Spiritual Renewal at Bethel
After such violent, vengeful acts, God called Jacob"s to worship again at Bethel. Before Jacob would go, he made everyone give up their idols (compare Genesis 31:19). He also required those with him to purify themselves, perhaps with ceremonial washings, and change clothing, likely to symbolize the solemn nature of the occasion.
Remember, Jacob made a solemn promise to give God a tenth of all his goods if God would keep him safe. Since the promise was made at Bethel, God called him there to worship and fulfill the promise (Genesis 28:10-22). As they journeyed, God kept them safe. The people whose land they passed through were afraid of them because of God and did not exact the revenge Jacob had feared they would. Jacob built an altar at the same place he had worshipped while on his way out of Canaan. He called the place "El Bethel," or "house of God." God renewed the promise at that time (Genesis 35:1-15).
The Deaths of Rachel and Isaac
As they continued their journey away from Bethel, Rachel experienced a very difficult time in childbirth. She named the boy born on that day Ben-Oni, or "son of my sorrow." However, Jacob would not let him have such a sorrowful name. He renamed him Benjamin, which means "son of my right hand." Likely, this name refers to the comfort he expected to receive in the life of the son after his mother was dead. Rachel died and was buried there on the way to Ephrath, or Bethlehem. They then travelled on past the sheep tower and set up camp. It was here that Reuben sinned by laying with his father"s concubine, Bilhah, who was Rachel"s handmaid.
Jacob was at last reunited with his father at Mamre, or Hebron. This was the place Isaac had lived with his father, Abraham. Isaac died at the age of one hundred eighty. Jacob and Esau, having put away all past wrongs, buried their father with those who had died before him (Genesis 35:16-29).
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Genesis 35". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week after Epiphany