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Genesis chapter 35

New International Version

1 Then God said to Jacob, 'Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.'
2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, 'Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.' 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem. 5 Then they set out, and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.
6 Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 7 There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.
8 Now Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died and was buried under the oak outside Bethel. So it was named Allon Bakuth.
9 After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, 'Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.' So he named him Israel.
11 And God said to him, 'I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.' 13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.
14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.
16 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, 'Don't despair, for you have another son.' 18 As she breathed her last--for she was dying--she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.
19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel's tomb.
21 Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder.
22 While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father's concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it. Jacob had twelve sons:
23 The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.
24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.
25 The sons of Rachel's servant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali.
26 The sons of Leah's servant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.
27 Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 28 Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. 29 Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
English Standard Version

1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4 So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.
5 And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, 7 and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. 8 And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So he called its name Allon-bacuth.
9 God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” 13 Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. 14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.
16 Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. 17 And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.” 18 And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20 and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day. 21 Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.
22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.
23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant: Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.
27 And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned. 28 Now the days of Isaac were 180 years. 29 And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
King James Version

1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. 2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: 3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. 4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. 5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.
6 So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him. 7 And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother. 8 But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth. 9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him. 10 And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. 11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; 12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. 13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him. 14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon. 15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.
16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. 17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. 18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. 19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. 20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.
21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar. 22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve: 23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun: 24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin: 25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali: 26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram. 27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. 28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. 29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
New American Standard Bible

1 Then God said to Jacob, 'Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.' 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, 'Remove the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; 3 and let’s arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me on the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.' 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.
5 As they journeyed, there was a great terror upon the cities which were around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. 7 Then he built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother. 8 Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; and it was named Allon-bacuth.
9 Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him.
10 God said to him, 'Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.' So He called him Israel.
11 God also said to him, 'I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a multitude of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come from you. 12 And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give to you, And I will give the land to your descendants after you.'
13 Then God went up from him at the place where He had spoken with him. 14 So Jacob set up a memorial stone in the place where He had spoken with him, a memorial of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 And Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel.
16 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. 17 And when she was suffering severe difficulties in her labor, the midwife said to her, 'Do not fear, for you have another son!' 18 And it came about, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 And Jacob set up a memorial stone over her grave; that is the memorial stone of Rachel’s grave to this day. 21 Then Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.
22 And it came about, while Israel was living in that land, that Reuben went and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard about it. Now there were twelve sons of Jacob— 23 the sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, then Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; 24 the sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin; 25 and the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s female slave, were Dan and Naphtali; 26 and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s female slave, were Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.
27 Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had resided.
28 Now the days of Isaac were 180 years. 29 Then Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, an old man of ripe age; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
New Living Translation

1 Then God said to Jacob, 'Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau.'
2 So Jacob told everyone in his household, 'Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify yourselves, and put on clean clothing. 3 We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.'
4 So they gave Jacob all their pagan idols and earrings, and he buried them under the great tree near Shechem. 5 As they set out, a terror from God spread over the people in all the towns of that area, so no one attacked Jacob's family.
6 Eventually, Jacob and his household arrived at Luz (also called Bethel) in Canaan. 7 Jacob built an altar there and named the place El-bethel (which means 'God of Bethel'), because God had appeared to him there when he was fleeing from his brother, Esau.
8 Soon after this, Rebekah's old nurse, Deborah, died. She was buried beneath the oak tree in the valley below Bethel. Ever since, the tree has been called Allon-bacuth (which means 'oak of weeping').
9 Now that Jacob had returned from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again at Bethel. God blessed him, 10 saying, 'Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.' So God renamed him Israel.
11 Then God said, 'I am El-Shaddai--'God Almighty.' Be fruitful and multiply. You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants! 12 And I will give you the land I once gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give it to you and your descendants after you.' 13 Then God went up from the place where he had spoken to Jacob.
14 Jacob set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to him. Then he poured wine over it as an offering to God and anointed the pillar with olive oil. 15 And Jacob named the place Bethel (which means 'house of God'), because God had spoken to him there.
16 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. 17 After a very hard delivery, the midwife finally exclaimed, 'Don't be afraid--you have another son!' 18 Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni (which means 'son of my sorrow'). The baby's father, however, called him Benjamin (which means 'son of my right hand'). 19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Jacob set up a stone monument over Rachel's grave, and it can be seen there to this day.
21 Then Jacob traveled on and camped beyond Migdal-eder.
22 While he was living there, Reuben had intercourse with Bilhah, his father's concubine, and Jacob soon heard about it. These are the names of the twelve sons of Jacob:
23 The sons of Leah were Reuben (Jacob's oldest son), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
24 The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.
25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's servant, were Dan and Naphtali.
26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah's servant, were Gad and Asher. These are the names of the sons who were born to Jacob at Paddan-aram.
27 So Jacob returned to his father, Isaac, in Mamre, which is near Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had both lived as foreigners. 28 Isaac lived for 180 years. 29 Then he breathed his last and died at a ripe old age, joining his ancestors in death. And his sons, Esau and Jacob, buried him.
Christian Standard Bible

