Daily Word

Baby on the way | Genesis 35:16-22a

16 Leaving Bethel, Jacob and his clan moved on toward Ephrath. But Rachel went into labor while they were still some distance away. Her labor pains were intense. 17 After a very hard delivery, the midwife finally exclaimed, “Don’t be afraid—you have another son!” 18 Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni (which means “son of my sorrow”). The baby’s father, however, called him Benjamin (which means “son of my right hand”). 19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Jacob set up a stone monument over Rachel’s grave, and it can be seen there to this day.

21 Then Jacob traveled on and camped beyond Migdal-eder. 22 While he was living there, Reuben had intercourse with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and [Israel] soon heard about it.

Genesis 35:16-22a (NLT)

Move to Bethlehem

Jacob sets off with his clan from Bethel (house of God) toward Bethlehem (place of bread). God has met with him and blessed him and re-given him his new name. Jacob has responded in worship. But then, seemingly without any direction from the Lord, he decides to move to Bethlemen.

Baby on the way

Rachel, his “favorite wife”, for whom we worked 7 + 7 years for Laban, her dad, goes into labor on the way. She’s almost at menopause by this point, maybe 50+. It’s too much for her and she dies giving birth. But not before she gives her son a name. Names are very important in their culture (Jesus meaning Saviour). 

She calls him Ben-oni (son of sorrow) but Jacob doesn’t like that name so changes it to Benjamin (son of my right hand). Why? “Perhaps he simply prized Benjamin so greatly because he was the final link between him and the woman he most loved” (enduringword.com) And another monument is set up to remember Rachel. He doesn’t anoint it with oil or wine since it is not to God.

More sin

Reuben, the first-born, does the unthinkable. It’s way more than a “fly in the ointment”! It’s a grievous sin. Is it some sort of a curse – like on the family? We look back and see sexual sins have happened before with Noah’s son and Lot’s daughters. And this won’t be the end of it. Another son, Judah, sins prominently as well through trickery and untamed lust.

Note: In v22 his new name, Israel, is actually used. NLT uses Jacob so I edited it.


  • The name, “son of sorrows” seems fitting – not just for Rachel but also Jacob for Rachel is his beloved wife. But life goes on. So with us, when suffering and sorrow come, God knows and cares. He is the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our afflictions (2 Cor 1:3-5). But don’t “waste the suffering” and trials. Seek to learn and be formed into Christ by them. 

For more on generational curses, check out this link.

Older pregnant woman. Image from Pxfuel.com

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