Genesis 35:1-29


Verse 1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.

I.    God remembered when Jacob fled from Esau.

A.  The issue was evidently settled between Esau and Jacob.

1.   They were well on their way to forgetting what had happened between them.

2.   This is as it should be.

B.   This is also a part of Jacob’s history.

1.   God was using this statement to show Jacob exactly where He wanted him to return to.

2.   God wants Jacob to remember the promise he made when he was in trouble.

3.   This is a good time for Jacob to remember all the blessings God has blessed him with in the past 20 years.


II.   Bethel means “House of God”.

A.  This is especially denoting the close relationship a person has with God.

B.   This speaks of the relationship of the promises God gave to Jacob.


Verse 2  Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that [were] with him, Put away the strange gods that [are] among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

I.    Notice there are two groups that are with Jacob.

A.  His household, which would probably consist of his four wives, their children, and all their servants.

B.   Those that are with him.  This group might include those Shechemites that were conquered in chapter 34.  If the Shechemites aren’t included in this group, then the servants that Jacob brought from Haran are.


II.   The command to put away the strange gods.

A.  It is amazing that Jacob knows these gods are there, yet does not remove them until he knew he would return to Bethel

B.   God didn’t tell Jacob to put away the strange gods.

1.   It would seem very “natural” to not bring the strange gods to worship.

2.   Unfortunately, it is very easy to believe God doesn’t see our sins when He hasn’t spoken to us.

3.   There are a lot of people that try to straighten up their language when a preacher comes around.

4.   They fail to realize that God hears and knows everything they do, even when the preacher isn’t there.


Verse 3  And let us arise, and go up 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.

I.    Notice the personal pronouns.  Jacob is going to worship and taking his family with him.  Whether they worship or not is not demanded.  They are only commanded to go with him. 


II.   The steps Jacob will take.

A.  Let us arise.

B.   And go to Bethel.

C.   Jacob will make an altar unto God.

D.  The one who answered me in the day of my distress.

1.   When he was running from Esau.

2.   When he was working for Laban.

3.   When he had to face Laban.

4.   When he had to face Esau.

5.   When his sons killed Shechem.

E.   He was with me in the way which I went.

1.   Not only did he send me in the way, but he went with me.

2.   He blessed me with good times and good results.

3.   He blessed me with bad times and good results.

4.   Rom. 8:28 - All things work together for the good of those that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.


Verse 4  And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which [were] in their hand, and [all their] earrings which [were] in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which [was] by Shechem.

I.    There seems to be plenty of strange gods with them.

A.  It is very interesting to note that all these people knew what the strange gods were.

1.   Nobody came to Jacob, asking if this or that was a strange god.

2.   People know who the true God is because God has put that in them.

3.   However, they won’t worship that God because they know their own sinfulness.

4.   They are hoping their religion will get them into heaven, but they ought to know better.

B.   Not only do these people give Jacob their idols, which are strange gods.

1.   They also give him their earrings, which is probably another strange god, or at least a symbol of or to a strange god.

2.   They are very thorough, making sure they approach the true God with no false gods.

C.   There is no doubt in my mind that the gods Rachel stole from her father was among these gods.

D.  Probably if the Shechemites were there, they also had their strange gods.


II.   These people realize that Jacob is their leader, and do not hesitate to give him their strange gods.

A.  They also gave earrings which were in their ears.

B.   Good earrings.

1.   Genesis 24:22 - Abraham’s servant to Rebekah  And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten [shekels] weight of gold;

2.   Genesis 24:30 - See above verse And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well.

3.   Genesis 24:47 - See above verse  And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter [art] thou? And she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands.

a)   There is no doubt in my mind that the earrings Abraham’s servant gave to Rebekah are acceptable in the sight of God.  God doesn’t mind his people having these kind of things, He just doesn’t want them to be worshipped, or thought to be necessary to human existence.

4.   Exodus 35:22 - God accepted these earrings And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, [and] brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered [offered] an offering of gold unto the LORD.

a)   Israel is in the wilderness, and Moses has received the instruction from God as to the building of the tabernacle.  Moses has called for material, and the people bring these many offerings to the Lord, which includes earrings.  God accepts these earrings, and they are used in the tabernacle.  Where did Israel get all this gold?  There is no doubt that some of it came from Egypt when Israel spoiled them when they left.  God is well able to take something that is used for bad and use it for good.

5.   Numbers 31:50 - A thanksgiving offering for safety during war We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD.

a)   See verse 48-54.  Israel has just won a great victory in battle, and when they take a census at the end of the battle, they discover they haven’t lost a man.  This so amazes them that they come to Moses and Eleazar and give an offering for the atonement of their souls.  This offering consists of articles of jewelry taken as a spoil from the enemy.  There is no doubt in my mind that some of these earrings were worn by the Midianites.  God can take something men use for evil and use it for good.  There is nothing evil of itself, but many things can be used for evil.

6.   Job 42:11 - the gifts given to Job Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold

a)   God here gives to Job twice as much as he lost.  A part of what people give to him is earrings.  These men bring earrings to Job as a sign of their apology and to help him get back on his feet.  I should notice here that there are earrings that aren’t worn on the ear.  There are some earrings that are rings of earrings.  These rings of earrings are used as money.  It is very likely this is what Job received.  At any rate, I do not find any place in the Bible where a man wore an earring.

