Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Genesis 35:6-15 comments: the death of Rebekah's nurse

6 ¶  So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him. 7  And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother. 8  But Deborah Rebekah’s nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth. 9  And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him. 10  And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. 11  And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; 12  And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. 13  And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him. 14  And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon. 15  And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.

Luz and Bethel are the same place.

Genesis 28:19  And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.

Jacob builds an altar and calls the place Elbethel. El means God and Bethel means house of God.

Genesis 28:16 ¶  And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 17  And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. 18  And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 19  And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.

Rebekah’s nurse, mentioned when Rebekah left her family to marry Isaac, dies at this point in the narrative. It is likely that Jacob had visited his former home and carried this elderly nurse with him, as his parents were now dead.

Genesis 24:59  And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.

We are now reminded of God’s appearance to Jacob and his renaming to Israel.

Genesis 32:28  And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

We are now given more detail of the blessing and the promise that God bestowed on Jacob. This is a similar device in the narrative to Paul’s Damascus road conversion where on other occasions in which it is related we get more information. It is important to take both accounts when we try to imagine what went on here.

Another possibility to consider is that in this visit to Bethel these events occur a second time. So, you can view these as a recap or you can see them as a second event of God’s repeating His blessing and His promise. Either way would satisfy the demands of the overall narrative.

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