Marriages, Family Trouble, and Commercial Success
Genesis 29 – 30
- Tension between Jacob and Laban (29:1:30)
- Child-bearing contest (29:31 – 30:24)
- Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah Born to Leah (vv.31-35)
- Dan and Naphtali Born to Bilhah, Rachel’s Handmaid (vv.1-8)
- Gad and Asher Born to Zilpah, Leah’s Handmaid (vv.9-13)
- The Use of Mandrakes in the Contest (vv.14-16)
- Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah Born to Leah (vv.17-21)
- Joseph Born to Rachel, with the Promise of another Son (vv.22-24)
- Jacob increases his flocks and herds (30:25-43)
Tension between Jacob and Laban (29:1:30)
Jacob meets Laban, Contracts with Him for Rachel (vv.1-20)
1 And Jacob continued his journey, and went into the land of the children of the east. 2 And he looked, and behold, there was a well in the fields, and behold there, three flocks of sheep were lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks, and a great stone was at the mouth of the well. 3 And when all the flocks were gathered there, they rolled the stone from the mouth of the well, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again on the mouth of the well in its place. 4 And Jacob said to them, My brethren, whence are ye? And they said, Of Haran are we. 5 And he said to them, Do ye know Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We do know him. 6 And he said to them, Is he well? And they said, He is well; and behold, there comes Rachel his daughter with the sheep. 7 And he said, Behold, it is yet high day; it is not time that the cattle should be gathered together; water the sheep, and go, feed them. 8 And they said, We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well, and we water the sheep. 9 While he was still speaking to them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 And it came to pass when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well, and watered the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was a brother of her father, and that he was Rebecca’s son; and she ran and told her father. 13 And it came to pass when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house; and he told Laban all these things. 14 And Laban said to him, Thou art indeed my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him a month’s time. 15 And Laban said to Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou serve me for nothing? tell me, what shall be thy wages? 16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger, Rachel. 17 And the eyes of Leah were tender; but Rachel was of beautiful form and beautiful countenance. 18 And Jacob loved Rachel, and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. 19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. 20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they were in his eyes as single days, because he loved her.
Jacob tricked by Laban (vv.21-29)
21 And Jacob said to Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her. 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in to her. 24 And Laban gave to her Zilpah, his maidservant, to be maidservant to Leah his daughter. 25 And it came to pass in the morning, that behold, it was Leah. And he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done to me? Have I not served thee for Rachel? Why then hast thou deceived me? 26 And Laban said, It is not so done in our place, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Fulfil the week with this one: then we will give thee the other one also, for the service that thou shalt serve me yet seven other years. 28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled the week with this one, and he gave him Rachel his daughter to be his wife. 29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter, Bilhah, his maidservant, to be her maidservant.
Favoritism for Rachel (v.30)
30 And he went in also to Rachel; and he loved also Rachel more than Leah. And he served with him yet seven other years.
Child-bearing contest (29:31 – 30:24)
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah Born to Leah (vv.31-35)
31 And when Jehovah saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived, and bore a son, and called his name Reuben; for she said, Because Jehovah has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me. 33 And she again conceived, and bore a son, and said, Because Jehovah has heard that I am hated, he has therefore given me this one also; and she called his name Simeon. 34 And she again conceived, and bore a son, and said, Now this time will my husband be united to me, for I have borne him three sons; therefore was his name called Levi. 35 And she again conceived, and bore a son, and said, This time will I praise Jehovah; therefore she called his name Judah. And she ceased to bear.
Dan and Naphtali Born to Bilhah, Rachel’s Handmaid (vv.1-8)
1 And when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. 2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who has withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? 3 And she said, Behold, there is my maid, Bilhah: go in to her, in order that she may bear on my knees, and I may also be built up by her. 4 And she gave him Bilhah her maidservant as wife, and Jacob went in to her.
5 And Bilhah conceived, and bore Jacob a son. 6 And Rachel said, God has done me justice, and has also heard my voice, and given me a son; therefore she called his name Dan. 7 And Bilhah Rachel’s maidservant again conceived, and bore Jacob a second son. 8 And Rachel said, Wrestlings of God have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed; and she called his name Naphtali.
