Genesis 35

Genesis 35 has Jacob experiencing a God moment – God comes to him with the direction to go home – to “go up to Bethel and dwell there”.  Jacob assembles his people and tells them to do four things:

  1. “Put away the foreign gods
  2. purify yourselves
  3. change your garments
  4. arise and go up to Bethel”

Jacob leads his people to go there so he can build an altar to God “who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone”.  The people brought Jacob their idols and the rings from their ears.  He gathered it all and hid them under a tree to dispose of them.  Isn’t it amazing that the people who have been blessed and led by God still put other idols into their lives?  Unfortunately we do the same – we allow things of this world to get into the middle of our life and push God out.  We need to put away all the foreign gods in our lives too!

Along the route the tribe had to go through many other peoples – but God caused those cities to be fearful and not to pursue Jacob and his people.  SO they moved toward Bethel without any issue from the locals.  But along the way Jacob did take time to worship.  “He built an altar….God had revealed Himself to him”.  Jacob never loses his grounding with God.  Remember this is no small trip he is taking – he has all his flocks and family and servants marching toward Bethel – yet he takes time to worship.

Along the route he experiences death – first of Deborah who was Rebekah’s nurse – and then his wife Rachel who died giving birth to his twelfth son Benjamin while on the journey.  Both times Jacob builds an altar and worships God.  As Jacob makes this journey amidst sorrow – God “appeared to Jacob again….blessed him….and God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name”.  Jacob becomes a new person – with a new name – as he walks in obedience with God.  He stays focused on the task at hand and yet takes multiple pauses to worship God along the way.

He continues on want brings his twelve sons to the land of his father.  When he arrives he comes to Isaac who is now 180 years old.  “Isaac breathed his last” and dies.  Jacob gets home to be there for the last days of his father’s life, and together with his brother Esau – they bury him.  Jacob has been away in Caanan for some years – but returns home to be there for the end of Isaac’s life.  There was one other scandal that occurred on the journey – “Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine”.  Son lays with dad’s concubine – and Israel “heard of it”.  Not much is said here but we will find out later in Genesis that this decision Reuben made will be punished strongly by God.  He appears to get away with it in this chapter – but it will catch up with him later and cost him dearly.  Sin never goes unnoticed – we need to always remember that.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Brad Kowerchuk on July 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    What’s in a name? In Hebrew times, names were given that indicated meaning. For example, Esau means “hairy”. Rachel called her last born “Ben-oni” meaning “son of my mourning” but Jacob changed it to Benjamin; meaning “son of the right hand”. What did the name “Jacob” mean, and how is it appropriate that God changed his name to “Israel” — what is the meaning of the latter name?


  2. […] Genesis 35 ( […]


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