Genesis 35

1 In the meantime the Lord spake to Jacob, (and said), Rise thou (up), and go up to Bethel, and dwell there; and make thou (there) an altar to the Lord, that appeared to thee when thou fleddest Esau, thy brother (who appeared to thee when thou fleddest from thy brother Esau).
2 Soothly Jacob said, when all his house was called together, Cast ye away alien gods, that be in the midst of you, and be ye cleansed, and change ye your clothes; (And Jacob said, when all his household, or all his family, was called together, Throw ye away the foreign gods, that be in the midst of you, and purify yourselves, and change ye your clothes;)
3 rise ye, and go we up into Bethel, that we make there an altar to the Lord, which heard me in the day of my tribulation, and was fellow of my way. (rise ye, and go we up to Bethel, to make there an altar to the Lord, who answered me on the day of my trouble, and who gave me fellowship on the way.)
4 Therefore they gave to Jacob all the alien gods which they had, and [the] earrings, that were in their ears; and Jacob delved them under a terebinth tree, which is behind the city of Shechem. (And so they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which they had, and the earrings that they were wearing; and Jacob buried them under the terebinth tree, which is behind the city of Shechem.)
5 And when they went (forth), dread assailed all men by compass of the city, and they were not hardy to pursue them going away. (And when they went forth, the fear of God assailed all the men of the cities about, and they were not hardy to pursue after them.)
6 Therefore Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, by the sire-name Bethel, he and all his people with him. (And so Jacob came to Luz, that is, Bethel, in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him.)
7 And he builded there an altar to the Lord, and called the name of that place The house of God, for God appeared there to him, when he fled his brother. (And he built there an altar to the Lord, and called the name of that place El-bethel, for God appeared to him there, when he fled from his brother.)
8 Deborah, the nurse of Rebecca, died in the same time, and she was buried at the root[s] of Bethel, under an oak, and the name of the place was called The Oak of Weeping. (And Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, died at that time, and she was buried south of Bethel, under an oak tree, and that place was called Allonbachuth.)
9 Forsooth God appeared again to Jacob, after that he turned again from Mesopotamia of Syria, and came into Bethel, and blessed him, (And God appeared again to Jacob, after that he had returned from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him,)
10 and (he) said, Thou shalt no more be called Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name. And (so) God called him Israel,
11 and said to him, I am God Almighty (and he said to him, I am Almighty God); increase thou, and be thou multiplied, (yea,) folks and peoples of nations shall be of thee, (and) kings shall go out of thy loins;
12 and I shall give to thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac.
13 And (then) God departed from him.
14 Forsooth Jacob raised (up) a title, or a memorial, of stones, in the place wherein God spake to him, and he sacrificed thereon flowing sacrifices, and shedded out oil, (And Jacob raised up a stone pillar, in the place where God spoke to him, and he offered a sacrifice of wine on it, and poured oil on it,)
15 and he called the name of that place Bethel.
16 Soothly Jacob went out from thence, and he came in the beginning of summer to the land that leadeth to Ephratah; in which land when Rachel travailed in child bearing, (And Jacob went out from there, and at the beginning of summer he came to the way that leadeth to Ephrath; in which land when Rachel struggled, or laboured, to survive while giving birth,)
17 she began to be in peril for the hardness of (the) childbearing; and the midwife said to her, Do not thou dread, for thou shalt have also this son (and the midwife said to her, Do not thou fear, for thou shalt also have this son/for this is another son for you).
18 Forsooth while the soul passed from her for sorrow, and death nighed then, she called the name of her son Benoni, that is, the son of my sorrow; forsooth his father called him Benjamin, that is, the son of the right side. (But as her soul passed away from her, and death neared, she named her son Benoni, that is, The son of my sorrow; but his father called him Benjamin, that is, The son of my right hand.)
19 Therefore Rachel died, and was buried in the way that leadeth to Ephratah, that is Bethlehem. (And so Rachel died, and was buried on the way that leadeth to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.)
20 And Jacob builded a memorial upon the sepulchre of her; this is the memorial of the burial of Rachel unto this present day. (And Jacob put up a sacred pillar on her sepulchre; this is the same pillar that is on Rachel's grave unto this present day.)
21 Jacob went from thence, and setted a tabernacle over the tower of the flock. (And then Jacob went from there, and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder/beyond Migdaleder.)
22 And while he dwelled in that country, Reuben went, and slept with Bilhah, the secondary wife of his father, which thing was not hid from him (which was told to Jacob). Forsooth the sons of Jacob were twelve;
23 the sons of Leah were, the first begotten Reuben (Leah's sons were Reuben, the first-born), and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun;
24 the sons of Rachel were Joseph, and Benjamin;
25 the sons of Bilhah, the handmaid of Rachel (Rachel's slave-girl), were Dan, and Naphtali;
26 and the sons of Zilpah, [the] handmaid of Leah, were Gad, and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob, that were born to him in Mesopotamia of Syria. (and the sons of Zilpah, Leah's slave-girl, were Gad, and Asher. These were Jacob's sons, who were born to him in Paddan-aram.)
27 Also Jacob came to Isaac, his father, into Mamre, (by) the city of Arbah, this is Hebron, in which Mamre Abraham and Isaac was a pilgrim. (And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, which is near to Kiriatharba, which is now called Hebron, in which Mamre Abraham and Isaac were foreigners.)
28 And the days of Isaac were filled an hundred and fourscore of years; (And so the days of Isaac filled a hundred and eighty years;)
29 and he was wasted in age, and died, and he was put to his people, and was eld, and full of days; and Esau and Jacob his sons buried him. (and then he was destroyed by age, and died, and he joined his ancestors, being old, and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob 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.

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

Copyright © 2001 by Terence P. Noble. For personal use only.