• **Notifications**: Notifications can be dismissed by clicking on the "x" on the righthand side of the notice.
  • **New Style**: You can now change style options. Click on the paintbrush at the bottom of this page.
  • **Donations**: If the Lord leads you please consider helping with monthly costs and up keep on our Forum. Click on the Donate link In the top menu bar. Thanks
  • **New Blog section**: There is now a blog section. Check it out near the Private Debates forum or click on the Blog link in the top menu bar.

Genesis, Start To Finish

. Sometimes it honestly feel like foreigners are running my country
instead of patriots.
When you get to the book of Daniel and explain the Prince of Persia....I think we'll find out his counterpart is running those who are running America.
Gen 33:5 . . Looking about, he saw the women and the children. Who, he asked:
are these with you? He answered: The children with whom God has favored your

Because Jacob's response drew Esau's attention to the lads rather than the women,
Jewish folklore proposes that Jacob did that so as to take Esau's mind off the wives.
What an ugly thing to say. It implies that Esau was a barbaric cave man who stole
wives from their husbands; yet there is not one single incident in the entire Old
Testament recording something like that about him. So that remark is unfounded,
and totally uncalled for. It's highly unlikely that Esau's mind would be off the
women anyway while they were standing right there in front of him; and
subsequently introduced one by one.

Gen 33:6-7 . .Then the maids, with their children, came forward and bowed low;
next Leah, with her children, came forward and bowed low; and last, Joseph and
Rachel came forward and bowed low;

The Hebrew word for "bowed low" basically means to depress, i.e. prostrate. At Gen
22:5, and also in many, many other places in the Old Testament, that word is
translated "worship".

I think the scene went something like this: First Esau asked about the women and
children. Then Jacob, by way of introduction, like a master of ceremonies on a
variety show, moved to the side, raised his arm, gestured towards his family, and
presenting them for Esau's review, proudly announced; Voila! My offspring, with
whom God has favored your servant.

Why not introduce the wives first? Well; in that day, wives were a dime a dozen;
literally bought and sold. But offspring were to brag about. Men regarded their
progeny as gold and precious stones in value.

"Sons are the provision of the Lord; the fruit of the womb, His reward. Like arrows
in the hand of a warrior are sons born to a man in his youth. Happy is the man who
fills his quiver with them; they shall not be put to shame when they contend with
the enemy in the gate." (Ps 127:3-5)

First up were Bilhah with Dan and Naphtali, then Zilpah with Gad and Asher. Then
came Leah with Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah. Then,
last of all, Rachel and Joseph.

Everybody did obeisance to Esau. I tell you the humility of Jacob's family is
astounding. Nobody, not one among them, Jacob included, harbored the
unbearable "chosen-people" mentality that is so prevalent today among modern

Esau has been given a very bad rap in Jewish folklore. Yet, not one single time does
the Old Testament portray him as a murderer, a liar, a thief, or an adulterer. Those
allegations have all been smirched upon his reputation by people with evil minds;
prejudiced against him for no good reason at all but merely because his Jewish
detractors can't bear to accept him either as a brother, nor as an equal. Jacob's
posterity has been guilty of all the crimes and sins of which they accuse Esau, and
more too; yet many Jews count their own people superior to Esau in every way

The only reason Jacob's posterity continues to exist at all is because of the oath and
the promises that God gave their ancestor Abraham. If not for that early covenant,
they would be just as extinct today as the Edomites, and for the very same

"Fair Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city
beleaguered. Had not the Lord of Hosts left us some survivors, we should be like
Sodom-- another Gomorrah." (Isa 1:8-9)

Gen 33:8 . . And he asked: What do you mean by all this company which I have
met? He answered: To gain my lord's favor. Esau said: I have enough, my brother;
let what you have remain yours.

No doubt uncle Laban would have judged Esau a fool because Rachel's dad, badly
infected with a serious case of unbridled avarice, would have certainly snapped up
Jacob's offer immediately. But Esau's repertoire of vices apparently didn't include
greed. He was actually a very moderate kind of guy, and easy to satisfy. I think I'd
categorize Esau as someone who feels that better isn't necessary when adequate
will do.
Gen 33:8 . . And he asked: What do you mean by all this company which I have
met? He answered: To gain my lord's favor. Esau said: I have enough, my brother;
let what you have remain yours.

No doubt uncle Laban would have judged Esau a fool because Rachel's dad, badly
infected with a serious case of unbridled avarice, would have certainly snapped up
Jacob's offer immediately. But Esau's repertoire of vices apparently didn't include
greed. He was actually a very moderate kind of guy, and easy to satisfy. I think I'd
categorize Esau as someone who feels that better isn't necessary when adequate
will do.

Gen 33:10-11 . . But Jacob said: No, I pray you; if you would do me this favor,
accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God, and you
have received me favorably. Please accept my present which has been brought to
you, for God has favored me and I have plenty. And when he urged him, he

In accordance with oriental customs, which have continued to be practiced for
thousands of years, the most certain way for one who desires reconciliation to be
assured of it is to have his proffered gift accepted by the one whose favor he seeks.
In any case, it would be considered a great personal favor if Esau would accept
Jacob's gift, even though Jacob knew that his brother didn't really need it in any
material sense.

Jacob's diplomacy was irresistible. The men used different adverbs to describe their
prosperity. Esau said; "I have enough". Enough is from rab (rab) which means:
abundant (in quantity, size, age, number, rank, quality) But Jacob said; "I have
plenty". Plenty is from kol (kole) and/or kowl (kole) which means: the whole; viz:
all. So Esau, through his own industry, had garnered for himself all that he would
ever need. But Jacob, through the providence of God, had everything. So I think he
was implying that he really had too much to manage and would consider it a
personal favor if Esau would take some off his hands.

Here in American culture, we typically feel indebted by accepting a gift from a
friend. That mind-set spoils good will, so that a present-- which should have, in all
respects, represented someone's heart-felt happy thoughts towards us --is typically
regarded as a trap, and robs an occasion of the good feelings it was intended to

Fortunately there are numerous occasions when we have implied consent to lavish
gifts upon friends and loved ones without arousing suspicions of evil intent; e.g.
birthdays, anniversaries, Xmas, Easter, promotions, retirements, graduations; and
whatever else we can appropriate to express our affections for others. I think that
too many of us have become Grinches out of fear of obligation. It just shouldn't be
that way.

Esau, realizing the sincerity of Jacob's motives, and also himself desiring that there
be no question he himself also earnestly desired full reconciliation with his brother,
finally agreed to accept Jacob's gifts.

Something is strangely missing from the brothers' reunion. Wouldn't you think that
Jacob would be asking about his mom and dad? Were they still alive? In good
health? Stuff like that. Well; I think Jacob already knew. After all, he knew exactly
where to find Esau.

So Jacob may have stayed current all those twenty years via caravans and
messengers. Somewhere along the line, Rebecca's personal nurse Deborah had
joined Jacob. So there's a pretty good chance Jacob already knew all about his
mom and dad before returning to Canaan. However, since Rebecca's personal nurse
Deborah had already joined Jacob, and since there's no record that Jacob ever saw
Rebecca alive after leaving home, his mom may have been deceased at this point.

