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.
Verse 1. - And God - Elohim. The employment of this name for the Deity throughout the present chapter has been deemed conclusive evidence that, with Rome Jehovistic alterations, it belongs to the fundamental document (Tuch, Bleek, Delitzsch, Kalisch, et alii); but the frequent allusions to Genesis 28:13-16, which by partitionists is almost universally assigned to the Jehovist, prove that both sections have proceeded from the same author, and that, "though the mention of the name is avoided, this chapter, there is no doubt, substantially relates to Jehovah" (Hengstenberg), while the name Elohim may simply indicate that Jacob s journey from Shechem was undertaken in obedience to a Divine intimation (Quarry) - said unto Jacob (shortly after the incidents recorded in the preceding chapter), Arise, go up to Bethel, - about thirty miles distant (Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:3; Genesis 28:19), to which, some thirty years previous, he had solemnly vowed to return (Genesis 28:22) - a vow which he appeared somewhat dilatory in performing, although its conditions had been exactly fulfilled (Keil, Kurtz, Kalisch, &c.) - and dwell there (the massacre of the Shechemites had obviously rendered longer residence in that neighborhood unsafe): and make there an altar - this Jacob had substantially promised to do in his vow (vide Genesis 28:22) - unto God, that appeared unto thee - i.e. unto Jehovah (vide Genesis 28:13) - when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. The words contained an assurance that the same Divine arm which had shielded him against the enmity of Esau and the oppression of Laban would extend to him protection on his future way.
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:
Verses 2, 3. - Then Jacob said unto his household (i.e. those more immediately belonging to his family), and to all that were with him (referring probably to the captured Shechemites), Put away the strange gods - literally, the gods of the stranger, including most likely the teraphim of Laban, which Rachel still retained, and other objects of idolatrous worship, either brought by Jacob's servants from Mesopotamia, or adopted in Canaan, or perhaps possessed by the captives - that are among you, and be clean, - literally, cleanse yourselves. The word is that which afterwards describes the purifications of the law (Numbers 19:11, 12; Leviticus 14:4; Leviticus 15:13). Aben Ezra interprets it as meaning that they washed their bodies; and Michaelis views the rite as a kind of baptism, signifying their adoption of the true religion of Jehovah - a quasi baptism of repentance, like that afterwards preached by John (vide 'Suppl.,' p. 1000) - and change your garments. The directions here given are very similar to those which were subsequently issued at Sinai (Exodus 19:10), and were meant to symbolize a moral and spiritual purification of the mind and heart. And let us arise, and go to Bethel. "This is obviously not the first time Jacob acquainted his family with the vision at Bethel (Inglis). And I will make there an altar unto God, - El is probably employed because of its proximity to and connection with Bethel, or house of El, and the intended contrast between the El of Bethel and the strange Elohim which Jacob's household were commanded to put away (cf. Quarry, p. 512) - who answered me in the day of my distress, - this seems to imply that Jacob prayed at Bethel before he slept, if it does not refer to his supplication before meeting, Esau (Genesis 32:9) - and was with me in the way which I went. This language clearly looks back to Bethel (vide Genesis 28:20).
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.
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.
Verse 4. - And they gave mate Jacob all the strange gods - Rosenmüller thinks these must have been many, since the historian would not otherwise have used the term כֹּל - which were in their hand (i.e. which they possessed), and all their earrings which were in their ears; - i.e. those employed for purposes of idolatrous worship, which were often covered with allegorical figures and mysterious sentences, and supposed to be endowed with a talismanic virtue (Judges 8:21; Isaiah 3:20; Hosea 2:13) - and Jacob hid them - having probably first destroyed them, since they do not appear to have been ever after sought for or resumed by the parties who gave them up (Hughes) - under the oak which was by Shechem. Whether the oak, or terebinth, under which Abraham once pitched his tent (Genesis 12:6), that beneath whose shade Joshua afterwards erected his memorial pillar (Joshua 24:26), the oak of the sorcerers (Judges 9:37), and the oak of the pillar at Shechem (Judges 9:6) were all the tree under which Jacob buried the images and earrings cannot with certainty be determined, though the probability is that they were.
