Yawn, nothing to see here. Except for incest. But that’s old-hat in the Good Book.

After leaving the whole “is she a whore or a rape-victim” issue hanging, the Bible returns to banal discussions of land and blessings. The chapter starts with Kanye Jehovah referring to himself in the third person and making selfish demands:

1 And God saith unto Jacob, `Rise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there, and make there an altar to God, who appeared unto thee in thy fleeing from the face of Esau thy brother.’

Jacob tells everyone to get dressed, get their shit together and get ready to leave, but he also has to tell them to stash the other gods they apparently have hanging around.

`Turn aside the gods of the stranger which [are] in your midst, and cleanse yourselves, and change your garments;

If these people actually existed and the Bible actually chronicled real events, I would venture to say Jacob just lied to them, and that he was actually just bugging out with the stolen women and children before facing any retribution from other tribes. “God told us to leave” lets him save face better than “I’m scared, let’s leave with our slaves and stolen shit.” Indeed:

and they journey, and the terror of God is on the cities which [are] round about them, and they have not pursued after the sons of Jacob.

Jacob passes through Luz which already had its name changed back when he was fleeing like a bitch from his brother and saw the ladder to heaven, but he builds another altar and re-renames it anyway. Apparently the first renaming didn’t stick.

Then God gets into the re-renaming spirit and re-changes Jacob’s name to Israel, and re-promises him the stuff he already promised him. This is getting re-re-repetitive. I was being coy earlier, but now I really have lost count of covenants for land and babies.

When God leaves (which, remember, he can do even though he’s omnipresent), Jacob makes a suspiciously pagan-sounding monument to God:

14 And Jacob setteth up a standing pillar in the place where He hath spoken with him, a standing pillar of stone, and he poureth on it an oblation, and he poureth on it oil;

My research tells me this is called a massebah, which was a pagan Canaanite object of worship that was specifically outlawed elsewhere in the Torah:

You shall not make for yourselves any idols nor set up any statute or pillar; nor shall you place a carved stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God.                                                                                                  Leviticus 26:1

You shall not plant for yourself any tree or sacred pole beside the altar that you make for the Lord your God, nor shall you set up any stone pillar for yourself, since this is abhorrent to the Lord your God.                          Deuteronomy 16:21

Then, of course, he re-renames the place Bethel, because last time that renaming didn’t stick either. Rachel has another son, whom she names Ben-Oni, but she dies in childbirth and Jacob renames the kid Benjamin. Jacob erects another pagan pillar over her grave and we’re told that it is still standing “unto this day.” The narrator is unhelpfully silent on when he is writing.

Then, the story devolves into incest, as these Bible stories are wont to do. Jacob’s son Reuben bangs his father’s concubine Bilhah, who is basically his stepmother, which is met by the strangest response ever: complete silence.

22 and it cometh to pass in Israel’s dwelling in that land, that Reuben goeth, and lieth with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heareth.

That’s…it? He hears about it? Neither Jacob nor the narrator want to comment on that union? Dan and Naphtali…you guys want to object to your half-brother fucking your mother? Nope? All righty then.

The chapter lays out Jacob’s family tree

Leah: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun

Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin

Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali

Zilpah: Gad and Asher

Then we get an extremely unexpected surprise: the death of Isaac. I had assumed that he was long dead, but verses 27 through 29 give a terse and unexceptional report on the death of Isaac at 180 years old. I find it very strange that Isaac had absolutely no involvement in any of these affairs, and that he wasn’t even mentioned at all for several chapters. He was supposed to be at death’s door when he gave the blessing to Jacob instead of Esau, but then literally decades passed while the brothers feuded and built up armies and families and the old man was alive the whole time. Why was his inheritance such a big fucking deal if he was still alive? If he was such an important figure, why does no one give a shit what he was doing for thiry-odd years? Very bizarre.

GENESIS 35

1 And God saith unto Jacob, `Rise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there, and make there an altar to God, who appeared unto thee in thy fleeing from the face of Esau thy brother.’

And Jacob saith unto his household, and unto all who [are] with him, `Turn aside the gods of the stranger which [are] in your midst, and cleanse yourselves, and change your garments;

and we rise, and go up to Bethel, and I make there an altar to God, who is answering me in the day of my distress, and is with me in the way that I have gone.’

And they give unto Jacob all the gods of the stranger that [are] in their hand, and the rings that [are] in their ears, and Jacob hideth them under the oak which [is] by Shechem;

and they journey, and the terror of God is on the cities which [are] round about them, and they have not pursued after the sons of Jacob.

And Jacob cometh in to Luz which [is] in the land of Canaan (it [is] Bethel), he and all the people who [are] with him,

and he buildeth there an altar, and proclaimeth at the place the God of Bethel: for there had God been revealed unto him, in his fleeing from the face of his brother.

And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, dieth, and she is buried at the lower part of Bethel, under the oak, and he calleth its name `Oak of weeping.’

And God appeareth unto Jacob again, in his coming from Padan-Aram, and blesseth him;

10 and God saith to him, `Thy name [is] Jacob: thy name is no more called Jacob, but Israel is thy name;’ and He calleth his name Israel.

11 And God saith to him, `I [am] God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply, a nation and an assembly of nations is from thee, and kings from thy loins go out;

12 and the land which I have given to Abraham and to Isaac — to thee I give it, yea to thy seed after thee I give the land.’

13 And God goeth up from him, in the place where He hath spoken with him.

14 And Jacob setteth up a standing pillar in the place where He hath spoken with him, a standing pillar of stone, and he poureth on it an oblation, and he poureth on it oil;

15 and Jacob calleth the name of the place where God spake with him Bethel.

16 And they journey from Bethel, and there is yet a kibrath of land before entering Ephratha, and Rachel beareth, and is sharply pained in her bearing;

17 and it cometh to pass, in her being sharply pained in her bearing, that the midwife saith to her, `Fear not, for this also [is] a son for thee.’

18 And it cometh to pass in the going out of her soul (for she died), that she calleth his name Ben-Oni; and his father called him Benjamin;

19 and Rachel dieth, and is buried in the way to Ephratha, which [is] Bethlehem,

20 and Jacob setteth up a standing pillar over her grave; which [is] the standing pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

21 And Israel journeyeth, and stretcheth out his tent beyond the tower of Edar;

22 and it cometh to pass in Israel’s dwelling in that land, that Reuben goeth, and lieth with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heareth.

23 And the sons of Jacob are twelve. Sons of Leah: Jacob’s first-born Reuben, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun.

24 Sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.

25 And sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid-servant: Dan and Naphtali.

26 And sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid-servant: Gad and Asher. These [are] sons of Jacob, who have been born to him in Padan-Aram.

27 And Jacob cometh unto Isaac his father, at Mamre, the city of Arba (which [is] Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac have sojourned.

28 And the days of Isaac are a hundred and eighty years,

29 and Isaac expireth, and dieth, and is gathered unto his people, aged and satisfied with days; and bury him do Esau and Jacob his sons.

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