Gen 33:12 . . And [Esau] said: Let us start on our journey, and I will proceed at
your pace.

Jacob undoubtedly told Esau his ultimate destination, which was probably Hebron,
the place where their dad would later die. Isaac's last known address was Beer
sheba. Why he moved 26 miles north to Hebron is unknown; but when you're a
rancher, you've got to go where the pasture is for the sake of the livestock.
Gen 33:13-14a . . But he said to him: My lord knows that the children are frail
and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me; if they are
driven hard a single day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord go on ahead of his
servant, while I travel slowly, at the pace of the cattle before me and at the pace of
the children,

Jacob's children were all still kids, the eldest being no more than 12 or so, and
many of the female animals were caring for nursing young. Refusing to accept
Esau's kind offer was a practical consideration. He was traveling light, probably on
swift camels, and his rough-riding fighting men, desiring to get back home as soon
as possible for R&R, were likely to grow impatient with the snail's pace of Jacob's

Gen 33:13-14b . . until I come to my lord in Seir.

Jacob wasn't going southward to Seir; but across the Jordan up into the highlands
of Canaan. The words for "go on ahead" are ya'baar which is from 'abar (aw-bar')
which means: to cross over; and used very widely of any transition (literal or

Jacob promised to visit with Esau at some later date after his household was all
settled in. But for now, it was necessary to take it easy and rest his herds before
making the final push on up into the West Bank. It's no simple matter moving
hundreds and hundreds of head of livestock; especially over rugged country.
Coming down from Paddan-aram through the Syrian Desert and the Golan Heights
must have been exhausting for everyone-- women, children, and animals alike.

Gen 33:15-17a . .Then Esau said: Let me assign to you some of the men who are
with me. But he said: Oh no, my lord is too kind to me! So Esau started back that
day on his way to Seir. But Jacob journeyed on to Succoth,

There is more than one Succoth in the Bible. The precise location of this one in
particular is difficult to pin-point. But according to Judges 8:4-16, it was on the east
side of the Jordan; somewhere between the river and the place where Jacob
grappled with the angel.

Gen 33:17b . . and built a house for himself and made stalls for his cattle; that is
why the place was called Succoth.

Stalls is translated from a Hebrew word that basically means a hut or a lair. The
huts, and very likely Jacob's house too, were probably just rudimentary shelters
constructed of poles cut from trees (those hills grew lots and lots of trees in that
day) and thatching fashioned with reeds gathered from along the banks of the
Jordan and/or the W.Zarqa (Jabbok).

NOTE: The specs given for huts constructed for the Feast Of Tabernacles (a.k.a. Sukkot)
list a variety of perishable materials because the huts are only meant to be temporary.
(Lev 23:40)

There was a place by the name of Sucoth in Egypt too. The exact location is difficult
to pin point but it may have been somewhere north of the reed (Red) sea crossing
(Ex 12:37, Ex 13:20, Ex 14:1-4). How long Jacob remained at Succoth is unknown.

It might be well to mention that not all events in the Bible relate to important
spiritual truths. Many are just simply historic and mean nothing at all except that
people lived normal lives in those days just like we live our lives in these days with
very few events of any lasting importance; viz: we're born, we leave home,
accumulate wealth, marry, buy a home, reproduce, retire, and then die; same-O,

Gen 33:18 . . Jacob arrived safe in the city of Shechem which is in the land of
Canaan-- having come thus from Paddan-aram --and he encamped before the city.

The site wasn't originally named Shechem but probably well known as that name by
the time the author wrote Genesis. It was the very first place in Canaan where God
met with Abraham (Gen 12:5-7). Shechem was up in the West Bank and very likely
close to present day Nablus.
Gen 33:19 . .The parcel of land where he pitched his tent he purchased from the
children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for a hundred kesitahs.

The Hebrew word translated kesitahs basically means an ingot (as definitely
estimated and stamped for a coin). The exact value is unknown. It was probably a
local money, in any kind of shape; e.g. discs, bars, rods, or chunks. The metal of
which a kesitah was made is unknown.

Before paper and coins were introduced as permanent forms of money, people used
a variety of objects to serve for legal tender. Examples of early forms of money
include rice (China), dog teeth (Papua New Guinea), small tools (China), quartz
pebbles (Ghana), gambling counters (Hong Kong), cowrie shells (India), metal disks
(Tibet), and limestone disks (Yap Island).

Monies can be anything so long as everybody using them agrees upon their value.
In ancient time, various articles made of metals such as silver and gold, as well as
of iron and bronze, were used as money; while among primitive peoples such
commodities as shells, beads, elephant tusks, furs, skins, and livestock served as
mediums of exchange too. Anything that's widely accepted in payment for goods
and services, and in settlement of debts, can be acceptable as money-- even
Pokemon trading cards.

Why would Jacob purchase property in Canaan? For a cemetery? Maybe. But some
feel he did it with the intention of making Shechem his capital. I mean, after all,
God promised him complete ownership of the land; so why not pick out a location
for a sort of Washington DC? At any rate, a real estate investment was, at the very
least, a token of his confidence in God's promise that his posterity would one day
own every bit of Canaan outright. So when Messiah takes over, whoever is
squatting on Jacob's land at the time is going to have to move somewhere else and
maybe even pay some back rent too.

Shechem was a prominent city throughout biblical history, located on Mount
Gerazim in what later became the territory of Benjamin's tribe. It was very close to
the future city of Samaria, which became capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.

Gen 33:20 . . He set up an altar there, and called it El-elohe-yisrael.

El-elohe-yisrael is actually 'Eel-'Eloheey-Yisraa'eel which is a compound of three
separate Hebrew words.

'Eel is from 'el (ale) and means strength; as an adjective; viz: mighty.

'Eloheey is from 'elohiym (el-o-heem') and means god(s) in a nondescript sense;
viz: the one true god and all manner of tin gods.

Yisraa'eel is from Yisra'el (yis-raw-ale') and means: he will rule as God, which,
according to Gen 32:29, was Jacob's new name.

NOTE: Jacob himself was never personally seated on God's throne and ruling as
God; but one of his biological descendants does. (Num 24:17, Col 3:1, Phil 2:8-11)

So, if we put it all together, Jacob's altar was dedicated to The Almighty God of he
who will rule as God; or just simply The God Of Israel. It was the very, very, first
altar to ever be named after Israel's deity. A true milestone in the nation's history,
and Jacob's too.

Just exactly how much time elapsed between Jacob's temporary camp at Succoth
and the events coming up in chapter 34 are unknown.

In the interval, Jacob very likely visited his dad and also traveled down to Seir to
visit his brother Esau too; like he promised in verse 14. Just because the Bible
doesn't say so; doesn't mean he didn't. One of the aspects of the Bible that some
people find very annoying is that it doesn't record every little detail.

For example at Matt 2:22-23 it's reported that the prophets said Jesus would be
called a Nazarene. But you won't find that quote in the Old Testament, so there's
no use in looking for it; and that's because not every word spoken by the prophets
was recorded: same as not every word spoken by Jesus was recorded in the
gospels; and not every detail of the patriarchs' lives are recorded in Genesis.

