Genesis 35 & 36 – Reading Note

  • Jacob asks his family to get rid of their foreign gods and purify themselves before going to what he had called God’s house (Bethel) (v 2, 3). That’s interesting. Was this an indication of his devotion to one god? And what was the significance of his request that they purify themselves. Was this purification merely to be an external one or was it internal as well?
  • His family throws away their earrings as part of this purification. What was the significance of that?
  • God’s command to leave for Bethel may have been in order to protect them from the backlash that was bound to arrive as a result of Simeon and Levi’s actions in killing the Shechemites (Gen 34). God protected them by keeping the people from attacking them while they left (35: 5). Who knows what might have happened if he had not obeyed?
  • Rebekah’s nurse (Gen 24:59) was so important to them that they named a tree an “oak of weeping” because of her death (v 8). I wonder who this woman was and why she was so important. So far as my memory serves, she is not even named in the book.
  • God changes Jacob’s name to Israel a second time (32:28; 35:9, 10). Why was the second time necessary?
  • I now see God’s mercy in changing Jacob’s name. His name figuratively meant that he was a deceiver (see footnotes in the NIV). This was true of him given how he has stolen Esau’s blessing and the manner in which he handled Laban (Gen 30: 25 – 43). Israel, however, was a stronger name. It meant “he struggles with God”. In changing his name, God made Jacob new man, free of his past.
  • God revealed himself to Jacob as God Almighty (El-Shaddai) but not as the I AM. Why? (Yes, that’s my signature question).
  • God promises to give Jacob the land he had promised to Abraham and Isaac – not Esau (v 11 -13). He chose Jacob over Esau and not, it seems, because he was the better man.
  • God finally gave Rachel the second son she wanted, but it resulted in her death.
  • The narrator makes the point that Rachel’s tomb was still in existence.
  • It is interesting to note that each of Leah’s three oldest sons did something wrong. Simeon and Levi killed the Shechemites for raping their sister (Gen 34) and Reuben committed adultery with his father’s concubine, Bilhah (35:22). Jesus comes from the lineage of the next son, Judah rather than any of the three.

Chapter 36 just lists Esau’s genealogy but I found something of note. The genealogy lists mainly men except for Esau’s wives. However, there are two other women named, Mehetabel, the wife of King Hadad, and her mother, Matred, the daughter of Me-Zahab. I wonder why these women are listed in a genealogy of Kings. What was important about them? Afterall, all the other kings probably had wives but they were not named and neither were their mothers.


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I’m Tracy

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