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Genesis 35:1-7

Context
The Return to Bethel

35:1 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once 1  to Bethel 2  and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 3  35:2 So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you. 4  Purify yourselves and change your clothes. 5  35:3 Let us go up at once 6  to Bethel. Then I will make 7  an altar there to God, who responded to me in my time of distress 8  and has been with me wherever I went.” 9 

35:4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods that were in their possession 10  and the rings that were in their ears. 11  Jacob buried them 12  under the oak 13  near Shechem 35:5 and they started on their journey. 14  The surrounding cities were afraid of God, 15  and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

35:6 Jacob and all those who were with him arrived at Luz (that is, Bethel) 16  in the land of Canaan. 17  35:7 He built an altar there and named the place El Bethel 18  because there God had revealed himself 19  to him when he was fleeing from his brother.

1 tn Heb “arise, go up.” The first imperative gives the command a sense of urgency.

2 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

3 sn God is calling on Jacob to fulfill his vow he made when he fled from…Esau (see Gen 28:20-22).

4 tn Heb “which are in your midst.”

5 sn The actions of removing false gods, becoming ritually clean, and changing garments would become necessary steps in Israel when approaching the Lord in worship.

6 tn Heb “let us arise and let us go up.” The first cohortative gives the statement a sense of urgency.

7 tn The cohortative with the prefixed conjunction here indicates purpose or consequence.

8 tn Heb “day of distress.” See Ps 20:1 which utilizes similar language.

9 tn Heb “in the way in which I went.” Jacob alludes here to God’s promise to be with him (see Gen 28:20).

10 tn Heb “in their hand.”

11 sn On the basis of a comparison with Gen 34 and Num 31, G. J. Wenham argues that the foreign gods and the rings could have been part of the plunder that came from the destruction of Shechem (Genesis [WBC], 2:324).

12 sn Jacob buried them. On the burial of the gods, see E. Nielson, “The Burial of the Foreign Gods,” ST 8 (1954/55): 102-22.

13 tn Or “terebinth.”

14 tn Heb “and they journeyed.”

15 tn Heb “and the fear of God was upon the cities which were round about them.” The expression “fear of God” apparently refers (1) to a fear of God (objective genitive; God is the object of their fear). (2) But it could mean “fear from God,” that is, fear which God placed in them (cf. NRSV “a terror from God”). Another option (3) is that the divine name is used as a superlative here, referring to “tremendous fear” (cf. NEB “were panic-stricken”; NASB “a great terror”).

16 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

17 tn Heb “and Jacob came to Luz which is in the land of Canaan – it is Bethel – he and all the people who were with him.”

18 sn The name El-Bethel means “God of Bethel.”

19 tn Heb “revealed themselves.” The verb נִגְלוּ (niglu), translated “revealed himself,” is plural, even though one expects the singular form with the plural of majesty. Perhaps אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) is here a numerical plural, referring both to God and the angelic beings that appeared to Jacob. See the note on the word “know” in Gen 3:5.



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