Genesis Chapter 35: Benjamin Born, Rachel Dies and is Buried, Isaac Dies and is Buried in the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Cave of Machpelah)

Mar 9th, 2010 | By | Category: Genesis, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Genesis Chapter 35: Benjamin Born, Rachel Dies and is Buried, Isaac Dies and is Buried in the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Cave of Machpelah)

Gen. 35:1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Beth-el, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.

God told Jacob to go to Bethel so that he and his family would be removed from the area where his sons had caused a stink by slaughtering the Hivites. Bethel is where God had appeared to him more than 20 years earlier and given him the vision of the ladder with angels ascending and descending (Gen. 28:12-19). Jacob had anointed his rock pillow with oil as a pillar.

Gen. 35:2 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:

Gen. 35:3 And let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; 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.

Jacob told his household to put away their strange gods, to be clean, and to change their garments, for in Bethel he intended to make an altar to God, who had appeared to him years before when he had originally fled and had communicated at other times up to the present.

Comment: The “strange gods” included teraphim. Earlier in the Genesis study, some allowance was made for these images, but here Jacob clearly indicated he thought they were wrong.

Comment: In spoiling the wealth of the Hivites after slaughtering them, Jacob’s sons had no doubt taken their heathen gods.

Jacob’s family had to change their garments. The sons may have taken garments and robes, richly embroidered, when they plundered the Hivites. These things were to be left behind— before they departed for Bethel (compare Josh. 24:23)—so their departure was like a fresh start.

Gen. 35:4 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.

Jacob’s family readily handed over the “strange gods” and earrings, which he buried under the oak by Shechem. They were put in a mass grave, as it were. The earrings had probably been associated with the false heathen worship of Shechem (the Hivites). The earrings would have been engraved with letter or picture symbols, showing that the ear indicated reverence and hearkening to the supposed god(s).

Gen. 35:5 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.

Jacob and family began to travel to Bethel. God’s providence protected Jacob, who was not in a position to defend himself, especially if other people banded together against him. God similarly struck fear in the inhabitants of Jericho when the Israelites were helpless and being circumcised (Josh. 5:1,2).

More and more it seems that God has genetic control with some master spiritual computer whereby all human beings are monitored. He does not listen to every monitor, but things are being recorded so that in the resurrection, with new bodies, the record of one’s previous life will be implanted. Having the spiritual computer means that at any time, the recording can be interrupted and manipulated. Thus a common spirit of fear was artificially introduced for Jacob’s protection and safety.

Gen. 35:6 So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Beth-el, he and all the people that were with him.

Gen. 35:7 And he built there an altar, and called the place El-beth-el: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.

Jacob arrived at Bethel and built an altar. More than 20 years earlier he had called the place  Bethel; now he called it El-bethel (“the God of Bethel” or “God, the house of God”). Hence there was a double emphasis and reverence, a reaffirmation that indeed this was Bethel. In other words, “This veritably is Bethel.”

Gen. 35:8 But Deborah Rebekah’s nurse died, and she was buried beneath Beth-el under an oak: and the name of it was called Allon-bachuth.

Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, was quite old, for Rebekah herself would have been old—probably dead at this time. Deborah had come from Nahor with Rebekah when Eliezer went to get a bride for Isaac (Gen. 24:59). She stayed with Rebekah until the latter died. Then Isaac would have released her, assuming she wanted her liberty. She would have been attached to Jacob, since Rebekah had a greater interest in Jacob than in Esau.

To give a name to the oak under which Deborah was buried (“the oak of weeping”) indicates that Jacob was very fond of her. Deborah was nursemaid to both Jacob and Esau, the twins.

Gen. 35:9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan-aram, and blessed him.

Gen. 35:10 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.

Gen. 35:11 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;

God first gave Jacob the name “Israel” when he wrestled with the angel in regard to his concern about the reunion with Esau (Gen. 32:28). Hence this second renaming was a reaffirmation of the oath previously made. This time, however, more detail was supplied.

“Israel” means ” or “with God,” suggesting an individual. And Jacob, as anprince of God individual, was named Israel. However, the added detail implies that “Israel” would become a nation, for God told Jacob to be fruitful and multiply.