Scripture's omissions can often lead people into error via a kind of logic called an
Argument From Silence; which is a kind of reasoning that assumes that if
something isn't clearly stated, then it's inferred from the silence that there was
nothing to state.
Gen 34:1 . . Now Dinah, the daughter whom Leah had borne to Jacob, went out
to visit the daughters of the land.

Even though Dinah was brought up in a God-fearing home, she is going to fall prey
to the morals of a local culture; which can happen to anybody, so no one should
ever think themselves immune to it.

"Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals." (1Cor 15:33)

Paul's letter to the Corinthians wasn't written to bad people to encourage them to
live like Christians. No, it was written to Christians to discourage them from
hanging out with impious people and thereby becoming one of them.

Gen 34:2 . . Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, chief of the country, saw her, and
took her and lay with her by force.

The words "by force" aren't in the Hebrew text. By penciling those words into the
text, translators make Dinah appear to be the victim of a rape rather than a willing
partner in a hot affair.

Most Bible students are well aware of the oftentimes low moral character of the
people of God, so if Dinah was truly accommodating in this episode, it shouldn't
surprise anyone. After all, young girls are very susceptible to hero worship, and
Shechem was a prince; the son of a sheik. What young girl doesn't dream of being
swept off her feet by a prince? It's pretty common; and it's all part of being a real
girl; for example:

I was amazed at an AeroSmith concert by the numbers of shapely, drop-dead
gorgeous young girls crowding the stage trying to get Steven Tyler to notice them.
If you've seen Mr. Tyler, I think you would agree with me he will never qualify as a
hunk. But Tyler is a famous entertainer; and entertainers have a powerful sensual
charisma regardless of their looks.

I observed an even more impressive display at a Rolling Stones concert (now
there's a study in ugly). Women of all ages, sizes, and waistlines, slingshot their
bras and panties up on the stage for the men to keep as love tokens. There were so
many female undergarments cluttering the stage that the situation became a safety
hazard. Keith Richards and the others had to kick them away to avoid tripping and

Gen 34:3 . . Being strongly drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and in love with
the maiden, he spoke to the maiden tenderly.

Shechem's feelings for Dinah weren't the typical violent lusts that rapists expend
upon their victims. That boy was truly overwhelmed by Dinah; just like Jack was
overwhelmed by Rose in the movie "Titanic". I wonder if anyone reading this can
remember the last time you felt that way about somebody-- how you had difficulty
catching your breath, and how utterly vulnerable you felt in their presence. No, I
just can't believe Shechem raped Dinah. He really did like her as a person. She
wasn't just a girl toy for Shechem to exploit; no, Dinah was "the one" and to him,
she lit up the room the moment she walked in-- in his eyes; everything around her
was a silver pool of light.

Gen 34:4 . . So Shechem said to his father Hamor: Get me this girl as a wife.

In modern American culture, Shechem would be regarded as a wimp for not being
man enough to speak with Dinah's parents himself instead of seeking his dad's
assistance. But in that day, a man's parents or relatives did all the negotiating in
nuptial matters; and when it reached that stage, the romance was pretty serious
Gen 34:5a . . Jacob heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah;

By now, Dinah must be feeling very alone, and afraid to come home to face the

When guys lose their virginity, it's different. They feel more like a man, they feel
better about themselves, and they feel highly regarded in the eyes of their male
friends. But girls oftentimes feel like cheap goods: soiled and fallen; not to mention
the fear of pregnancy and family disgrace. Not all girls feel the same about pre
marital trysts. Some relish the excitement. But others are scarred for life, and
never really get over it.

The Bible is silent about Dinah's feelings about all this, and after chapter 34, she's
mentioned only one more time at Gen 46:15 and that's it.

Gen 34:5b . . but since his sons were in the field with his cattle, Jacob kept silent
until they came home.

If Jacob had allowed his passions to overrule his better judgment, he might have
stormed out and confronted Shechem's family all by himself, and they just may
have been annoyed enough to murder him on the spot. No, best to wait for back-up
on this one. And besides, brothers were often key decision makers in a sister's
betrothal (e.g. Gen 24:29-61). So Jacob needed his boys; if not for personal
defense, then at least to take part in the decision concerning whom Dinah would

Gen 34:6-7a . .Then Shechem's father Hamor came out to Jacob to speak to him.
Meanwhile Jacob's sons, having heard the news, came in from the field.

Jacob probably sent a runner out to get the boys and have them come home as
soon as possible. By luck, they arrived the same time as Shechem and his dad. So
the key players are present, the stage is set, and they can all get down to business.

Gen 34:7b . .The men were distressed and very angry, because he had
committed an outrage in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter-- a thing not to be

This is the first instance of Jewish tribalism in the Bible. Ironically; the boys were
far more upset for what Shechem did to the family name then what he did to their
sister. However; that's a very common reaction from male siblings. Brothers
typically take it personal when a guy abuses their sister or says something
derogatory about her; even when the brothers themselves don't even like her.

The phrase "a thing not to be done" didn't apply to Shechem and Hamor.
Promiscuity wasn't considered immoral in their culture. Extra-marital activity was a
normal social interaction in many parts of Canaan, and nobody gave it a second
thought. In fact, neither Shechem nor his dad felt any inclination whatsoever to
apologize for what happened and probably would have become indignant if asked
to; but Israel's moral standards were God-influenced, and ran counter to common
mores. (cf. Gen 18:19)

Gen 34:8-9 . . And Hamor spoke with them, saying: My son Shechem longs for
your daughter. Please give her to him in marriage. Intermarry with us: give your
daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves:

The only problem is: whose religion would be taught to Dinah's children? Would it
be the Canaanites' religion or Jacob's religion? Would they be taught both religions;
and thus create confusion in the children's minds? People for whom religion means
very little; can cross breed all they want and it doesn't make any difference.

However; as a general rule, it is never, ever a good idea to marry outside your own
religion. Marriage is tough enough without dividing the family with differing
religious ideologies. Couples should make every effort to strive for unity in all
things; especially in the area of religion.

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath
righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with
darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what province hath he that
believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?
for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and
walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

. . .Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and
touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you,
and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2Cor 6:14-18)

For Jacob's family, marriage with another culture was not a good idea at all. Their
granddad was called to a very high purpose-- a purpose in which they were all
expected to have a role; and that would be the role of engendering a great nation
whose god would be Jehovah; and thus be a witness to the one true god: and a
nation that would ultimately be a blessing to the whole world. A people like Hamor's
were a serious threat to fulfilling that purpose.
Gen 34:10 . .You will dwell among us, and the land will be open before you;
settle, move about, and acquire holdings in it.

That must have been a very tempting offer to Jacob. Hamor's people would protect
his family, and let him use choice grazing lands, and sell him property to build a
home on if he joined their clan instead of going off on his own with no one but The
lord to rely upon. But then Israel would be assimilated; and that was something
Jacob had to avoid at all costs.

A holy nation has got to remain separated and independent from its unholy
neighbors so God can bless. Just look what assimilation has done to the people of
Israel over the years. Only a measly ten percent of them today are orthodox. Many
of them are secular, worldly, conformed, and totally without their God. That is truly
pitiful; and totally unacceptable.

