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Thursday, July 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 35

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-29

Chapter 35

And so God said to Jacob, Arise, and go up to Bethel ( Genesis 35:1 ), Now Jacob is afraid. Hey, the kings are going to get together. They're going to attack me and wipe me out. And so "God is saying to Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel," and dwell there: and make an altar unto God, God that appeared to thee when you were fleeing from the face of Esau your brother. So Jacob said to his household, to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, be clean, change your garments ( Genesis 35:1-2 ): And so Jacob institutes now a sort of a religious reform in the family. Put away the strange gods. We're going to have to really just go back in a renewal of our dedication unto God and a renewal of ourselves unto God. Jacob is afraid. He has been in the land now for many years, he's come back, just settled. And it's amazing how in times of prosperity we can sort of let spiritual things slide. And things can creep in and other interests that become idols in our hearts. And it begins to take away from our devotion and our commitment to God. And we find ourselves taken up in this delight or in this endeavor. And all of these things that come in and sort of rob that place of God within our lives. And so here is a tragedy. Once again it brings them back to a renewing of a commitment of, "Come on, put away your idols, your images, your strange gods; let's change our garments. We're going to go to Bethel. Go back to the place where God met me. We're going to go back to that place and meet with God once more". And how many times God calls us back to that place of our first consciousness? You remember the message of Jesus to the church of Ephesus where He said, "Remember from whence thou art fallen and repent and do your first work over" ( Revelation 2:4-5 ). The Lord said, "You've lost your first love". It was a call back to the first love, back to that first consciousness of God. Back to that thrill and the joy, that place where you first met God. And God is calling him back now to that place where he first had a real consciousness of God's presence in his life. And it's a call now from God to come back to Bethel, very beautiful call indeed. Let us arise, let us go to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under an oak which was by Shechem. And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob. So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, to Bethel, and the people that were with him. And he built there an altar, and called the place The God of Bethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother ( Genesis 35:3-7 ). So coming back, builds now an altar, and recommits himself. Worships God and calls the place "The God of Bethel." Now here Deborah Rebekah's nurse died ( Genesis 35:8 ), So Rebekah was the mother of Jacob and when Rebekah died, Jacob probably took her servant, her handmaid and said, "Hey, you come live with us". And so Deborah had come to live in Jacob's household. And being an older woman, probably was sort of a guide and all to a lot of the younger women and to the young women servants and so forth. And so she was with Jacob at this point; she died. and they buried her beneath an oak there at Bethel: and the name of the place was called Allonbachuth ( Genesis 35:8 ). Which actually means the oak of weeping. So evidently, she had really endeared herself to the whole group and though she was an older woman, an elderly woman at this point, yet there is just a lot of weeping over her death. And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and he blessed him. And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel ( Genesis 35:9-10 ). And so God confirmed the change of character again from Jacob to Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; and the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. And God went up from him in the place where he had talked with him. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering on it, and poured oil thereon. And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel ( Genesis 35:11-15 ). So a second time God appeared unto Jacob here in the area of Bethel. Renewed the covenant, renewed the promise. And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was just a little way, they came to Ephrath ( Genesis 35:16 ): Now Ephrath is the area of near Bethlehem. Actually, it is the area of Bethlehem. and there Rachel travailed, for she was in a hard labour. And it came to pass, that the midwife said unto her, Don't be afraid; you're going to have this son also. And so as her soul was departing, (for she died) she called the name of her son Benoni ( Genesis 35:16-18 ): Now she was of course quite a bit older by now. And she died in childbirth with her second son Benoni, which means the son of sorrow. but Jacob graciously changed his name to Benjamin ( Genesis 35:18 ). "Son of my right hand," lest the boy would bear forever the name "Son of sorrow" and all, and be reminded of his mother's death in childbirth. They called him the "Son of my right hand." Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave ( Genesis 35:19-20 ): Now at this point, you probably have a little commentary by Moses because he was the one that assembled these records and wrote these first books. And so Moses adds a little commentary here. that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day ( Genesis 35:20 ). So years later, some four hundred years after this, the pillar was still there that Jacob had erected. And so Moses makes mention of the fact it's the pillar that is still there to this day. And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar. And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve ( Genesis 35:21-22 ): So here Reuben now goes in. He's the oldest son. He's not married. He probably, you know, had a thing going and, of course, Bilhah is quite a bit older than Reuben so she's not totally innocent in this thing. They probably had sort of a relationship going with each other and they started having intercourse with each other. Jacob found out about it and it's interesting Jacob sort of passes over it. Doesn't really say any heavy thing here that Jacob did about it. In fact, it just goes on to name the sons of Jacob now and those that were born from each of the mothers. But again, later on when Jacob is addressing his sons at that time of his death and the blessings, Reuben is passed over because he's unstable as water. He went to his father's bed. So Jacob brings that as the disqualifying character of Reuben's life that disqualified him from the birthright and the blessing. So the sons of Leah; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun: The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin: The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali: The sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, that were born to him while he was in Padanaram ( Genesis 35:23-26 ). Of course with the exception of Benjamin which was born there in the land. Jacob came to Isaac his father unto Mamre ( Genesis 35:27 ), Now Isaac was still alive. He lived to be one hundred and eighty years old. unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac journeyed, sojourned. And the days of Isaac were a hundred and eighty years. And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and being gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: his sons Esau and Jacob buried him ( Genesis 35:27-29 ). So he was an invalid for over fifty years, blind and so forth. It's a sad way to end your life. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 35". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/genesis-35.html. 2014.
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