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Genesis 35-37

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Genesis Chapter 35

After the trouble with the men of Shechem because of Dinah, The Lord (see also YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD) commanded Jacob to move to Bethel. Idolatry had also infested Jacob's family from their time with Laban (e.g. "Rachel stole her father's household gods," Genesis 31:19 RSV) so that too was left behind at Shechem. The people of Israel moved to Bethel, with The Lord impressing (see also "Strong Is He Who Has Come Down") upon the people of the land not to attack them, as Jacob was concerned would happen i.e. "if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household" (Genesis 34:30 RSV).

Map of Bethel

"God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there; and make there an altar to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau."

So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your garments; then let us arise and go up to Bethel, that I may make there an altar to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone." So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.

And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were round about them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob." (Genesis 35:1-5 RSV)

The people of Israel then arrived at Bethel, one of the Bible Places already familiar to Jacob.

"And Jacob came to Luz, that is, Bethel, which is in The Land Of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother." (Genesis 35:6-7 RSV)

The family later moved again, southward, where, tragically, Rachel died while giving birth to Benjamin, the only one of Jacob's twelve sons to actually be born in the land of Israel.

"Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel travailed, and she had hard labor. And when she was in her hard labor, the midwife said to her, "Fear not; for now you will have another son." And as her soul was departing [see Where Is Your Soul?], for she died, she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called his name Benjamin.

So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem [see also The Two Bethlehems], and Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel's tomb, which is there to this day." (Genesis 35:16-20 RSV)

Jacob's family then arrived at Hebron where another family death occurred - Jacob's father Isaac (see the Fact Finder question below; also Isaac's Faith And Obedience).

"And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba, that is, Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned [see also On His Own Two Feet]. Now the days of Isaac were a hundred and eighty years. And Isaac breathed his last; and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him." (Genesis 35:27-29 RSV)

Genesis Chapter 36

Although not in the direct Messianic line from Abraham and Isaac, Jacob's brother Esau was nevertheless greatly blessed.


"Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his cattle, all his beasts, and all his property which he had acquired in the land of Canaan; and he went into a land away from his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together; the land of their sojournings could not support them because of their cattle. So Esau dwelt in the hill country of Seir; Esau is Edom." (Genesis 36:6-8 RSV)

The entire 36th chapter of Genesis is a genealogical listing of the many nations (see also Family, Clan, Tribe, Nation) that originated from Esau from The Land of Seir e.g.

"These are the names of Esau's sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Basemath the wife of Esau." (Genesis 36:10 RSV)

"These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau.

The sons of Eliphaz the first-born of Esau: the chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, Korah, Gatam, and Amalek; these are the chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; they are the sons of Adah.

These are the sons of Reuel, Esau's son: the chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah; these are the chiefs of Reuel in the land of Edom; they are the sons of Basemath, Esau's wife.

These are the sons of Oholibamah, Esau's wife: the chiefs Jeush, Jalam, and Korah; these are the chiefs born of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau's wife." (Genesis 36:15-18 RSV)

Genesis Chapter 37

Jacob had twelve sons, but just as he had loved one of his wives, Rachel, more than the others, so too he loved her son, Joseph, more than the sons of his other wives - a sure recipe for family trouble.

Camel Caravan

"Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a lad with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought an ill report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a long robe with sleeves ["a coat of many colours" KJV]. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him." (Genesis 37:2-4 RSV)

Along with the favoritism, Joseph's Dreams caused more trouble, so much so that Joseph's brothers concocted a scheme to be rid of their brother (an interesting note: Joseph's brothers sold him to Midianite traders who took him to Egypt; centuries later, when the Israelites came out of Egypt, Moses' father-in-law Jethro was a Midianite; see also The Education Of Moses).

"And the man said, "They have gone away, for I heard them say, 'Let us go to Dothan.'" So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him afar off, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild beast has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams." (Genesis 37:17-20 RSV)

"Then Midianite traders passed by; and they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver; and they took Joseph to Egypt." (Genesis 37:28 RSV)

Fact Finder: As stated above, Isaac was buried in a tomb at Hebron. Who are the other people buried in that tomb with Isaac?
See The Tombs Of Hebron

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