Jacob’s Return Home and Esau’s Family Tree

Genesis 35:1-36:43

God now tells Jacob he should fulfil his early promise and return to build an altar at Beit El. Jacob prepares his household, stripping members of vestiges of idolatry and burying them in Shechem. The family then travels unmolested towards Beit El, as God has extended His protection over them.


The Torah notes that at this point, Deborah, nursemaid to Jacob’s mother, Rebecca, dies and is buried near Beit El.


God then appears again to Jacob and blesses him, also changing his name from Jacob to Israel. He tells him that a congregation of nations shall descend from him, and the land which He has promised to Abraham and to Isaac shall belong to Jacob and his offspring. Jacob, for his part, made libation offerings to God at the site.


From there, Jacob continues journeying towards Efrat. Along the way, Rachel goes into labor, and is in great distress. She gives birth to a second son, calling him Ben Oni, or “son of my suffering”, and then dies. Jacob renames his youngest son Benjamin, meaning “son of my right hand”. Jacob then buries his beloved Rachel on the road.


The Israel Bible explains why, according to the Sages, Jacob did not bury Rachel in the family tomb in the Cave of the Patriarchs (it is Leah who is buried there alongside Jacob). Rachel’s tomb lies on the road leading out of Israel, and throughout the generations, when the Jews were exiled from their lands, they were led past her tomb. Her presence offered comfort and hope to the exiles that she would plead for them before the Throne of God. According to tradition, it was Rachel’s own son, Joseph, who first found comfort at his mother’s grave, as he escaped his captors briefly on his way down to Egypt and sought out her resting place. The Tomb of Rachel remains a popular destination for prayer today.


Jacob continues his meandering journey back towards his father, and during one stop, Reuben interferes with his father’s marital bed. Jacob finds out, though the text is mum on his response at this point (on his deathbed, in Genesis 49:4, Jacob alludes to this event when he chastises Reuben).


At long last, Jacob and Isaac are reunited in Hebron, and when Isaac dies at the ripe old age of 180, both Jacob and Esau are there to bury their father.


The portion ends with an overview of Esau’s family tree, including the houses of Seir into which he married and the princes and kings he begat. Included in the list are those kings who reigned before any Jewish king ever sat on a throne in Israel.


The Torah states that Esau moved to Seir on account of Jacob’s presence in the land. The Israel Bible points out that in so doing, he acknowledged Jacob’s rightful claim to the birthright that includes the Land of Israel.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think God renames Jacob the same name the angel already gave him?

Comments ( 9 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • An angel is a melachim of G'd. An Angel should not speak against the words of his Sender. So it is quite obvious that he spoke the same. Also because of all things that had happened within a short time, Ja’acov needed a reassurance of G'd standing with him. May be also to show that the Angel told the truth.

  • I saw this as HaShem blessing the name. For the Lord to bless what I am called by is so very important to me. His blessing makes it the Amen. signed, sealed, and justified by HaShem.

  • There is an interesting genealogy in chapter 35, in which the children of Ya'acov are listed. In the order of their birth, a story of the Messiah is told. Reuben means, "a son" (The Messiah came as YHVH the Son). Simeon means, "hated/hearing" (He will be hated by some, but we should hear and listen to Him). Levi means "loved/attached" (We should love Him and be attached to Him). Judah means "praise/thankful" (We should praise Him and be thankful).
    Dan means "vindicated" (Because He will vindicate us). Naphtali means "struggle/prevail" (By His suffering we will prevail). Gad means "good fortune" (We are so fortunate). Asher means "happy/joyful" (and we will be joyful). Issachar means "wages" (for He paid our wages of sin). Zebulon means "live with honor" (Soon He will live with us). Dinah means "bride/justice" (and make us His bride).
    Joseph means "may he add" (He will add to us). Ben-Oni means "son of my sorrow". Benjamin means "son of my right hand" (He is YHVH son, a man of sorrow and the right hand of Elohim).

  • There is a clue in the text of v. 22 that may explain why Ya'acov's response is not included. The "Aleph/Tav" symbol appears in conjunction with Bilah. Her care was entrusted to Ya'acov. She was covered by Elohim Himself. I don't think a recorded response was necessary. It was very obvious. Gen. 49: 4 says it all–"unstable like water".

  • Throughout the Torah, we see Elohim reiterate the promises that HE gives to the Patriarchs many times. This happens in the story of Avraham, Yitszak and now, Ya'acov. Considering how often men forgot the promises of Elohim in the Torah, it might be a case of simply needing to be reminded every now and then as Elohim's time and patience far exceeds our own.
    Baruch Hashem.

    • Great comment. I'm so glad His kindness is enduring and long suffering. It's so easy to get side tracked. We need that gentle reminder from time to time.

  • Herman

    I think that The Holy One wanted reaffirm his convenenant with Ja’acov after all that had happened. It might be more or less the signature of HaShem for the final change of his name. But it might also be a reminder for Ja’acov that G’d is the same and will be the same in future.

Post a Reply

Comments must adhere to our guidelines or they may be removed.

Skip to toolbar