Genesis 35:20
Jacob set up a pillar on her grave; it marks Rachel's tomb to this day.
LessonsG. Hughes, B. DGenesis 35:16-20
Rachel's DeathA. Fuller.Genesis 35:16-20
The Death of RachelT. H. Leale.Genesis 35:16-20
Family RecordsR.A. Redford Genesis 35:16-29

Genesis 35:16-29
Genesis 35:16-29. These family records mingle well with the story of God's grace. The mothers "Ben-oni is the father's Benjamin." Out of the pain and the bereavement sometimes comes the consolation. A strange blending of joy and sorrow is the tale of human love. But there is a higher love which may draw out the pure stream of peace and calm delight from that impure fountain. Jacob and Esau were separated in their lives, but they met at their father's grave. Death is a terrible divider, but a uniter too. Under the shadow of the great mystery, on the borders of an eternal world, in the presence of those tears which human eyes weep for the dead, even when they can weep no other tears, the evil things of envy, hatred, revenge, alienation do often hide themselves, and the better things of love, lessee, brotherhood, amity come forth. Jacob was with Isaac when he died, and Esau came to the grave. - R.

Put away the strange gods that are among you.
I. MANY CHRISTIANS ARE SUFFERING FROM SPIRITUAL DECLENSION. They hardly realize it, it has crept on them so quietly; but they have drifted far away from their Bethel and Penuel. Gray hairs are on a man before he knows. Summer fruit is beginning to rot within long before its surface is pitted with specks. The leaf's connection with the branch is severed, even when it looks green. The devil is too shrewd to make Judases at a stroke; he wins us from the side of Christ by hair-breadths.

II. IDOLS ARE THE INEVITABLE SYMPTOM OF INCIPIENT DECAY. Go at autumn into the woods and see how the members of the fungus tribes are scattered plentifully throughout the unfrequented glades. All through the long scorching summer days their germs were present in the soil; but they were kept from germinating by the dryness of the air and the heat of the sun. However, there is now nothing to prevent it; nay, the dank damp of decay is the very food of their life. Where the shade is deepest and the soil most impregnated with the products of corruption, they love to pitch their tents. Wherever, therefore, you find these fungus growths, you may be sure that there is corruption and decay. Similarly, whenever there has set in upon the spiritual life the autumn of decay, you will be sure to find a fungus — growth of idols — the sorrowful symptoms that the bright summer time has passed, or is passing away from the soul.

III. THESE IDOLS MUST BE SURRENDERED BEFORE THERE CAN BE VICTORY OR PEACE. The reason for Jacob's flight before those alien tribes was, of course, the censurable and merciless action of his sons; but above and beyond this lay the fact that Jacob had been giving some measure of countenance to the existence of idolatry in the camp. I always find in Christian experience that failure and defeat indicate the presence of some idol somewhere and the need of more complete consecration to God. It may be a hidden idol; and it may be hidden by the Rachel of your heart, lovely and beloved: but if it be there it will be the certain cause of disappointment. You say that you do not find yourself able to overcome besetting sin; that you are tripped up before you look to Christ; that you are sometimes hot as juniper-coals, and then cold as ice; you talk about your experiences as if Christ had failed — no such thing! Get down on your knees, search out the idols, ransack all the camel baggage in spite of all that Rachel may say, bring out the accursed things, and bury them.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

Jacob did not break or burn the idols, but hid them. Jacob's besetting sin was double-dealing, and it appears to us the text is another example of the patriarch's special failing. He was not altogether weaned from his idols, he had a lingering regard for them; he did not, even yet, yield himself fully to Jehovah. Let us show —


1. We are thus guilty when we retain privately those evil practices we have renounced in public. Iniquity is iniquity to God, whether done in the eye of the sun or wrought in thickest darkness; whether coarse or refined; whether called by its true name or wrapped in glozing gilded speech. Burke tells of that "sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness." This is rhetoric. When vice is divested of all grossness it has not lost a particle of its evil in the judgment of heaven; the secret idol, the idol skilfully veiled or richly adorned by taste, is equally hateful to God with the open and gross idolatries of inferior civilization.