Gad and Asher Born to Zilpah, Leah’s Handmaid (vv.9-13)
9 And when Leah saw that she had ceased to bear, she took Zilpah her maidservant and gave her to Jacob as wife. 10 And Zilpah Leah’s maidservant bore Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, Fortunately! and she called his name Gad.
12 And Zilpah Leah’s maidservant bore Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, Happy am I; for the daughters will call me blessed! and she called his name Asher.
The Use of Mandrakes in the Contest (vv.14-16)
14 And Reuben went out in the days of wheat-harvest, and found mandrakes in the fields; and he brought them to his mother Leah. And Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes. 15 And she said to her, Is it too little that thou hast taken my husband, that thou wilt take my son’s mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to-night for thy son’s mandrakes. 16 And when Jacob came from the fields in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in to me, for indeed I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night. v.16 Evidently mandrakes were a cherished delicacy, an aphrodisiac, and Jacob was persuaded to share his bed with Leah that night. His natural appetite leads him, and Leah bears another son, Issachar, meaning “he will be hired.”
Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah Born to Leah (vv.17-21)
17 And God hearkened to Leah, and she conceived, and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 And Leah said, God has given me my hire, because I have given my maidservant to my husband; and she called his name Issachar. 19 And Leah again conceived, and bore Jacob a sixth son; 20 and Leah said, God has endowed me with a good dowry; this time will my husband dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons. And she called his name Zebulun. v.19 These six are all the sons that Leah herself bore. This pictures the fact that people can struggle hard to accomplish their own ends, but always come short, for seven is the number of completeness.
21 And afterwards she bore a daughter, and called her name Dinah.
Joseph Born to Rachel, with the Promise of another Son (vv.22-24)
22 And God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her, and opened her womb. 23 And she conceived, and bore a son, and said, God has taken away my reproach. 24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, Jehovah will add to me another son.
Jacob increases his flocks and herds (30:25-43)
Jacob Makes a Deal for the Speckled Cattle (vv.25-36)
25 And it came to pass when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, Send me away, that I may go to my place and to my country. 26 Give me my wives for whom I have served thee, and my children; that I may go away, for thou knowest my service which I have served thee. 27 And Laban said to him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes — I have discovered that Jehovah has blessed me for thy sake. 28 And he said, Appoint to me thy wages, and I will give it. 29 And he said to him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and what thy cattle has become with me. 30 For it was little that thou hadst before me, and it is increased to a multitude, and Jehovah has blessed thee from the time I came; and now, when shall I also provide for my house? 31 And he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me anything. If thou doest this for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock: 32 I will pass through all thy flock to-day, to remove thence all the speckled and spotted sheep, and all the brown lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and that shall be my hire. 33 And my righteousness shall answer for me hereafter, when thou comest about my hire, before thy face: all that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the lambs, let that be stolen with me. 34 And Laban said, Well, let it be according to thy word. 35 And he removed that day the he-goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she-goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white in it, and all the brown among the lambs, and gave them into the hand of his sons. 36 And he put three days` journey between himself and Jacob. And Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flock.
Jacob’s Attempt at Selective Breeding to Increase His Flock (vv.37-43)
37 And Jacob took fresh rods of white poplar, almond-tree, and maple; and peeled off white stripes in them, uncovering the white which was on the rods. 38 And he set the rods which he had peeled before the flock, in the troughs at the watering-places where the flock came to drink, and they were ardent when they came to drink. 39 And the flock was ardent before the rods; and the flock brought forth ringstraked, speckled, and spotted. 40 And Jacob separated the lambs, and set the faces of the flock toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he made himself separate flocks, and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41 And it came to pass whensoever the strong cattle were ardent, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the flock in the gutters, that they might become ardent among the rods; 42 but when the sheep were feeble, he put them not in; so the feeble were Laban’s, and the strong Jacob’s. 43 And the man increased very, very much, and had much cattle, and bondwomen, and bondmen, and camels, and asses.