Notes for Gen 35:1LEB

"arise, go up." The first imperative gives the command a sense of urgency.


Yahweh is calling on Jacob to fulfill his vow he made when he fled from…Esau (see Gen 28:20–22LEB).


Notes for Gen 35:2LEB

"which are in your midst."


The actions of removing false gods, becoming ritually clean, and changing garments would become necessary steps in Israel when approaching the Yahweh in worship.


Notes for Gen 35:3LEB

"let us arise and let us go up." The first cohortative gives the statement a sense of urgency.


The cohortative with the prefixed conjunction here indicates purpose or consequence.


"day of distress." See Ps 20:1LEB which utilizes similar language.


"in the way in which I went." Jacob alludes here to Yahweh’s promise to be with him (see Gen 28:20LEB).


Notes for Gen 35:4LEB

"in their hand."


On the basis of a comparison with Gen 34LEB and Num 31LEB, G. J. Wenham argues that the foreign gods and the rings could have been part of the plunder that came from the destruction of Shechem (Genesis [WBC], 2:324).


Jacob buried them. On the burial of the gods, see E. Nielson, "The Burial of the Foreign gods," ST 8 (1954/55): 102-22.


Or "terebinth."


Notes for Gen 35:5LEB

"and they journeyed."


"and the fear of Yahweh was upon the cities which were round about them." The expression "fear of Yahweh" apparently refers (1) to a fear of Yahweh (objective genitive; Yahweh is the object of their fear). (2) But it could mean "fear from Yahweh," that is, fear which Yahweh placed in them (cf. NRSV "a terror from Yahweh"). Another option (3) is that the divine name is used as a superlative here, referring to "tremendous fear" (cf. NEB "were panic-stricken"; NASB "a great terror").


Notes for Gen 35:6LEB

"and Jacob came to Luz which is in the land of Canaan – it is Bethel – he and all the people who were with him."


Notes for Gen 35:7LEB

The name El-Bethel means "Yahweh of Bethel."


"revealed themselves." The verb נִגְלוּ (niglu), translated "revealed himself," is plural, even though one expects the singular form with the plural of majesty. Perhaps אֱלֹהִים (’elohim) is here a numerical plural, referring both to Yahweh and the angelic beings that appeared to Jacob. See the note on the word "know" in Gen 3:5LEB.


Notes for Gen 35:8LEB

Deborah. This woman had been Rebekah’s nurse, but later attached herself to Jacob. She must have been about one hundred and eighty years old when she died.


"and he called its name." There is no expressed subject, so the verb can be translated as passive.


Or "Allon Bacuth," if one transliterates the Hebrew name (cf. NEB, NIV, NRSV). An oak tree was revered in the ancient world and often designated as a shrine or landmark. This one was named for the weeping (mourning) occasioned by the death of Deborah.


Notes for Gen 35:10LEB

"and he called his name Israel." The referent of the pronoun "he" (Yahweh) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


The name Israel means "Yahweh fights" (although some interpret the meaning as "he fights [with] Yahweh"). See Gen 32:28LEB.


Notes for Gen 35:11LEB

The name אֵל שַׁדַּי (’el shadday, "El Shaddai") has often been translated "Yahweh Almighty," primarily because Jerome translated it omnipotens ("all powerful") in the Latin Vulgate. There has been much debate over the meaning of the name. For discussion see W. F. Albright, "The Names Shaddai and Abram," JBL 54 (1935): 173-210; R. Gordis, "The Biblical Root sdy-sd," JTS 41 (1940): 34-43; and especially T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of Yahweh, 69–72. Shaddai/El Shaddai is the sovereign king of the world who grants, blesses, and judges. In the Book of Genesis he blesses the patriarchs with fertility and promises numerous descendants. Outside Genesis he both blesses/protects and takes away life/happiness. The patriarchs knew Yahweh primarily as El Shaddai (Exod 6:3LEB). While the origin and meaning of this name are uncertain its significance is clear. The name is used in contexts where Yahweh appears as the source of fertility and life. For a fuller discussion see the note on "sovereign Yahweh" in Gen 17:1LEB.


"A nation and a company of nations will be from you and kings from your loins will come out."


A nation…will descend from you. The promise is rooted in the Abrahamic promise (see Gen 17LEB). Yahweh confirms what Isaac told Jacob (see Gen 28:3–4LEB). Here, though, for the first time Jacob is promised kings as descendants.


Notes for Gen 35:12LEB

The Hebrew verb translated "gave" refers to the Abrahamic promise of the land. However, the actual possession of that land lay in the future. The decree of the Yahweh made it certain; but it has the sense "promised to give."