2. We are thus guilty when we practise partially the evils we have renounced as a whole. In the days of the English Reformation, the reformers finding the coloured windows in the churches to be objects of reverence to the people, ordered them to be broken and replaced by plain glass. But where the authorities had a love for the beautiful they contented themselves by taking out a few panes here and there — a saint's head, a martyr's nimbus, an angel's wing, and having thus mutilated the figures, trusted they would do no harm. Somewhat after this fashion are men apt to renounce the world and sin. We deal delicately with things, habits, associations, pursuits, pleasures, employments, which ought to be utterly sacrificed, and sacrificed for ever.

3. We are thus guilty when we retain mentally what we have renounced in action. It is possible that the idols of life which have no longer any concrete existence may find asylum in the heart and brain, and be most steadily worshipped there. This is true —(1) When the evil renounced in the life is not also renounced in the will.(2) When the evil renounced in our life is cherished in our imagination we are victims of the patriarch's fallacy. It has been said: "It is possible to lead a life of imagination quite distinct from the active life." This is quite true. Our life may be as blameless on the practical side as it is stained on the mental side.(3) When the evil renounced in our life is cherished in affection we similarly err. We profess renunciation of the world — of its pomps and vanities; yet do we sympathize with the merely secular side of life. How intoxicated we are by a little prosperity! How depressed by a little adversity! The world has still a place in our heart; we are not altogether rid of the great idol.

II. We must feel the importance of COMPLETE CONSECRATION TO GOD. This secret clinging to sin is a source of weakness, unhappiness, and peril. The apostle writes to the Romans, "ye are dead to sin." How completely this idea cuts us off from the world of evil! how utterly it separates us from all godlessness and wickedness! We once heard a converted Persian relate that when he was converted to Christianity his angry kindred considered him a dead man, and celebrated his funeral obsequies accordingly. They were not far wrong. When one is converted to Christ he has absolutely renounced sin, the world may justly count him dead, and all the vices follow his bier.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

No sooner is Jacob admonished to go to Bethel, than he feels the necessity of a reformation, and gives command for it. This proves that he knew of the corrupt practices of his family, and had too long connived at them. We are glad however to find him resolved at last to put them away. A constant attendance on God's ordinances is dwelling as it were in Bethel; and it is by this that we detect ourselves of evils which we should otherwise go on in without thought or concern. It is coming to the light, which will manifest our deeds, whether they be wrought in God or not. Wicked men may reconcile the most sacred religious duties with the indulgence of secret sins; but good men cannot do so. They must wash their hands in innocency, and so compass God's altar. Jacob not only commands his household to put away their idols, but endeavours to impress upon them his own sentiments. "Let us arise," saith he, "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." He is decided for himself, and uses all means to persuade his family to unite with him. His intimating that God bad heretofore "answered him in the day of his distress," might be designed not only to show them the propriety of what he was about to do, but to excite a hope that God might disperse the cloud which now hung over them on account of the late impure and bloody transaction.

(A. Fuller.)

1. Grace keeps hearts close in obedience unto God's call.

2. It is the duty of conscience in all governors of families and others to enjoin all with them to obey God's call. It is no violence.

3. It is rulers' duty in order to reconcile God, so much as they may, to bring souls to repentance.

4. The first part of repentance is to depart from evil.

5. Governors are bound to turn all under them from outward evils which they may prevent.

6. Images and relics of idolatry may not be suffered in the families of Jacob's children.

7. Repentance requireth not only negative but positive cleanness.

8. Typical repentance in outward washings was in the Church before the law was written.

9. Real endowment with righteousness unto God's likeness was intended by it (ver. 2).

10. It is Jacob's work to rouse his family to move towards God (so good rulers will do) when he himself is roused by Him.

11. Not only preparation but motion must be in penitents to God's house.

12. Repentance is then complete when men are brought fully home to God.

13. God is reached unto when His true worship is entertained by men.

14. God may and doth use some eminent minister to set up His worship, that others might know

15. God is known to Jacob and his seed to be a God answering prayer.

16. All. good providences to Jacob are mercies truly to his family.

17. Mercies of God to our fathers while we enjoy them bind us to own and worship the same God (ver. 3).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

1. When rulers obey God's call, He maketh subjects obey theirs.

2. Where God overpowers, souls freely and fully part with their desired jewels of vanity and superstition.

3. Good rulers will execute as well as enjoin sentence against false gods.

4. In bringing false worshippers to God, it is good to bury the monuments of their sin out of sight.

5. Jacob-rulers will not be content but in the destruction of all means of false worship.

6. Monuments of idolatry must die at Shechem, and not live at Bethel (ver. 4).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

