Genesis 35: The Way Back

*These notes come from Bob Deffinbaugh’s study on Genesis 35 at
  • Nearly 30 years have passed since Jacob vowed to return to Bethel
  • 10 years since Jacob left Laban to return to the promised land
  • Bethel was only 30 miles from Shechem where Jacob had built his house and made peace with the Canaanites
  • Often we may appear to be walking close to God, performing the rituals, but the spirituality is not there
  • Genesis 35 provides us with a pattern for finding our way back to God when we have strayed from the clear path
  • Jacob appears to not be listening to God’s call until it becomes too dangerous to stay in Shechem (his sons having killed the men and it being likely that relatives will come to avenge their death)
  • We can resist God’s commands but not thwart his ultimate purpose
  • God does not yell and holler like parents over the disobedience of his children. He allows them to go their own way and reap the consequences of disobedience
  • The Israelites were called like Jacob called his people to bury their foreign gods under the same tree
  • Many are afraid to fully commit to God because of what they will have to give up to do so
  • Repetition in blessing of Abraham and Jacob
  • Rachel dies in birth and names her son Ben-oni, meaning “Son of my sorrow” Jacob would not allow that name to stand, however, and changed it to Benjamin, “son of my right hand”
  • Rachel demanded she would die if she did not have children and then died having children
  • Jacob had said that whoever took the gods would die and Rachel was the first to die
  • Reuben initiating a sexual union with Rachel’s maid, Bilhah, prepares us for when his firstborn rights will be taken away
    • perhaps he was trying to secure his leadership as Bilhah was Jacob’s concubine
  • Parallel between Jacob cheating Esau and Reuben cheating his brothers
  • God’s people will be begotten now through all the sons of Jacob


  • Renewal
    • we need nothing new, just a deeper grasp of what we already know
    • Even with renewal all things will not go smoothly for us
    • We reap what we sow
      • Jacob’s heartache was the result of previous sins
    • certainty of sanctification
      • much needless heartache and sorrow in Jacob’s life because of his waywardness

*Link to study on the rest of the chapters in Genesis


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