King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 35

God commands Jacob to go to Beth-el, He puts away idols from his family. (1-5) Jacob builds an altar, Death of Deborah, God blesses Jacob. (6-15) Death of Rachel. (16-20) Reuben’s crime, The death of Isaac. (21-29)

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God commands Jacob to go to Beth-el, He puts away idols from his family

1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.

2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.

Jacob builds an altar, Death of Deborah, God blesses Jacob

6 So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him.

7 And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.

8 But Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.

9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.

10 And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.

11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;

12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.

13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.

14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.

15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.

Death of Rachel

16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.

17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.

18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.

20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

Reuben’s crime, The death of Isaac

21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.

22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:

23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:

24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:

25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:

26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid: Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram.

27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.

28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.

29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. God dissipates Jacob’s well-grounded fears, and sends him to perform his vow. C. xviii. 13. H.

Ver. 2. Strange gods, which his servants had reserved in the plundering of Sichem; perhaps he had also been informed of Rachel’s theft. D. — Garments; put on your cleanest and best attire, to testify the purity with which you ought to approach to the service of God. M. — See Exod. xix. 10. Lev. xv. 13.

Ver. 4. And the ear-rings. Hebrew, hanezamim; such as had been consecrated to some idol, and adorned the ears of those false but gaudy deities. M. — Men and women used them likewise, as phylacteries or talismans, to which many superstitious virtues were attributed. S. Aug. ep. 73, ad Posid. 9. iii. in Gen. Ezec. xvi. 12. Prov. xxv. Ex. xxxv. Jud. viii. C. — The turpentine tree; or “an oak tree,” as the Hebrew haela means also. Sept. adds, “and he destroyed them till this present day;” which seems intended to refute the story of their being found and adored by the Samaritans, or employed by Solomon when he built the temple. Jacob buried them privately. C. See Deut. vii. 5.

Ver. 5. Terror of God. A panic fear, which the pagans thought was sent by Pan. C. — God can easily make the most powerful flee before a few. S. Aug. q. 112.

Ver. 6. Chanaan, to distinguish it from another. Jud. i. 26, (M.) or because Moses wrote this in Arabia. C.

Ver. 7. To him. Heb. lit. “He called that place the God of Bethel, because there God (or the angels) appeared to him.” Haelohim, with a verb plural, generally refers to angels; when it is applied to God, the article is omitted, and the verb is singular. C.

Ver. 8. Debora. The Rabbin say she had been sent to urge Jacob’s return. M. — Perhaps she was come to see him and the daughters of Laban, for whom she would naturally have a great regard, as she lived with Laban. — Weeping. This shews the great respect they had for this good old servant. H.

Ver. 10. Israel. This name signifies one that prevaileth with God; (Ch.) and is more honourable and expressive than that of Jacob. God confirms what had been declared by his angel. C. xxxii. 28.

Ver. 12. And to, &c. And is often put by way of explanation. Chanaan was possessed by all the twelve sons of Jacob. Those of the handmaids are not excluded, as Ismael had been. W.

Ver. 14. Set up either a fresh altar, or restored the stone which he had formerly used for sacrifice. S. Aug. q. 116. — Drink, wine. — Oil. Theophrastus, speaking of a man addicted to superstition, says, “he adores every anointed stone.” C.

Ver. 16. Spring. Heb. cibrath. Sept. leave it untranslated, Chalratha, though they render it horse-race, (v. 19.) and join both together. C. xlviii. 7. The word occurs again, 4 K. v. 19; and S. Jerom translates it the spring, or the finest time of the earth. Others suppose it signifies the high road, (v. 19.) or horse-course, or a mile, &c. as if the place, where Rachel died, and not the season of the year, were designated. Calmet concludes, she died about the distance of an acre (sillon, furrow or ridge) from Ephrata. But there seems to be no reason why we should recede from the Vulgate. H.

Ver. 18. That is. These etymologies are given by S. Jerom. D. — Right hand, (jemini) as he is often styled in Scripture. Jamin has the same meaning; though it may also signify of the south, with respect to Bethel and Sichem; or of days and old age. C. xliv. 20. 1. C. Jacob chooses to give his son a more auspicious name; as the other would have reminded him too sensibly of his loss. H.

Ver. 20. A pillar; or sepulchral monument, about 500 paces north of Bethlehem, (H.) which was called Ephrata afterwards, from Caleb’s wife. C.

Ver. 21. Tower. Heb. Heder, about a mile to the east of Bethlehem, where the angels appeared to announce the birth of Christ. S. Helen built a temple there in honour of the angels. T. — Shepherds had such places to keep watch. C. — There was a tower of this name near Jerusalem. Mich. iv. 8. S. Jerom, q. His.

Ver. 22. The concubine. She was his lawful wife; but according to the style of the Hebrews, is called concubine, because of her servile extraction. Ch. — Ignorant of; and therefore, to mark his displeasure, he deprived him of the birth-right. C. xlix. 4. Jacob approached no more to Bala, as David had no farther commerce with the wives whom Absalom had defiled, 2 K. xvi. 22. M. — The Sept. add, and it appeared evil in his sight; an omission which the Hebrew editions seem to acknowledge, by leaving a vacant space. Kennicott.

Ver. 26. Syria, all except Benjamin. C. — All frequently means the greatest part. H.

Ver. 29. Spent. He lived 42 years, after he had blessed Jacob. — His people, in the bosom of Abraham, in limbo. — Full of days, quite satisfied. Cedat uti conviva satur. Hor. Sat. i. 1. He was one of the brightest figures of Jesus Christ, on account of him miraculous birth, name, willingness to be sacrificed, marriage with a woman sought at a great distance, &c. C. — Esau, who had always shewn a great regard for his father, joins his brother in rendering to him the last rites of burial. H. — Rebecca was probably dead. M. — The death of Isaac is mentioned out of its place, that the history of Joseph may not be interrupted, as it happened when Joseph was in prison, A. 2288. C.