Allon, Aram, Arba, Asher, Benjamin, Benoni, Bilhah, Dan, Deborah, Eder, Ephrath, Esau, Gad, Isaac, Issachar, Jacob, Joseph, Leah, Levi, Mamre, Naphtali, Rachel, Rebekah, Reuben, Simeon, Zebulun, Zilpah
Allon-bacuth, Bethel, Bethlehem, Canaan, Eder, El-bethel, Ephrath, Hebron, Kiriath-arba, Luz, Mamre, Paddan-aram, Shechem
Erected, Grave, Jacob, Marks, Named, Pillar, Rachel, Rachel's, Resting-place, Setteth, Standing, Tomb
1. God commands Jacob to go to Bethel.
2. He purges his house of idols.
6. He builds an altar at Bethel.
8. Deborah dies at Allon Bacuth.
9. God blesses Jacob at Bethel.
10. Jacob Named Israel.
16. Rachel travails of Benjamin, and dies in the way to Edar.
22. Reuben lies with Bilhah.
23. The sons of Jacob.
27. Jacob comes to Isaac at Hebron.
28. The age, death, and burial of Isaac.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 35:19-20

     5241   burial

February the Eighth Revisiting Old Altars
"I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress." --GENESIS xxxv. 1-7. It is a blessed thing to revisit our early altars. It is good to return to the haunts of early vision. Places and things have their sanctifying influences, and can recall us to lost experiences. I know a man to whom the scent of a white, wild rose is always a call to prayer. I know another to whom Grasmere is always the window of holy vision. Sometimes a particular pew in a particular church
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

Our Last ChapterConcluded with the Words, "For Childhood and Youth are Vanity"...
Our last chapter concluded with the words, "For childhood and youth are vanity": that is, childhood proves the emptiness of all "beneath the sun," as well as old age. The heart of the child has the same needs--the same capacity in kind--as that of the aged. It needs God. Unless it knows Him, and His love is there, it is empty; and, in its fleeting character, childhood proves its vanity. But this makes us quite sure that if childhood can feel the need, then God has, in His wide grace, met the
F. C. Jennings—Old Groans and New Songs

The Death of Abraham
'Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.'--GENESIS xxv. 8. 'Full of years' does not seem to me to be a mere synonym for longevity. That would be an intolerable tautology, for we should then have the same thing said three times over--'an old man,' 'in a good old age,' 'full of years.' There must be some other idea than that in the words. If you notice that the expression is by no means a usual one, that it is only
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Trials and visions of Devout Youth
'And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The National Oath at Shechem
'And Joshua said unto the people. Ye cannot serve the Lord: for He is an holy God; He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20. If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then He will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that He hath done you good. 21. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord. 22. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves, that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve Him. And they said,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, too little to be among the thousands of Judah
"And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, too little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth unto Me (one) [Pg 480] to be Ruler in Israel; and His goings forth are the times of old, the days of eternity." The close connection of this verse with what immediately precedes (Caspari is wrong in considering iv. 9-14 as an episode) is evident, not only from the [Hebrew: v] copulative, and from the analogy of the near relation of the announcement of salvation to the prophecy of disaster
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12). In our last chapter we considered at some length the much debated and difficult question of the human will. We have shown that the will of the natural man is neither Sovereign nor free but, instead, a servant and slave. We have argued that a right conception of the sinner's will-its servitude-is essential to a just estimate of his depravity and ruin. The utter corruption and degradation of human nature is something which
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God

The Birth of Jesus.
(at Bethlehem of Judæa, b.c. 5.) ^C Luke II. 1-7. ^c 1 Now it came to pass in those days [the days of the birth of John the Baptist], there went out a decree [a law] from Cæsar Augustus [Octavius, or Augustus, Cæsar was the nephew of and successor to Julius Cæsar. He took the name Augustus in compliment to his own greatness; and our month August is named for him; its old name being Sextilis], that all the world should be enrolled. [This enrollment or census was the first step
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Gen. xxxi. 11
Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11 seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, [Hebrew: mlaK halhiM] appears toJacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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