Genesis 35:21-23New English Translation (NET Bible)
21 Then Israel traveled on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder.[a]22 While Israel was living in that land, Reuben went to bed with[b] Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard about it.
Jacob had twelve sons:
23 The sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, as well as Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
Genesis 35:21sn The location of Migdal Eder is not given. It appears to be somewhere between Bethlehem and Hebron. Various traditions have identified it as at the shepherds’ fields near Bethlehem (the Hebrew name Migdal Eder means “tower of the flock”; see Mic 4:8) or located it near Solomon’s pools.
Genesis 35:22tnHeb “lay down with.” The verb שָׁכַב (shakhav) “to lie down” can imply going to bed to sleep or be a euphemism for sexual relations.sn Reuben’s act of having sexual relations with Bilhah probably had other purposes than merely satisfying his sexual desire. By having sex with Bilhah, Reuben (Leah’s oldest son) would have prevented Bilhah from succeeding Rachel as the favorite wife, and by sleeping with his father’s concubine he would also be attempting to take over leadership of the clan—something Absalom foolishly attempted later on in Israel’s history (2 Sam 16:21-22).
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