"and to your offspring after you."


Notes for Gen 35:13LEB

"went up from upon him in the place."


Notes for Gen 35:14LEB

"and Jacob set up a sacred pillar in the place where he spoke with him, a sacred pillar of stone" (see the notes on the term "sacred stone" in Gen 28:18LEB). This passage stands parallel to Gen 28:18–19LEB, where Jacob set up a sacred stone, poured oil on it, and called the place Bethel. Some commentators see these as two traditions referring to the same event, but it is more likely that Jacob reconsecrated the place in fulfillment of the vow he had made here earlier. In support of this is the fact that the present narrative alludes to and is built on the previous one.


The verb נָסַךְ (nasakh) means "to pour out, to make libations," and the noun נֶסֶךְ (nesekh) is a "drink-offering," usually of wine or of blood. The verb יָצַק (yatsaq) means "to pour out," often of anointing oil, but of other elements as well.


Notes for Gen 35:15LEB

Called the name of the place. In view of the previous naming of Bethel in Gen 28:19LEB, here Jacob was confirming or affirming the name through an official ritual marking the fulfillment of the vow. This place now did become Bethel, the house of Yahweh.


Notes for Gen 35:16LEB

"and there was still a stretch of the land to go to Ephrath."


Normally the verb would be translated "she gave birth," but because that obviously had not happened yet, it is better to translate the verb as ingressive, "began to give birth" (cf. NIV) or "went into labor."


Notes for Gen 35:17LEB

The construction uses a Hiphil infinitive, which E. A. Speiser classifies as an elative Hiphil. The contrast is with the previous Piel: there "she had hard labor," and here, "her labor was at its hardest." Failure to see this, Speiser notes, has led to redundant translations and misunderstandings (Genesis [AB], 273).


Another son. The episode recalls and fulfills the prayer of Rachel at the birth of Joseph (Gen 30:24LEB): "may he add" another son.


Notes for Gen 35:18LEB

"in the going out of her life, for she was dying." Rachel named the child with her dying breath.


The name Ben-Oni means "son of my suffering." It is ironic that Rachel’s words to Jacob in Gen 30:1LEB, "Give me children or I’ll die," take a different turn here, for it was having the child that brought about her death.


The disjunctive clause is contrastive.


His father called him Benjamin. There was a preference for giving children good or positive names in the ancient world, and "son of my suffering" would not do (see the incident in 1 Chr 4:9–10LEB), because it would be a reminder of the death of Rachel (in this connection, see also D. Daube, "The Night of Death," HTR 61 [1968]: 629-32). So Jacob named him Benjamin, which means "son of the [or "my"] right hand." The name Benjamin appears in the Mari texts. There have been attempts to connect this name to the resident tribe listed at Mari, "sons of the south" (since the term "right hand" can also mean "south" in Hebrew), but this assumes a different reading of the story. See J. Muilenburg, "The Birth of Benjamin," JBL 75 (1956): 194-201.


Notes for Gen 35:20LEB

"standing stone."


Or perhaps "it is known as" (cf. NEB).


Notes for Gen 35:21LEB

The location of Migdal Eder is not given. It appears to be somewhere between Bethlehem and Hebron. Various traditions have identified it as at the shepherds’ fields near Bethlehem (the Hebrew name Migdal Eder means "tower of the flock"; see Mic 4:8LEB) or located it near Solomon’s pools.


Notes for Gen 35:22LEB

"and Reuben went and lay with." The expression "lay with" is a euphemism for having sexual intercourse.


Reuben’s act of having sexual relations with Bilhah probably had other purposes than merely satisfying his sexual desire. By having sex with Bilhah, Reuben (Leah’s oldest son) would have prevented Bilhah from succeeding Rachel as the favorite wife, and by sleeping with his father’s concubine he would also be attempting to take over leadership of the clan – something Absalom foolishly attempted later on in Israel’s history (2 Sam 16:21–22LEB).


Notes for Gen 35:27LEB

This is an adverbial accusative of location.


The name "Kiriath Arba" is in apposition to the preceding name, "Mamre."


The Hebrew verb גּוּר (gur), traditionally rendered "to sojourn," refers to temporary settlement without ownership rights.


Notes for Gen 35:28LEB

"And the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years."


Notes for Gen 35:29LEB

"and Isaac expired and died and he was gathered to his people." In the ancient Israelite view he joined his deceased ancestors in Sheol, the land of the dead.


"old and full of years."