7.   Proverbs 25:12 - Earrings can be an enhancement  [As] an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, [so is] a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.

a)   This verse speaks for itself, comparing an earring of gold, an ornament, is like a wise reprover to the hearing ear.  This verse clearly shows that the proper wearing of earrings is not wrong in the sight of God.

8.   Isaiah 3:20 - God will take away these things  The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,

a)   This verse is to be compared with the next verse.  God said to Israel that if they disobeyed Him, there would be some things He would take away from them as a sign of His chastisement upon them.  One of the things that would be taken away is the earrings.  Of course, the earrings are not bad, but Israel has forsaken Him, using the earrings (and other articles of clothing) to entice.

9.   Ezekiel 16:12 - God will give these things And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.

a)   This verse is to be compared with the preceding verse.  God here describes how He found Israel and what He did to her to clean her up and make her beautiful.  One of the things God gave to Israel was earrings or decorations for her to wear.  God doesn’t care if His people have a lot of nice things.  He just doesn’t want them to worship those things, or think life can’t go on without them.  God gave Abraham all the riches he had and Abraham was able to buy some earrings that he gave to Rebekah through his servant.  God enjoys seeing His people prosper, as they worship and serve Him.

C.   Bad earrings.

1.   Genesis 35:4 - Earrings to the strange gods  And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which [were] in their hand, and [all their] earrings which [were] in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which [was] by Shechem.

a)   There is no doubt in my mind that these earrings had Satanic symbols on them.  I don’t know what the symbols were, but these people knew.  The only thing they were good for is for melting down.  There is nothing wrong with the gold in the earrings, but the symbol is wrong.

2.   Exodus 32:2  - Used Earrings for wrong purpose And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which [are] in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring [them] unto me. 3  And all the people brake off the golden earrings which [were] in their ears, and brought [them] unto Aaron.

a)   This passage shows us two things.

(1)  The Israelites wore earrings in their ears.  But notice who wore the earrings.  It was the wives, the daughters, and the sons.  There is no record in all the Bible of believing adult men wearing earrings.  It is repulsive to us to think of young boys wearing earrings, because we believe that cause them to wear them when they were older.  But it didn’t work that way with them.  A male wearing an earring was a symbol they were under the authority of their mother.  When a male becomes a man, he isn’t under the authority of his mother or dad, but is on his own.  So a man not wearing an earring is a symbol of his manhood.

(2)  It is possible to take something intended to be good, and use it for something which is bad.  I have repeatedly shown that the Bible is not against the proper use of earrings, but in this place, Israel takes what God allows, and uses it to make the golden calf (a god that supposedly led them out of Egypt).  This is decidedly wrong, a wicked sin in the sight of God.

3.   Judges 8:24 - The earrings of pagans  And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they [were] Ishmaelites.) 25  And they answered, We will willingly give [them]. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. 26  And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred [shekels] of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that [was] on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that [were] about their camels’ necks.

a)   The people of Israel want to make Gideon a king, but he knows this is against the will of God.  Instead, Gideon tell them to bring some of the spoil they have taken in a battle.  They bring this spoil which consists of every Israelite bringing one earring he has taken from the ear of his spoil.  Gideon takes these items, melts them down and makes a golden ephod, which to represent the fact that God is their king and He is the one they are supposed to worship, and get their instructions from.  Israel, however, uses this golden ephod as an item to worship.  Therefore, it is turned into a bad thing.

b)   Note:  It is possible to take a bad thing, change it and use it for a good purpose, then use that which was intended for good for an evil purpose.  When this happens, the item is good only for melting down (doing away with).

4.   Hosea 2:13 - God will judge Israel for forgetting Him. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.

a)   God will judge Israel because they used the good things He gave her for bad.  God caused Israel to have much wealth which she used to attract wicked lovers.  God will remove all her riches from her, causing her to be abhorred in the sight of all her lovers.

III. The conclusion I reach about earrings is that some are good and some are bad.  It is according to what they represent and what the wearer intends they represent.  It is very likely that some earrings would have Satanic symbols on them, so they would be bad, regardless of the wearers intentions.

A.  I believe God intended for men not to wear earrings.

B.   There is no indication that God approves of men wearing earrings, even when Job received earrings (rings of earrings, which is money) from his friends.

1.   Remember these same friends had forsaken him when God allowed Satan to take away everything he had.

2.   These friends walk by sight, not by faith.

3.   They are unable to understand the end from the beginning in this case.


IV. The wearing of earrings by men.

A.  Today, men and young boys wear earrings, some symbolizing what they are: homosexuals, available, so forth; and some for fashion.

B.   This custom may become acceptable in years to come.

1.   Many people don’t understand what the earrings represent or what they mean.

2.   They wear earrings because of style or to impress someone.

3.   They go to “church” wearing these earrings, and are accepted because some churches accept anything but the Bible.

4.   In these congregations earrings become nothing more than a style, and they don’t realize God knows what they mean.

5.   It could very well be that some scriptural churches will soon accept earrings on men and boys because they don’t understand: God does.


