Israel Again | Genesis 35

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Jacob becomes Israel again

World English Bible Genesis 35

1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there. Make there an altar to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”

2 Then Jacob said to his household, and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, change your garments. 3 Let us arise, and go up to Bethel. I will make there an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me on the way which I went.”

4 They gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. 5 They traveled, and a terror of God was on the cities that were around them, and they didn’t pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. 7 He built an altar there, and called the place El Beth El; because there God was revealed to him, when he fled from the face of his brother. 8 Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; and its name was called Allon Bacuth.

9 God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan Aram, and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob. Your name shall not be Jacob any more, but your name will be Israel.” He named him Israel. 11 God said to him, “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations will be from you, and kings will come out of your body. 12 The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, and to your offspring* after you will I give the land.”

13 God went up from him in the place where he spoke with him. 14 Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he spoke with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it, and poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him “Bethel”.

16 They traveled from Bethel. There was still some distance to come to Ephrath, and Rachel travailed. She had hard labor. 17 When she was in hard labor, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for now you will have another son.” 18 As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Benoni, but his father named him Benjamin. 19 Rachel died, and was buried on the way to Ephrath (also called Bethlehem). 20 Jacob set up a pillar on her grave. The same is the Pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day.

21 Israel traveled, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Eder. 22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard of it.

Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah (Rachel’s servant): Dan and Naphtali.26 The sons of Zilpah (Leah’s servant): Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram. 27 Jacob came to Isaac his father, to Mamre, to Kiriath Arba (which is Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac lived as foreigners.

28 The days of Isaac were one hundred eighty years. 29 Isaac gave up the spirit, and died, and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. Esau and Jacob, his sons, buried him.

Thoughts for the day

Jacob’s sons’ offences in chapter 34, did not go unnoticed by the neighboring communities and God ordered Jacob and his family to move on.  Jacob sees fit to ditch all the idols his family owns under a tree, and does as he is told. His destination is the location of his first encounter with God just after he fled from Esau; which is about a day’s walk for a young man from the home where he grew up. God protects Jacob and makes him look too formidable for an attack along the way.

The chapter gives us a run down of the demise of Isaac and Rebekah so that we can put them behind us.  What gets really weird, is God and Jacob have forgotten that Jacobs name is actually Israel at this point.  In  Chapter 32:28  God said to Jacob, “Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have fought with God and with men, and have prevailed.” but nothing ever changed, we kept calling him Jacob.  today in Chapter 35:After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram,[c] God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob,[d] but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.[e]” So he named him Israel.”  I don’t know about you, but this made my head spin. Usually God does not forget these things, but for some reason, Jacob gets renamed one more time by God, as if he had never experienced this before.  What gives? Was Jacob not adopting the name Isreal?

It may be, God needed to emphasis the importance of him blessing Jacob, himself, and renaming Jacob to Israel. Sometimes we need repetition in order to truly believe something to be so. Many people in the world still believe God actually named Esau Israel. They believe that the Esau is leader the chosen family, maybe the Bible was making sure it’s readers knew that Jacob or Israel is the chosen one.  This is a critical concept, as Judaism and Christianity cannot exist without Jacob’s sons. The family line must exist from Jacob.  Now that God has named Israel we get a full listing of his sons which will eventually be referred to as the 12 tribes of Israel.

Jacob had twelve sons:

23 The sons of Leah:

Reuben the firstborn of Jacob,

Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.

24 The sons of Rachel:

Joseph and Benjamin. (Rachel died while having Benjamin)

25 The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah:

Dan and Naphtali.

26 The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah:

Gad and Asher.

Here you have the 12 tribes of Israel, and foundation of the formation of God’s chosen people.  Stay tuned to find out how they fare as his chosen ones. Reuben in verse 22 already disappointed Israel today, but by how much? We don’t know, the sentence ends, apparently Hebrew did not have a word for how Israel felt.  For some unknown reason as we see again, fathers seem to be rather stingy with their concubines, and demand their kids get their own.

Have a wonderful day and remember God in all that you do.

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