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.
Verse 5. - And they journeyed (from Shechem, after the work of reformation just described): and the terror of God - meaning not simply a great terror, as in Genesis 23:6; Genesis 30:8 (Dathe, Bush), but either a supernatural dread inspired by Elohim (Ainsworth, Clericus, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, and others), or a fear of Elohim, under whose care Jacob manifestly bad been taken (Murphy, Quarry) - was upon the cities that were round about them, - literally, in their circuits, i.e. wherever they went - and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob - as might have been expected.
So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him.
Verse 6. - So (literally, and) Jacob came to Luz (vide Genesis 28:19), which is in the land of Canaan (this clause is added to draw attention to the fact that Jacob had now accomplished his return to Canaan), that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him - i.e. his household and the captured Shechemites.
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.
Verse 7. - And he built there an altar, - thus redeeming his vow (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:4) - and called the place El-beth-el: - i.e. God of Bethel. Not he called the place of God, or the place sacred to God, Bethel (Michaelis, 'Suppl.,' p. 2174), nor he called the altar (Keil, Kalisch, Gerlach, &c.), but he called the place where the altar was El-beth-el; i.e. either he devoted the place as sacred to the El of Bethel (Rosenmüller), or he gave to the place the name of (so. the place of) the El of Bethel, reading the first El as a genitive (Lange); or he called it El-Beth-el metaphorically, as Jerusalem afterwards was styled Jehovah Tsidkenu (Jeremiah 33:16) and Jehovah Shammah (Ezekiel 48:35; Inglis). It has been proposed, after the LXX., to avoid the seeming incongruity of assigning such a name to a place, to read, he invoked upon the place the El of Bethel (Quarry, p. 513) - because there God appeared unto him, - the El of Bethel was Jehovah (vide Genesis 28:13; Genesis 31:13) - when he fled from the face of his brother.
But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.
Verse 8. - But Deborah - Bee (Gesenius, Furst) Rebekah's nurse (vide Genesis 24:59) died - at a very advanced age, having left Padan-aram for Canaan along with Rebekah, upwards of 150 years ago. That she is now found in Jacob's household may be accounted for by supposing that Rebekah had sent her, in accordance with the promise of Genesis 27:45 (Delitzsch); or that Jacob had paid a visit to his father at Hebron, and brought her back with him to Shechem, probably because of Rebekah's death (Lange); or that on Rebekah's death she had been transferred to Jacob's household (Keil, Murphy, Alford); or that Isaac, "who had during the twenty years of his son's absence wandered in different parts of the land" (?), had "at this period of his migrations come into the neighborhood of Bethel" (Kalisch). And she was buried beneath Bethel - which was situated in the hill country, whence Jacob is instructed to "go up" to Bethel (ver. 1) under an oak. More correctly, the oak or terebinth, i.e. the well-known tree, which long after served to mark her last resting-place, which some have without reason identified with the palm tree of Deborah the prophetess (Judges 4:5), and the oak of Tabor mentioned in 1 Samuel 10:3 (Delitzsch, Kurtz, &c.). And the name of it was called - not "he," i.e. Jacob, "called it" (Ainsworth), but "one called its name," i.e. its name was called (Kalisch) - Allon-bachuth (i.e. the oak of weeping).
And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
Verses 9, 10. - And God appeared unto Jacob again, - this was a visible manifestation, m contrast to the audible one in Shechem (ver. 1), and in a state of wakefulness (ver. 13), as distinguished from the dream vision formerly beheld at Bethel (Genesis 28:12) - when he came (or had come) out of Padan-aram (as previously he had appeared to the patriarch on going into Padan-aram), and blessed him - i.e. renewed the promises of the covenant, of which he was the heir. And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: - or Supplanter (vide Genesis 25:26). Lange reads, Is thy name Jacob? - thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel (vide Genesis 32:28) shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. The renewal of the name given at Peniel may possibly indicate a revival in the spiritual life of Jacob, which had been declining in the interval between the former interview with God and the present (Murphy), but was probably designed as a confirmation of the former interview with God, and of the experience through which he then passed. Cf. the twice-given name of Peter (John 1:42; Matthew 16:16-19).