V.  Did men of God wear earrings?

A.  Ex. 32:2 - Aaron desired the earrings of the wives, the daughters and sons, but didn’t say anything about earrings in the ears of the men.

1.   These earrings was used to build the golden calf.

2.   To say that it wasn’t the custom of the Jews for at least the wives, daughters, and sons to wear earrings is erroneous.

B.   Ex. 35:22 - Both men and women brought their earrings to God to use in the building of the tabernacle.  When these people brought “tablets” to God, there were bringing “Armlets”, which was a bracelet that was born not on the wrist, but on the upper arm.

1.   It is to be remembered that some of these earrings very likely came from the Egyptians.

2.   It is also to be remembered that sometimes earrings are money or wealth.

C.   Numbers 31:50 - These Israelite men brought earrings to God as a thanksgiving offering for safety during a war.

1.   They got these earrings from the ears of the heathens they killed.

2.   If God thought anything was wrong with these earrings, I am sure He wouldn’t have accepted them of these Israelite men.

3.   If there was anything wrong with offering these earrings to God, I’m sure these Israelite men wouldn’t have offered them to God.

D.  II Sam. 1:10 - Saul was wearing a bracelet when he was killed.

1.   This could have been a special bracelet that only a king wore, the crown was worn only by a king.

2.   Saul’s wearing a bracelet didn’t mean that all men wore bracelets.

E.   Job 42:11 - These men brought earrings to Job as a sign of their apology.

F.   As repulsive as it is to me, because of what earrings in the ear of a man stand for today, God evidently didn’t see anything wrong with a boy wearing an earring or a man possessing an earring.  I have not found in the Bible where an adult man who was a believer wore an earring.

1.   Today men wearing earrings symbolize the worse possible moral condition, and is not recommended, nor will it be permitted in the churches of God.

2.   In our society, it is perfectly acceptable for girls and women to wear earrings.

3.   What is important is not whether society accepts it, but if God accepts it.


VI. Exodus 21:5,6 - The only place I see where a man has anything done to his ear.

A.  The servant (slave) desires to stay with his master, plainly saying he loves his master, his wife and his children.

B.   The servant and master goes to the judge, and they come to the door, to the post of the door.

C.   The master shall bore his ear through with an aul and he will continue with him forever.

1.   There is no indication that the slave would wear an earring in his ear.

2.   He would have a hole in his ear to indicate he belonged permanently to his master, but there is no indication in all of scripture that he wore an earring or any other decoration in that ear.


VII.      Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

A.  This passage reads like this was a well known oak.

B.   I wonder if this oak was located on Jacob’s purchased land.

C.   I wonder why Jacob hid the gods and other items.

1.   Do you suppose he intended to return and get them later?

2.   I really doubt that, and it may have been that hiding them would keep anybody but Jacob from ever using them for worship purposes again.

D.  The only thing these Satanic pieces of jewelry was good for is to be melted down for the value of gold.

1.   Jacob really couldn’t do this because the items didn’t belong to him.

2.   Some of these people (the Shechemites) had only recently come into his camp, and that against their will.

3.   Jacob may be hiding these items in order to satisfy those people that they can return to them at a later time.

4.   I don’t really know what they were thinking, but I do know that Jacob never returned to retrieve the items.

5.   Whether or not some of the Shechemites returned, I do not know.


Verse 5  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.

I.    It would have been very good if Jacob had seen this very important truth when Simeon and Levi killed Shechem and the inhabitants of those wicked cities.

A.  It would also be very good if we could see this very important truth when it looks like God has forsaken us.


II.   It is important to see that it wasn’t the terror of Jacob that was upon the cities.

A.  Jacob was nobody to fear, because he could be completely destroyed by almost anybody.

B.   When God made Jacob appear invincible, they would not attack him.

1.   This is exactly what we need today.

2.   We are commanded to do our good works before men that they may see our heavenly father.

C.   God will keep His people safe when they are faithful to Him.

1.   God put His terror upon the inhabitants of Jericho a long time before they finally got there.

2.   God put his terror upon the Arabs when they attacked Israel during the 6 day war.

D.  An example of God protecting His people when they are faithful to Him.

1.   Acts 3 - Peter and John healed the lame man at the gate Beautiful.

2.   Acts 4 - They were put in jail for proclaiming they had healed the man through the power of Jesus Christ, whom the Jews had killed.

3.   Acts 4:23-31 - After praying, God gave them greater power, and they were more faithful than before.

4.   Acts 4:32-37 - The faithfulness of God’s people extended even to the giving of personal items to the work of God.


Verse 6 So Jacob came to Luz, which [is] in the land of Canaan, that [is], Bethel, he and all the people that [were] with him.

I.    This is the place of the “House of God”.

A.  Gen. 12:8 - Abraham build an altar here when he first entered Canaan, and again upon his return from Egypt, Gen. 13:3.

B.   Gen. 28:10-22 - This is the same place Jacob saw the vision of the angels and the ladder.  It is here he returns shortly after coming back into Canaan to hear reconfirmation of God’s promise to him and to have his name changed from Jacob to Israel.


Verse 7  And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.

