New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Bethel Revisited. 1 [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) 2 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. 3 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.” 4 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. 5 Then, as they set out, a great terror fell upon the surrounding towns, so that no one pursued the sons of Jacob.
6 Thus Jacob and all the people who were with him arrived in Luz (now Bethel) in the land of Canaan.(B) 7 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)
8 Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died. She was buried under the oak below Bethel, and so it was named Allon-bacuth.[e]
9 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.Read full chapter
- 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).
- 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.
- 35:4 Rings…their ears: the earrings may have belonged to the gods because earrings were often placed on statues.
- 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.
- 35:8 Allon-bacuth: the Hebrew name means “oak of weeping.”