Verses 21–29

Here is, 1. Jacob’s removal, Gen. 35:21. He also, as his fathers, sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country, and was not long in a place. Immediately after the story of Rachel’s death he is here called Israel (Gen. 35:21, 22), and not often so afterwards: the Jews say, “The historian does him this honour here because he bore that affliction with such admirable patience and submission to Providence.” Note, Those are Israels indeed, princes with God, that support the government of their own passions. He that has this rule over his own spirit is better than the mighty. Israel, a prince with God, yet dwells in tents; the city is reserved for him in the other world. 2. The sin of Reuben. A piece of abominable wickedness it was that he was guilty of (Gen. 35:22), that very sin which the apostle says (1 Cor. 5:1) is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. It is said to have been when Israel dwelt in that land; as if he were then absent from his family, which might be the unhappy occasion of these disorders. Though perhaps Bilhah was the greater criminal, and it is probable was abandoned by Jacob for it, yet Reuben’s crime was so provoking that, for it, he lost his birthright and blessing, Gen. 49:4. The first-born is not always the best, nor the most promising. This was Reuben’s sin, but it was Jacob’s affliction; and what a sore affliction it was is intimated in a little compass, and Israel heard it. No more is said—that is enough; he heard it with the utmost grief and shame, horror and displeasure. Reuben thought to conceal it, that his father should never hear of it; but those that promise themselves secresy in sin are generally disappointed; a bird of the air carries the voice. 3. A complete list of the sons of Jacob, now that Benjamin the youngest was born. This is the first time we have the names of these heads of the twelve tribes together; afterwards we find them very often spoken of and enumerated, even to the end of the Bible, Rev. 7:4; 21:12. 4. The visit which Jacob made to his father Isaac at Hebron. We may suppose he had visited him before since his return, for he sorely longed after his father’s house; but never, till now, brought his family to settle with him, or near him, Gen. 35:27. Probably he did this now upon the death of Rebekah, by which Isaac was left solitary, and not disposed to marry again. 5. The age and death of Isaac are here recorded, though it appears, by computation, that he died not till many years after Joseph 8f5 was sold into Egypt, and much about the time that he was preferred there. Isaac, a mild quiet man, lived the longest of all the patriarchs, for he was 180 years old; Abraham was but 175. Isaac lived about forty years after he had made his will, Gen. 27:22. We shall not die an hour the sooner, but abundantly the better, for our timely setting our heart and house in order. Particular notice is taken of the amicable agreement of Esau and Jacob, in solemnizing their father’s funeral (Gen. 35:29), to show how wonderfully God had changed Esau’s mind since he vowed his brother’s murder immediately after his father’s death, Gen. 27:41. Note, God has many ways of preventing bad men from doing the mischief they intended; he can either tie their hands or turn their hearts.