Genesis 35 and 36
Genesis 35:1-5 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”
2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.5 Then they set out, and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.
Jacob had stayed in Shechem too long. Remember last time we said it may have been up to 10 years and it could have been because Shechem was a nice comfortable city. But Jacob had vowed to God back in Genesis 28:20 that he would go to Bethel where God had first revealed Himself to him. So now God is telling him he needed to take his family there and bring them all back into a right relationship with God.
You notice they had foreign gods. Remember Rachel had stole some from her father, but it’s likely they had picked up more during their stay. They may have been worshipping them. Today your family may get into new-age religion or a cult or horoscopes or tarot cards.
Other idols we have which we honor more than God, both as regards time and emotion are: money, home, garden, television, position, talents, beauty or pleasure. Anything we put before God.
Jacob realizes he needs to purify his household before they move to Bethel. He tells them to get rid of the gods and change their clothes. (This last is a symbolic cleansing, a new start.)
Remember Bethel means House of God. And there Jacob would offer a sacrifice on the altar. And in the Old Testament all sacrifices pointed to the sacrifice of Christ. They did it for forgiveness. In Hebrews it says “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” They believed God would forgive them when they offered a sacrifice and we believe God HAS forgiven us through His Son’s sacrifice for our sins.
After Jacob and his family repented, the immediate result was security! They set out and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so no one pursued them.
Genesis 35:6-15 Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 7 There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.
8 Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak outside Bethel. So it was named Allon Bakuth.
9 After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.
11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.
14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.
This is the place where he had dedicated his life to God 30 years before. Where he dreamed of the ladder to heaven. He had been alone then and now had a large family. His character had changed and his name had changed.
His family is standing there hearing God’s promises now. This is important – that the whole family knows God. He is responsible to teach them and set the example.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
The other thing to note in this passage is when God emphasizes that Jacob’s name is now Israel, the promises to him of land and seed are also to Jacob’s descendents. The nation of Israel.
Genesis 35:16-28 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” 18 As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni] But his father named him Benjamin.
19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).20 Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.
21 Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. 22 While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it.
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.
25 The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah:
Dan and Naphtali.
26 The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah:
Gad and Asher.
These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.
27 Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed.
28 Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. 29 Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Genesis 36 is just a listing of Edom’s family. It’s included because Isaac had given him a patriarchal blessing. So before continuing with the history of Jacob’s family, particularly Joseph, Edom’s genealogy is given.