Genesis 35 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Genesis 35 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.

2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.

(35:5) "The terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them."
What the Bible says about terrorism
The phrase “terror of God” doesn't mean God terrorised these cities. But only that they were afraid to attack Jacob.

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.

(35:6-7) "So Jacob came to Luz ... and called the place Elbethel."
When did Jacob rename Luz to Bethel?

7 And he built there an altar, and called the place El-beth-el: 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 Allon-bachuth.

9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan-aram, and blessed him.

(35:9) "God appeared unto Jacob again."
God meets with Jacob so often that he's becoming a bit of a pest.
Can God be seen?
Let me rephrase this slightly, to make clear how nonsensical this barb is: The author of the SAB's wife meets with him so often that she's becoming a bit of a pest.

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.

(35:10) "Thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name."
God names Jacob Israel for the second time. (See 32:28 for the first naming.)
He says that Jacob will no longer be called Jacob. Yet Jacob is still called Jacob in the Bible, and even God calls him Jacob in 46:2.
Israel did not replace Jacob, but it is the most common name used. But as Israel became also the name of the nation, the name Jacob is quite helpful as a literary device.
This second naming is a confirmation of the first, as happens more often in the Bible, and in this chapter, see verse 15.

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.

(35:15) "And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel."
Jacob names Bethel again.
(The first time 28:19 the name didn't stick.)
Jacob reaffirms the name, see chapter 28:19.

16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.

17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.

(35:17-19) "And Rachel died."
Rachel dies in childbirth; but at least she had another son. And in the Bible, a woman is expected to die happily as long as she has a son.
Rachel didn't see it the way the author of the SAB claims she did or should as she called her son Ben-oni which means son of my sorrow or son of my morning.

18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin.

19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.

20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.

22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:

(35:22) "Reuben went and lay with his father's concubine."

23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and 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 handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:

26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padan-aram.

27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.

28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.

(35:28) "And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years."
Isaac lived to be 180.
And the author of the SAB was there and can tell us this did not happen.

29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.