Gen 34:11-12 . .Then Shechem said to her father and brothers: Do me this favor,
and I will pay whatever you tell me. Ask of me a bride-price ever so high, as well as
gifts, and I will pay what you tell me; only give me the maiden for a wife.

Shechem really did love Dinah, and was willing to go to some pretty extreme
lengths to keep her. Unfortunately, he got off on the wrong foot with Dinah's
brothers; which would prove fatal to every man in his village, including Shechem's

Gen 34:13a . . Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor

It's uncertain all eleven of Jacob's boys took part in this. Later, only two of them,
Simeon and Levi, would subsequently go into town and murder all the men. Jacob
apparently said nothing in the negotiations; he only witnessed it all, listening to
everything, but letting his sons do all the talking.

Gen 34:13b-17 . . speaking with guile because he had defiled their sister Dinah--
and said to them: We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to a man who is
uncircumcised, for that is a disgrace among us. Only on this condition will we agree
with you; that you will become like us in that every male among you is circumcised.

. . .Then we will give our daughters to you and take your daughters to ourselves;
and we will dwell among you and become as one kindred. But if you will not listen
to us and become circumcised, we will take our daughter and go.

It's difficult to ascertain what the boys were implying by the prerequisite of
circumcision. Were they implying that Shechem's clan could only blend with the
people of Israel via Abraham's covenant of circumcision? Apparently that's the
impression they were giving, and Hamor seems to understand that if the two
families were to become one clan, then Israel's religion has to be in common.

Jacob's silence suggests he was thinking the very same. As for Hamor, being a
covetous man at heart; circumcision surely seemed an insignificant price to become
joint owner of Jacob's possessions.

Gen 34:18-19 . .Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor's son Shechem. And the
youth lost no time in doing the thing, for he wanted Jacob's daughter. Now, he was
the most honorable in his father's house.

Shechem took the lead and set the example for the rest of the men in his village.
He apparently had quite a bit of influence, and people looked up to him.

Gen 34:20-24 . . So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the public place of their
town and spoke to their fellow townsmen, saying: These people are our friends; let
them settle in the land and move about in it, for the land is large enough for them;
we will take their daughters to ourselves as wives and give our daughters to them.

. . . But only on this condition will the men agree with us to dwell among us and be
as one kindred: that all our males become circumcised as they are circumcised.
Their cattle and substance and all their beasts will be ours, if we only agree to their
terms, so that they will settle among us. All who went out of the gate of his town
heeded Hamor and his son Shechem, and all males, all those who went out of the
gate of his town, were circumcised

Hamor convinced the men of his village that they would prosper by submitting to
the surgery. His village apparently operated on the commune principle: What you
have is mine, and what I have is yours. So everyone would benefit from
assimilating Jacob's family because they would become co-owners of his
possessions; which, when he departed Laban, was a goodly amount of livestock and
slaves. The arrangement was appealing: it made good business sense, and would
have been very lucrative for Hamor's village if only Jacob's sons had been honest
about it.
Gen 34:25-26 . . On the third day, when they were in pain, Simeon and Levi, two
of Jacob's sons, brothers of Dinah, took each his sword, came upon the city
unopposed, and slew all the males. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the
sword, took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went away.

The boys did all that without Jacob's knowledge. Exactly what effect the massacre
of her boyfriend and his dad had upon Dinah is not said. Family rivalries, like the
old hillbilly feuds, are bitter and driven solely by the code of the vendetta. There's
no justice in a vendetta; only pay-back.

Oh, The Martins and the Coys,
They were reckless mountain boys,
And they scarred the mountains up with shot and shell.

There was uncles, brothers, cousins,
Why; they bumped them off by dozens,
Just how many bit the dust is hard to tell.

-- Gene Autry --

Gen 34:27 . .The other sons of Jacob came upon the slain and plundered the
town, because their sister had been defiled.

Only two of the brothers did the killing, but apparently all who were old enough
participated in the pillaging. I tell you, some of the patriarchs were brutal men; and
it was from them that the nation of Israel sprang. Later, they will sell their own kid
brother Joseph into slavery simply because they envied his favorite-son status with
their dad.

Gen 34:28-29 . .They seized their flocks and herds and donkeys, all that was
inside the town and outside; all their wealth, all their children, and their wives, all
that was in the houses, they took as captives and booty.

What they did was what conquerors legitimately do in war. But Jacob wasn't at war
with Hamor's clan. Those boys were nothing in the world but murderers,
kidnappers, thugs, and thieves. To think Messiah came from that blood line is
beyond belief!

Gen 34:30-31 . . Jacob said to Simeon and Levi: You have brought trouble on me,
making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the
Perizzites; my men are few in number, so that if they unite against me and attack
me, I and my house will be destroyed. But they answered: Should our sister be
treated like a harlot?

Dinah's brothers were rash and hot headed; placing their pride above and beyond
their family's safety, and their father Jacob's reputation. That is the self-centered
attitude of criminals; which is exactly what they were. Without God's providence,
surely all of Canaan would have banded together and justly hanged every last male
in Jacob's camp so that the nation of Israel would have ended right then and there.
There would have been no holocaust and no crucifixion, and the Palestinians today
would have a legitimate country to call their own. It's almost impossible to
comprehend how those boys could have ever descended from the world's most
respected religious figure the world has ever known: Abraham ben Terah.

Many years later, Moses' people came to the brink of annihilation again because of
the pride of just one lone Jew in the book of Ruth. Boy! I tell you: God has really
had His hands full keeping those people from destroying themselves. Truth be told:
if it weren't for God's promise to Abraham, the Jews would have been extinct as a
people long ago. (cf. 2Kings 13:23)
Many years later, Moses' people came to the brink of annihilation again because of the pride of
just one lone Jew in the book of Ruth.

Errata: the comment should've referenced the book of Esther instead of Ruth.
Gen 35:1 . . God said to Jacob: Arise, go up to Bethel and remain there; and
build an altar there to the divine being who appeared to you when you were fleeing
from your brother Esau.

That is some very strange language. Why didn't God say "build an altar to Me; who
appeared to you when, etc". On the surface, it appears that God is speaking of a
deity other than Himself. But according to Gen 35:2, Jacob's family had a number
of tin Gods in their possession and I think Abraham's God just wanted to make sure
Jacob understood that He wanted no truck with those fakes. (Gen 17:7-8)

Gen 35:2 . . So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him: Rid
yourselves of the alien gods in your midst, purify yourselves, and change your

This is embarrassing. To top off the shame of recent events-- Dinah's tryst, the
murders, and the subsequent looting in town-- now it turns out that the one family
on earth who was supposed to be a witness to the one true supreme being and all
that He stands for, had tin Gods in their midst! They were also wearing clothing
taken from the dead in town, clothing that more than likely honored the religions--
and thus the morals-- of the Canaanite gods! No doubt the alien gods themselves
were booty too, collected from Shechem's town after the massacre.

Precisely what Jacob meant for his household, and all who were with him, to do in
order be "purified" is not said. Bathing in water was the usual means of purification
in the Old Testament; and often done in preparation to meet with God; but it's
more likely that he simply regarded the alien gods and the stolen booty as ill gotten
gain; ergo: contamination.

