Genesis 35: Jacob returns just in time for Isaac to die – finally


Jacob and his family go to Bethel to make an altar to find out what to do next. He makes all his women and men lose their jewelry and give up their other gods.   Rebekah’s nurse died and is buried along the way. God tells Jacob to change his name to Israel and I will make you a king.  Jacob calls the place where he spoke to God Bethel.  They were leaving Bethel on their way to Ephrath when Rachel goes into hard labor. She dies in childbirth but the baby lives and is called Benjamin.  The place where Rachel is buried is marked and called Bethlehem. Jacob’s son Reuben lays with Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid.  Jacob now has 12 sons. From Leah: Reuben,  Simeon, Levi, Judah,  Issachar, and Zebulun. From Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. From Bilhah (Rachel’s handmaid) he has Dan and Naphtali. From Zilpah (Leah’s handmaid) he has Gad and Asher.  Jacob finally comes to Isaac in Mamre. Isaac dies at 180 years of age and is buried.

In other words:

Jacob is making his way to Bethel to figure out what to do next and his wife dies in childbirth.  Jacob now has 12 children. His dad dies and is buried. Oh – and God wants Jacob to call himself Israel now.

Weirdest bit:

Even though Jacob was told to change his name to Israel, he is still refered to as Jacob for the rest of this chapter.

Other weird bit:

That Reuben has sex with Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid. This occurs after the death of Rachel in childbirth. We aren’t told whether Israel/Jacob is mad about it or not and nothing seems to come of it. Just a random tidbit of information that again, is sexily scandalous but isn’t really relevant to the story. (Spoiler alert - it turns out Jacob is mad about it and never really forgives him for it - even chastises the guy on his death bed).

Favorite bit:

Rebekah’s nurse dies and is buried under a tree. Not sure why this amuses me. I suppose it’s because it’s completely irrelevant since this is the first we have heard of her. We weren’t even aware Rebekah was with them and, we don’t ever hear from her again. Deborah was her name. (Genesis 35:8)

Moral Lesson:

Not sure there is one to be perfectly honest.