(Gen 30:1 NASB) Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.”
(Gen 30:2 NASB) Then Jacob’s anger burned against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
Gen 30:2: This is the account of the baby wars between Leah and Rachel. The desperation in Rachel’s pleas is evident. If she does not bear children, she does not feel that she has a reason for living.
Jacob is misunderstanding her plea as a complaint against himself. He is a male, therefore, he does not understand. It would appear that Rachel is venting about her emotional distress of not having children. But Jacob thinks she is mad at him and griping at him. Jacob says he is doing all he can and it is out of his hands.
(Gen 30:3 NASB) And she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah, go in to her, that she may bear on my knees, that through her I too may have children.”
Gen 30:3: Just as Sarah gave her maid Hagar to Abraham many years earlier, Rachel gave her maid Bilhah to Jacob to bear children on her behalf. Perhaps Jacob should have followed his father’s example instead of his grandfather’s (Gen. 25:21).
Rachel says, “she will bear a child on my knees.” This is a designation of reception of the child. This practice is again referred to in Genesis 50:23.
(Gen 30:4 NASB) So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her.
(Gen 30:5 NASB) And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son.
(Gen 30:6 NASB) Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me, and has indeed heard my voice and has given me a son.” Therefore she named him Dan.
Gen 30:6: Rachel named this son “Dan” which means “justice.” This signifies that Rachel believes Elohim intervened for her.
(Gen 30:7 NASB) And Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.
(Gen 30:8 NASB) So Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed.” And she named him Naphtali.
Gen 30:8: The next child through Rachel’s maid was named Naphtali. Naphtali means “wrestling.” This is a reference to the conflict between Rachel and Leah.
(Gen 30:9 NASB) When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife.
(Gen 30:10 NASB) And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son.
(Gen 30:11 NASB) Then Leah said, “How fortunate!” So she named him Gad.
Gen 30:11: Leah saw that Rachel was catching up. Since she was no longer seemed to be bearing children, she gave her maid to Jacob as a concubine in the same way Rachel did with Bilhah.
Gad means “luck” or “fortune.”
(Gen 30:12 NASB) And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.
(Gen 30:13 NASB) Then Leah said, “Happy am I! For women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.
Gen 30:13: Zilpah bore Jacob another son and Leah called his name Asher which means “happy.”
The following passage is a peculiar happening and epitomizes the pettiness of the attitudes Rachel and Leah have toward each other.
(Gen 30:14 NASB) Now in the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
(Gen 30:15 NASB) But she said to her, “Is it a small matter for you to take my husband? And would you take my son’s mandrakes also?” So Rachel said, “Therefore he may lie with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”
Gen 30:15: The Hebrew term for the fruit is “duda’im.” This has been identified as “Mandragora officinarum” which grows wild in the fields. A chemical analysis of this fruit shows it contains purgative and narcotic substances. It had widespread medicinal use in ancient times and was thought to aphrodisiac powers. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sex was given the term “he’ mandragoriti” which means “Lady of the Mandrake.”
This is also mentioned in Song of Songs 7:13.
Rachel is probably upset at Leah’s attempts to seduce their husband by using this fruit as an aphrodisiac. The battle is raging between the two. I believe Rachel giving her husband to Leah was inevitable anyway since she was his wife also. But this way, Rachel was going to share in her “edge” by getting the fruit also. It appears to be more pettiness between the two wives.
(Gen 30:16 NASB) When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, then Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night.
Gen 30:16: Jacob was paid for the night. He is in high demand. The poor guy better take some mandrakes with him.
(Gen 30:17 NASB) And God gave heed to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son.
(Gen 30:18 NASB) Then Leah said, “God has given me my wages, because I gave my maid to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.
(Gen 30:19 NASB) And Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Jacob.
Gen 30:19: Leah talked with Elohim on a regular basis. She believed that He was answering her prayers with another child. She believed that this would cause Jacob to dwell with her. “Isaachar” means “a hire,” or “there is recompense.”
