Genesis 35: After a Dark Chapter, God Renews His Promise with Jacob

The Bible is a holy book, however, it is also a history book. Given that, there are both nice and not-so-nice stories in it. Chapter 34 is rather dark, so I’ll summarize that one. You are welcome to read it for yourself. I also recommend the lesson for Genesis 34 in the free Bible app, ThroughTheWord.

Genesis 34

At this point, Jacob had 12 kids, 11 sons and one daughter, Dinah. They stopped near the town of Shechem and Dinah goes to get some girl-time with some local women. The prince of the town, also named Shechem, sees her and has his way with her, without her permission. Yes, it’s the “R” word. Now, Shechem’s father is Hamor, the Hivite, who is a descendant of Ham, Noah’s cursed son. That should tell you that this guy is bad news.

Then he falls in love with her and wants to marry her! Well, when Dinah’s full brothers Simeon and Levi hear about it, they make a deal with Shechem. If he wants to marry her, he, and all the men in the town must be circumcised. So, Shechem, without an apology, and giving in to the lust of the flesh, foolishly agreed. While the men of the town were still hurting, Simeon and Levi killed all the men, took their women and children, plundered the town, stole their wealth and rescued Dinah.

In their own perverted sense of justice, Simeon and Levi wanted to send the message to not mess with God’s people. Needless to say, Simeon and Levi will get theirs in Genesis 49 and their future will suffer for their actions. We’ll get there in due time.

In addition, Jacob was not happy…

30 Afterward Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have ruined me! You’ve made me stink among all the people of this land—among all the Canaanites and Perizzites. We are so few that they will join forces and crush us. I will be ruined, and my entire household will be wiped out!”

Genesis 34:30 NLT

Jacob now had a problem, but remember, God made him a promise — and God keeps his promises! Let’s dig in to the next chapter….

Genesis 35

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.”

So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify yourselves, and put on clean clothing. 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.”

So they gave Jacob all their pagan idols and earrings, and he buried them under the great tree near Shechem. 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.

Eventually, Jacob and his household arrived at Luz (also called Bethel) in Canaan. 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.

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”).

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.

The Deaths of Rachel and Isaac

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.

Genesis 34 NLT

Important Points

Adult Baptism - purification
Baptism – purification
  • God reaffirms his promise to Jacob and his sons.
  • But, God tells him to get rid of all the idols of foreign gods. Remember, Rachel stole her father’s household idols. See, pagans, venerated their ancestors — similar to how Catholics venerate Mary and the saints. There were also special gods for each part of daily life. (See “So Many gods“).
  • God then tells them to purify themselves and put on clean clothes. That is similar to what Jesus wants of us when we repent of our sins — that is, stop sinning — and are baptized as adults. We are purified — dying to our old lives and rising up to new life in Jesus with the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
Map of the 12 Tribes of Israel by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Map of the 12 Tribes of Israel after they return from slavery in Egypt, by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Genesis 36 – Esau’s Descendants

I won’t bore you with the genealogy of Esau, but they are important. Esau’s other name is Edom and becomes what we know today as the country of Jordan. What we have here is a split in the family tree. Esau sold his birthright for the lust of the flesh – hunger. Though they become neighbors, there is a never-ending hostility that still goes on today. “Edom” signifies “the flesh”, where Israel, being God’s chosen people, are the Spirit. Contrary to the Spirit, we can’t live by the flesh and follow God. It doesn’t work.

The New Testament books of Romans, Galatians and Colossians cover this in-depth.

Another point of history is that out of Edom come the Herodian kings of the New Testament. They were not born Jewish, but supposedly converted so that they could rule and live in luxury (sins of the flesh).

Where is Jesus?

Jesus is in the promise. Jesus is in the purification. And, Jesus gives us clean clothes when we surrender our lives to Him. Washed in His blood we are cleansed from all of our sin, past, present AND future.

We all MUST…

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
  • Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift and Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

You Are God Alone



Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

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