After building an altar to YAHWEH in Bethel, Jacob and his entourage proceeded on their journey back home. Just before Ephrath "... Rachael travailed, and she had hard labour." (Genesis 35:16). Rachael, despite assurances from the midwife that she will "... have this son also" (v.17), died after birthing her second son, but not before naming him BENONI meaning "Son Of My Sorrow" in Hebrew, considering the circumstances of his birth. Jacob however, opted to call him BENJAMIN (Son Of My Right Hand), as most Jewish parents are wont to call their last sons. In a time, and culture where the meaning of one's name could go as far as determining the one's destiny and future, one could infer that in renaming Rachael's son, Jacob did the kid a huge favour, such that he wouldn't always have to be reminded that his mother died birthing him, whenever someone calls his name; even though changing his name doesn't necessarily mean that the circumstances of his birth wouldn't haunt him, should he live amongst hateful persons, including amongst kith and kin, like it was for Tyrion Lannister in the fictional TV series, GAME OF THRONES. What is there to grab from here, you might ask? It is that, the fact that one is YAHWEH's beloved, doesn't mean that untoward things may not happen to the person. Indeed, Jacob was YAHWEH's beloved, Rachel was Jacob's true love, and her death was going to be hurtful to him, yet she died. This is very instructive, when you consider that we live in a time, when and where success in any and every endeavour of life, is ascribed to mean that one is in good stead with his creator. And in contrast when things go awry, it is considered to mean that one has fallen out of favour with HIM, or that the devil is hard at work, and he and his human cohorts must be crushed by sending "holy ghost fire" to consume them. There's no thought given to the fact, that this is life, and life happens to people, regardless of belief or faith, these days. It is this lack of understanding, that have led people to see challenges not as something to be experienced, but rather wished or prayed away, and would have them go to any length to deal with challenge or problem, as the case may be, even when such challenges are such for which a solution is farfetched to near impossible. In saying this, I'm mindful not to state what many may consider blasphemous, while reminding them that it can also be akin to blasphemy to "test" YAHWEH Almighty. (See Deuteronomy 6:16 and Matthew 4:7). Rachael was buried "... in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachael's grave unto this day." (Genesis 35:19-20). It must've been a very trying time for Jacob, seeing that all that he'd become and achieved was borne out of the love he first had for Rachael, and to now have to see her go the way she did, without actually enjoying the peace that returning home with Jacob could've afforded her, must've broken his heart to shreds. I suppose that the grief Jacob must've been under, left him speechless, when he became aware that his first son, "... Reuben went and lay with Bilhah (Rachael's handmaid) his father's concubine" (v.22), that he didn't immediately react on hearing about it, only to do that at a much later time, in such a way that foreboded weightier consequences for his sons' action (Genesis 49:3-4). The birth of Benjamin (the second of Rachael's sons after Joseph), brought the number of Jacob's sons to twelve, and of course one daughter in Dinah. By the time Jacob eventually returned to his father, Isaac "... unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned" (v.27), Isaac was well advanced in age, at a hundred and eighty years, "... and Isaac breathed his last, and died" (v. 29), much like the only desire that kept him that long, was to see his son return alive to him; for which he was apparently rewarded far more than he bargained for, in the number of grandchildren, and wealth, amongst others that Jacob returned home with. The blessings spoken of by YAHWEH, to Abraham, to him, and by implication, to Jacob (Israel), against his wishes (in desiring Esau) must have at the point of meeting Jacob, made sense to him. He therefore must've died happily in the understanding of the mysterious ways in which YAHWEH works. To cap his joy, his sons were no longer feuding (unlike what obtained earlier on, when Esau's plan was to await his father's demise, to have Jacob killed after the days of mourning for their father were over - Genesis 27:41), but rather "... his sons Esau and Jacob buried him" (Genesis 35:29). Thus YAHWEH fulfilled his purpose in the life of Isaac, and went as far as ensuring that he lived to witness the beginning of it. HE literally moved mountains in bringing about his purpose to come to pass in the life of Jacob, many times against the wishes of Jacob himself, that's why when things don't always go my way, I elect not to fret much over it, considering that YAHWEH's purpose for me, must mean more for me than the loss or disappointment I must endure in the short term. It's not always as easy, as I've just put it, because it hurts, but I soon get over it, just like you would too, if you find yourself in such situations, as it's the most rational to do, if in the end, all of this living and learning is to make sense, like it eventually did for Isaac, and became so much so clearer for Jacob. Shalom! 'kovich REFERENCE: – Genesis Chapter 35 Verse 16 - 29, THE SACRED SCRIPTURES (Bethel Edition), An Assemblies of Yahweh ®, Publication, © 1981 (Fourth Printing, 1993). PICTURE CREDIT: - BIBLE STORIES (48): JACOB RETURNS HOME TO ISAAC