Genesis  ◦   Chapter 35

1God reassured Jacob, instructing him on what course of action to take to protect his family, and reminding him of his watch care, saying, “Move at once to Bethel and live there. Make an altar to me – the God who appeared to you there when you were running away from your brother Esau.”

2So Jacob instructed his family and all who were with him, “Get rid of every pagan idol, figurine and foreign god that has come into your possession and purify your hearts from all attachment to them. Then demonstrate your clean hearts by putting on clean clothes. 3Do this quickly, then pack up; for we are leaving at once and going to Bethel. Once there, I will build an altar to God, who helped me in my time of trouble and has been with me everywhere I have gone.” 4So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had, along with any talismans, charms, good-luck earrings or superstitious amulets they were wearing, and he buried them beneath the great oak near Shechem. 5Then Jacob and his sons left that place. And God protected Jacob and his family (who were chosen as the avenue for the promised Messiah), by causing the people in the nearby cities to be afraid of them, so they did not follow or harm them. 6Jacob and his entire household moved to Luz (which is now called Bethel), in the land of Canaan. 7Jacob built an altar there and named it El-Bethel (which means ’God of Bethel'), because God had appeared to him there when he ran away from his brother.

8Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak tree near Bethel, so they named the place Allon-bacuth (which means ’oak of weeping’).

9When Jacob returned to Bethel from Paddan Aram, the Lord appeared to him again and blessed him. 10God said to him, “Your name, ‘Jacob the deceiver,’ was appropriate for your old life; but no longer are you ‘Jacob the deceiver’; now you are Israel – one who, with God, struggles and overcomes. Your new name, Israel, goes with your new heart.” 11Then God said, “I am El-Shaddai, the Almighty Creator God. You will flourish and have many descendants; a nation and a congregation of nations shall arise from you, and kings will descend from you. 12The same land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you and your descendants as my helpers in carrying out my plan to save humanity.” 13Then God left him and ascended from that place. 14Jacob set up a stone memorial where God had spoken to him, and he dedicated it to God by pouring a drink offering upon it and anointing it with olive oil. 15Jacob reaffirmed the name of the place as Bethel (which means ’house of God’).

16Jacob and his family left Bethel. Still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor – and it was a difficult labor. 17After a hard and exhausting labor, the midwife said, “Don’t be afraid, Rachel. You have given birth to another son.” 18But Rachel was dying, and with her last breath she named her son Ben-oni (which means ’son of my sorrow’). Jacob, the baby’s father, however, named him Benjamin (which means ’son of my right hand’).

19So Rachel died and was buried on the road to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20Jacob set up a memorial stone over her grave, and it marks her grave to this day. 21Then Israel continued his journey and set up his camp just beyond Migdal Eder.

22While Israel was there, Reuben had sex with Israel’s slave woman Bilhah (Rachel’s surrogate). When Israel heard about it, he was sorrowful and indignant that his son could do such a thing.

23Jacob had twelve sons. His six sons by his wife Leah are: Reuben his firstborn, then Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.

24His two sons by his wife Rachel are: Joseph and Benjamin.

25His two sons by Rachel’s surrogate Bilhah are: Dan and Naphtali.

26And his two sons by Leah’s surrogate Zilpah are: Gad and Asher. These are the twelve sons of Jacob who were born in Northwest Mesopotamia.

27Jacob finally made it back to his father Isaac at Mamre, near Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac had lived. 28Isaac lived to be 180 years old 29and then stopped breathing and died at a ripe old age, and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.