Genesis 35: Jacob Returns to Bethel

Why did God tell Jacob to go to Bethel?

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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 35:1 “Go to Bethel and live there,” God said to Jacob. “Build an altar to God there, to the one who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”
King James
Genesis 35:1 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.

To what extent were idols present in Jacob’s household?

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Genesis 35:2 Jacob said to his household, to all who were with him, “Get rid of all your idols. Purify yourselves and put on clean clothes.
King James
Genesis 35:2 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:

Why was it important for everyone to get rid of their idols now, and not before?

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Genesis 35:2–4 Jacob said to his household, to all who were with him, “Get rid of all your idols. Purify yourselves and put on clean clothes. We’re going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who rescued me when I was in trouble and has always walked with me on my journey.”
Jacob took everyone’s idols and amulets and buried them under the oak tree near Shechem.
King James
Genesis 35:2–4 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: 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. 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.

What fears did Jacob have in moving his household to Bethel?

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Genesis 35:5–6 As they traveled, the terror of God fell upon the cities nearby, so no one wanted to go after Jacob’s sons. So Jacob and all who had left with him arrived safely at Bethel in Canaan, also known as Luz.
King James
Genesis 35:5–6 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, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him.

What were Jacob’s thoughts as he was building the altar at Bethel? What were his feelings afterward?

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Genesis 35:7 He built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because God had appeared to him there when he fled from his brother.
King James
Genesis 35:7 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.

What had been Deborah’s role in Jacob’s household?

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Genesis 35:8 Deborah, Rebekah’s female servant, died and was buried beneath an oak tree at Bethel, which was called Weeping Oak.
King James
Genesis 35:8 But Deborah Rebekah’s nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.

During times of adversity, how strong was Jacob’s memory of God’s promise? How did those times compare with peaceful times?

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Genesis 35:9–15 When Jacob returned to Canaan from Mesopotamia, God appeared to him and blessed him, Saying, “Your name is no longer Jacob. Your name is now Israel.” So God renamed him Israel.
God said to Jacob, “I am God Almighty. Your descendants will become a multitude of people—a nation—even a group of nations. You will be an ancestor to kings. I give you the land that I promised to Abraham and Isaac. It will belong to you and your descendants.” Then God ascended from the place where he had been talking.
Jacob built a stone monument there and poured oil and wine upon it as offerings to God and named the place Bethel.
King James
Genesis 35:9–15 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and 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.
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 I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. And God went up from him in the place where he 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 thereon, and he poured oil thereon. And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.

How old do you think each of the brothers were when Benjamin was born?

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Genesis 35:16–20 After leaving Bethel, they were still some distance from Ephrath, also known as Bethlehem, when Rachel went into hard labor. As she struggled to give birth, the midwife said, “Don’t be afraid, for you will have this son as well.”
As Rachel was dying, she called him Benoni, but Jacob called him Benjamin.
Rachel died and was buried on the way to Bethlehem, which is Ephrath.
Jacob set a tombstone on Rachel’s grave, which remains to this day.
King James
Genesis 35:16–20 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. 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. 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. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

Why did Jacob move his family from Bethel?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 35:16–20 After leaving Bethel, they were still some distance from Ephrath, also known as Bethlehem, when Rachel went into hard labor. As she struggled to give birth, the midwife said, “Don’t be afraid, for you will have this son as well.”
As Rachel was dying, she called him Benoni, but Jacob called him Benjamin.
Rachel died and was buried on the way to Bethlehem, which is Ephrath.
Jacob set a tombstone on Rachel’s grave, which remains to this day.
King James
Genesis 35:16–20 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. 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. 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. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

When Jacob stole Esau’s blessing and fled to Haran, Isaac was nearly blind and thought he was about to die. What was it like so many years later, when Jacob returned to see his father and had twelve sons?

Author’s Thoughts
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Genesis 35:21–27 Israel moved on and settled beyond the watchtower of Edar.
While Israel was living there, it became known that Reuben had slept with one of Jacob’s wives, Bilhah.
Jacob had twelve sons. Leah gave birth to Jacob’s firstborn, Reuben, then Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Rachel gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin. Bilhah, Rachel’s female servant, gave birth to Dan and Naphtali. Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, gave birth to Gad and Asher. These are Jacob’s sons, beginning with those born to him in Mesopotamia.
Jacob went to see his father Isaac at Hebron, also called Mamre, the place where his grandfather Abraham had also lived.
King James
Genesis 35:21–27 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: The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun: The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin: And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali: And the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram. And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.

What do you think was spoken between Isaac and others just before he died?

Author’s Thoughts
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Author’s Paraphrase
Genesis 35:28–29 Isaac was 180 years old when he died and was buried with his family, having lived a long and full life. His sons Jacob and Esau buried him.
King James
Genesis 35:28–29 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. 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.