Verses 1-3 "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. 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: 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."


After what happened in chapter 34, God told Jacob to pack up and move to Bethel. Bethel is the place where God had first appeared to Jacob (ch.28). He evidently sent Jacob back there to protect him from the people of the land who might wish to do him and his sons harm and also to bring them to a place of atonement for what they had done, for He told Jacob to build an altar once he got there. Remembering the sacred event at Bethel, how God was in that place, Jacob told his family to put away all their idols and cleanse themsleves. This is good advice for everyone coming in the presense of God! Jacob then buried the idols under an oak tree. God put His fear on the people around them that might want to prusue them so that no one bothered them as they left.

Once at Bethel, Jacob built an altar to God. God once again appeared to him there and this time changed his name to Israel. He told him that he would give birth to a nation and kings and reiterated His promise to give him the land that was before given to his father and grandfather. Jacob set up a stone and poured a drink offering and oil on it and once again named the place Bethel.


Verse 8 "But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allon-bachuth."
Verses 17-19 "And it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 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. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem."
Verse 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."


Three people die in this chapter and one is born. Rebekah's nurse, Deborah, died and was buried under an oak tree. Rachel died while giving birth to Jacob's twelth and final son. Then , at the end of the chapter, Jacob's father dies at age 180. On her death bed, Rachel named her son Benoni, meaning "son of my sorrow". But Jacob changed his name to Benjamin, meaning "son of my right hand." This was a place of honor. He had to be a very special son to Jacob, born of Rachel as she was dying. Jacob buried Rachel in Bethlehem.

Jacob then hears a most disturbing thing. His oldest son, Reuben slept with Bilhah, his father's concubine. This was Rachel's handmaid and showed great disrespect to his father and the loss of Rachel. We find later that the lineage of Christ comes through Judah, the fourth son born to Jacob and these two chapters tell why: Because of what Reuben did here and what Simeon and Levi did in the previous chapter, they lost the right!



  • Why do you think Jacob asked for the strange gods and earrings? Do you think he may have learned that Rachel had stolen her father's idols afterall?
  • Why do you think Jacob buried Rachel in Bethlehem instead of taking her back to where the rest of his family was buried?
  • Why do you think Reuben lay with Bilhah?

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