Genesis 35 : Jacob’s Travels

July 5, 2023 ·

Summary:
God instructs Jacob to return to Bethel, the place where God had appeared to him before, and to construct an altar there. Jacob gathers all his family members and asks them to give him their idols, which he then buries. Together, they set off for Bethel, where Jacob builds an altar as instructed. Afterwards, Jacob goes back to Paddan Aram, where God reaffirms his new name, Israel, and blesses him with the promises originally given to Abraham. Jacob erects a pillar and offers sacrifices in that place.

Tragically, Rachel dies while giving birth to Benjamin, Israel’s final son. The twelve sons of Israel are: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. Jacob eventually returns to his father, Isaac, in Hebron, also known as Kiriath Arba. Isaac passes away at the age of 180 and is buried in Machpelah, the same burial site where Abraham was laid to rest.

Key verse:
3. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.

My thoughts:
This narrative is comparatively condensed compared to the preceding chapters that follow Jacob, and it serves as a conclusion to the section of Genesis focused on Jacob, paving the way for the story of his son, Joseph.

I perceive that Jacob’s relationship with God primarily revolves around a few significant events. There are specific occasions where he has profound encounters with God, and each time he expresses awe and amazement at being in close proximity to God. While Abraham and Isaac also had significant encounters with God, these instances appear to be less prominent in the context of their entire lives, and their reactions seem less surprised. This disparity may be attributed to the fact that Abraham and Isaac maintained a day-to-day relationship with God, whereas Jacob’s relationship was more event-driven.

The shared message throughout the lives of the three patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—is the promise that they will become a great nation and inherit the land of Canaan, their place of residence.

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