Gen. 35:12 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.

God said that the land He had given to Abraham and Isaac would be given to Jacob and to Jacob’s seed, but the land would not be obtained until the future. Therefore, “gave” means “promised.” God promised the land to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s seed. Thus Jacob became the recipient of the Abrahamic Covenant. After Jacob, the covenant was to be with the nation, not with an individual.

In Acts 7:5, Stephen said that Abraham did not get the land for a possession. One proof is that Abraham had to buy a burial place for Sarah.

Gen. 35:13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.

“God went up from him [Jacob]”; that is, an angel who represented God (probably the Logos, as the messenger or Word of God) spoke with the authority of God and then departed. Acts 7:30 states that an angel of God spoke to Moses. In other words, the angel spoke with so much authority that he could speak in the name of God Himself.

Gen. 35:14 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.

Notice that the pillar constituted an altar. Years earlier Jacob had set up a pillar (from his pillow stone) and anointed it with oil (Gen. 28:18). This time, the second instance of an altar pillar, Jacob anointed it with a drink offering and an oil offering. This altar would have consisted of multiple stones. A drink offering was of wine or water depending on the circumstance.

Gen. 35:15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Beth-el.

Bethel was a very special place to Jacob.

Gen. 35:16 And they journeyed from Beth-el; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.

Gen. 35:17 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.

Gen. 35:18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin.

Gen. 35:19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Beth-lehem.

Gen. 35:20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

Jacob and family journeyed from Bethel to the outskirts of Bethlehem. The time came for Rachel to give birth, and she suffered in hard labor. The son was born healthy, but Rachel died in childbirth and “was buried in the way to Ephrath.” Incidentally, Ephrath (Bethlehem) is Bethlehem-Ephratah, where Jesus was born.

Jacob overruled the name Rachel had given to her second son. He used the name Benjamin (“son of the right hand”) instead of Benoni (“son of my sorrow”). For the head of a tribe, the name Benjamin was appropriate, and Benoni was too sad. The mothers gave the names to the 11 other sons of Jacob.

Comment: As Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel was his “right hand.” As the son of Rachel, Benjamin was the son of Jacob’s “right hand.”

The type of Rachel, the type of Isaiah 66:7-9 about Zion travailing, and the Revelation 12 symbol of the woman and the man-child that was delivered are all different. In Isaiah 66:7-9, “Zion” is natural Israel, not the nominal Church. Several reasons for this conclusion are given in The Keys of Revelation.

Rachel does not represent nominal spiritual Zion (the nominal Church), which will be destroyed when the Great Company comes out at the very end of the age. One reason is that Rachel died in connection with the birth of Benjamin. His birth in antitype, therefore, is not the coming out of Babylon but the real birth of the Great Company to spirit nature. The Great Company will be forced out of Babylon and then have to wash their robes in the Time of Trouble. Several years after Babylon’s fall, the Great Company will get their change.

Rachel pictures another aspect of the Sarah Covenant. It is true that Sarah gives birth to the Little Flock, but she is the New Jerusalem, the “mother of us all,” which includes the Great Company. When the Great Company class get their change, the Sarah Covenant will cease entirely, as shown by Rachel’s dying.

There is another proof that Rachel is an aspect of the Sarah Covenant; namely, Jesus was born in this area of Ephrath/Bethlehem, the same area in which Benjamin was born. When Joseph pictures Jesus, then Benjamin represents the Little Flock. When Joseph represents The Christ, then Benjamin pictures the Great Company. Rachel gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin (The Christ and the Great Company, respectively). From the standpoint of the Great Company, Rachel pictures the Sarah Covenant in its completion.

In Isaiah 66:7-9, the mother (Zion, natural Israel) does not die when she travails. Instead she has other children including the Ancient Worthies. In Revelation 12, the woman/mother did not die when Antichrist was born. Instead she fled into the wilderness for 1,260 years. Each type must be considered separately, in context.