Gen 35:3 . . Come, let us go up to Bethel, and I will build an altar there to the
God who answered me when I was in distress and who has been with me wherever
I have gone.

Jacob thus made a distinction between the mute gods of the Canaanites, and the
vocal god of Israel. Jacob's god had been extremely active and useful in his life;
whereas the Canaanite gods were only inanimate pieces of superstitious statuary,
like voodoo dolls.

The altar would serve a couple of important purposes, but the one that would really
count in this case is its capacity as an official place of confession and absolution of
sins. The people of God, whether Jew or Christian, have never been sinless. But
sinless-ness is not an indicator that certifies whether or not someone is in God's
family. Confession and absolution are far better indicators, e.g. Ps 32:5-7.

The advantage of being in the family of Israel's God is the latitude His own have for
being themselves. Jacob's household sinned big time, yes, but their sins will effect
neither their divine purpose, nor their eternal destiny.

Gen 35:4 . .They gave to Jacob all the alien gods that they had, and the rings
that were in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the terebinth that was near

According to Webster's, a terebinth is a small European tree (Pistacia terebinthus)
of the cashew family yielding turpentine. The Hebrew word just means an oak or
other strong tree.

The religious items Jacob collected, were not only in the possession of his kin, but
also in the possession of "all who were with him" (Gen 35:2) which would have
included servants, his slaves; and the recent captives. Some of the items would
have come from looting the town of Shechem, but many would have been acquired
in the area up and around Laban's vicinity in Mesopotamia; which is where Jacob
acquired the bulk of his labor force (Gen 30:43). Jacob lived for many years in close
proximity to religions centered upon gods other than Israel's God, and the influence
of those religions had a heavy impact upon the most holy community existing on
the entire planet at that time.

Exactly why Jacob chose to bury those items under a terebinth, instead of just
burying them in a hole out in pasture, is not said. He could have incinerated them
too, but, for some undisclosed reason, didn't. Some have tried to find symbolism in
that, but his decision may have been motivated by something as simple as a hot
day, and Jacob would rather work in the shade than out in the open.
Gen 35:5 . . As they set out, a terror from God fell on the cities round about, so
that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

The patriarchs had some very interesting advantages. Even when they deserved to
die, or at least assaulted and battered, Abraham's divine benefactor was often on
hand to prevent it. Think about it though. If you knew that a small force of Jews
were able to overpower a whole town, would you want to lock horns with them? I
don't think so. Jacob's boys no doubt had a reputation in those parts now, and it
made their neighbors nervous.

People were very superstitious in those days and often gave the credit for military
victories to their own personal gods; or to the gods of their conquerors, if that's the
way things went in battle. So that the god of the people of Israel now became the
one to be feared in those parts.

However, it's far better-- if at all possible --for the people of God to give a
testimony to the love of God rather than to the terror of God. But because of the
patriarchs' recent violent behavior, the love of God was far from the minds of the
people in Jacob's vicinity. They saw the people of Israel and their deity as a serious
threat to the safety and well being of their communities rather than seeing Israel's
deity as a potential source of blessing and providence.

Gen 35:6-7 . .Thus Jacob came to Luz-- that is, Bethel --in the land of Canaan, he
and all the people who were with him. There he built an altar and named the site
El-bethel, for it was there that God had revealed Himself to him when he was
fleeing from his brother.

Bethel is located approximately 11 miles directly north of Jerusalem. Jacob erected
a stone cairn there when he left home; and gave the site its name: Bethel (House
Of God). At least thirty years have gone by since then. He stayed twenty years with
Laban, and had lived for an undisclosed number of years in the vicinity of
Schechem. Jacob was 75 when he left home, and was now easily over 100. He is
not only older now, but he's a lot wiser too. The experience at Shechem changed
Jacob in a remarkable way.

This time he builds an altar instead of a cairn, and names the site El-bethel (the
god of the House Of God). So Jacob's focus has shifted. Previously his emphasis
was upon a special site to worship God. This time, Jacob puts the emphasis where it
should have been in the first place: upon the object of his worship. Because, unless
God is actually present during worship, then designating a special place for worship
is futile.

Gen 35:8a . . Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, died, and was buried under the oak
below Bethel;

By now, Deborah was very aged; older than Rebecca, and had come south with her
to Canaan twenty years prior to Jacob's birth (Gen 24:59, 25:20, 25:26). Deborah
was already a mature woman when she came south with Rebecca because the word
for nurse-- yanaq (yaw-nak') --indicates a wet nurse. So Deborah did the surrogate
task of breast feeding the infant Rebecca, whose biological mom, for reasons
unknown, couldn't do it herself. Jacob knew Deborah quite well, having grown up
with her in his own home, and remained with her a good number of years before
leaving home himself at 75.

There's pretty good reason to believe that Rebecca had died prior to Gen 35:8
because it's extremely doubtful Deborah would leave her to join Jacob's troupe

Gen 35:8b . . so it was named Allon-bacuth.

Allon-bacuth means: oak of weeping. Deborah's passing was surely as emotionally
painful a loss to Jacob as the loss of his own mother.

Gen 35:9a . . God appeared again to Jacob on his arrival from Paddan-aram,

Paddam-aram was the region up north, in and around where Laban lived, and from
whence Jacob fled a number of years prior to Gen 35:9. But God reckoned Jacob
still on-route for the simple reason that he had yet to strictly comply with the order
to "Return to the land of your fathers where you were born" and "arise and leave
this land and return to your native land." (Gen 31:3, 31:13).

Instead of going directly to Bethel, as God apparently expected Jacob to do, he
settled in the region around Shechem-- where his daughter became promiscuous,
his sons became murderers and thieves, and Jacob alienated his neighbors: thus;
he, and his whole family, had become quite useless as a witness in that region to the
knowledge of the one true deity.
Gen 35:9b-10 . . and He blessed him. God said to him: You whose name is Jacob,
you shall be called Jacob no more, but Israel shall be your name. Thus He named
him Israel.

This wasn't news to Jacob. He was renamed Israel by the angel (Gen 32:29). But
Jacob wasn't living up to his new identity. He needed urging to live as who he now
is, not live as who he once was before meeting God one on one.

Gen 35:11a . . And God said to him: I am El Shaddai.

The patriarchs were aware of God's other name Jehovah (a.k.a. Yahweh) and often
referred to Him by it; but El Shaddai is a name of God that they knew Him by in a
personal way. It means: God of all might; viz: the all-power deity; or the supreme
being who invented, created, and controls all natural and supernatural powers.

El Shaddai is the deity who can make things happen, even things that are impossible
by natural means, and things that are above and beyond Man's mortal imagination;
so that El Shaddai is "the" deity of providence who is easily strong enough to meet
any, and all, human need.

The name El Shaddai relates to Jacob's vow in Gen 28:20-21 where he said: If God
remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me
bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my father's house-- Yhvh
shall be my God.

God did remain with Jacob, protected him, provided for him, and got him back
home. Time now to make good on that vow.

