Sunday, February 13, 2011

Genesis 35:9-15 Reconfirmation

"After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him.  God said to him, 'Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.'  So he named him Israel." (Genesis 35:9-10 NIV)

God had already renamed Jacob after their wrestling match  (Genesis 32:28).  Here He reconfirms the name change.  God also reconfirms the covenant:

"And God said to him,

'I am God Almighty;
be fruitful and increase in number.
A nation and a community of nations will come from you,
and kings will come from your body.
The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you,
and I will give this land to your descendants after you.'

Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him."
(Genesis 35:11-13 NIV)

Some observations:
  • God tells Jacob to be fruitful and increase in number.  As this is not something which Jacob can accomplish on his own, I assume this is God's way of proclaiming to Jacob that He will bless Jacob and his descendants with fruitfulness.
  • This promise of fruitfulness recalls the blessing which God pronounced upon Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28) and also which He renewed to Noah after the flood was over (Genesis 9:1,7).
  • Both a nation and a community of nations are supposed to come from Jacob.  What does 'a community of nations' mean?  It could be that it should read 'a nation, even a community of nations'.  At any rate, the idea of greatly increased numbers is clear.
  • God explicitly says Jacob and his descendants are given the same land He gave to Abraham and Isaac.

"Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.  Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel." (Genesis 35:14-15 NIV)

Jacob had already built an altar at Bethel.  (Genesis 12:7) Setting up of the stone pillar now is a reconfirmation of the fact that the God of Bethel is his God.  Lots of reconfirming going on in this portion of Scripture: of Jacob's name, of the blessing of fruitfulness, of the promise of the land, of Jacob's acknowledgment that the God of Bethel was his God as well. 

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