9 Feb. Genesis 35:1-7

9 Feb. Jacob abandons the foreign gods

“God said to Jacob, ‘Go to the city of Bethel and live there. Make an altar to the God who appeared to you there when you were running away from your brother Esau.'”

“So Jacob said to his family and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods you have, and make yourselves clean, and change your clothes. We will leave here and go to Bethel. There I will build an altar to God, who has helped me during my time of trouble. He has been with me everywhere I have gone.’”

“So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had, and the earrings they were wearing, and he hid them under the great tree near the town of Shechem.”

“Then Jacob and his sons left there. But God caused the people in the nearby cities to be afraid, so they did not follow them. And Jacob and all the people who were with him went to Luz, which is now called Bethel, in the land of Canaan.”

“There Jacob built an altar and named the place Bethel, after God, because God had appeared to him there when he was running away from his brother.”

          (Genesis 35:1-7)



Shechem was a place with many local and imported deities that were worshipped by praying and sacrificing to idols – small models of the god, usually carved in wood or cast in bronze, and sometimes covered in gold. So God sent Jacob to Bethel (the site of Jacob's dream - see Genesis 28:12-17) to escape from the worship of these foreign gods.

Before leaving Shechem, Jacob ordered his family to collect together all the idols, and he buried all these foreign gods that his wives had brought from Haran under an oak tree.

Jacob arrived at Bethel (meaning ‘house of God’, and previously called Luz) and built an altar to God called ‘El Bethel’ (the ‘God of Bethel’).

The site of Bethel is now occupied by the Palestinian West Bank village of Beitin, on the outskirts of Al-Bireh, 3 miles / 5 km to the north east of Ramallah. Beitin was a prosperous town during Roman times, and still contains the remains of a Byzantine monastery built to commemorate Jacob’s dream.

Remains of an ancient tower now mark the spot where it’s believed Jacob had his vision of a ladder leading up to heaven and where, earlier, Abraham had built an altar on his journey south from Shechem to the Negev Desert (see Genesis 12:8-9).

The photo (by Pessimist2006) shows the site of Bethel (Luz) in the Judaean Hills.

You can read more about Jacob at Bethel @ The Bible Journey | God blesses Jacob at Bethel

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