves.

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or, lost.
  • [b]. Note. — The words between brackets form the 21st verse of this chapter in the Hebrew.

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives an account of Jacob's going to Bethel, and building an altar there by the order and direction of God, Ge 35:1-7, where Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died and was buried, Ge 35:8, and where God appeared to Jacob, confirmed the new name of Israel he had given him, and renewed to him the promises of the multiplication of his seed, and of their inheriting the land of Canaan, Ge 35:9-13; all which is gratefully acknowledged by Jacob, who erected a pillar in the place, and called it Bethel, in memory of God's gracious appearance to him there, Ge 35:14,15; from hence he journeyed towards his father's house, and on the way Rachel his wife fell in travail, and bore him a son, and died, and was buried near Ephrath, Ge 35:16-21; near this place Reuben committed incest with Bilhah, Ge 35:22, and the names of the twelve sons of Jacob are given, Ge 35:23-26; and the chapter is closed with an account of Jacob's arrival at his father's house, of the death of Isaac, and of his burial at the direction of his two sons, Ge 35:27-29.

Genesis 35 Commentaries

The Brenton translation of the Septuagint is in the public domain.