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Jacob's Return To Bethel

Jacob had been at Bethel at least once before, while fleeing north from his brother Esau (see Blessing The Favorites, Why Did Esau Lose The Blessing? and Cain and Esau). It was at that time that Jacob renamed Luz as Bethel.

"28:16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 28:17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven [see Heavens Below, Heavens Above].

28:18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 28:19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first." (Genesis 28:16-19 KJV)

After his return home over twenty years later (two decades that were hardly free of danger and conflict - see Jacob And Laban's Witness Heap and Dinah and Shechem), the LORD commanded Jacob to return to Bethel and dwell there.

"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." (Genesis 35:1 KJV)

"Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel"

When Jacob and his family (see Jacob's Family) had fled from Laban, Jacob's wife Rachel had stolen her father Laban's household idols and kept them after Laban's search failed to find them (Genesis 31:19,34). Rachel apparently still had them after they arrived in the land of Israel, but she was not the only one i.e. "35:2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you" (Genesis 35:3 KJV).


"35:2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you [see "Thou shalt not make any graven image"], and be clean, and change your garments: 35:3 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 [see Jacob's Vow At Bethel].

35:4 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. 35:5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them [see 'Strong Is He Who Has Come Down'], and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob." (Genesis 35:2-5 KJV)

Upon his arrival at Bethel (note from the above verses that the LORD was then directly protecting Jacob i.e. "the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob"), Jacob built an altar and named it Elbethel which in Hebrew means God of the House Of God (see El and Beth).

"35:6 So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him. 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." (Genesis 35:6-7 KJV)

Incidentally, not long after, Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died. Many years before, Deborah had accompanied Rebekah when she left home in Padan-aram to marry Jacob's father Isaac (Genesis 24:59). The time of Rebekah's death is not recorded in the Scriptures.

"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." (Genesis 35:8 KJV)

The LORD then reiterated His promise of blessings for Jacob (not for Jacob's sake, but for the Messianic line that flowed through Jacob - see the Fact Finder question below).

"35:9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him. 35:10 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 [see The Origin Of 'Israel'].

35:11 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; 35:12 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. 35:13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.

35:14 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. 35:15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel." (Genesis 35:9-15 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) Who was "the LORD God" that spoke to Jacob? (b) Is Jacob, who the LORD renamed as Israel, a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ?
(a) See 'The God Of The Old Testament' and 'Before Abraham Was, I AM'; also Christ The Creator
(b) Matthew 1:1-2, Luke 3:34

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