Genesis 35

Jacob Moves to Bethel

35 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau [There must be several gods because the one issuing instructions here is not the one who appeared to him when he was fleeing from his brother].” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; and let us arise and go up to Bethel [you remember Genesis 13 and 28 we were introduced to a place by the same name. I don’t know whether we are still at the same place or there are several Bethel], and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods [my question still is, why had this god to appear to selectively? Wouldn’t be better if he appeared to everyone at once so no one would keep other gods?] which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem [in the last chapter, Shechem was a young man who violated Dinah and got the whole city killed, when did the transformation from person to a place occur? ].

As they journeyed, there was a great terror upon the cities which were around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob [did Jake still anything or why would someone want to pursue them?]. So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. He built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel [why rename a place that already has a name? Is he going to be renaming every place a god appears to him?], because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother. Now Deborah, Rebekah’s[just in case you forgot, Rebekah is Isaac’s wife] nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; it was named Allon-bacuth [oak of weeping].

Jacob Is Named Israel

Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. 10 God said to him,

“Your name is Jacob;
You shall no longer be called Jacob,
But Israel shall be your name.”

Thus He called him Israel [if he has just been named thus, then to what or whom does Israel refer in the previous chapter?]. 11 God also said to him,

“I am God Almighty;
Be fruitful and multiply;
A nation and a company of nations shall come from you,
And kings shall come forth from you.

12 “The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac,
I will give it to you,
And I will give the land to your descendants after you [has the land fallen to possession of others not of Abraham and Isaac?].”

13 Then God went up from him in the place where He had spoken with him [I hope we are all agreed that this god at least ain’t omnipresent, since if he goes from place to place then where he leaves is basically without god]. 14 Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel [Please tell me, I thought we have a place called Bethel? Why keep renaming places with the same name? This reminds me of  a fun mail I read a while ago about an Indian family living in the US of A writing to their son in India and telling him they moved 10 miles closer to the city and have moved with their old address & are waiting for the previous owners to remove their address so they can put theirs! How will he even trace their new home? ].

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and she suffered severe labor. 17 When she was in severe labor the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for now you have another son.” 18 It came about as her soul was departing (for she died),[I don’t know the pains of child-birth nor how it feels to die since these are two things I haven’t experienced, but tell me who when they are in pain and dying would think about naming a child?] that she named him Ben-oni[ son of my sorrow]; but his father called him Benjamin[son of my strength]. 19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Jacob set up a pillar over her grave; that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day [if you should see this pillar in your travels, please be kind to share the photos with me!] . 21 Then Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.

22 It came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine, and Israel heard of it [Seriously! He heard it and that’s it?].

The Sons of Israel

Now there were twelve sons of Jacob— 23 the sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, then Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Zebulun; 24 the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin; 25 and the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali; 26 and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram [Benjamin wasn’t born in Paddan-aram, unless the sribe here has not read the preceding verses!].

27 Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.

28 Now the days of Isaac were one hundred and eighty years. 29 Isaac breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, an old man of ripe age; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him [Our cardboard character, Isaac, finally takes his last at 180 years. There is a problem here though, many chapters earlier, the limit for a man’s life had been put at 120 years and as have said in many places, the many scribes involved in compiling this document didn’t care for consistency or accuracy. Where does Esau come into the picture? The brothers are living apart from each other!].

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Genesis 34

The Treachery of Jacob’s Sons

Being a beautiful woman in the bible has now just become a terrible thing. Dinah, Leah’s daughter is forcefully kidnapped and raped by Shechem who after the rape swears she is in love and would want to have her hand in marriage. 

34 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force. He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her[when did one rape a person they claim to love?]. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young girl for a wife[does his father condone rape? I think this time you beat the hell out of your son for bringing disrepute to the family name! Where are the human right activists, I don’t hear you!].” Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in. Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him[I don’t think this father has daughters! If he had, I don’t think Shechem would have seen the light of day]. Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.[the scribe here is using Israel and Jacob alternately one time to refer to an individual and another to a people, though I don’t think at this particular time there are people known as Israelites]

But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage. Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 Thus you shall live with us, and the land shall be open before you; live and trade in it and acquire property in it.” 11 Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “If I find favor in your sight, then I will give whatever you say to me. 12 Ask me ever so much bridal payment and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; but give me the girl in marriage [what nonsense is this? How does a father even have such an audacity to ask for the price of a young girl who has been violated without showing how he intends to deal with his sons? This is just crazy and if this is what a god inspires then by all means let me read Ludlum and Dickens]”

13 But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor with deceit, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15 Only on this condition will we consent to you: if you will become like us, in that every male of you be circumcised, 16 then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters for ourselves, and we will live with you and become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us to be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go[ This is letting them go so lightly! This is the height of misogyny].”

18 Now their words seemed reasonable to Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son. 19 The young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter. Now he was more respected than all the household of his father[Is he respected for the rape or for getting the girl? or both?]. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying[ is theirs the first family? on whose authority do they gather people at the city gates if there indeed is any city with gates?], 21 “These men are friendly with us; therefore let them live in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters in marriage, and give our daughters to them. 22 Only on this condition will the men consent to us to live with us, to become one people: that every male among us be circumcised as they are circumcised[how does the other city residents benefit? it’s only Shechem who wants a wife from Jake’s family why force everyone to get circumcised?23 Will not their livestock and their property and all their animals be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will live with us.” 24 All who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city [there was dissenting opinion if the commentary in The Legend of The Jews is to be believed]

25 Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares, and killed every male [in the Legend of the Jews the two brothers slaughtered 645 men, 276 boys women and took 45 men as slaves. For the sake of argument, a city should have some type of army, how could two young men decimate every male in the city without facing any resistance?] .26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth. 27 Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and looted the city, because they had defiled their sister. 28 They took their flocks and their herds and their donkeys, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field; 29 and they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives, even all that was in the houses. 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I will be destroyed, I and my household.” 31 But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot? [why plunder the city? is this not a case of over reacting. They welcomed the offending family to their home, they had an opportunity to deal with the matter then. What business have the others to do with all this that warrant their being killed?]”