Rededication at Beth-El
1Then God said to Jacob, “Get up! Go up to Beth-El and stay there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”
2So Jacob said to his household and to everyone who was with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods that are among you. Cleanse yourselves and change your clothes.
3Now let’s get up and go up to Beth-El so that I can make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and has been with me in the way that I have gone.”
4So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods in their hand and the rings in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak tree near Shechem.
5Then they journeyed, and the terror of God was on the cities that were around them, so they did not pursue Jacob’s sons.
6Then Jacob arrived at Luz in the land of Canaan (that is Beth-El), he and all the people who were with him.
7He built an altar there and called the place El-Beth-El because God had revealed Himself to him there when he fled from the presence of his brother.
8Then Rebekah’s nurse Deborah died, and was buried below Beth-El, under the oak—so it was named Oak of Weeping.
9God appeared to Jacob again, after he returned from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him.
10God said to him: “Your name was Jacob. No longer will your name be Jacob, for your name will be Israel.” So He named him Israel.
11God also said to him: “I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and an assembly of nations will come from you. From your loins will come forth kings.
12The land that I gave to Abraham and to Isaac— I give it to you, and to your seed after you I will give the land.”
13Then God went up from him at the place where He had spoken with him.
14Jacob set up a memorial stone in the place where He had spoken with him—a stone pillar—and he poured a drink offering on it and poured oil on it.
15Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Beth-El.
Rachel’s Death in Childbirth
16Then they traveled from Beth-El, and while they were still a distance from entering Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth, but her labor was difficult.
17While she was struggling to give birth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for this is also a son for you.”
18Now as her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-Oni, but his father named him Benjamin.
19Then Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).
20Jacob set up a memorial stone over her grave. (It is the memorial stone over Rachel’s grave to this day.)
Israel Returns to Isaac
21Then Israel journeyed on and set up his tent beyond the tower of Eder.
22While Israel was living in that land, Reuben went and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard about it. Now Jacob had twelve sons.
23Leah’s sons were Jacob’s firstborn Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.
24Rachel’s sons were Joseph and Benjamin.
25The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s female servant, were Dan and Naphtali,
26and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, were Gad and Asher. These are Jacob’s sons, who were born to him in Paddan-aram.
27Then Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriat-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed.
28Now Isaac’s days were 180 years.
29Then Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his peoples, old and full of days. So his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
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Bethel Revisited. 1#Jacob returns to Bethel and founds the sanctuary, an event that forms a “bookend” to the first visit to Bethel in 28:10–22. To enter the Lord’s sanctuary, one must purify oneself and get rid of all signs of allegiance to other gods (Jos 24:23; Jgs 10:16). Jacob also seems to initiate the custom of making a pilgrimage to Bethel (see Ps 122:1 and Is 2:3, 5). God said to Jacob: Go up now to Bethel. Settle there and build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.#Gn 28:12–13. 2So Jacob told his household and all who were with him: “Get rid of the foreign gods#Foreign gods: divine images, including those of household deities (see note on 31:19), that Jacob’s people brought with them from Paddan-aram. among you; then purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3Let us now go up to Bethel so that I might build an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4They gave Jacob all the foreign gods in their possession and also the rings they had in their ears#Rings…their ears: the earrings may have belonged to the gods because earrings were often placed on statues. and Jacob buried them under the oak that is near Shechem. 5Then, as they set out, a great terror fell upon the surrounding towns, so that no one pursued the sons of Jacob.
6Thus Jacob and all the people who were with him arrived in Luz (now Bethel) in the land of Canaan.#Gn 28:19; Jos 18:13; Jgs 1:22–23. 7There he built an altar and called the place El-Bethel,#El-Bethel: probably to be translated “the god of Bethel.” This is one of several titles of God in Genesis that begin with El (= God), e.g., El Olam (21:33), El Elyon (14:18), El the God of Israel (33:20), El Roi (16:13), and El Shaddai. Most of these (except El Shaddai) are tied to specific Israelite shrines. for it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.#Gn 28:12–13.
8Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died. She was buried under the oak below Bethel, and so it was named Allon-bacuth.#Allon-bacuth: the Hebrew name means “oak of weeping.”
9On Jacob’s arrival from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10God said to him:
Your name is Jacob.
You will no longer be named Jacob,
but Israel will be your name.#1 Kgs 18:31; 2 Kgs 17:34.
So he was named Israel. 11Then God said to him: I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed an assembly of nations, will stem from you, and kings will issue from your loins. 12The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you; and to your descendants after you I will give the land.#Ex 32:13; Heb 11:9.
13Then God departed from him. 14In the place where God had spoken with him, Jacob set up a sacred pillar, a stone pillar, and upon it he made a libation and poured out oil.#Gn 28:18; 31:45. 15Jacob named the place where God spoke to him Bethel.
Jacob’s Family. 16Then they departed from Bethel; but while they still had some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel went into labor and suffered great distress. 17When her labor was most intense, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for now you have another son.” 18With her last breath—for she was at the point of death—she named him Ben-oni;#Ben-oni: means either “son of my vigor” or, more likely in the context, “son of affliction.” Benjamin: “son of the right hand,” meaning a son who is his father’s help and support. but his father named him Benjamin. 19Thus Rachel died; and she was buried on the road to Ephrath (now Bethlehem).#Bethlehem: the gloss comes from a later tradition that identified the site with Bethlehem, also called Ephrath or Ephratha (Jos 15:59; Ru 4:11; Mi 5:1). But Rachel’s grave was actually near Ramah (Jer 31:15), a few miles north of Jerusalem, in the territory of Benjamin (1 Sm 10:2). #Gn 48:7; 1 Sm 10:2; Mi 5:1. 20Jacob set up a sacred pillar on her grave, and the same pillar marks Rachel’s grave to this day.
21Israel moved on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal-eder. 22While 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 genealogy in vv. 23–29 is prefaced by a notice about Reuben’s sleeping with Bilhah, his father’s concubine. Such an act is a serious challenge to the authority of the father (cf. 2 Sm 3:7 and 16:21). In his final testament in chap. 49, Jacob cites this act of Reuben as the reason for Reuben’s loss of the authority he had as firstborn son (49:4). Reuben’s act is one more instance of strife in the family and of discord between father and son. #Gn 49:4; 1 Chr 5:1.
The sons of Jacob were now twelve. 23The sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; 24#Benjamin is here said to have been born in Paddan-aram, apparently because all twelve sons of Jacob are considered as a unit. the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin; 25the sons of Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali; 26the sons of Leah’s maidservant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.
27Jacob went home to his father Isaac at Mamre, in Kiriath-arba (now Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had resided. 28The length of Isaac’s life was one hundred and eighty years; 29then he breathed his last. He died as an old man and was gathered to his people. After a full life, his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
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