Richard Agee

Genesis 35: Ya’acov returns to Beit ’El; messianic last words of Rachel

Richard AgeeWe boast in our pride, we constantly demand our rights, we put our trust in our government to protect these rights, but we don’t ask God to protect us. Ya’akov (Jacob) needed to return to Beit ’El (Bethel) to fulfill the vow he had made to the Lord when he was fleeing from Esau. God protected Ya’akov and his entourage from being pursued by those who would have wanted to take revenge on Ya’akov’s family for what happened in Shechem (Genesis 34). He put a great terror on those who wanted to pursue them and convinced them to leave them alone.

God told Ya’akov to return to Beit ’El to build an altar. Ya’akov had promised God tithe, a 10th, of all he obtained while in exile, and it was time for him to pay up. 

Ya’akov told those with him, particularly the women and children they had captured in Shechem, to put away their foreign gods and foreign clothes. Ya’akov buried the foreign gods under a tree near Shechem.

Ya’akov then arrives in Luz, which is the place that Ya’akov re-named בֵית־אֵל Beit ’El. At this point, we also read about the death of Deborah, the nurse of Rivkah (Rebecca). The root of the name of דְּבוֹרָה Deborah name is דָּבַר devar (Strong’s lexicon No. H399), which means word. Her name is usually translated bee, which may have derived from buzzing that sounds like murmuring. This Deborah, like the later judge of Israel by that name, may have been a talkative woman with that name. She was a special enough woman to merit her death being mentioned in the Bible. She was buried near Beit ’El under an oak named אַלּוֹן בָּכוּת ’Elon-baCoot (H439, from H436 and H1065), which means oak of weeping.

After Ya’akov/Israel arrived at Beit ’El, God reminds Ya’akov of his new name. He also reminds Ya’akov that He is ’El Shaddai, the one who brought the deluge and destroyed the world. Ya’akov then pours out a drink offering of wine and poured oil on the pillar. 

They stayed in Beit ’El for a while but then they left and traveled towards Ephrath, later called Beit Lekhem (Bethlehem, “House of Bread”). We read that she was in “severe labor” (Gen. 35:16). That word in Hebrew is קָשָׁה qashah (H7185), which also means cruel, be fiercer, make grievous. She knew she was going to die and the midwife knew it as well. This is why the midwife tells Rachel that her son will live but doesn’t tell her that she will survive this labor. 

Rachel named the son בֶּן־אוֹנִי ben-Omi, and Ya’akov later renames him בִנְיָמִן ben-Yamin (Benjamin). Keep in mind that ben-Yamin was born after God changed Ya’akov’s name to Yisra’el (Israel). Rachel died and was buried on the way to Beit Lekhem. This is not the last time we read about Rachel’s death in Beit Lekhem. Her death and the name she gave her son were prophetic. In her last breath, she was speaking a prophesy.

This prophecy is tied to the birth of Yeshua the Messiah:

“Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Beit Lekhem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. Then what had been spoken through Yeremiyahu the prophet was fulfilled: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” (Matt. 2:16-18)

Matthew was quoting from Jer. 31:15-17, so let’s read it in the original context:

“Thus says the Lord, ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; She refuses to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Restrain your voice from weeping And your eyes from tears; For your work will be rewarded,’ declares the Lord, ‘And they will return from the land of the enemy. ‘There is hope for your future,’ declares the Lord, ‘And your children will return to their own territory.'”

In Jeremiah 31, God gave “Rachel” a prophesy but also gave her comfort. We assume that God only spoke to men such as Abraham, Yitskhak (Isaac) and Ya’akov but when we read Genesis closely, we see that God also spoke to Sarah, Rivkah and Rachel. 

Rachel’s tomb is about five miles north of Jerusalem, buried on a hill. She didn’t make it all the way to Beit Lekhem. 

Why was Rachel weeping? She was shown that someone would come that would try to kill the Messiah. She knew that if the Messiah was killed, that her children would be removed and have no hope. We can understand why Rachel suffered so much as she was in labor. It wasn’t a physical suffering but a spiritual suffering. So, it is no coincidence that the apostle Paul was from the tribe of ben-Yamin.

When Ya’akov wrestled the messenger from Heaven, Ya’akov was “converted.” Ya’akov was no longer “Ya’akov” but “Israel” from that point on, even though God would refer to him and his descendants by the former name from time to time. 

Then we read about Yitskhak’s death, Yitskhak was 180 when he died, so Ya’akov was 120 years old. That’s a large jump between Rachel’s death and Yitskhak’s death so we know that Ya’akov and his family lived in the Promised land for a long time. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.


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