Listen to the newest episode of my podcast, Nicholas Hood3: Genesis 35 – Jacob Returns to Bethel—Jacob-Returns-to-Bethel-e2ia6q

Jacob Returns to Bethel

Genesis 35 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and settle there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your clothes; then come, let us go up to Bethel, that I may make an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak that was near Shechem.

As they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities all around them, so that no one pursued them. Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So it was called Allon-bacuth.

God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. 11 God 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 spring from you. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” 13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him. 14 Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured out a drink offering on it, and poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob called the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

The Birth of Benjamin and the Death of Rachel

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor. 17 When she was in her hard labor, the midwife said to her, “Do not be afraid; for now you will have another son.” 18 As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20 and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day. 21 Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.

22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard of it.

Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

The Death of Isaac

27 Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had resided as aliens. 28 Now the days of Isaac were one hundred eighty years. 29 And Isaac breathed his last; he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.   [1]


Questions for Reflection:

  1. What does the statement that Jacob buried the foreign god-objects from his household tell you? (Verses 2-4)
  2. Do you think that during his 20 years with the household of Laban that Jacob lived in tolerance of the foreign gods?
  3. What is the significance of Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse? Do you think Jacob took her when he left Isaac and Rebekah and fled from his brother Esau?
  4. What is the significance of Jacob and Esau returning to bury their father?
  5. What is the significance of Isaac dying at 180 years of age?
  6. Does the age of Isaac at his death mean that neither Jacob or Esau should have worried about fighting over the inheritance?
  7. Why does Jacob not confront Ruben for having sex with his wife?


Prayer:  Increase my faith, Lord.  Point me in the direction you want me to go, and I will go.  Set your eyes to the hills and I will climb.  Take me to the river, and I will swim.  Tell me to stay put, and I will stop.  Though the wind might blow and the earth might tremble, but if you tell me not to move, I will not move!  Lord, I put my trust in you.  I give you my heart.  I give you my soul.  I give you my hope.  In you I have found joy.  Bless me today.  I need nothing more.  Grant  me your favor.  I need nothing more.  Grant me your love.  Your love is all I need.  Grant me your salvation.  In Jesus name.  Amen.


Written by Pastor Nick Hood3

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[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ge 35:1–29). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.