I.    The word “elbethel” means the God of the house of God.

A.  There can be no doubt that Jacob is not worshipping a place, but the God of that place.

B.   It is important to go to the place God tells us to go.

1.   It is more important to worship God when we get to the proper place than it is to just go to that place without worshipping.

2.   There is no place that is more special than another.

3.   What makes one place better than another is whether God is there or not.


The Death of Deborah’s Rebekah’s Nurse


Verse 8  But Deborah Rebekah’s nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.

I.    Who is Deborah?

A.  All we know for sure is that she is Rebekah’s nurse.

B.   Genesis 24:59 - When Rebekah left Laban’s house, her nurse when with her, but the name of the nurse is not given.

1.   If Deborah is this same nurse, she is fairly old.

2.   Sometimes we don’t think about it, but the nurse’s name is not mentioned, but you know she would have feelings about leaving her family.

3.   Her family would also have feelings about her leaving them.

4.   Whether this nurse ever saw her family again, I do not know.

5.   I do know that she was completely accepted into Isaac’s family.

C.   We need to be very careful about feeling sorry for Deborah over her leaving her family.

1.   The Bible doesn’t say she was forced to leave them.

2.   It is very likely, she left willingly.

3.   She saw her duty to follow her master, and found peace and contentment in putting others first.


II.   Why does the Bible here state what happened to Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse?

A.  Some believe Deborah came to Jacob in order to guide him to Isaac.

1.   I don’t believe this is so because never in the Bible has a woman traveled this distance to lead a man to his destination.

2.   Another reason I don’t believe Deborah traveled to get Jacob is because she is an old woman, and the trip would be very difficult for her.

B.   Some commentaries believe that Jacob traveled on to visit with his father but didn’t move the entire family to Mamre, which is Hebron.

1.   Rebekah was already dead, so Jacob took Deborah with him so she could aid him in caring for his children and grandchildren.

C.   I believe it is more important to understand that Deborah was with Jacob than to understand how she got there.

1.   If it was important to know how Deborah came to live with Jacob, I’m sure the Bible would have stated it.

2.   We need to be careful not to read anything into the Bible that isn’t there.


III. The word “Allonbachuth” means “oak of weeping”.

A.  The oak was named “weeping” because Deborah would be greatly missed.

1.   She was old, but it is evident she was greatly loved.

2.   I believe she was useful to the family even after she got old.

3.   Some people believe when you get old, you don’t have to do anything, but this is not how Deborah felt.

B.   She was a servant, but she became a part of the family.

1.   Proverbs 29:21 - “He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.”

2.   This is probably what happened to Deborah.

C.   At the time of her death, there was so much sorrow, the place of her burial bore a special name to commemorate that sorrow.

1.   The adults would no doubt sorrow because they depended so much on her to fulfill many small daily tasks.

2.   The young people would sorrow because they looked upon her as another mother.

D.  It is very amazing that she had two families, not just one.

1.   Often times, we believe the only family we can have is the one we are born with, but this isn’t so.

2.   Mark 10:28-31 - When we leave our mother and dad for the sake of the gospel, God will add to us a more and equally precious family.

3.   There is no way you can leave more than God is able to give or replace.


God Appeared Unto Jacob Again


Verse 9  And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.

I.    God appeared unto Jacob again.

A.  God has a plan for Jacob’s life, and will appear to him, giving him continued instruction.

B.   God is that way with us.

1.   He just doesn’t appear to us at salvation, then never comes to us again.

2.   Every child is born for a particular purpose, and God will work in that saved person’s life until that purpose is fulfilled.

3.   God usually shows us one step at a time, very seldom does he show us His plan for our lives at one time.

4.   God did show Paul the general course of his life, but He certainly didn’t reveal all the details to him.

5.   God often shows us the general course of our lives, but never shows us many details until we need them.


II.   It doesn’t make God any difference where a person is when He appears to him.

A.  God first appeared to Jacob when he was running from Esau.

B.   He next appeared in Padanaram in order to instruct Jacob to return to Canaan.

C.   Now that Jacob is in Canaan, God appears to him again, giving him further instructions.

D.  A person could be in rebellion, or in obedience.

1.   He could be in a homosexual bar, or in one of the Lord’s churches.

2.   The important thing is that God appeared to him.


III. The reason God is appearing to Jacob is because the Bible in incomplete.

A.  In those days, there was no Bible for Jacob to read, and find the path for his life.

B.   Today, the Bible is complete, and we can find God’s will for our life there.

1.   For those specific questions about God’s will, we must first fulfill the general requirements as found in the Bible.

2.   Next, we must pray that God will lead us, then follow God in circumstances, trusting Him to work out all the details we don’t know about.

3.   God will give us peace about the unknown.


Verse 10  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.

I.    God confirms to Jacob that his name is indeed changed.

A.  Gen. 32:28 - The angel changed Jacob’s name to Israel, no doubt at the command of God.

1.   The name change of Gen. 32:28 took place so Jacob would not be afraid of Esau.

2.   This name change of Gen. 35:10 takes place so Jacob will never be afraid of not obtaining the promises of God again.