1 God said to Jacob, "Get up! Go to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau."
2 So Jacob said to his family and all who were with him, "Get rid of the foreign gods that are among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 We must get up and go to Bethel. I will build an altar there to the God who answered me in my day of distress. He has been with me everywhere I have gone."
4 Then they gave Jacob all their foreign gods and their earrings, and Jacob hid them under the oak near Shechem. 5 When they set out, a terror from God came over the cities around them, and they did not pursue Jacob's sons. 6 So Jacob and all who were with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 7 Jacob built an altar there and called the place El-bethel because it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.
8 Deborah, the one who had nursed and raised Rebekah, died and was buried under the oak south of Bethel. So Jacob named it Allon-bacuth.
9 God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. 10 God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; you will no longer be named Jacob, but your name will be Israel." So he named him Israel. 11 God also said to him, "I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed an assembly of nations, will come from you, and kings will descend from you. 12 I will give to you the land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac. And I will give the land to your future descendants." 13 Then God withdrew from him at the place where he had spoken to him.
14 Jacob set up a marker at the place where he had spoken to him--a stone marker. He poured a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. 15 Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.
16 They set out from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth, and her labor was difficult. 17 During her difficult labor, the midwife said to her, "Don't be afraid, for you have another son." 18 With her last breath--for she was dying--she named him Ben-oni, but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Jacob set up a marker on her grave; it is the marker at Rachel's grave still today.
21 Israel set out again and pitched his tent beyond the Tower of Eder.
22 While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father's concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard about it.Jacob had twelve sons:
23 Leah's sons were Reuben (Jacob's firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
24 Rachel's sons were Joseph and Benjamin.
25 The sons of Rachel's slave Bilhah were Dan and Naphtali.
26 The sons of Leah's slave Zilpah were Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan-aram.
27 Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 28 Isaac lived 180 years. 29 He took his last breath and died, and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

What does Genesis chapter 35 mean?

As Jacob was fleeing Canaan (Genesis 27:42) to go live with his uncle Laban, God appeared to him (Genesis 28:10–13). After that meeting, Jacob vowed to make the Lord his God and to recognize that location as "Bethel:" the house of God. After growing a family and leaving Laban, Jacob's family has an ugly incident where his daughter is raped (Genesis 34:1). In revenge, her brothers annihilate the entire town, leading Jacob to fear retaliation (Genesis 34:25–30).

Now God tells Jacob it is time to fulfill his vows by building an altar at Bethel (Genesis 35:1).

Jacob begins by directing his large company to gather all their foreign gods or idols (Genesis 31:19) and to purify themselves, including putting on new, clean garments. Jacob acknowledges that God had been faithful to him all along the way. Rather than destroy the idols or repurpose their metal, Jacob buries them. This symbolizes a complete and total rejection of those objects. With the idols buried under a tree and the purification complete, the entire household caravans from Shechem to Bethel, the place of Jacob's first encounter with the Lord (Genesis 35:4).

Jacob had been afraid of how other tribes would react to his sons' violent revenge. God sees to it that the local people respond with fear, instead, so that no one chases the family as they leave. Once they arrive at Bethel, Jacob obediently builds an altar to the Lord. He calls the place El-Bethel, meaning "God in Bethel." A passing reference is made to Deborah, the nurse of Jacob's mother, and her burial in this area. It's not clear if she has just died, or if this refers to some earlier event (Genesis 35:5–8).

Once Jacob has completed his former vows to the Lord, God appears to him at Bethel again. This time, God affirms several things He has previously declared. He says again that Jacob's new name is Israel (Genesis 32:28). He reminds Israel that nations will come from him. Land promised to his ancestors Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 17:1–8; 26:3–5) will belong to him and his descendants. Jacob, now also called Israel, once again responds to God with an act of worship. He builds a stone pillar and pours over it both a drink offering and oil. He states one more time that the name of this very special place is Bethel (Genesis 35:9–15).

As the company begins to travel toward Bethlehem in the region of Ephrath, tragedy strikes. Before they can reach their destination, Jacob's most loved wife Rachel (Genesis 29:30–31) dies giving birth to her second son Benjamin. This answer to her earlier prayer (Genesis 30:22–24) results in her death. Jacob buries her and builds another stone pillar over her tomb. The spot becomes a landmark for future generations of Israelites. Israel's family comes to a place which is either a literal tower, or a high place used to guard over flocks of sheep (Genesis 35:16–21).

For reasons unknown, Jacob's oldest son, Reuben, defiles the family by sleeping with Rachel's servant and Jacob's servant-wife, Bilhah. Scripture gives no details on why this happened, or how, or to what extent Bilhah was cooperative. In that culture, taking the wives or concubines of a leader was a sign of conquest. Many scholars feel Reuben's act is a clumsily attempted coup. Or, it could be an act of revenge against the father who failed to love Reuben's mother Leah. Jacob, not called Israel, strangely seems to do nothing at first. Many years later, however (Genesis 49:4; 1 Chronicles 5:1), this will cost Reuben the family birthright (Genesis 35:22).

Genesis then repeats the names of the sons born to Jacob. The daughters are not mentioned, as the emphasis is on the future patriarchs of the tribes of Israel. These sons are grouped by their birth mothers. Leah and Rachel were married to Jacob, though Leah's involvement was only due to deception by her father (Genesis 29:25). This created a rift between Jacob and Leah (Genesis 29:30–31), and a rivalry between the two sisters. As part of that rivalry, both brought their servants, Zilpah and Bilhah, into the marriage to give them surrogate children. With the birth of Benjamin, Jacob has twelve sons (Genesis 35:23–26).

Finally, this section of Genesis ends with the death of Jacob's father, Isaac. Isaac is 180 years old. He is buried by both Jacob and Esau at the family burial cave in Mamre (Genesis 35:27–29).

The remaining chapters of Genesis will describe the fate of Jacob's sons, as they are drawn into Egypt. Much of this story will focus on Rachel's son, Joseph.