In regard to Isaiah 66:7-9, Zion pictures nominal fleshly Israel because all the promises were given to natural Israel originally, even the promise of the spiritual Church. Both natural and spiritual promises were given to natural Israel, but with few exceptions, Israel forfeited the spiritual promises. The Church will sit on the thrones of the 12 tribes of Israel. Revelation 7:4 describes the 144,000 as the 12 tribes of Israel. In both cases, the Church is spoken of with the name Israel.

Benjamin, when picturing the Great Company, is the “son” of Rachel, who was the “right hand” of Jacob (God). Benjamin can also mean “son of the south.” Psalm 89:12 uses the same Hebrew word when speaking of the south. In the expression “son of the right hand,” “right hand” means “south” in the sense that south is to the right when one faces the east. Benjamin was the one son born in the south; all of the others were born in the north in Padan-aram.

These further details on the Sarah Covenant complement the details given when Sarah died and Isaac took Rebekah into his mother’s tent. That event showed the end of the call to be of the Bride, but the “tent,” or covenant, continued on.

In the highest idealistic sense, the Sarah Covenant shows the birth of just the true Church, the Little Flock. The additional details in the Book of Genesis show what happens to those who do not make the Little Flock, for there is no separate covenant for their development after the Little Flock is gone.

There may be confusion between the words “altar” and “pillar” (verses 3, 7, 14, and 20). A pillar is an upright stone (either a single stone or a pile of stones). Different Hebrew words with different meanings are used for “altar” and “pillar.”

Gen. 35:21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the .

Jacob left Bethel and went beyond the tower of Edar to set up his tent.tower of Edar

Gen. 35:22 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:

Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn son, defiled Bilhah, his father’s concubine (Rachel’s handmaid). No further comment is made here, but Jacob mentioned the incident subsequently in his deathbed prophecy. This incident shows Reuben’s instability from a moral standpoint. He was unstable in other ways as well—he was “unstable as water” (Gen. 49:4).

The first three sons of Jacob (Leah’s sons) disgraced him in some way: Reuben lay with Jacob’s concubine, and Simeon and Levi slaughtered the Hivites. Judah, the fourth son, is listed in Messiah’s lineage (Matt. 1:2).

Gen. 35:23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:

Gen. 35:24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:

Gen. 35:25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:

Gen. 35:26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padan-aram.

Jacob’s sons are enumerated here but not by order of birth (except in small sections). After the enumeration, verse 26 states, “These are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram.

One of the sons, Benjamin, was not born there but in the outskirts of Bethlehem in Canaan (see verses 16-18). Hence the exception would be understood, and the statement applies to the other 11 sons.

The same principle applies to Hebrews 11:13, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises.” But Hebrews 11:5 had just said that Enoch did not die—he was the exception. Hence Genesis 35:26 is a precedent for Hebrews 11:13.

Gen. 35:27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.

Gen. 35:28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.

Gen. 35:29 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.

Comment: Considering the time Jacob spent in Shechem, Bethel, and the Tower of Edar, we would have expected him to go immediately to Hebron to his father Isaac. But apparently, he waited on the Lord to direct him step by step.

Reply: Having immense flocks plus family and servants who were dependent upon him, Jacob could no longer act as an individual.

Comment: The account does not indicate, though, that Jacob even went to visit Isaac. Since he could have left servants in charge of the flocks, he must, instead, have waited on the Lord for each step of his journey.

Reply: Meanwhile, God dealt with Jacob, reaffirmed the Abrahamic Covenant, and changed Jacob’s name to Israel. This favor suggests that God was dealing with Jacob as a separate entity.

There comes a time for a family to be separated—sons and daughters leave and marry. Being no youngster at this point, Jacob probably did not feel the urgency to go back to Isaac.

At last, Jacob arrived at Mamre in Hebron where Isaac was. Thus Jacob met Isaac while his father was still alive. Isaac died at age 180. Esau and Jacob were together for the burial of their father. Since the cave of Machpelah was right there in Hebron, it was convenient to bury Isaac there with Abraham, Sarah, and Rebekah (Gen. 23:17-20; 25:8,9; 49:30-33). Abraham died at 175, Isaac died at 180, Jacob died at 147, and Joseph died at 110 (Gen. 25:7; 35:28; 47:28; 50:26).

(1987–1989 Study)

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