Genesis 35:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 35:16, NIV: "Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty."

Genesis 35:16, ESV: "Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor."

Genesis 35:16, KJV: "And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour."

Genesis 35:16, NASB: "Then they journeyed on from Bethel; but when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and she suffered severe difficulties in her labor."

Genesis 35:16, NLT: "Leaving Bethel, Jacob and his clan moved on toward Ephrath. But Rachel went into labor while they were still some distance away. Her labor pains were intense."

Genesis 35:16, CSB: "They set out from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth, and her labor was difficult."

What does Genesis 35:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

God appeared to Jacob at a place later named Bethel. This was as Jacob fled his furious brother (Genesis 27:42; 28:10–14). Decades later, God has once again met with Jacob to affirm all the covenant promises given to Abraham and Isaac are for him and his offspring, as well (Genesis 35:11–12). Included in that reminder is that fact that Jacob's name has been changed to Israel (Genesis 32:28; 35:10).

Now the company leaves Bethel and begins to travel south toward the Ephrath region. This is the location of Bethlehem. Before they arrive, Jacob's most loved wife Rachel (Genesis 29:30) goes into labor with her second son. Her first son, Joseph, was an answer to desperate prayer (Genesis 30:22–24). As part of her celebration, Rachel had asked God for another son. Whether she had other children—meaning daughters—between then and now, Scripture does not say.

This labor is difficult, likely made more so by the fact that it occurs during a period of travel. The Hebrew words used in this passage imply concepts such as "severe," "harsh," or even "fierce." Before they can reach their destination, Jacob's great blessing from God will be followed by tragic loss (Genesis 35:17–19).