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.
The name given to the old oak-tree speaks of mourning, of very thoughtful and sorrowful, if not of very bitter tears; of kindly remembrances of old days and faithful duties; of the utter blotting out of every recollection but such as are kindly, sad, and hopeful. Deborah was only an old servant,—one who had served the family so long, so faithfully, that she had grown one of it,—prized in her active life, cared for in her failing age, wept over at the last with this memorable weeping. All the realities, the uttermost commonplaces of human life and history, and the passing on of time, are infinitely touching when really brought home to us. The wearied-out old frame laid in the last sleep, the hopeful young days 125 years ago, the busy, helpful life of work and worry, you see them all. There are practical suggestions here. (1) There could not have been this near and warm relation, but that the relation had lasted long. (2) We ought not to have mere money relations with those who serve us. (3) Those who serve may see from this how honourable is their calling, if they abide in it with God.
A. K. H. B., The Graver Thoughts of a Country Parson, 3rd series, p. 45.
Reference: Genesis 35:18.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 68.
Genesis 35:28-29The lives of Abraham and Jacob are as attractive as the life of Isaac is apparently unattractive. Isaac's character had few-salient features. It had no great faults, no striking virtues; it is the quietest, smoothest, most silent character in the Old Testament. It is owing to this that there are so few remarkable events in the life of Isaac, for the remarkableness of events is created by the character that meets them. It seems to be a law that all national, social and personal life should advance by alternate contractions and expansions. There are few instances where a great father has had a son who equalled him in greatness. The old power more often reappears in Jacob than in Isaac. The spirit of Abraham's energy passed over his son to his son's son. The circumstances that moulded the character of Isaac were these. (1) He was an only son. (2) His parents were both very old. An atmosphere of antique quiet hung about his life. (3) These two old hearts lived for him alone.
I. Take the excellences of his character first. (1) His submissive self-surrender on Mount Gerizim, which shadowed forth the perfect sacrifice of Christ. (2) His tender constancy, seen in his mourning for his mother, and in the fact that he alone of the patriarchs represented to the Jewish nation the ideal of true marriage. (3) His piety. It was as natural to him as to a woman to trust and love: not strongly, but constantly, sincerely. His trust became the habit of his soul. His days were knit each to each by natural piety.
II. Look next at the faults of Isaac's character. (1) He was slow, indifferent, inactive. We find this exemplified in the story of the wells (Genesis 26:18-22). (2) The same weakness, ending in selfishness, appears in the history of Isaac's lie to Abimelech. (3) He showed his weakness in the division between Jacob and Esau. He took no pains to harmonise them. The curse of favouritism prevailed in his tent. (4) He dropped into a querulous old age, and became a lover of savoury meat. But our last glimpse of him is happy. He saw the sons of Jacob at Hebron, and felt that God's promise was fulfilled.
S. A. Brooke, Sermons, p. 333.
References: Genesis 35:29.—F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 126. Gen 35—Ibid., p. 121; R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. ii., p. 103; M. Dods, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, p. 119. Genesis 36:24.—Expositor, 2nd series, vol. vi., p. 352.
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:
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.
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.
So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him.
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.
But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.
And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
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;
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.
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.
And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.
And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
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.
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.
And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.
And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.
And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.
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:
The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:
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.
And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore 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.