Chapter 30

  • Rachel was jealous of Leah because she was unable to have children herself. Rachel told Jacob, “Give me sons or I will die!”

  • This made Jacob very angry and he responded, “Am I God? He is the one who has not allowed you to have children.”

  • So, Rachel gave Jacob her slave Bilhah as his wife so that she could bear children in her place.

  • Bilhah bore a son and Rachel named him Dan saying that God had heard her and vindicated her.

  • Bilhah bore a second son which Rachel named Naphtali, saying that she had wrestled with her sister and won.

    • “Can a woman get so low that she will hit her sister over the head with a baby? Rachel did.” (Barnhouse)

  • Leah, seeing that she was no longer able to have children, gave her slave Zilpah to Jacob so that she could have more sons through her.

  • Zilpah bore a son which Leah named Gad, meaning “good fortune”. Zilpah then bore Asher, which means “happy”.

    • Guzik points out that apparently Leah had lost her “peace” that she had once found after the birth of her fourth son. Now it seems that she is playing a who can have the most children game. “Jacob’s eighth son, born to him through Zilpah the maid of Leah, was named Asher, meaning Happy. Leah was more concerned about the status the child would bring her (all the daughters will call me blessed) than about the child himself.”

  • Leah’s son Reuben brought her some mandrakes that he had found during the wheat harvest. Rachel saw them and asked Leah if she could have some.

  • Leah responded, “First you took my husband and now you want my mandrakes?” To which Rachel replied, “If you’ll give me some mandrakes, you can sleep with Jacob tonight.”

    • “The hostility between Leah and Rachel was as obvious as it was painful. It must have been terrible living in a home where one wife believed the other had stolen her husband from her. This confirms the wisdom of God’s original plan, as expressed in Genesis 2:24: one man to be joined to one woman in a one-flesh relationship. Later, Leviticus 18:18 forbade the marrying of sisters, and this shows why.” (Guzik)

  • When Jacob came in from the field that night Leah met him and told him that he had to spend the night with her that night because she had traded Rachel mandrakes in return for him.

    • NLT Illustrated Study Bible supplies an interesting bit of information regarding the mandrake, “Mandrakes were considered an aphrodisiac and aid to procreation (see Song 7:13). Rachel thought they would help her get pregnant and so traded Jacob for a night to get them. In the process, Leah got pregnant, not Rachel.”

Mandrakes
  • Indeed, Leah conceived, and had another son which she named Issachar- saying that God had rewarded her for giving her slave to Jacob.

  • Leah then had another son which she named Zebulun, saying that surely this time Jacob would respect her since she had given him six sons.

  • Leah, then bore her last child- a daughter that she named Dinah.

  • God remembered Rachel’s pain and answered her prayers by allowing her to conceive another son which she named Joseph, meaning “May the Lord give me another son”. Rachel felt that God had removed her shame.

Jacob’s Flocks Multiply

    • After Joseph was born, Jacob went to Laban and told him to allow him to return to his homeland with his family.

    • But Laban asked Jacob to stay, saying that he had learned by divination that the Lord had blessed him because of Jacob. Laban told Jacob that he would pay him whatever wage he named.

      • Divination is an occult practice. Apparently this was the source of Laban’s information.

    • Jacob agrees that that the Lord has blessed Laban through him because he had very little before he arrived, but now his herds have grown and he has become wealthy. But he asks Laban, “When should I start providing for my own family?”

    • Jacob agreed to stay and shepherd Laban’s flocks. For wages, he would keep every sheep that was speckled or spotted. He then went through the flocks and separated out all the speckled and spotted sheep. This would also serve as a testimony to his honestly. If any of Jacob’s flock were not speckled, spotted, or black, they would be considered stolen.

    • Laban heartily agreed to this proposition. That very day he separated the flocks and put his sons in charge of the spotted, streaked, and black sheep. He then sent Jacob and the rest of his flock a three days journey away.

      • “This was an agreeable deal to both parties. First, it was a foolproof way to distinguish between the flocks of Laban and Jacob. As well, Laban liked the deal because the odds were stacked in his favor. Jacob may have proposed in this arrangement because he was willing to trust in God.” (Guzik) The odds were stacked in Laban’s favor because the gene for dark or spotted sheep is recessive.

    • Jacob took branches from poplar, almond, and chestnut trees and peeled the bark off leaving a striped pattern. He put these branches in the sheep’s watering trough and they bred when they came to drink. The flock that bred in front of the branches all bore streaked and spotted babies. He removed these sheep and kept them separate from Laban’s flocks.

    • Jacob then began to separate the stronger of the stock from the weaker. When the stronger stock came to the troughs for water, he would place the branches in front of them and they would breed. But when the weaker sheep came to drink Jacob didn’t put out the branches and they didn’t breed. This resulted in Jacob’s flock being stronger and Laban’s being weaker. Jacob became very rich having many flocks, slaves, camels, and donkeys.

      • You science buffs may be wondering if this scenario is possible (not the sticks determining sheep color- God tells Jacob in later verses that He made the spotted males breed with the females Himself), the number of sheep considering dark or spotted genes in sheep are recessive. How could Jacob’s flocks have grown to outnumber Laban’s flocks which would have been dominate genetically? I stumbled upon this interesting paper titled, A Mendelian Interpretation of Jacob’s Sheep that those with inquiring scientific minds might want to check out. For the rest of us, I’ll skip the research and note the conclusion, “It has been shown that contained in the sheep left by Laban in Jacob’s keeping were sufficient recessive black genes to produce enough black rams to undertake a selective breeding programme. It is unnecessary to assume that such a procedure is a modern innovation. It has been shown that such a programme would produce a flock of predominantly black animals in a period of five years. In the period of six years in which the flock was in Jacob’s keeping, Jacob would acquire most of Laban’s flock.”

      • Guzik makes an important point, “God blessed Jacob, but it was not because Jacob was especially good. It was because of the promises God made to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15) and the covenant made to Abraham…In the same way, blessing comes from the Lord to us not because we are great or good, but because of the covenant God has made with us through Jesus, and promises He has given us in His word.”