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Chapter 35

Bethel Revisited. [a]God said to Jacob: Go up now to Bethel. Settle there and build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.(A) So Jacob told his household and all who were with him: “Get rid of the foreign gods[b] among you; then purify yourselves and change your clothes. Let us now go up to Bethel so that I might build an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” They gave Jacob all the foreign gods in their possession and also the rings they had in their ears[c] and Jacob buried them under the oak that is near Shechem. Then, as they set out, a great terror fell upon the surrounding towns, so that no one pursued the sons of Jacob.

Thus Jacob and all the people who were with him arrived in Luz (now Bethel) in the land of Canaan.(B) There he built an altar and called the place El-Bethel,[d] for it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.(C)

Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died. She was buried under the oak below Bethel, and so it was named Allon-bacuth.[e]

On Jacob’s arrival from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him:

Your name is Jacob.
You will no longer be named Jacob,
    but Israel will be your name.(D)

So he was named Israel. 11 Then God said to him: I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed an assembly of nations, will stem from you, and kings will issue from your loins. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you; and to your descendants after you I will give the land.(E)

13 Then God departed from him. 14 In the place where God had spoken with him, Jacob set up a sacred pillar, a stone pillar, and upon it he made a libation and poured out oil.(F) 15 Jacob named the place where God spoke to him Bethel.

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Footnotes

  1. 35:1–7 Jacob returns to Bethel and founds the sanctuary, an event that forms a “bookend” to the first visit to Bethel in 28:10–22. To enter the Lord’s sanctuary, one must purify oneself and get rid of all signs of allegiance to other gods (Jos 24:23; Jgs 10:16). Jacob also seems to initiate the custom of making a pilgrimage to Bethel (see Ps 122:1 and Is 2:3, 5).
  2. 35:2 Foreign gods: divine images, including those of household deities (see note on 31:19), that Jacob’s people brought with them from Paddan-aram.
  3. 35:4 Rings…their ears: the earrings may have belonged to the gods because earrings were often placed on statues.
  4. 35:7 El-Bethel: probably to be translated “the god of Bethel.” This is one of several titles of God in Genesis that begin with El (= God), e.g., El Olam (21:33), El Elyon (14:18), El the God of Israel (33:20), El Roi (16:13), and El Shaddai. Most of these (except El Shaddai) are tied to specific Israelite shrines.
  5. 35:8 Allon-bacuth: the Hebrew name means “oak of weeping.”

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