Levirate marriage is the practice of a man marrying the widow of his deceased brother, if she had no children (38:8). A child of this second marriage would provide security for the widow and would carry on the name of the deceased brother.
A costly demonstration of grief. The Hebrew custom of tearing one’s garments (37:29, 34) was an expression of grief, often after learning of the death of a loved one. It would surely have had great significance in a day when most people owned very few items of clothing.
A long walk! Jacob sent Joseph to see how his brothers were doing, as they tended their sheep (37:14). Joseph headed northward, probably walking, and didn’t find his brothers until he came to Dothan (v. 17). The journey would have been more than 50 miles (80 km)!
Terebinths are huge, spreading trees that grow to a height of 20–26 feet (6–8 m). They have reddish-green leaves and red berries that grow in clusters. A perfumed, oily resin flows out of the bark when it is cut. Terebinths grow in hot, dry places, and were thus a source of welcome shade to the people of the Bible (35:4; Hos. 4:13).
Why was Laban so upset when his household gods were stolen? Household gods (31:30) had a more practical use than just idol worship. They served as titles of ownership to one’s property and inheritance.