Preparations for Beth El
||God said to Jacob, 'Set out and go up to Beth El. Remain there and make an altar to [Me], the God who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.'
||Jacob said to his family and everyone with him, 'Get rid of the idolatrous artifacts that you have. Purify yourselves and change your clothes.
||We are setting out and going up to Beth El. There I will make an altar to God, who answered me in my time of trouble, and who has been with me on the journey that I have taken.'
||They gave Jacob all the idolatrous artifacts that they had, even the rings in their ears. Jacob buried them under the terebinth tree near Shechem.
||They began their journey. The terror of God was felt in all the cities around them, and they did not pursue Jacob's sons.
||Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz in the land of Canaan - that is, to Beth El.
||He built an altar there, and he named the place Beth El's God (El Beth El), since this was the place where God was revealed to him when he was fleeing from his brother.
||Rebecca's nurse Deborah died, and she was buried in the valley of Beth El, under the oak. It was named Weeping Oak (Alon Bakhuth).
||Now that Jacob had returned from Padan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him.
||God said to him, 'Your name is Jacob. But your name will not be only Jacob; you will also have Israel as a name.' [God thus] named him Israel.
||God said to him, 'I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and increase. A nation and a community of nations will come into existence from you. Kings will be born from your loins.
||I will grant you the land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac. I will also give the land to your descendants who will follow you.'
||God went up and left [Jacob] in the place where He had spoken to him.
||Jacob had set up a pillar in the place that God had spoken to him. He [now] offered a libation on it, and then poured oil on it.
||Jacob had named the place where God had spoken to him Beth El (God's Temple).
||They moved on from Beth El, and were some distance from Ephrath when Rachel began to give birth. Her labor was extremely difficult.
||When her labor was at its worst, the midwife said to her, 'Don't be afraid. This one will also be a son for you.'
||She was dying, and as she breathed her last, she named the child Ben-oni (My Sorrow's Son). His father called him Benjamin.
||Rachel died and was buried on the road to Ephrath, now known as Bethlehem.
||Jacob set up a monument on her grave. This is the monument that is on Rachel's grave to this very day.
||Israel traveled on, and he set up his tent beyond Herd Tower (Migdal Eder).
Jacob' s Sons; Isaac's Death
||While Jacob was living undisturbed in the area, Reuben went and disturbed the sleeping arrangements of Bilhah, his father's concubine. Jacob heard about it.
Jacob had twelve sons.
||The sons of Leah were Reuben (Jacob's first-born), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
||The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.
||The sons of Rachel's handmaid Bilhah were Dan and Naphtali.
||The sons of Leah's handmaid Zilpah were Gad and Asher.
These are the sons born to Jacob in Padan Aram.
||Jacob thus came to his father Isaac in Mamre, at Kiryath Arba, better known as Hebron. This is where Abraham and Isaac had resided.
||Isaac lived to be 180 years old.
||He breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people, old and in the fullness of his years. His sons, Esau and Jacob, buried him.
See Genesis 28:19. Jerusalem was 32 miles south of Shechem, while Bethel was 19 miles south. The expression 'go up' is used since Jerusalem is higher than Shechem.
Literally 'foreign gods,' or 'alien gods.' Others render it 'alienated gods' or 'alienating gods' (cf. Hirsch). Some say that these were the artifacts plundered from Shechem (Targum Yonathan; Rashi). According to others, Jacob had discovered the teraphim that Rachel had taken (Genesis 31:19; Josephus 1:20:2, Yov'loth 31:2).
See note on Genesis 12:6. It was under this tree that Joshua later set up a stone (Joshua 24:26; Rashi ad loc.).
See Genesis 24:59. This was a name that would later become famous through a prophetess by the same name (Judges 4:4). Some say that Rebecca had sent Deborah to inform Jacob that it was safe to return home (Rashi; Lekach Tov; Sefer HaYashar p. 79. See note on Genesis 30:25). According to others, Jacob had stopped at his parents' home and had picked up Deborah (Yov'loth 31:30).