Gen 35:11b . . Be fertile and increase;

At this point in his life, Jacob was just about done reproducing. He had one more to
go: Joseph. But Jacob's increase went way beyond his twelve sons were just the

Gen 35:11c . . A nation, yea an assembly of nations, shall descend from you.
Kings shall issue from your loins.

That's pretty much what God promised Abraham back in chapter 17. The most
important kings were those of Israel, and in particular, the ones in David's line who
preceded Messiah.

Gen 35:12 . .The land that I assigned to Abraham and Isaac I assign to you; and
to your offspring to come will I assign the land.

Ownership of the land didn't pass from Abraham down to Isaac, and then to Jacob
as if it were an heirloom. God promised each patriarch full ownership along with
their posterity. We might call that kind of ownership tenancy in common,
community property, or joint-heirship. However, there's yet a fourth tenant in
common: Christ. (Gal 3:16)

Gen 35:13-14 . . God parted from him at the spot where He had spoken to him;
and Jacob set up a pillar at the site where He had spoken to him, a pillar of stone,
and he offered a libation on it and poured oil upon it.

The pillar that Jacob erected on this same site back in Gen 28:18 received a
somewhat different treatment. In that instance, Jacob poured only oil on it. In this
instance, he added a libation. The precise recipe is unknown, but could have been a
forerunner of the libation rituals that would come later in Israel's history-- typically
an alcoholic beverage made from grapes. (e.g. Ex 29:40, Lev 23:13)

Wine is an ingredient in a formal Temple offering called the daily burnt offering (Ex
29:38-46) whose recipe lists a lamb, a paste made of flour and oil, and some wine.
The entire offering is totally destroyed; incinerated by fire. The residing priests,
serving at the Temple, arranged this offering every day during the course of their
duties; including the Sabbath day; which normally would be illegal since it's against
the law to kindle a fire on the Sabbath. (cf. Ex 36:3, Mtt 12:5)

Some have interpreted the libation as representing the offerer's life's work; which
in the case of the daily burnt offering, would be the life's work of the entire nation
of the people of Israel; and of course including the priests themselves. So that
every twenty-four hours, the whole nation's every-day activities went up in smoke.

We could interpret Jacob's libation as a formal act of dedication-- not of the pillar;
but of Jacob himself. Right after his first encounter, on this very spot, with the God
of his fathers Abraham and Isaac, a good thirty years ago; Jacob vowed to dedicate
himself to The Lord if only He would fulfill certain stipulations.

Jacob's vow at that time included a promise to make Jehovah his deity-- implying
his only deity --and to give The Lord a tithe of "all that You give me". Jacob's
libation implies that, from here on in, it's his sincere intent to start living up to his
new name, and to make good on those promises.

This is a really huge event, and marks a serious milestone in Jacob's spiritual life.
And I believe it's important to point out that Jacob didn't take this turning point
when he was living at home with ma and pa. Too many people are in their parents'
religion just because they were born into it. Jacob chose a spiritual path for himself
long after he became an adult.
Gen 35:15 . . Jacob gave the site, where God had spoken to him, the name of

That could look back in time to Gen 28:10-22; or it could just simply mean that
Jacob decided that the name Bethel would not just be a pet name of his own: but
knowing (and believing) that this land would one day be inhabited by his posterity,
Jacob willed it to be on the map as the town of Bethel when such a time as they
took actual physical possession of Canaan later on in the book of Joshua.

Gen 35:16a . .They set out from Bethel; but when they were still some distance
short of Ephrath,

This is the very first mention of Ephrath; which is actually Bethlehem (Gen 35:19,
Gen 48:7). Apparently this area wasn't yet on the map as either Ephrath or
Bethlehem in Jacob's day, but later during the author's day. It's not uncommon for
Bible authors (or later scribes and/or editors) to give the contemporary name as
well as the ancient name of a city or town so that his readers knew where to look in
their own day for those old-time places.

Ephrath can also be spelled Ephratah. The founder of Bethlehem was a Jewish man
named Ephratah, and his name became attached to Bethlehem so that you could
refer to it in compound form as Bethlehem Ephratah; or Bethlehem of Ephratah
(e.g. 1Chrn 4:4, Mic 5:2). Ephrath is apparently the female spelling (1Chrn 2:19)
and Ephratah is the male version.

The next incident didn't actually occur in Bethlehem, but "some distance" from it.
Other than Gen 48:7 (which is a citation of the section we're in now), the only other
place the phrase "some distance" is used again in the entire Old Testament is 2Kgs
5:19; where some feel it indicates a distance about equal to that required for a
runner on foot to catch up with a chariot on the move; but the true meaning is lost
in antiquity.

Gen 35:16b . . Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor.

Rachel was no longer a spring chicken. Rueben, Jacob's firstborn, is now old enough
to fool around with grown women. It's probably been in the neighborhood of 40+
years since Rachel's first meeting with Jacob back in chapter 29; when she was just
a youngster of perhaps 15-20 years old at the time.

Gen 35:17 . .When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her: Have no
fear, for it is another boy for you.

Rachel, no doubt remembered why she named her other son Joseph, back in
chapter 30, while they were all yet still living up north with Laban. Joseph's Hebrew
name is Yowceph (yo-safe') which is a mini prayer that says: May the Lord add
another son for me. (Gen 30:24)

Gen 35:18 . . But as she breathed her last-- for she was dying --she named him
Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

A complicated delivery in those days typically ended in tragedy. People had no
surgical skills nor tools and procedures to save either the mother or her child. The
exact nature of Rachel's problem isn't stated. She could have experienced severe
hemorrhaging, eclampsia, or maybe her heart just couldn't take the stress, and
gave out.

Ben-oni possibly means: "A Son Born In Grief". But Jacob changed it to Binyamiyn
(bin-yaw-mene') which possibly means: "The Son At My Right Hand" which sure
beats a name constantly reminding Jacob of the loss of his best girl.

BTW: Benjamin holds the distinction of being the only one of Jacob's children born
in the land of Canaan, i.e. he was a native son while the other boys were
immigrants. Abraham was an immigrant too, having migrated from the area in and
around what we know today as Iraq.

Gen 35:19 . .Thus Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Ephrath-- now

The postscript "now Bethlehem" indicates an editorial insertion by someone later;
possibly a scribe or someone assigned the task of making copies; which was a
perpetual task in the ages prior to the existence of modern papers, printing
presses, and electronic storage media.
Gen 35:20 . . Over her grave Jacob set up a pillar; it is the pillar at Rachel's grave
to this day.

The pillar was probably just a pile of rocks, like a cairn. The phrase "to this day"
indicates the day of the writer rather than the day upon which somebody in our
own day might read this passage.

By the time of 1Sam 10:2-- roughly 1020 BC --Rachel's Tomb was a famous
landmark. The traditional site, presently so-called, lies about four miles south of
Jerusalem, and one mile north of Bethlehem. The current small, square shaped,
domed structure isn't the original, but a relatively late monument. In 1841, the
"tomb" was renovated, and in 1948 taken over by Jordanian invaders. Jews were
barred from visiting it, and the area was converted into a Muslim cemetery; which
was eventually liberated by Israelis in 1967.