(Gen 30:20 NASB) Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.
(Gen 30:21 NASB) And afterward she bore a daughter and named her Dinah.
Gen 30:21: Leah has now bore Jacob six sons. She named the sixth son Zebulun which means “dwelling.” She was hoping that Jacob would favor her over Rachel because of this.
The birth of Dinah is mentioned here. This prepares us for the tragedy of chapter 34 where it appears she is assaulted.
(Gen 30:22 NASB) Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb.
(Gen 30:23 NASB) So she conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.”
(Gen 30:24 NASB) And she named him Joseph, saying, “May the LORD give me another son.”
Gen 30:24: Barrenness was considered a sign of disfavor from Elohim. Yahweh remembered Rachel and opened her womb again. I don’t think this had much to do with the mandrakes.
Joseph means either “may Elohim add” or “He has taken away.” Perhaps there is deliberate ambiguity.
(Gen 30:25 NASB) Now it came about when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my own country.
(Gen 30:26 NASB) “Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me depart; for you yourself know my service which I have rendered you.”
Gen 30:26: Joseph knew it was time to leave. He politely asks Laban to let him leave since he has paid his price for the daughters.
(Gen 30:27 NASB) But Laban said to him, “If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the LORD has blessed me on your account.”
Gen 30:27: Laban actually says that he learned that he was blessed by Yahweh through “divination” not experience. Laban was truly a scoundrel.
We find out in Gen. 31:7 that Laban has changed his wages ten times. Laban is being falsely humble here.
(Gen 30:28 NASB) And he continued, “Name me your wages, and I will give it.”
(Gen 30:29 NASB) But he said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you and how your cattle have fared with me.
(Gen 30:30 NASB) “For you had little before I came, and it has increased to a multitude; and the LORD has blessed you wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own household also?”
(Gen 30:31 NASB) So he said, “What shall I give you?” And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your flock:
Gen 30:31: Laban ignores Jacob’s request to leave and assumes it is the opening bid in haggling for making a deal. Jacob disregards this tactic of Laban’s and astutely drives home the point that Laban is successful because of him.
(Gen 30:32 NASB) let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted sheep, and every black one among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages.
(Gen 30:33 NASB) “So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, will be considered stolen.”
Gen 30:33: Jacob is going to demonstrate that Elohim is blessing Laban through him and not of Laban’s own accord. Jacob is going to separate out the spotted livestock for his own and raise them nearby. He said he will only take away the spotted livestock after a while and give Laban all that are not spotted.
Why did Laban even agree to pay Jacob? It certainly seems out of character. But Laban actually had no choice. It was the law (Deut. 15:12-14)
(Gen 30:34 NASB) And Laban said, “Good, let it be according to your word.”
(Gen 30:35 NASB) So he removed on that day the striped and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats, everyone with white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the care of his sons.
(Gen 30:36 NASB) And he put a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.
Gen 30:36: Jacob put three days journey between them so he could not be accused of stealing from Laban’s flocks.
In the near East, the majority of sheep are white and the majority of goats are dark brown or black. A minority of sheep have dark patches and goat white patches. Laban agreed to this because it is a rarity.
Jacob is told what to do in a dream and the results are divine intervention.
(Gen 30:37 NASB) Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was in the rods.
(Gen 30:38 NASB) And he set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the gutters, even in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they mated when they came to drink.
(Gen 30:39 NASB) So the flocks mated by the rods, and the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.
Gen 30:39: We are told in chapter 31 that Jacob was told to do this in a dream. He is blessed for his obedience.
(Gen 30:40 NASB) And Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban; and he put his own herds apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock.
(Gen 30:41 NASB) Moreover, it came about whenever the stronger of the flock were mating, that Jacob would place the rods in the sight of the flock in the gutters, so that they might mate by the rods;
(Gen 30:42 NASB) but when the flock was feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s.
(Gen 30:43 NASB) So the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys.
Gen 30:43: Elohim will, one way or another, honor those who trust Him and obey Him.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas