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Jacob Returns to Bethel

35 (A) God told Jacob, “Return to Bethel, where I appeared to you when you were running from your brother Esau. Make your home there and build an altar for me.”

Jacob said to his family and to everyone else who was traveling with him:

Get rid of your foreign gods! Then make yourselves acceptable to worship God and put on clean clothes. Afterwards, we'll go to Bethel. I will build an altar there for God, who answered my prayers when I was in trouble and who has always been at my side.

So everyone gave Jacob their idols and their earrings,[a] and he buried them under the oak tree near Shechem.

While Jacob and his family were traveling through Canaan, God terrified the people in the towns so much that no one dared bother them. Finally, they reached Bethel, also known as Luz. Jacob built an altar there and called it “God of Bethel,” because that was the place where God had appeared to him when he was running from Esau. While they were there, Rebekah's personal servant Deborah[b] died. They buried her under an oak tree and called it “Weeping Oak.”

God Blesses Jacob at Bethel

9-11 (B)(C) After Jacob came back to the land of Canaan, God appeared to him again. This time he gave Jacob a new name and blessed him by saying:

I am God All-Powerful, and from now on your name will be Israel[c] instead of Jacob. You will have many children. Your descendants will become nations, and some of the men in your family will even be kings. 12 I will give you the land that I promised Abraham and Isaac, and it will belong to your family forever.

13 After God had gone, 14 (D) Jacob set up a large rock, so that he would remember what had happened there. Then he poured wine and olive oil on the rock to show that it was dedicated to God, 15 and he named the place Bethel.[d]

Benjamin Is Born

16 Jacob and his family had left Bethel and were still a long way from Ephrath, when the time came for Rachel's baby to be born. 17 She was having a rough time, but the woman who was helping her said, “Don't worry! It's a boy.” 18 Rachel was at the point of death, and right before dying, she said, “I'll name him Benoni.”[e] But Jacob called him Benjamin.[f]

19 Rachel was buried beside the road to Ephrath, which is also called Bethlehem. 20 Jacob set up a tombstone over her grave, and it is still there. 21 Jacob, also known as Israel, traveled to the south of Eder Tower, where he set up camp.

22 (E) During their time there, Jacob's oldest son Reuben slept with Bilhah, who was one of Jacob's other wives.[g] And Jacob found out about it.

Jacob's Twelve Sons

23-26 Jacob had twelve sons while living in northern Syria.[h] His first-born Reuben was the son of Leah, who later gave birth to Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Leah's servant Zilpah had two sons: Gad and Asher.

Jacob and his wife Rachel had Joseph and Benjamin. Rachel's servant woman Bilhah had two more sons: Dan and Naphtali.

Isaac Dies

27 (F) Jacob went to his father Isaac at Hebron, also called Mamre or Kiriath-Arba, where Isaac's father Abraham had lived as a foreigner. 28-29 Isaac died at the ripe old age of 180, then his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Esau's Family

36 Esau, also known as Edom, had many descendants. (G) He married three Canaanite women: The first was Adah, the daughter of Elon the Hittite; the second was Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah and the granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite; (H) the third was Basemath, who was Ishmael's daughter and Nebaioth's sister.

4-5 Esau and his three wives had five sons while in Canaan. Adah's son was Eliphaz; Basemath's son was Reuel; Oholibamah's three sons were Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.

Esau took his children and wives, his relatives and servants, his animals and possessions he had acquired while in Canaan, and moved far from Jacob. He did this because the land was too crowded and could not support him and his brother with their flocks and herds. That's why Esau made his home in the hill country of Seir.

9-14 Esau lived in the hill country of Seir and was the ancestor of the Edomites. Esau had three wives: Adah, Basemath, and Oholibamah. Here is a list of his descendants: Esau and Adah had a son named Eliphaz, whose sons were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. Timna was the other wife[i] of Esau's son Eliphaz, and she had a son named Amalek.

Esau and Basemath had a son named Reuel, whose sons were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah.

Esau and Oholibamah had three sons: Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.

Chiefs and Leaders in Edom

15 Esau and Adah's oldest son was Eliphaz, and the clans that descended from him were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16 Korah, Gatam, and Amalek. These and Esau's other descendants lived in the land of Edom.

17 The clans that descended from Esau and Basemath's son Reuel were Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah.

18 The clans that descended from Esau and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah were Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. 19 All of these clans descended from Esau, who was known as Edom.

20 Seir was from the Horite tribe that had lived in Edom before the time of Esau. The clans that had descended from him were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan.

22 Lotan's sons were Hori and Heman; his sister was Timna.

23 Shobal's sons were Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam.

24 Zibeon's sons were Aiah and Anah—the same Anah who found an oasis[j] in the desert while taking the donkeys of his father out to pasture.

25 Anah's children were Dishon and Oholibamah.

26 Dishon's sons were Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran.

27 Ezer's sons were Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan.

28 Dishan's sons were Uz and Aran.

29 The clans of the Horites were Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan, and they lived in the land of Seir.

31-39 Before there were kings in Israel, the following kings ruled Edom one after another:

Bela son of Beor from Dinhabah;

Jobab son of Zerah from Bozrah;

Husham from the land of Teman;

Hadad son of Bedad from Avith (Bedad had defeated the Midianites in Moab);

Samlah from Masrekah;

Shaul from the city of Rehoboth on the Euphrates River;

Baalhanan son of Achbor;

Hadar from the city of Pau (his wife Mehetabel was the daughter of Matred and the granddaughter of Mezahab).

