Genesis 35

Genesis 35 has Jacob hearing from God numerous times.  God first instructs him to go up to Bethel and dwell.  This is the place where he fled from his brother Esau.  Jacob told his people to “put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments”.  He was leading them to Bethel to have a time of worship with God “so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone”.

Jacob collected all the idols and rings that were in their ears and hid them.  Remember that Jacob’s boys had killed all the men in the city of Hamor and Shechem so they weren’t really popular in the area.  But God was ready for that.  “As they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob”.  God has a plan and protects His people as they journey to the land He was giving them.  Along the route God does another name change.  “God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel”.

And with than name change came the command to “be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body”.  Israel got an early start on that direction.  Rachel was already pregnant with his twelfth son – Benjamin.  “When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor….Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath”.  So along the route to Bethel, Jacob loses his first love.  But that doesn’t stop him – “Israel journeyed on”.  Obedience is not disrupted by hard times.  We must carry on.

Israel now has his quiver full.  He has twelve sons – six from Leah, two from Rachel, two from Bilhah and two from Zilpah.  And as they traveled they came to Mamre where his father Isaac was.  He was there for the end of his dad’s life.  “The days of Isaac were 180 years. And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him”.  Isaac probably didn’t see the restoration of the relationship between his sons, but surely he heard about it.  And he was able to go to his grave knowing they were once again acting like brothers

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