The Promise Confirmed
“God said to him, ‘I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you’” (Gen. 35:11–12).- Genesis 35:9–12
We are going to take a closer look at Genesis 35:8 before we jump into today’s passage. Deborah, the nurse (nanny) who had long cared for Rebekah, died soon after Jacob returned to Bethel and was buried under an oak tree he named Allon-bacuth, or, “oak of weeping.” In the ancient Near East, oaks were often chosen as places to build shrines, and God’s people also followed this practice (12:6–7; 13:18). Commemorating Deborah with an oak tree indicates that she was dearly loved and would be sorely missed. Deborah would have been quite elderly when she died and was a woman of great faith who, like Abraham, left her home for a strange land (12:1–4; 24:52–61).
Rebekah’s death, and burial, is not chronicled here, probably because she died before Jacob returned to Canaan. She is the only matriarch whose interment is not recorded, and thus we ought to take note. Rebekah had faith, but she sinned when she deceived Isaac (chap. 27). Commentators believe Moses did not document Rebekah’s death, a holy and solemn occasion in ancient Israel (Ps. 116:15), to demonstrate the Lord’s displeasure with her.
Rebekah’s fallen nature is tied to Adam’s transgression, through which sin and death enslaved mankind. Since Adam, a man, ruined God’s good creation, another Adam, a man, must crush Satan and vanquish evil from the universe (Gen. 3:14–15; Rom. 5:12–21). Salvation is an undoing of Adam’s fall and finally results in a people who will do what Adam failed to do: rule over the earth in holiness.
This need for a second Adam has been clear since his fall. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and their offspring are all commanded to multiply and take dominion as God’s royal representatives just as Adam was (9:1–7; 22:15–19; 26:1–5). In today’s passage, our Father repeats these injunctions to Isaac’s son, Israel, ordering him to multiply and produce kingly descendants to rule over a good land (35:9–12). In short, the Lord tells Jacob to be a new Adam.
All of the aforementioned “Adams” failed, and thereby our Father shows us that only a perfect man can undo Adam’s fall. This flawless One is the God-man Christ Jesus (Rom. 5:18–21).
Secular psychology has rightly caused many believers to be wary of the emphasis on “self-esteem” found in many areas of life today. However, while secular attempts to improve one’s self-image are questionable at best, there is in Scripture a high dignity given to mankind, especially those who trust in Christ. In Jesus, we can fulfill our original mandate to rule wisely over the earth in righteousness. What can give us greater feeling of self-worth than that?
Passages for Further Study