Genesis 35:1-5 Back to Bethel


God told Jacob to go back to Bethel and build an altar to the Lord.  Before the journey, Jacob made his household fix up some things to prepare them for Bethel, “the house of God.”  He told them to:


Put Away the Strange Gods (v.2)

Comparing this passage with Gen. 31:30, it looks like Jacob found out that his family was traveling with images.  He knew God wouldn’t approve of them.  The reason for getting rid of the strange gods is obvious from all of the scripture forbidding men to have any other gods before the Lord.


  • Ex. 20:3 – Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  • Ex. 20:23 – Neither gods of silver nor gods of gold.
  • Ex. 23:13 – Make no mention of the name of other gods.
  • Ex. 23:24 – Break down their images.
  • Ex. 23:33 – They make thee sin against me … it will surely be a snare unto thee.
  • Ex. 32:1-6 – They ended up making and worshiping the golden calf.


Putting away the strange gods pictures for Christians the need to serve God only.


  • 1 Jn 3:10 – We became children of God and were no longer children of the devil.
  • 1 Thes. 1:9 – We turned to God from idols.
  • Acts 26:18 – We turned from the power of Satan unto God.


Be Clean (v.2)

This is like Ex. 19:10, when the Jews had to be sanctified to meet God.  The reason for getting clean is that God is holy and he distinguishes between the clean and the unclean (Lev. 19:2; Lev. 11).  Getting clean pictures for Christians the need to be separated.


  • Jn 15:3 – Ye are clean through the word.
  • Eph. 5:26 – The church is sanctified and cleansed by the word.
  • Jn 17:17 – Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
  • 2 Cor. 6:17 – Be ye separate … and touch not the unclean thing.


Change Garments (v.2)

Changing garments is like what the priests did when they sacrificed before God in the temple or the tabernacle (Lev. 16:4, 23-24).  Jacob was going to build an altar and they were going to worship, so they had to change garments.


  • Zech. 3:3-5 – Joshua had to change garments.
  • Mark 5:15 – The naked demon-possessed man was found “clothed” after the devils were cast out.
  • Jn. 20:6-7 – Jesus changed clothes after his crucifixion and resurrection, before ascending to heaven to meet God.
  • Heb. 1:10-12 – This universe will change clothes when God reveals himself.


Changing garments pictures for Christians the need for a brand new body before we meet the Lord in the air (2 Cor. 5:2-4; 1 Thes. 4:13-19; 1 Cor. 15:50-55).


Get Rid of Their Earrings (v.4)

Earrings were not only ornamental, but they were also indicative of slavery or bondage.  Jacob didn’t want his family yielded to anyone else but God.


  • Jud. 8:24 – Ishmaelites (from Abram & Hagar’s son Ishmael) wore earrings.
  • Gal. 4:22-24 – Ishmael allegorically represents bondage.
  • Ex. 21:6 – A servant desiring to remain in service to his master had his ear pierced with an aul (Deut. 15:17).


Getting rid of the earrings pictures for the Christian the need to freely serve Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:12-18) and not to yield to sin.