This chapter is about Jacob returning to Bethel, a.k.a. Luz. And we’ll be diving into the deaths of Rachel & Isaac. This has some interesting tidbits! I hope you enjoy the read!
At this point, God tells Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) to go to Bethel to settle down there. God also tells him to settle there & build an altar. So Jacob tells his household that EVERYONE must get rid of any foreign gods/idols that they’ve brought with them. He also asks everyone to purify themselves & to change their clothes. He then told them that they where going to Bethel.
So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods & their earrings. Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem (which is the name of a town, not the person.). They then set out. The terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so no one went after them.
Jacob & his household came to Luz (a.k.a. Bethel) that’s located in Canaan. He built an altar there & called the place El Bethel (which means God of Bethel). Now Deborah, who was Rebekah’s nurse, died & was buried under an oak below Bethel. So they called this place Allon Bacuth, which means oak of weeping.
After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram (which is/was located in northwest Mesopotamia.) God appeared to him again & blessed him. God told him again that his name is gonna changed to Israel. “Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.” (There are pockets of people who believe that this sentence means that God is an alien, an extraterrestrial (which by definition, God is an extraterrestrial.). Like a Martian, a little green guy, or gray. Whichever you prefer. And that God “went up” in a UFO.) Jacob then put up a stone pillar at this place & he poured out a drink offering & oil on it.
They then moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath (a.k.a. Bethlehem), Rachel began to give birth & was having problems. The midwife told her that she was having another son. But with her last breath, she named the boy Ben-Oni (which means son of my trouble). Yes, Rachel died in childbirth. But Jacob named him Benjamin (which means son of my right hand).
So after Rachel dies, she was buried on the way to Ephrath (Bethlehem). Over her tomb, Jacob/Israel set up a pillar. The bible says that this pillar is still there to this day. Not sure if that means to this present day. Israel/Jacob (this is the 1st time that Jacob starts being called Israel all the time.) moved on & pitched his tent near Migdal Eder. While he was living there, Reuben (Jacob’s oldest son) sleeps with Israel/Jacob concubine Bilhah. Israel/Jacob heard about it. (But there’s no indication of anything happening about it.)
Here’s where the fun begins: Jacob/Israel had 12 sons. This is the official list of the 12 tribes of Israel. The sons he had with Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn son), Simeon, Levi (where the Jewish priesthood comes from), Judah (where the country of Judah comes from. This name is also very popular throughout the Christian & Jewish texts.), Issachar, & Zebulun. (This list is also found in I Corithians 2:1-2.) The sons of Rachel: Joseph (this is the Joseph of the coat of many colors or technicolor, if you’re into that! And who knew that it’d be Rachel’s son that would be most loved by Jacob/Israel.) & Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah: Dan & Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah: Gad & Asher. The 12 sons (tribes) of Israel.
Jacob came home to Isaac, his father, in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (Hebron). Isaac was 180 years old when he died. He breathed his last breath & died. He was gathered to his people. His sons, Esau & Jacob/Israel, buried him.