NOTE: Loss of access to an important ancestor's grave site isn't just an
archeological loss; it's a family loss.

When my father-in-law passed away in 2012 a step-daughter tried to commandeer
his body from the hospital so she could get him cremated and spread his ashes
somewhere over the landscape in Arizona without the slightest consideration for the
feelings of his blood kin who, except for my wife, all live on the East coast.

Well; thank God my wife and her sister intervened with the appropriate legal
documents in the nick of time to take custody of their father's body before the step
daughter got away with her nefarious scheme. My father-in-law certainly deserved
better than just discarding his ashes somewhere out in the desert.

He was a pipeline engineer with the US Army on the Ledo Road (a.k.a. Stilwell
Road) in the China/Burma/India theater in the second world war. His remains are
now safely buried back East in the family's cemetery; where his real kin can come
and visit him on occasion.

Gen 35:21 . . Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond Migdal-eder.

Although Israel is Jacob's spiritual name, it's also the name of his whole household
(e.g. Gen 34:7) so that when Genesis says "Israel journeyed" it means everybody
associated with Jacob was on the move.

An important technicality to note is that Abraham and Isaac were no more Israelites
than Noah was. The name Israel began with Jacob, and was carried forward by his
sons. In its infancy, Israel was a family name rather than the name of a nation that
it is now. It might sound ridiculous, but in order for Abraham and Isaac to become
Israelites, it would be necessary for Jacob to legally adopt them.

Migdal-eder is a compound word. Migdal can mean a tower, a rostrum, or a
pyramidal bed of flowers. 'Eder is a proper name, of either a man or a place-name
in Palestine. So Migdal-eder could be 'Eder's tower, which may not have even
existed in Jacob's day but was a well known landmark in the author's.

Migdal appears only three times in Genesis: once here, and twice in chapter 11 in
reference to the Tower of Babel. The tower in Babel was probably an elaborate
ziggurat, but 'Eder's tower may have been something very rudimentary, quite
simple to construct, and used for agrarian purposes-- e.g. tending herds; and
watching for rustlers and predators --rather than especially for religious purposes.
Gen 35:22a . .While Israel stayed in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah,
his father's concubine; and Jacob found out.

Bilhah was Rachel's maid, and quite a bit older than Reuben. She was also the
mother of two of Reuben's half-brothers: Dan and Naphtali. Exactly why Reuben
took an interest in Bilhah isn't stated. But, it's not like there was a shortage of girls
his own age among the women in Jacob's camp. Jacob had a lot of hired help, and
plenty of slaves too. If Reuben just wanted to sow some wild oats, it would have
been very easy.

Reuben may have been interested in Bilhah for quite a while prior to this recorded
incident; but was kept at bay by Rachel's oversight. Now, with her dead, and out of
the way, the coast was clear for a carnal liaison. Exactly how Bilhah felt about the
affair is not said; but may have been quite flattered by a younger man's interest;
and who's to say she wasn't a cougar at heart.

One possibility, that seems quite reasonable, and actually makes much better
business sense than the motions of a young man's passions, is that Reuben took a
bold step to insure Rachel's maid Bilhah would not ascend to the position of favored
wife over his own mom Leah. He was surely aware of the sisterly rivalry between
Rachel and Leah, since he was in the middle of a conjugal struggle between the two
back in Gen 30:14-16; and he must have been fully aware of his mom's feelings
over being switched on Rachel's wedding night.

By sleeping with Bilhah, and thus "defiling" her, Reuben may have hoped Jacob
would be sufficiently revolted enough by the affair so that he'd be inclined to avoid
Bilhah from then on and turn his full attention upon Leah.

If the above is true, then it only goes to show just how heartless Reuben could be.
His plan, if successful, would leave Bilhah in living widowhood, and the clutches of
loneliness and sexual frustration for the remainder of her life. That very scenario
was a reality in the case of David and his son Absalom. (2Sam 15:16, 16:20-22,
and 20:2-3)

An additional possibility is that in ancient times, firstborn sons commonly inherited
not only their father's estate, but also his wives and concubines. Reuben may thus
have been claiming his future inheritance. But in so doing, he was, in reality,
whether intentional or not, taking steps to depose Jacob; and thus gain immediate
headship in the clan. This seems likely because the boys really didn't think much of
Jacob's competency. They went over his head in the incident at Shechem, and were
disgusted with Jacob's lack of strong response to their sister's escapades: an
episode which in reality disgraced the family of Israel. (Gen 34:30-31)

Whatever the true circumstances, and the motives, the thing Reuben did earned
him Jacob's reprimand, and cost him the loss of his privileged position in the family
(Gen 49:3-4). Reuben's birthright was transferred to Joseph. (1Chro 5:1)

Gen 35:22b-26 . . Now the sons of Jacob were twelve in number. The sons of
Leah: Reuben-- Jacob's first-born --Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's maid: Dan
and Naphtali. And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's maid: Gad and Asher. These are the
sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

By the customs of that day, a maid's children sired by her mistress's husband,
belonged to the mistress. So that Leah's children, counting Dinah, totaled nine; and
those of Rachel: four.

Of the four mothers, only two can be proven biologically related to Abraham. The
genealogies of the maids Bilhah and Zilpah are currently unknown and wouldn't
matter anyway seeing as how in the Bible, it's the father who determines a child's
tribal affiliation rather than the mother.

NOTE: It's sometimes assumed that Jesus' mom Mary, and Zacharias' wife
Elizabeth, were members of the same tribe seeing as how the New Testament says
they were cousins (Luke 1:36). However, Elizabeth was related to Aaron, who
himself was related to Leah's son Levi, while Mary was related to David, who
himself was related to Leah's son Judah. So Mary and Elizabeth were cousins due to
the same grandmother rather than the same tribe.
Gen 35:27 . . And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, at Kiriath-arba-- now
Hebron --where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.

Modern Hebron is located about 33 kilometers (20½ miles) south of Jerusalem as
the crow flies.

Although this is the first mention of a visit from Jacob since returning from up
north, it probably wasn't the first instance: just the first one mentioned when his
whole family, and the entire troupe-- servants and animals --came with him.

Isaac was around 135 when Jacob left home to escape his sibling's wrath in chapter
28. His eyes were going bad even then, and by now, many years later, Isaac was
probably quite blind. Since there is neither a record of his reactions, nor of a cordial
response to his son's visit; it's possible Isaac had gone senile as well as blind.

Gen 35:28 . . Isaac was a hundred and eighty years old

At the time of Isaac's death, Jacob was 120 years old, having been born when his
dad was 60 (Gen 25:26). When Jacob was 130, Joseph was 39 (cf. Gen 41:46, 53,
54; 45:6, 47:9). So that when Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery at 17 (Gen
37:2), Jacob's age was 108; which was 12 years prior to Isaac's death. The
insertion of Isaac's passing in the Bible record at this point, is sort of like a
parenthesis because, chronologically, it's too soon.

Gen 35:29a . . So Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his
people, being old and full of days.

Christ said the very hairs of our head are numbered. Well . . so's our breaths.
Finally, one day, after countless thousands, we inhale that very last one, and it
oozes back out as a ghastly rasp.