40 The clans that descended from Esau took their names from their families and the places where they lived. They are Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon, 42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43 Magdiel, and Iram. These clans descended from Esau, who was known as Edom, the father of the Edomites. They took their names from the places where they settled.

Joseph and His Brothers

37 Jacob lived in the land of Canaan, where his father Isaac had lived, and this is the story of his family.

When Jacob's son Joseph was 17 years old, he took care of the sheep with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah.[k] But he was always telling his father all sorts of bad things about his brothers.

Jacob loved Joseph more than he did any of his other sons, because Joseph was born when Jacob was very old. Jacob had even given Joseph a fancy coat[l] which showed that Joseph was his favorite son, and so Joseph's brothers hated him and would not be friendly to him.

One day, Joseph told his brothers what he had dreamed, and they hated him even more. Joseph said, “Let me tell you about my dream. We were out in the field, tying up bundles of wheat. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles gathered around and bowed down to it.”

His brothers asked, “Do you really think you are going to be king and rule over us?” Now they hated Joseph more than ever because of what he had said about his dream.

Joseph later had another dream, and he told his brothers, “Listen to what else I dreamed. The sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to me.”

10 When he told his father about this dream, his father became angry and said, “What's that supposed to mean? Are your mother and I and your brothers all going to come and bow down to you?” 11 (I) Joseph's brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept wondering about the dream.

Joseph Is Sold and Taken to Egypt

12 One day when Joseph's brothers had taken the sheep to a pasture near Shechem, 13 his father Jacob said to him, “I want you to go to your brothers. They are with the sheep near Shechem.”

“Yes, sir,” Joseph answered.

14 His father said, “Go and find out how your brothers and the sheep are doing. Then come back and let me know.” So he sent him from Hebron Valley.

Joseph was near Shechem 15 and wandering through the fields, when a man asked, “What are you looking for?”

16 Joseph answered, “I'm looking for my brothers who are watching the sheep. Can you tell me where they are?”

17 “They're not here anymore,” the man replied. “I overheard them say they were going to Dothan.”

Joseph left and found his brothers in Dothan. 18 But before he got there, they saw him coming and made plans to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Look, here comes the hero of those dreams! 20 Let's kill him and throw him into a pit and say that some wild animal ate him. Then we'll see what happens to those dreams.”

21 Reuben heard this and tried to protect Joseph from them. “Let's not kill him,” he said. 22 “Don't murder him or even harm him. Just throw him into a well out here in the desert.” Reuben planned to rescue Joseph later and take him back to his father.

23 When Joseph came to his brothers, they pulled off his fancy coat[m] 24 and threw him into a dry well.

25 As Joseph's brothers sat down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with all kinds of spices that they were taking to Egypt. 26 So Judah said, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and hide his body? 27 Let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not harm him. After all, he is our brother.” And the others agreed.

28 (J) When the Midianite merchants came by, Joseph's brothers took him out of the well, and for 20 pieces of silver they sold him to the Ishmaelites[n] who took him to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the well and did not find Joseph there, he tore his clothes in sorrow. 30 Then he went back to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone! What am I going to do?”

31 Joseph's brothers killed a goat and dipped Joseph's fancy coat in its blood. 32 After this, they took the coat to their father and said, “We found this! Look at it carefully and see if it belongs to your son.”

33 Jacob knew it was Joseph's coat and said, “It's my son's coat! Joseph has been torn to pieces and eaten by some wild animal.”

34 Jacob mourned for Joseph a long time, and to show his sorrow he tore his clothes and wore sackcloth.[o] 35 All of Jacob's children came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will go to my grave, mourning for my son.” So Jacob kept on grieving.

36 Meanwhile, the Midianites had sold Joseph in Egypt to a man named Potiphar, who was the king's[p] official in charge of the palace guard.


  1. 35.4 earrings: These would have had symbols of foreign gods on them.
  2. 35.8 Deborah: See 24.59 and the note there.
  3. 35.9-11 Israel: See the note at 32.28.
  4. 35.15 Bethel: See the note at 28.19.
  5. 35.18 Benoni: In Hebrew “Benoni” means “Son of my Sorrow.”
  6. 35.18 Benjamin: In Hebrew “Benjamin” can mean “Son at my Right Side” (the place of power).
  7. 35.22 other wives: See the note at 22.24. Bilhah had been Rachel's servant woman (see 29.28-30).
  8. 35.23-26 northern Syria: See the note at 24.10.
  9. 36.9-14 other wife: See the note at 22.24.
  10. 36.24 an oasis: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  11. 37.2 Bilhah and Zilpah: See 30.1-13.
  12. 37.3 fancy coat: Or “a coat of many colors” or “a coat with long sleeves.”
  13. 37.23 fancy coat: See the note at 37.3.
  14. 37.28 Midianite … Ishmaelites: According to 25.1,2, 12 both the Midianites and the Ishmaelites were descendants of Abraham, and in Judges 8.22-24 the two names are used of the same people. It is possible that in this passage “Ishmaelite” has the meaning “nomadic traders,” while “Midianite” refers to their ethnic origin.
  15. 37.34 sackcloth: A rough dark-colored cloth made from goat or camel hair and used to make grain sacks. It was worn in times of trouble or sorrow.
  16. 37.36 the king's: See the note at 12.15.

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