Verse 11  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;

I.    God tells Jacob who He is.

A.  This is a very marvelous thing.

1.   For Jacob to truly understand who is leading him, he must be told.

2.   It is not enough for Jacob to suppose that God is leading him, God will tell him.

B.   If God doesn’t reveal Himself to us, we won’t know who He is.

1.   It is important that we know who God is, but it is more important that He knows who we are.

2.   Matt. 7:23 - Jesus will tell some people He doesn’t know who they are, even though they know who He is.

3.   A lot of people believe salvation is when they know Jesus.

4.   But salvation comes when Jesus reveals to us that He knows us.


II.   Be fruitful and multiply.

A.  Jacob might look at all his possessions, wives, and children and think that he had already been fruitful and multiplied.

1.   He has been fruitful and he has multiplied.

2.   But what he has now isn’t anything compared to what he will have.

3.   His descendants will be like the sand of the sea, like the stars of heaven - uncountable.


III. A nation and a company of nations.

A.  The material blessings.

1.   Israel will be the nation.

2.   The twelve sons of Israel are each a nation to themselves.

3.   This is no reference to the other Arabic tribes.


B.   The spiritual blessings.

1.   Jesus Christ, the son of God will come from Israel’s genealogy, but not from his loins.

2.   All of heaven will be the promised land.

3.   This will fulfill the promise of Gen. 12:3 when God told Abraham that all nations of the earth would be blessed in him.


IV. Kings shall come out of thy lions.

A.  This passage is not talking about Jesus Christ, even though there are some commentaries that think it does.

1.   Jesus Christ is not of the genealogy of Abraham, for He doesn’t have a fleshly father.

2.   God is the father of Jesus, Mary is the mother.

B.   This passage is talking about all the kings of Israel and Judah.

C.   There is also a king that is over his own house.

1.   This is talking about a man that takes care of his own.

2.   It is a man of power that controls his own house with love and compassion.


Verse 12  And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.

I.    This is a confirmation that Jacob actually does have the birthright from Isaac.

A.  This is the first tangible evidence that the birthright actually belongs to Jacob.

B.   Jacob will not see the complete fulfillment of God’s promise during his lifetime.

1.   He will go into Egypt, but demands that his sons return his dead body to Canaan for burial.

2.   Heb. 11:13 - He died in faith, believing the promises and embracing them as truth.


II.   This is a good lesson for us.

A.  If God said it, we ought to accept it, believe it and embrace it.


Verse 13  And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.

I.    God went up from Israel.

A.  I suppose this means that God returned to the place He came from.

B.   He went up, indicating He returned to Heaven.

1.   This passage is talking about the Shekina glory of God.

2.   This is the glory of God that followed Israel out of Egypt.

3.   This is the glory of God that appeared in the tabernacle at its dedication.

4.   This is the glory of God that appeared in the temple build by Solomon.

5.   This is the same glory of God that left Israel when they rebelled against Him.


II.   Talked with Jacob.

A.  Did God really talk to Jacob, or did Jacob just “feel” like He did?

1.   I believe God actually spoke to Jacob.

2.   After all, the Bible wasn’t complete, and there was no way to communicate except with the spoken word.

B.   God also spoke to Moses through the burning bush.

1.   Some might not believe it, but I believe Moses actually heard a voice that came from God.

2.   Whether it was this deep, bass voice that is often portrayed as God in the movies, I seriously doubt.

3.   Whatever type voice it was, Moses (and Jacob) knew the voice belonged to God.


Verse 14  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 thereon, and he poured oil thereon.

I.    The stone was set up as a pillar of remembrance.

A.  God is the rock of ages, therefore it is appropriate that Jacob would use a stone to remember Him.

B.   He poured the elements of worship upon the stone as a token of his adoration.

1.   Usually this involved the fine flour mingled with oil, and ¼ hin of wine (about ¼ of 5 quarts).

2.   There are several places this combination is found:

a.   Ex. 29:40 - This is the continual meat offering.

b.   Lev. 23:10 - At the offering of first fruits.

3.   What is so amazing to me is that Jacob offered exactly what would later be commanded in the law.

a.   This teaches me that the law does not add to the commandments of God, it only confirms what was already there.

b.   Every person will serve the Lord exactly the same way, whether they live in the Old Testament period, or the New Testament period.

c.   God is the same in and to all generations.


Verse 15  And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.

I.    Bethel means “house of God”.

A.  It is good to remember the places and times God speaks to us.

B.   It is not good to worship those places, or put such emphasis upon them that we lose sight of worshipping God.

1.   Many have done this.

2.   Gideon made the Ephod, but Israel worshipped it.

3.   Moses made the brasen serpent, but Israel worshipped it.

4.   Jesus made the church, but some worship it, not worshipping God in the church.


II.   I Kings 12:29 - Jeroboam set up one of his calves at Bethel.

A.  It doesn’t make any difference how many good things are done at a certain place, sinful men can always do wicked things there.

1.   There are many church buildings that have been turned into wicked houses.

2.   There have been many wicked houses turned into church buildings.

B.   Anything set aside for good can be spoiled by sinful man.

1.   We, as parents, try to set things up for our children, so they can live the kind of life that God will bless.

2.   But there is no way we can control them so they will do what God wants them to do.


The Death of Rachel


Verse 16. And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.