While some people see a glass as half full, and others see as half empty; engineers
see as overkill, viz: the glass is too big. Well . . in Isaac's case, the glass was full up
to the top. On Sept 11, 2003, the actor John Ritter died of a torn aorta just one
week shy of his 55th birthday. That is way too young to take your last breath. His
glass wasn't full yet. With adequate health care, John Ritter may have lived another
25 years.

Gen 35:29b . . And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

A death in the family often brings its members closer together than a birth. By this
time, Jacob and his brother were older and wiser, had mended their fences, and
were getting on with their lives; refusing to hold any grudges. Esau, I believe, by
this time fully understood what happened concerning the stolen birthright-- that it
was God's intention for Jacob to have it in the first place --and he was peaceably
resigned to accept it.

After the funeral, Esau will begin planning to move away from the region; no longer
having a paternal tie to the land wherein his father lived. It's not uncommon for
children to settle within driving distance while their parents are living. But when
your parents are dead, there's not much reason to stay in the neighborhood
anymore-- and for some, it might be just the excuse they need to finally move
away and start a new life elsewhere.
Chapter 36 is mostly genealogy, so I'm only going to do just twelve of its forty
three verses.

Gen 36:1 . .This is the line of Esau-- that is: Edom.

Edom is from the Hebrew word 'edom (ed-ome') which is the color red; and was the
tag hung on him back in Gen 25:30.

Gen 36:2-7 . . Esau took his wives from among the Canaanite women-- Adah
daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah daughter of Zibeon
the Hivite-- and also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth. Adah
bore to Esau Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam,
and Korah. Those were the sons of Esau, who were born to him in the land of

. . . Esau took his wives, his sons and daughters, and all the members of his
household, his cattle and all his livestock, and all the property that he had acquired
in the land of Canaan, and went to another land because of his brother Jacob. For
their possessions were too many for them to dwell together, and the land where
they sojourned could not support them because of their livestock.

Just as Lot had done, Esau chose to migrate rather than remain and cause
problems for Jacob. Some say Esau did this out of respect for Jacob's patriarchal
position; but no one really knows why. Maybe Esau just thought the grass was
greener elsewhere.

Esau had done well for himself in spite of his loss of the birthright: which would
have given him the lion's share of Isaac's estate-- and with no tax complications;
heirs in those days made out pretty good.

Gen 36:8 . . So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir-- Esau being Edom.

Seir was the name of an oblong-shaped region extending south from the Dead Sea
to the Gulf of Aqaba-- a.k.a. Idumaea. Seir includes the ruins of Petra, which were
used as a movie set in a portion of the Indiana Jones trilogy.

Gen 36:9-12 . .These are the names of Esau's sons: Eliphaz, the son of Esau's
wife Adah; Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath. The sons of Eliphaz were
Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. Timna was a concubine of Esau's son
Eliphaz; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.

Of all Esau's progeny, Mr. Amalek really stands out in the Bible as the father of a
very disagreeable people.

During his journey with the people of Israel, after their liberation from Egyptian
slavery, Moses was attacked by Amalek's clan. (Ex 17:8-16, Deut 25:17-19) Thus
resulting in a perpetual curse upon the Amalekites as a people.

One of Amalek's descendants named Haman initiated a large-scale genocide against
Israel in the book of Esther. Haman's infamy is memorialized every year during the
Jewish holiday of Purim. It's customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle
noisemakers whenever the name of Haman is spoken in the Purim service.

* Esau's clan are just as much Abraham's kin as Jacob's (Deut 23:8) Ironically,
some of Israel's worst enemies have been their own relations, e.g. besides Esau's
people there was also Lot's per his son Moab.
Gen 37:1-2a . . Now Jacob was settled in the land where his father had
sojourned, the land of Canaan. This, then, is the line of Jacob:

Genesis doesn't list a big genealogy right here like the one for Esau in chapter 36,
but rather, it's going to "follow" the line of Jacob from here on in to the end of

Gen 37:2b . . At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended the flocks with his
brothers, as a helper to the sons of his father's wives Bilhah and Zilpah.

Although "his . . .wives" is vernacularly correct; there's no record of Jacob actually
marrying either of the two maids. They were his concubines in the same manner as
Hagar when Sarah pushed her handmaid off on Abraham as a "wife" (Gen 16:4).

NOTE: Jacob was pretty much stuck with Bilhah and Zilpah because were he ever to
emancipate them, he would forfeit any and all children the two servant women bore
for him; which is exactly how Abraham disinherited his eldest son Ishmael. We
talked about that back in chapter 21.

The words "as a helper to" aren't in the actual Hebrew of that passage. They're
what is known as inserted words that translators sometimes employ to smooth out
texts so they'll clearly say what the translators think the author meant to convey.
Some translators insert the preposition "with" at that point, so the passage reads;
"Joseph tended the flocks with his brothers"

Actually, Joseph was in charge of his brothers Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher; who
were all older than him. And it was he who was responsible to manage the flocks
because the phrase; "tended the flocks" actually connotes he was shepherding the
flock; i.e. Joseph was the trail boss.

Joseph's authority was also indicated by the "coat of many colors" that his dad
made for him. The Hebrew word for "colors" is of uncertain meaning and some
translators prefer to render it "long sleeves" rather than colors.

It seems clear that the intent of this special garment was as a badge of Joseph's
authority-- sort of like a military man's uniform --and of his favored position in the
family. Joseph may well have been the only one of Jacob's twelve sons that he
could fully trust since, for the most part, the older men had proved themselves
beyond control in the past.

The sons of Bilhah and Zilpah weren't really Joseph's full brothers, but half. The
only full brother was Benjamin, and at this time, he was too young to go out on
trail drives.

Genesis displayed a pretty bad case of sibling rivalry back in chapter 4, which led to
a younger brother's untimely death. This case of sibling rivalry would surely have
resulted in Joseph's untimely demise if God hadn't intervened to prevent it. It's
really sad that the majority of Jacob's sons were dishonorable men; the kind you
definitely don't want your own daughter bringing home to meet the folks.

Although Joseph was an intelligent boy, and a responsible person, he certainly
lacked tact. His social skills were immature, and needed some serious refinement
because he really had a way of boasting, and chafing his older brothers.

Gen 37:2b . . And Joseph brought bad reports of them to their father.

Whether or not the "reports" could be construed as tattling is debatable. After all,
Joseph, as trail boss, was directly responsible to Jacob.

It's been my experience that upper management doesn't want to hear those kinds
of reports. All they want to know is whether or not the company is meeting its
deadlines and operating at a profit. It's lower management's responsibility to
manage the work force so that upper management can remain undistracted to do
other things that are far more worthy of their time, their talents, and their
attention. A lower manager who can't rectify personnel problems in their own
department usually gets replaced by somebody who can.

Gen 37:3a . . Now Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons

Uh-oh! Doesn't that sound familiar? Isaac had his favorite too: Mr. Esau. There's
nothing like favoritism to divide a family and guarantee it becoming an ugly
environment festering with sibling rivalry, yet that is so human a thing to do. Put
grown-ups in a group of kids and in no time at all, the grown-ups will gravitate
towards favorites, and become merely tolerant of the others.