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Friday, September 21 2018

A Bible Journey, 35: Bethel's Stairway Altar

"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"

Wayward Jacob's return home from Syria (see A Bible Journey, 29: Israel's Syria Origin) to his birthplace in the land of Canaan (see Hometowns: Hebron) was a steady southward succession of encampments after he crossed the Jordan River in the area of the Jabbok River, where the LORD had renamed him as "Israel" (see A Bible Journey, 32: Thy Name Shall Be Called No More Jacob, But Israel). He left Canaan as Jacob. He returned to Canaan as Israel.

Another (perhaps the primary) 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."


"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 (to understand what that "stairway" actually was, see A Bible Journey, 28: The Stairway To Heaven Dream).

"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 (see The Real Jesus: The Word Of The LORD God) 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; see The Mothers Of The Patriarchs: Zilpah and The Mothers Of The Patriarchs: Bilhah and The Mothers Of The Patriarchs: Rachel and The Mothers Of The Patriarchs: Leah) in what later became known as Israel was Benjamin (apart from next-generation Ephraim and Manasseh; see The Mothers Of The Patriarchs: Asenath). 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 A Bible Journey, 27: The Blessing And Birthright From Esau To 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 A Bible Journey, 33: Esau's Forgiveness).

"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 specific prophecies about Rachel were fulfilled when the Messiah was born centuries later?
See The Rachel Prophecies


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This Day In History

This Day In History, September 21

454: Flavius Aetius, Roman general and statesman, died. He was a commander against the Hunnish, Frankish, Burgundian and Gothic tribes of central Europe (see also The Roman Republic and The Roman Empire and The Roman Border Walls Paradox).

Roman Empire
455: Amidst the decline and fall of the original Roman Empire, Emperor Avitus entered Rome with a Gallic army to unify his rule. Over the following centuries, the prophetic Roman Empire was continued by Germany (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

1338: The Battle of Arnemuiden during the Hundred Years' War. It was the first naval battle in history using artillery.

1451: Jews in the Netherlands were forced to wear an identifying badge (see also Jews - Three Tribes and Three Meanings).

1520: Suleiman "the Magnificent" became the Ottoman sultan. The Ottoman Empire held Jerusalem for centuries before it was liberated by the British during the First World War (see A History Of Jerusalem: The British Mandate; also listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).

The Ottoman Empire

1435: Charles VII of France and Philip the Good agreed to end the alliance between the English and Burgundy in the Hundred Years' War.

1643: Abahai, Chinese military leader and emperor, died at age 51. He established the Ch'ing Dynasty that ruled China from 1644 to 1911 (see also For All The Tea In China and The First Chinese American War).


1745: The Battle of Prestonpans. Hanoverian forces under Sir John Cope were defeated by the Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

1792: The First French Republic was proclaimed when the French National Convention voted to abolish the monarchy.

1897: The New York Sun published its famous "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" (the present-day lie of "Santa Claus" was invented in New York; the myth of the "jolly old elf" was based upon a violent, fanatical Turkish bishop of the Church of Rome who lived centuries earlier; see Could Santa Claus Have Become The Pope?).

1915: The ancient stone monuments at Stonehenge were sold at auction to an Englishman, who later donated the site to the nation.

1931: Britain went off the gold standard i.e. currency was of monetary value based solely upon the government's word.

1934: A typhoon struck western Honshu, Japan, killing over 3,000 people (see also The Origin Of Hurricanes, Cyclones and Typhoons).

1938: A hurricane struck parts of New England, causing widespread damage and claiming more than 600 lives.

1949: The People's Republic of China was proclaimed by its Communist revolutionary leaders Mao Tse-Tung.

1949: Germany was officially split into 2 separate countries - West Germany (under western allies control) and East Germany (under the control of the Soviet Union). The division of Germany didn't last, as it never did before (see (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

German Empire

1964: Malta became independent from the United Kingdom.

1972: As a response to his losing control of his U.S.-backed dictatorship, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos signed a proclamation to place the Philippines under martial law.

1978: Two Soviet cosmonauts set a space endurance record after 96 days in orbit.


1991: Armenia became independent from the Soviet Union.

1993: Russian President Boris Yeltsin suspended Parliament and discarded the constitution, thereby beginning the Russian constitutional crisis of that year.




Copyright © Wayne Blank