I.    They had just left Bethel (the house of God) and arrived at Ephrath (Fruitful) when Rachel travailed.


II.   This passage sets the time that has passed since Jacob left Padanaram.

A.  Gen. 31:35 - If Rachel is pregnant, anybody can tell there isn’t much time passed.

1.   I don’t believe Rachel is pregnant because her dad doesn’t say anything about it.

2.   I believe he would say something because surely he knows she has had a very difficult time getting pregnant, and that she wants children very bad.

3.   Of course, he could be unaware of what is going on, but surely, Rachel would tell him the good news.

B.   It is very likely that Rachel is speaking of her time of the month in Gen. 31:35.

1.   It is also true that she could be lying.

2.   If she wasn’t pregnant in Gen. 31:35, then there is only 9 months (maximum) from that time until now.


Verse 17  And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.

I.    There must have been some doubt expressed that this birth would happen.

A.  The midwives had seen many births, and knew when there was a complicated one.

1.   There is no record that Rachel had difficulty with the first birth.

2.   Some believe that this difficulty is because she lied to her father about the idols she hid.

3.   There is no way to confirm that.

B.   It is likely Rachel knew she was dying.

1.   I believe that often times a person going through some great difficulty can feel in their own bodies that life is leaving them.

2.   Often times I have heard those that are very sick tell their loved ones that they aren’t going to be in this earth long.

a)   I remember one Baptist preacher telling his wife to go to the store for him.  He died shortly after she left.  He didn’t want her to see him die.

b)   I remember my uncle Joe telling his wife that he wouldn’t be in this world long.


II.   It is not wrong to give the dying hope.

A.  We cannot really tell whether someone has a long time to live or a short time.

1.   I have seen those that the doctors said would die shortly, live longer.

2.   I have seen those that were seemingly healthy die quickly.


Verse 18  And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

I.    This verse gives a vivid description of what takes place at death.

A.  Death is the separation of the soul from the body.

1.   The body dies, but the spirit doesn’t.

2.   The soul doesn’t die with the body, but continues to live.

3.   The soul lives on, as it departs, and goes to another place.

B.   Eccl. 12:7 - The soul goes back to God who gave it.

C.   Where did Rachel go when she died - to heaven or to hell?

1.   The Bible doesn’t say, but: if she was saved, she went to heaven; if she was lost, she went to hell.

2.   The lesson is that we don’t know who is lost and who is saved.

3.   The only one we can really know about is ourselves.

4.   In Rachel’s case (as in all cases) all we have to go by is how they lived, and sometimes that is not a very accurate measurement.

a.   Look at Lot, who was saved, but acted like a lost person.

b.   Look at Judas Iscariot, who was lost, but acted like a saved person.


II.   The names given to this child.

A.  Benoni means “Son of my sorrow”.

1.   Rachel had always wanted children, and now dies giving birth to one.

2.   She is sorrowful, not only at her own death, but also because she is dying when her newborn son begins his life.

3.   She will not be involved at all in his life, never being able to see but this first fleeing glimpse of him.

4.   She will never get to know his personality, or watch him grow.

B.   Benjamin means “Son of the right hand”.

1.   This could have two meanings.

a)   This could speak of Jacob losing the wife of his first choosing, his own right hand wife.

(1)  This son would continue being the right hand to Jacob as Rachel had been to him.

(2)  He would be the good son of Jacob’s old age and will be a constant reminder of Rachel.

b)   It could also speak of Benjamin being the first of his sons to be born in the land of Canaan.

(1)  Some say Benjamin means “the son of the south” making reference to Canaan being south of the land of Mesopotamia where the rest of his sons were born.

(2)  If this is so, Benjamin would be a constant reminder of both Rachel and God’s blessings in giving him a son born in the land of Canaan.

C.   I believe Jacob changed the child’s name so he wouldn’t be constantly reminded of Rachel’s death, but would find joy in this child as he finds joy in his other children.

D.  The follow poem gives a good look at what death really is.


I am standing on the seashore.

A ship spreads her sails to the

morning breeze and starts for the ocean.

I am watching her until she fades

on the horizon, and someone at my

side says,

“She’s gone!”

Gone where?  The lost of sight is in

ME--not in her.  Just as that moment

when someone says, “She’s gone!”

there are others watching her coming.

Other voices take up the glad shout,
“Here she comes!”

That is dying

Jacinto Bulletin

Copied from Pulpit Helps, July, 1995 page 20


Verse 19  And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which [is] Bethlehem.

I.    Rachel’s death at this particular time and place may be a fulfillment of Genesis 30:1 where Rachel told Jacob to give her children or else she would die.

A.  It was not in Jacob’s hand to give her children, this was determined by God.

B.   God did give her children, and she did die.

C.   She died in a place where she couldn’t be buried with the other heirs of the promise, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah.

1.   Providence so intervened that Rachel, who looked to Jacob to give her children and not to God, would not be included in the promise.

2.   Providence so intervened that Rachel, whom Jacob loved more than Leah, was not the chosen of God to be included in the promise.

