Coming Before Elohim

Genesis 35:2, Foreign gods. Heb. teraphim. (See notes at Gen 31:19.) The necessary prerequisites to coming up to Bethel (Heb. the house of El/God) included: the putting away of the pagan idols that were among Jacob’s family members, purifying or cleansing oneself (physically and ceremonially), and changing into clean clothing (v. 2), removing jewelry with any pagan connotations (v. 4).

Bethel, according to the Jewish sages, was where the Temple of Solomon was eventually built (i.e., the Temple Mount).

Because of this act of consecration, “the terror/fear of Elohim” came upon the Canaanite inhabitants of surrounding region (v. 5).

What is the lesson here? There are two. When coming into the presence of Elohim, we would be prudent to consecrate ourselves, for Elohim is in heaven, and we are on earth; therefore, let us be careful not to offer up the sacrifice of fools (see Eccl 5:1–2). And then, let us walk righteously and cleanly before Elohim, devoid of all pagan appearances and practices, and uncleanliness of all kind, including coming before him unbathed and wearing dirty clothing.