Genesis – Chapter 35

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 35


God said to Jacob: «Go up now to Bethel. Settle there and build an altar there to the God who appeared to you while you were fleeing from your brother Esau.»


1 So Jacob told his family and all the others who were with him: «Get rid of the foreign gods that you have among you; then purify yourselves and put on fresh clothes.


We are now to go up to Bethel, and I will build an altar there to the God who answered me in my hour of distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.»


2 They therefore handed over to Jacob all the foreign gods in their possession and also the rings they had in their ears.


Then, as they set out, a terror from God fell upon the towns round about, so that no one pursued the sons of Jacob.


Thus Jacob and all the people who were with him arrived in Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan.


There he built an altar and named the place Bethel, for it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.


3 Death came to Rebekah’s nurse Deborah; she was buried under the oak below Bethel, and so it was called Allonbacuth.


On Jacob’s arrival from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him.


God said to him: «You whose name is Jacob shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.» Thus he was named Israel.


God also said to him: «I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed an assembly of nations, shall stem from you, and kings shall issue from your loins.


The land I once gave to Abraham and Isaac I now give to you; And to your descendants after you will I give this land.»


Then God departed from him.


On the site where God had spoken with him, Jacob set up a memorial stone, and upon it he made a libation and poured out oil.


Jacob named the site Bethel, because God had spoken with him there.


Then they departed from Bethel; but while they still had some distance to go on the way to Ephrath, Rachel began to be in labor and to suffer great distress.


When her pangs were most severe, her midwife said to her, «Have no fear! This time, too, you have a son.»


4 With her last breath – for she was at the point of death-she called him Ben-oni; his father, however, named him Benjamin.


5 Thus Rachel died; and she was buried on the road to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).


Jacob set up a memorial stone on her grave, and the same monument marks Rachel’s grave to this day.


Israel moved on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal-eder.


While Israel was encamped in that region, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. When Israel heard of it, he was greatly offended. The sons of Jacob were now twelve.


The sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s first-born, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun;


6 the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin;


the sons of Rachel’s maid Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali;


the sons of Leah’s maid Zilpah: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.


Jacob went home to his father Isaac at Mamre, in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed.


The lifetime of Isaac was one hundred and eighty years;


then he breathed his last. After a full life, he died as an old man and was taken to his kinsmen. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

1 [2] Foreign gods: pagan images, including household idols (see note on ⇒ Genesis 31:19), that Jacob’s people brought with them from Paddan-aram.
2 [4] Rings: Earrings were often worn as amulets connected with pagan magic.
3 [8] This verse may have stood originally in some other context. Rebekah’s nurse is spoken of without a name, in ⇒ Genesis 24:59. Allon-bacuth: the Hebrew name means «oak of weeping.»
4 [18] Ben-oni: means either «son of my vigor» or, more likely in the context, «son of affliction.» Benjamin: «son of the right hand.» This may be interpreted to signify a son who is his father’s help and support, but more likely its original meaning was «southerner.» In the Hebrew idiom, the south lies to one’s right hand, and Benjamin was the southernmost of the Rachel tribes.
5 [19] Bethlehem: the gloss comes from a later tradition that identified the site with Bethlehem, also called Ephrath or Ephratha (⇒ Joshua 15:59; ⇒ Ruth 4:11; ⇒ Micah 5:1). But Rachel’s grave was actually near Ramah (⇒ Jeremiah 31:15), a few miles north of Jerusalem, in the territory of Benjamin (⇒ 1 Sam 10:2).
6 [24-26] Benjamin is here said to have been born in Paddan-aram, either because all twelve sons of Jacob are considered as a unit, or because the Priestly source, from which ⇒ Genesis 35:23-29 are taken, follows a tradition different from that of the Elohistic source found in ⇒ Genesis 35:16-20.