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Saturday, August 24 2013

Genesis 35: The Return To Bethel

Jacob's return from Syria (see Genesis 29: Jacob In Syria and Genesis 31: The Parting of Jacob and Laban) to his birthplace in the land of Canaan (see Camped Out In Canaan) was a steady southward series of encampments after he crossed the Jordan River in the area of the Jabbok River, where the LORD had renamed him as "Israel" (see Genesis 32: The Origin Of Israel). Another of the reasons that Laban had pursued Jacob was because someone (as it turned out, Rachel) had stolen her father's idols ("31:19 And Laban went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that were her father's. 31:20 And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled." Genesis 31:19-20 KJV). Later, "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."

Bethel

"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.

35:2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, 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. 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, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob." (Genesis 35:1-5 KJV)

The area was already familiar to Jacob from his "stairway to heaven" experience (see Genesis 28: Jacob's Stairway To Heaven).

"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)

Deborah, the nurse of Jacob's mother Rebekah, had accompanied Rebekah to the land of Canaan to marry Isaac, before Jacob was born ("24:59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men." Genesis 24:59 KJV; see Genesis 24: The Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah). Deborah is not mentioned again until her death at the time and place that Jacob made the same journey.

"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 reiterated Jacob's formal name change to Israel, although he was thereafter still frequently recorded as Jacob, historically and prophetically..

"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.

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)

The only Israelite patriarch to be born (although he was very likely conceived in Syria like all of his brothers) in what later became known as Israel was Benjamin. The birth was tragic - Rachel died, and was buried near Bethlehem (see also the Fact Finder question below).

Rachel's Tomb

"35:16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. 35:17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 35:18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

35:19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. 35:20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day." (Genesis 35:16-20 KJV)

Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob's sons. An incident with "Bilhah his father's concubine" (the mother of Reuben's half brothers Dan and Naphtali) cost him the blessing of the firstborn, as Jacob later declared as he was dying of old age in Egypt: "49:3 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: 49:4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch." Genesis 49:3-4 KJV; see also A Biography Of Jacob: Blessings And Prophecies).

"35:21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar. 35:22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it.

Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:

35:23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:

35:24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:

35:25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:

35:26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram." (Genesis 35:21-26 KJV)

Isaac had been an invalid for many years; he was bedridden and nearly blind when Jacob had fled to Syria twenty years earlier (see Genesis 27: Esau's Blessing Taken By Jacob). He nevertheless survived, if not to actually see the return of Jacob, at least to know of it. Then "Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him." Jacob would himself later be buried in the same family tomb (see Jacob's Mummy). Note also that the passing of Isaac did not cause Esau to kill Jacob - the original reason that the scheming Jacob had fled to Syria (see Genesis 27: Esau's Blessing Taken By Jacob).

"35:27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. 35:28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. 35:29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him." (Genesis 35:27-29 KJV)

Fact Finder: What prophecy about Rachel was fulfilled at the time of the birth of the Messiah?
See The Rachel Prophecies


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This Day In History, August 24

49 BC: Forces under Gaius Scribonius Curio (a general of Julius Caesar; see The Politics Of Rome) was defeated at the Second Battle of the Bagradas River by the Numidians under Publius Attius Varus and King Juba of Numidia. Curio committed suicide to avoid capture.

79: The cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae were destroyed and thousands of people killed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy.

410: Alaric, leading his Visigoth army (the Visigoths and Ostrogoths were branches of the Germanic people known collectively as the Goths), entered and sacked Rome. The city had not been captured by a foreign enemy for nearly 800 years.

455: The Vandals (an East Germanic tribe), led by King Genseric, began to plunder Rome. The era marked the end of the original Roman Empire (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars) and the beginning of the so-called "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

Europe

1185: The Sack of Thessalonica by the Normans.

1200: King John of England, signee of the first Magna Carta, married Isabella of Angouleme in Bordeaux Cathedral.

1215: Pope Innocent III declared the Magna Carta invalid.

1294: German King Adolf of Nassau formed an alliance with King Edward I of England against France.

1298: Albert (Albrecht) was crowned German king at Aachen.

1349: Six thousand Jews were murdered in Mainz, Germany after being blamed for the bubonic plague.

1456: The printing of the Gutenberg Bible was completed.

1516: Sultan Selim I defeated the Mameluke army near Aleppo, thus securing Syria for the Ottoman (Turkish) empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).

1561: Willem of Orange married duchess Anna of Saxony.

1662: The Act of Uniformity introduced a book of Common Prayer in Britain.

1680: Colonel Thomas Blood, the Irish adventurer who stole the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671, died. Captured after the theft, he insisted on seeing the king, Charles II, who pardoned him.

1814: During the War of 1812 (1812-1815), British Marines burned the original White House in Washington D.C. in retaliation for the U.S. looting and burning of the Parliament Building in York (now known as Toronto) earlier in the year.

1909: Work began for the Panama Canal.

1912: Alaska became a U.S. territory after being purchased from Russia.

1922: Arab states meeting at Nablus rejected the British mandate for Palestine given by the League of Nations.

1949: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established.

1950: Operation Magic Carpet - 45,000 Yemenite Jews transported to Israel.

1968: France became the fifth nuclear power when it exploded a hydrogen bomb near Fugataufa Atoll, midway between Australia and South America.

1989: Poland became the first country in the Soviet Bloc to appoint a non-Communist Prime Minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, since the late 1940s.

1991: Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as the head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

2006: The International Astronomical Union (IAU) redefined the term "planet." The changed resulted in Pluto now classified as a "dwarf planet."

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