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Jacob in Bethel

35 God said to Jacob, “Go to the town of Bethel.[a] That is where I appeared to you when you were running away from your brother Esau. Live there and make an altar to honor me as El,[b] the God who appeared to you.”

So Jacob told his family and all the other people with him, “Destroy all these foreign gods that you have. Make yourselves pure. Put on clean clothes. We will leave here and go to Bethel. There I will build an altar to the God who has always helped me during times of trouble. He has been with me wherever I have gone.”

So the people gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had, and they gave him all the rings they were wearing in their ears. He buried everything under an oak tree near the town called Shechem.

Then Jacob and his sons left that place. The people in the surrounding cities wanted to follow and kill them, but God filled them with such great fear that they did not go after them. So Jacob and his people went to Luz, which is now called Bethel. It is in the land of Canaan. Jacob built an altar there. He named the place “El Bethel.”[c] Jacob chose this name because that is the place where God first appeared to him when he was running from his brother.

Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died there. They buried her under the oak tree at Bethel. They named that place Allon Bacuth.[d]

Jacob’s New Name

When Jacob came back from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again. God blessed Jacob 10 and said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but I will change that name. You will no longer be called Jacob. Your new name will be Israel.[e]” So God named him Israel.

11 God said to him, “I am God All-Powerful,[f] and I give you this blessing: Have many children and grow into a great nation. Other nations and other kings will come out of you. 12 I gave Abraham and Isaac some special land. Now I give the land to you and to all your people who will live after you.” 13 Then God left that place. 14-15 Jacob set up a memorial stone there. He made the rock holy by pouring wine and oil on it. This was a special place because God spoke to Jacob there, and Jacob named the place Bethel.

Rachel Dies Giving Birth

16 Jacob and his group left Bethel. Before they came to Ephrath, Rachel began giving birth to her baby. 17 She was having a lot of trouble with this birth. She was in great pain. When her nurse saw this, she said, “Don’t be afraid, Rachel. You are giving birth to another son.”

18 Rachel died while giving birth to the son. Before dying, she named the boy Benoni.[g] But Jacob called him Benjamin.[h]

19 Rachel was buried on the road to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Jacob put a special rock on Rachel’s grave to honor her. That special rock is still there today. 21 Then Israel continued his journey. He camped just south of Eder tower.[i]

22 Israel stayed there for a short time. While he was there, Reuben slept with Israel’s slave woman Bilhah. Israel heard about this, and he was very angry.[j]

The Family of Israel (Jacob)

These are the names of Jacob’s twelve sons:

23 His firstborn son was Reuben, whose mother was Leah. Jacob’s other sons by Leah were Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.

24 His sons by Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.

25 His sons by Bilhah, Rachel’s maid, were Dan and Naphtali.

26 His sons by Zilpah, Leah’s maid, were Gad and Asher.

These were Jacob’s sons who were born in Paddan Aram.

27 Jacob went to his father Isaac at Mamre in Kiriath Arba (Hebron). This is where Abraham and Isaac had lived. 28 Isaac lived 180 years. 29 Then Isaac became weak and died and went to be with his people. He had lived a long and full life. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.


  1. Genesis 35:1 Bethel A town in Israel. This name means “God’s house.”
  2. Genesis 35:1 El A Hebrew name for God.
  3. Genesis 35:7 El Bethel A name that means “the God of Bethel.”
  4. Genesis 35:8 Allon Bacuth This name means “the oak tree of sadness.”
  5. Genesis 35:10 Israel This name might mean “he fights for God,” “he fights with God,” or “God fights.”
  6. Genesis 35:11 God All-Powerful Literally, “El Shaddai.”
  7. Genesis 35:18 Benoni This name means “son of my suffering.”
  8. Genesis 35:18 Benjamin This name means “right-hand” or “favorite son.”
  9. Genesis 35:21 Eder tower Or “Migdal Eder.”
  10. Genesis 35:22 and he was very angry These words are from the ancient Greek translation. They are not in the standard Hebrew text. See Gen. 49:4.

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