What does Genesis 35:9 mean?
ESV: God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him.
NIV: After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him.
NASB: Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him.
CSB: God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him.
NLT: Now that Jacob had returned from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again at Bethel. God blessed him,
KJV: And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
NKJV: Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him.
Verse Commentary:
When Jacob fled into Paddan-aram (Genesis 27:42), he slept alone in an area where he had an encounter with God (Genesis 28:10–22). There, he promised to worship God alone. Decades later, God has commanded Jacob to return to the location of this event (Genesis 35:1). Jacob had obeyed by burying his family's idols (Genesis 35:4) and relocating, divinely protected from harassment by other tribes (Genesis 35:5).

God seems to view Jacob's return to Bethel and the building of the altar to the Lord as his official return to the land of promise. The Lord appears to Jacob once more, to deliver to Jacob the strongest blessing and most thorough set of promises given thus far. The exact nature of this appearance is not clear. Whether this was a human-like appearance, or a more obscure form, Scripture does not say.
Verse Context:
Genesis 35:1–15 describes the fulfillment of Jacob's vows made to the Lord some twenty years earlier. Then, Jacob encountered God after fleeing from Esau (Genesis 27:42). Now that Jacob has returned safely to Canaan and resolved the conflict with Esau, God commands him to build an altar at the place of their earlier meeting. Jacob rids his family of all of their false idols and builds the altar. God appears to him, confirming the covenant promises once more. Jacob responds to God's appearance and blessing by building a stone pillar and pouring a drink offering and oil over it. This location is named Bethel, meaning "House of God."
Chapter Summary:
God commands Jacob to build an altar to Him at Bethel. This will fulfill vows Jacob made after encountering the Lord for the first time, as he was fleeing for his life from Esau. Jacob rids his family of all their false idols and travels to Bethel. God appears to him again, reaffirming all the covenant promises. As they travel away, Rachel dies giving birth to Jacob's twelfth son. His first son, Reuben, sleeps with Jacob's servant-wife Bilhah, losing his birthright as a result. Finally, Jacob's father Isaac dies at 180 years old.
Chapter Context:
Recent events have left Jacob fearful of the people of the land. His sons slaughtered an entire town to avenge their sister's rape. However, God apparently uses this bloodshed to inspire fear. Nobody attacks Jacob's family as they travel to Bethel, setting up an altar and renewing their covenant with God. Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin. Jacob's eldest son sleeps with one of his servant-wives, losing his birthright. Isaac dies, and Jacob and Esau bury him in the family burial cave in Mamre. The story then focuses on Jacob's sons, primarily Joseph, as the family finds themselves drawn into Egypt.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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