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.
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;
Verses 11, 12. - And God said unto him (repeating substantially the promises made to Abraham), I am God Almighty: - El Shaddai (cf. Genesis 17:1) - be fruitful and multiply; - "Abraham and Isaac had each only one son of promise; but now the time of increase was come" (Murphy; cf. Genesis 1:28) - a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee (cf. Genesis 17:5; Genesis 28:3), and kings shall come out of thy loins (cf. Genesis 17:6, 16); and the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac (vide Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 26:3, 4), to thee I will give it (cf. Genesis 28:13), and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. The time of their entering on possession was specified to Abraham (Genesis 15:16).
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.
And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.
Verse 13. - And God went up from him - showing this to have been a visible manifestation (cf. Genesis 17:22) - in the place where he talked with him.
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.
Verse 14. - And Jacob set up a pillar - the former pillar (Genesis 28:18) having probably fallen down and disappeared - in the place where he (God) talked with him (to commemorate the interview), even a pillar of stone. The setting up of pillars, according to Tuch a peculiarity of the Elohist, appears to have been a favorite practice of Jacob's: witness the first pillar at Bethel (Genesis 28:18), the pillar on Galeed (Genesis 31:45), the second pillar at Bethel (Genesis 35:14), the pillar over Rachel's grave (Genesis 35:20). And he poured a drink offering thereon. This is the first mention of those sacrificial libations which afterwards became so prominent in connection with the Mosaic ritual (Exodus 29:40, 41; Leviticus 23:13, 18, 37; Numbers 6:15; and elsewhere). Under the law the נֶסֶך- σπονδεῖον σπονδή (LXX.) libamentum, libamen (Vulgate); frankopfer (Luther) - consisted of a fourth part of a hin of wine, which was equal to about a third of a gallon. And he poured oil thereon - as he did on the previous occasion (Genesis 28:18, q.v.).
And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.
Verse 15. - And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel. This name was first given after the dream vision of the ladder (Genesis 28:19); already on this occasion it had been changed into El-beth-el (ver. 7); now its old name is reimposed.
And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
Verse 16. - And they journeyed - not in opposition to the Divine commandment (ver. 1), which did not enjoin a permanent settlement at Bethel, but in accordance probably with his own desire, if not also Heaven's counsel, to proceed to Mamre to visit Isaac - from Bethel (southwards in the direction of Hebron); and there was but a little way (literally, there was yet a space of land; probably a few furlongs (Murphy), about four English miles (Gerlach). The Vulgate translates, "in the spring-time," and the LXX. render, ἐγένετο δὲ ἡνίκα ἤγγισεν εἰς χαβραθὰ, both of which are misunderstandings of the original - to come to Ephrath: - Fruitful; the ancient name of Bethlehem (vide infra ver. 19) - and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labor - literally, she had hard labor in her parturition, which was perhaps all the more severe that sixteen or seventeen years had elapsed since her first son, Joseph, was born.
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.
Verse 17. - And it came to pass, when she was in hard labor (literally, in her laboring hard in her parturition), that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also - literally, for also this to thee a son; meaning either that she would certainly have strength to bring forth another son, or, what is more probable, that the child was already born, and that it was a son.
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.
Verse 18. - And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, - literally, in the departing of her soul; not into annihilation, but into another (a disembodied) state of existence (vide Genesis 25:3) - for she died (a pathetic commentary on Genesis 30:1), that she called his name Ben-oni ("son of my sorrow," as a memorial of her anguish in bearing him, and of her death because of him): but his father called him Benjamin - "son of my right hand;" either "the son of my strength" (Clericus, Rosenmüller,. Murphy), or "the son of my happiness or good fortune" (Gesenius, Keil, Kalisch), with allusion to Jacob's now possessing twelve sons; or as expressive of Jacob's unwillingness to see a bad omen in the birth of Rachel's child (Candlish); or "the son of my days," i.e. of my old age (Samaritan), an interpretation which Lunge pasaes with a mere allusion, but which Kalisch justly pronounces not so absurd as is often asserted (cf. Genesis 44:20); or "the son of my affection" (Ainsworth; cf. Genesis 50:18)
And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.
