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Jacob Returns to Bethel


God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and settle there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your clothes; 3then come, let us go up to Bethel, that I may make an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak that was near Shechem.

5 As they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities all around them, so that no one pursued them. 6Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, 7and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. 8And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So it was called Allon-bacuth.

9 God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. 10God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. 11God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you. 12The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” 13Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him. 14Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured out a drink offering on it, and poured oil on it. 15So Jacob called the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

The Birth of Benjamin and the Death of Rachel

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor. 17When she was in her hard labor, the midwife said to her, “Do not be afraid; for now you will have another son.” 18As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 19So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day. 21Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.

22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard of it.

Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali. 26The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

The Death of Isaac

27 Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had resided as aliens. 28Now the days of Isaac were one hundred eighty years. 29And Isaac breathed his last; he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

17. The midwife said unto her. We know that the ancients were very desirous of offspring, especially of male offspring. Since Rachel therefore does not accept this kind of consolation when offered, we infer that she was completely oppressed with pain. She therefore died in agonies, thinking of nothing but her sad childbirth and her own sorrows: from the feeling of which she gave a name to her son; but Jacob afterwards corrected the error. For the chance of the name sufficiently shows, that, in his judgment, the excess of sorrow in his wife was wrong; seeing that she had branded his son with a sinister and opprobrious name;127127     Rachel, in the act of dying, called her son Benoni, the son of my sorrow; Jacob called him Benjamin, the son of my right hand. It is worthy of remark that Benjamin was the only son of Jacob born in the land of Canaan. — Ed. for that sadness is not free from ingratitude, which so occupies our minds in adversity that the kindness of God does not exhilarate them; or, at least, does not infuse some portion of sweetness to mitigate our grief. Then her burial is mentioned; to which the holy fathers could not have attended with such religious care, except on account of their hope of the future resurrection. Whenever, therefore, we read concerning their burying the dead, as if they were anxious about the performance of some extraordinary duty, let us think of that end of which I have spoken; for it was no foolish ceremony, but a lively symbol of the future resurrection. I acknowledge, indeed, that profane and degenerate men at that time, in various places, vainly incurred much expense and toil in burying their dead, only as an empty solace of their grief. But although they had declined from the original institution into gross errors, yet the Lord caused that this rite should remain entire among his own people. Moreover, he designed that a testimony should exist among unbelievers, by which they might be rendered inexcusable. For since, independently of instruction, this sentiment was innate in all men, that to bury the dead was one of the offices of piety, nature has clearly dictated to them that the human body is formed for immortality; and, therefore, that, by sinking into death, it does not utterly perish. The statue or monument, erected by him, signifies the same thing. He reared no citadel which might stand as a token of his glory among his posterity: but he took care to raise the memorial of a sepulcher, which might be a witness to all ages that he was more devoted to the life to come; and, by the providence of God, this memorial remained standing, till the people returned out of Egypt.

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