Daily Word

Merciful protection | Genesis 35:5-8

5 And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, 7 and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. 8 And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So he called its name Allon-bacuth.

Genesis 35:5-8 (ESV)

Merciful protection

After the events related to Jacob’s son’s atrocity, Jacob predicted (v30) that the surrounding peoples would hear about it and seek vengeance. God knew this as well and called Jacob to get out and move to Bethel. But it wasn’t just to save their skins, for God could do that anywhere Jacob was. It was to lead Jacob back to Himself, as we discussed yesterday . On the way back, God mercifully protected Jacob and his clan. How? He simply put a terror in the people around them – possibly similar to what Laban had when he chased after Jacob after Jacob secretly fled. 

“It was dangerous for Jacob to set out to Bethel, but it was more dangerous for him to disobey God. The only thing that could save him was a radical obedience to the LORD. No matter what the circumstances look like, the safest thing to do is the will of God.” (enduringword.com)

Altar at Bethel

They arrive safely at Bethel (“house of God”). Jacob builds an altar as God had instructed him. He has finally returned to where he first set out. More importantly, he has returned to the Lord. No, he won’t be a holy saint from this time forth. But he has returned and the relationship has been restored.

Rebekah’s nurse

Where did this come from? Rebekah, we remember, was Jacob’s mom. How did her nurse get into the story line? Maybe she went with Jacob to seek a wife from Laban. We don’t know. It’s possible it’s a way of letting us know Rebekah has died, since there is no mention of her death. After her deception of Isaac, she drops from the story line.


  • How has the Lord shown you merciful protection? When did you see Him providing for your needs – even when you didn’t ask, or didn’t know, or didn’t deserve it.
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