Verse 19. - And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem - or House of Bread, about seven miles south of Jerusalem. It afterwards became the birthplace of David (1 Samuel 16:18) and of Christ (Matthew 2:1). The assertion that this clause is a later interpolation (Lunge) is unfounded (Kalisch, Kurtz).
And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.
Verse 20. - And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave (vide on ver. 14): that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day i.e. unto the times of Moses; but the site of Rachel's sepulcher was known so late as the age of Samuel (1 Samuel 10:2); and there seems no reason to question the tradition which from the fourth century has placed it within the Turkish chapel Kubbet Rachil, about half-an-hour's journey north of Bethlehem (Robinson, vol. L p. 322; Tristram, 'Land of Israel,' p. 404; Thomson, 'Land and Book,' p. 644; Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 149).
And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.
Verse 21. - And Israel (or Jacob) journeyed (from Ephrath, after the funeral of Rachel), and spread - i.e. unfolded (Genesis 12:8; Genesis 26:25) - his tent beyond the tower of Edar - literally, to, i.e. not trans (Vulgate), ultra (Dathe), but ad, usque (Rosenmüller), as far as Migdol Edar, the Tower of the Flock - probably a turret, or watch-tower, erected for the convenience of shepherds in guarding their flocks (2 Kings 18:8; 2 Chronicles 26:10; 2 Chronicles 27:4), - the site of which is uncertain, but which is commonly supposed to have Been a mile (Jerome) or more south of Bethlehem." The LXX. omit this verse.
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:
Verse 22. - And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: - an act of incest (Leviticus 18:8) for which he was afterwards disinherited (Genesis 49:4; 1 Chronicles 5:1) - and Israel heard it. The hiatus in the text and the break in the MS. at this point may both have been designed to express Jacob's grief at the tidings. The LXX. add feebly καὶ πονηρὸν ἐφάνη ἐναντίον αὐτοῦ, which surely fails to represent the mingled shame and sorrow, indignation and horror, with which his eldest son's wickedness must have filled him. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve - a separate verse in the LXX., which is certainly more in accordance with the sense than the division in the text.
The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:
Verses 23-26. - The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun (cf. Genesis 29:32-35; Genesis 30:18-20; Genesis 46:8-15; Exodus 1:2, 3). The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin (Cf. Genesis 30:22-24; Genesis 35:18; Genesis 46:19). And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali (cf. Genesis 30:4-8). And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher (cf. Genesis 30:9-13): these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padan-aram. All except Benjamin were born there. Either this is an instance of the summary style of Scripture in which minute verbal accuracy is not always preserved (Inglis), or the whole period of Jacob s pilgrimage to Mesopotamia and back is intended by his residence in Padan-aram (Kalisch).
The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:
And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:
And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram.
And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.
Verse 27. - And Jacob came unto Isaac his father, unto Mature (on the probability of Jacob s having previously visited his father, vide ver. 8), unto the city of Arbah (Genesis 13:18; Genesis 23:2, 19; Joshua 14:15; Joshua 15:13), which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.
And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.
Verse 28. - And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. At this time Jacob was 120; but at 130 he stood before Pharaoh in Egypt, at which date Joseph had been 10 years governor. He was therefore 120 when Joseph was promoted at the age of 30, and 107 when Joseph was sold; consequently Isaac was 167 years of age when Joseph was sold, so that he must have survived that event and sympathized with Jacob his son for a period of 13 years.
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.
Verse 29. - And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto hit people, - cf. the account of Abraham's death (Genesis 25:8) - being old and full of days (literally, satisfied with days. In Genesis 25:8 the shorter expression satisfied is used): and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him - Esau arriving from Mount Seir to pay the last service due to his deceased parent, and Jacob according to him that precedence which had once belonged to him as Isaac's firstborn.