3.   Man may have his plans, but God’s plans He will work out!


II.   It is good to know they didn’t cremate her.

A.  Cremation has always been a sign of God’s judgment.

B.   For a more complete study of cremation see winword\articles\crematio.doc.


III. She was buried at Bethlehem-Ephrath.

A.  Micah 5:2 - This is the place where Christ was born.

B.   Matt. 2:16-18 - When Herod commanded to kill all the boy babies, there was great lamentation in Bethlehem.

1.   This was the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15.

2.   The reason the boy babies had to die was because Israel wouldn’t pay any attention to the birth of the Christ otherwise.

C.   The Israelite women could relate to Rachel, who wanted children, yet couldn’t have them, and died giving birth to her second child.

1.   They would mourn for Rachel, yet wouldn’t consider they weren’t raising their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

2.   So God allowed Herod to kill these select boy babies to get Israel’s attention to the promised seed.

3.   They were not supposed to let this promised child die, but they did.


Verse 20  And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that [is] the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

I.    A tombstone of remembrance.

A.  The placing of tombstones is a very ancient tradition, and isn’t necessarily wrong.

1.   It is wrong to worship that tombstone.

2.   I believe it is also wrong to be so involved in being buried as a family that it is forgotten where all the family will be in eternity.

a)   I knew a woman once, who determined that all her family would be buried in the local family burying plot.

b)   When I told her it didn’t matter where I was buried, she though that was awful.

c)   I told her it was more important where my soul was going that where my body was buried, but she didn’t think so.

d)   She wanted all those tombstones lined up in a roll, and all together.


II.   Jewish historians tell us (from John Gill’s commentary) that Jacob erected 12 pillars which represent each of the tribes of Israel, and placed a single roof over all of them which he called the pillar of Rachel.

A.  I don’t know if this is so.

B.   This has been disputed by many reputable scholars.

C.   I personally don’t know why Jacob would erect 12 pillars and place a pillar to Rachel over all of them.

1.   Surely the Jews don’t think Jacob thought Rachel was the true mother of all his children!

2.   I believe Jacob came to realize (as he matured spiritually) that Leah, not Rachel, was the chosen of God.


Verse 21. And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.

I.    Life must go on.

A.  This is a very difficult thing to do.

B.   We really don’t have a choice in the matter.

1.   Our loved one is gone, and we are left behind.

2.   We might not feel like going on with our life, but our life will go on whether we feel like it or not.


II.   The first use of the name Israel is after Rachel dies.


III. The tower of Edar.

A.  This name is also spelled Eder.

1.   The name means water puddle, or flock, herd.

B.   The exact location of this place is unknown, but it is close to Bethlehem.

1.   Micah 4:8 - Micah uses the expression, “...tower of the flock...” when he speaks of Jerusalem.

2.   The word “flock” is the exact same word as Edar.

3.   It is likely the place is Jerusalem.

4.   Joshua 15:21 - There is also a town named Eder (Edar) which is located in the southern limits of Judah near Edom.

5.   It could have been this town Jacob settled in for a while.


Reuben lay with Bilhah


Verse 22  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:

I.    This is a gross sin, and the consequences of this sin seem to be nothing.

A.  Genesis 49:3,4 tell a different story.

1.   Reuben is the first born, and the one that should have the birthright.

2.   His sin with Bilhah caused him to lose that birthright.

3.   He enjoyed the pleasure of sin for a season, but the end of his lust was bitter as wormwood.

B.   We often think our sins are unpunished, but this isn’t so.

1.   God sees all our sins, and judges them accordingly.

2.   It is good to judge some of them quickly, but others must wait until the sentence is appropriate.

3.   Psalms 29:1 - The person that is often reproved, yet hardened his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

4.   It could very well be that we will miss many of God’s richest blessings and never know we missed them.


II.   Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaid and Jacob’s concubine.

A.  Not only is Jacob deprived of Rachel’s company, but also of her handmaid.

1.   It is likely (though not said here) that Jacob didn’t go in unto her again.

2.   I take this from David, who didn’t go in unto the concubines that his son Absalom lay with.


III. John Gill states that an empty space in the original text is between the words “and Israel heard it” and “Now the sons of Jacob were twelve”.

A.  The Jews say this empty space is the thought of Israel.

B.   He had absolutely nothing to say because the sin was so horrible in his sight, and so despicable he didn’t know what to say.


Verse 23-26, The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun: {24} The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin: {25}  And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali: {26} And the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these [are] the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram.

The order of birth of the sons of Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, Zilpah and are here given.  Diana, of course, is left out.








(Order of















1.  Reuben

1. G. 29:32




2.  Simeon

2. G. 29:33




3.  Levi

3. G. 29:34




4.  Judah

4. G. 29:35




5.  Dan



1. G. 30:6


6.  Naphtali



2. G. 30:8


7.  Gad




1. G. 30:11

8.  Asher




2. G. 30:13

9.  Issacher

5. G. 30:18




10. Zebulun

6. G. 30:20




11. Diana

7. G. 30:21




12. Joseph


1. G. 30:21



13. Benjamin


2. G. 35:19




It is very interesting that verse 26 states, “…these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Pandanaram.”  Just 10 verses before (verse 16) the Bible states that Rachel travailed in pain to be delivered of her second child when they got to Ephrath, which is located some 400 miles southwest of Pandanaram.  Is the Bible wrong in this case?  No, the Bible is never wrong, but our understanding is often wrong.