Alon in Hebrew. (see Targum Yonathan). There is a difference between an eleh (terebinth) and an alon (cf. Isaiah 6:13). Others translate alon here as 'plain' (Onkelos; Rashi). Benjamin of Toledo identifies the Valley of Alon with Val de Luna, 5 miles from Mount Gilboa (Massoth Binyamin 8).
See Genesis 32:29.
See Genesis 1:22, 1:28, 8:17, 9:1, 9:7. This is seen as a commandment to have children (Yevamoth 65b).
|community of nations...|
See Genesis 17:5, 17:16, 28:3, 48:4.
|Kings will be born...|
See Genesis 17:6, 17:16.
|I will grant you the land...|
Genesis 12:7, 13:15, 26:3,4, 28:13.
See note on Genesis 17:22.
This is the one mentioned in Genesis 28:18 (Ibn Ezra; Ramban).
Nesekh in Hebrew. Jacob poured water and/or wine on the pillar to purify it (Ibn Ezra; Ramban). It was also to dedicate it as a place of future sacrifice (Targum Yonathan). Such libations would later be an integral part of the service; see Exodus 29:40, Leviticus 23:13, Numbers 15:5, etc.
See Genesis 28:19.
About half a mile (Maasoth Binyamin 10). It was to the north of Ephrath or Bethlehem.
Bethlehem (Genesis 35:19). See Genesis 48:7. Also see 1 Samuel 17:12, Micah 5:1, Psalms 132:6, Ruth 1:2, 4:11, 1 Chronicles 2:24. It is 5 miles south of Jerusalem, and 16 miles from Bethel.
|also be a son|
See Genesis 30:24.
Binyamin in Hebrew, literally 'son of the right.' Some interpret this as 'son of the right hand,' meaning a son of strength (Ramban). Others state that it means 'son of the south,' since Benjamin was the only son born in the Holy Land, which is to the south of Aramaea (Rashi; Sefer HaYashar p.96). There is also an opinion that it is the same as ben yamim, son of days, or son of old age (Rashi; Rashbam; Tzava'ath Binyamin 1:6; Philo, De Nominum Mutatione 3:92).
Beth Lechem in Hebrew, literally 'House of Bread.' It is 5 miles south of Jerusalem.
Hence, the custom to place gravestones by the dead (Bereshith Rabbah 82).
|to this very day|
See 1 Samuel 10:2, Jeremiah 31:15. It is a famous site even today. The tomb is described as consisting of 11 stones, placed there by the 11 brothers, and a large stone on top, put there by Jacob (Lekach Tov; Massoth Binyamin 10. Cf. Tosafoth, Sanhedrin 47b, s.v. KeSheYistom). A structure was built around it in the 1700's. This is the familiar Rachel's Tomb.
It is on a hill (Micah 4:2; Rashbam). See Shekalim 7:4. It is halfway between Bethlehem and Hebron (cf. Tzava'ath Reuven 3:13). There is a tradition that the Messiah will arrive there (Targum Yonathan).
|disturbed the sleeping arrangements|
According to Talmudic tradition, after Rachel's death, Jacob moved his bed to the tent of Rachel's handmaid Bilhah. Reuven moved Jacob's bed and placed it in Leah's tent (Shabbath 55a, b; Targum Yonathan; Rashi). The Hebrew word here, shakhav, literally means to lie down or to make bedding arrangements, but it is often used as a euphemism for sex. Some say that Reuben actually desired Bilhah and lay next to her (Yov'loth 33:2,4). At the time Bilhah was drunk (Tzava'ath Reuven 4:13). In any case, Reuven lost the birthright because of this. See Genesis 49:4; 1 Chronicles 5:1. See 2 Samuel 16:22, 20:3.
See above regarding Mamre (Genesis 13:8) and Kiryath Arba (Genesis 23:2). As to whether Isaac had moved there or had lived there all along, see note on Genesis 28:10.
In Makhpelah, see Genesis 49:31.