Many commentaries I read said that all the sons of Jacob were born at Padanaram, with the exception of Benjamin.  In saying that, they hint that the Bible is wrong.  One commentary stated that there was no need to give Benjamin as the exception because the story of his birth was given just a few verses before, so the reader would not get it mixed up.  It is my opinion that that commentary missed the most important point of all – that all the children of Jacob were given to him at Pandanaram.  His actual possession came at Ephrath.  Just like we have been given eternity with Jesus Christ, although we don’t actually take possession until this time is over.  God’s promises are just as good at ours, even though we don’t “physically” posses them at the moment.

Another very important point that is often overlooked.  We often think of the word “born” as meaning to bring forth, to be delivered of, or the time of delivery.  These are secondary meanings.  However, there is a meaning that precedes these meanings.  The primary meaning of “born” is to bear, to beget, to bring forth.  The truth is that as far as God is concerned the beginning of a person is at conception, not at birth.  Thus the Bible states that the sons of Jacob were given to him in Pandanaram.

Another point is that abortion is wrong, a sin before God.  Abortion is the murder of a person, even if that person hasn’t come from the womb as yet, even if that tiny person isn’t physically able to live outside the womb.  Science, falsely so called, tries to convince that a baby isn’t a baby until it comes out of the womb, but this isn’t what the Bible says.

There are many scriptures that speak of God knowing a person while they are still in their mothers womb:

  1. Judges 16:17 – Samson was a Nazarite from his mothers womb.  Samson’s mother was told, “…drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing, For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son…” 
  2. Job 3:10 – God knew Job when he was yet in his mothers womb.
  3. Psalms 22:9,10; 71:6; 139:13 – God knew David while he was yet in the womb.
  4. Isaiah 49:1 – Isaiah was called to be a prophet of God from his mothers womb.
  5. Jeremiah 20:17 – Jeremiah laments because he didn’t die in his mothers womb but has been born and called to be a prophet of God and his message rejected of the Jews.
  6. Matthew 19:12 – There are some men born eunuchs born that way from their mothers womb.
  7. Luke 1:15 – The angel explains to Zacharias that Elizabeth shall bear a son, named John, which shall be filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb.
  8. Galatians 1:15 – Paul was separated from his mothers womb, but was called in time to salvation and to be God’s messenger to the Gentiles.


The Death of Isaac


Verse 27  And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which [is] Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.

I.    When Israel comes back home to his father, he retains the name Jacob.


II.   Some of the history of Mamre.

A.  Mamre is Hebron.

1.   Mamre means “strength” or “fatness”, while Hebron means “Association”.

B.   Abraham.

1.   Gen. 13:18 - After Abraham separated from Lot, he moved to Mamre, which is Hebron and build an altar to God.

2.   Abraham apparently stayed in Mamre until after Sarah died.

3.   At that time, the Hittites called the place Kirjath-Abra.

4.   Gen. 23:17-20 - Abraham brought a part of the field of Machpelah for a burying place for his wife, Sarah, and himself.

C.   Isaac.

1.   It is apparent that Isaac lived and died here.

2.   He and his wife, Rebekah, were buried in the cave purchased by Abraham.

D.  Jacob, or Israel.

1.   Leah will die while Jacob lives in this place, and will be buried in the cave with Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah.

2.   Jacob will travel all the way to Egypt, but upon his death, Joseph will bring him out of Egypt, and bury him in this same cave.

E.   Thus the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


Verse 28  And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.

I.    Isaac lived a lot longer than he expected.

A.  Gen. 27:1 - Isaac was old at this point being about 130 years old.

1.   He was nearly blind, and I suppose couldn’t get around very good.

2.   He must have felt worse off than he really was.

B.   Isaac was to live another 50 years, but he thought he was about to die.

1.   He will live to see Jacob’s children and wives, and perhaps even some of his grandchildren.


Verse 29  And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, [being] old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

I.    There are three things attributed to Isaac.  Gen. 49:33 - This exact same thing is said about Israel.

A.  He gave up the ghost.

1.   I believe this speaks of the deliberate actions of Isaac.

2.   He knew he was about to die, and so willingly came to the place where he was able to die peacefully.

3.   Gen. 49:33 - Jacob gathered his feet into his bed, speaking of his peacefully accepting God’s will in death.

B.   He died.

1.   This is the time when the soul left the body.

2.   The body died, not because the soul left, but because the body was worn out.

3.   The soul continues to live, going to another place.

C.   He was gathered unto his fathers.

1.   This speaks of Isaac going not only to God, but also to the place where those called of God, his fathers, were.

2.   When a saved person dies, they go to where God is, and where all other saved people go.

3.   The word “fathers” may very well speak of his ancestors, not just ancestors of the body, but the ancestors of the faith which yields salvation.


II.   It is good that Esau and Jacob were together when Isaac died.

A.  They were apparently in good agreement, which is good for a family in grief.

B.   See my comments on verse 18 of this chapter for a poem about death.

C.   Gen. 25:9 - Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham together and Esau and Jacob bury Isaac together.

1.   There doesn’t necessarily have to be spiritual unity in the children to take care of their parents.

2.   There are certain times when differences ought to be set aside and things taken care of.

3.   Death is one of those times.