Genesis Chapter 30: Jacob’s Children, His Deal with Laban

Dec 17th, 2009 | By | Category: Genesis, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Genesis Chapter 30: Jacob’s Children, His Deal with Laban

Gen. 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.

Gen. 30:2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?

Gen. 30:3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.

Gen. 30:4 And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.

Gen. 30:5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.

Gen. 30:6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.

Gen. 30:7 And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son.

Gen. 30:8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.

When Rachel saw that she was barren, she thought of having a child by proxy, as it were, by her handmaid Bilhah. By being in close proximity with Bilhah, Rachel would consider the child her own. We are reminded of Sarah and Hagar.

Rachel’s suggestion regarding Bilhah shows her desperation. When the handmaids were known by Jacob, they became concubine wives, that is, more than just servants. They were secondary but had a legal standing. In making the suggestion that children come through their handmaids with the result that actual births took place, Rachel and Leah relinquished their handmaids to concubine status. (Note: A concubine was not to usurp the prerogatives of a wife, as Hagar attempted to do.)

Rachel’s barrenness was discerned in the second “week” (the second period of seven years). After Rachel had had relations with her husband, Jacob, for a year or two, her barrenness was apparent. Even the bearing of children by Zilpah and Bilhah would have occurred within the second “week.”

Rachel said, “Bilhah … shall bare upon my knees.” Not only was Rachel on the scene when Bilhah gave birth, but she probably positioned herself as though she were the one giving birth. In other words, Rachel was emotionally involved to the point of flesh contact and enacting the birth.

Gen. 30:9 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.

Gen. 30:10 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son.

Gen. 30:11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.

Gen. 30:12 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son.

Gen. 30:13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

Seeing that Bilhah bore two sons, Leah gave Zilpah to Jacob as a concubine lest Rachel have children to outnumber or equal hers. Rachel had two sons through Bilhah, and Leah had four sons of her own at this point but was temporarily barren. A real rivalry existed between Leah and Rachel. Of the 20 years that Jacob stayed with Laban, eight of the children could have been born or were in the process of being born by the expiration of the 14 years (two “weeks”). Gad, whose name means “a troop cometh” or “five,” was reckoned as the fifth son of Leah.

Gen. 30:14 And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes.

Gen. 30:15 And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? And wouldest thou take away my son’s mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee tonight for thy son’s mandrakes.

Mandrakes, called “love apples” in some translations, were considered a fertility food that increased amorous tendencies (an aphrodisiac, in other words). Mandrakes grow in the ground as a tuberous plant—like a giant carrot. They have a pleasant smell and are good for food, but the species is not plentiful. Reuben found mandrakes “in the days of wheat harvest” and brought them to his mother, Leah. When Rachel saw them, she traded a night with Jacob for the mandrakes. To trade something for material benefit seems to have been genetically implanted in this lineage. Isaac desired venison. Esau sold his birthright for pottage. Rachel traded Jacob for the mandrakes for one night. Incidentally, all of Jacob’s children (by Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, and Rachel) were timed by the Lord, for they are types that will be more fully understood in the future.

When the Law was given in Moses’ day, a man could not marry two sisters. This situation with Leah and Rachel—their rivalry and jealousy—shows the wisdom of the Law.

Gen. 30:16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.

Leah said to Jacob, “I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes”; that is, a trade was made— the mandrakes for a night with Jacob.

Gen. 30:17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.

Gen. 30:18 And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.

Leah gave birth to a fifth son: Issachar.

Gen. 30:19 And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.

Gen. 30:20 And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.

Leah bore Jacob a sixth son: Zebulun.

Gen. 30:21 And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.

Q: After Leah had her sixth son, a daughter was born to her, whom she named Dinah. Was this the first daughter for any of the four (Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, and Rachel)?

A: It would seem so.

Comment: Dinah means “judgment” according to the King James margin, and Dan means “judging.” Dan was the first son born in any way to Rachel (he was born to Bilhah, her handmaid). Now, with the first opportunity Leah had for a daughter, she copied that name, appropriating it for the female line.

Reply: Yes, the rivalry was real. In time, the rivalry will be seen from a historical standpoint. The order of children thus far was as follows: Leah had four sons, Bilhah had two sons, Zilpah had two sons, Leah had two more sons, and Leah had one daughter. Rachel’s two sons (Joseph and Benjamin) were yet to come.

The name Leah means “weary.” Rachel means “ewe,” that is, a female lamb or sheep, hence the Bride of Christ. Thus, from the standpoint of the antitype, the Lord even overruled, years earlier, the names they were given.

Gen. 30:22 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.

Gen. 30:23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:

“God … opened her [Rachel’s] womb.” This statement is proof that God controlled the timing and the sequence of the births for Jacob’s wives and concubines. God also controlled the number of sons born to each because they were types.

God has a master computer on which the life of every living being from Adam on has been stored in memory. When a person dies, his disk is removed and stored for future retrieval. In the resurrection—whether to an earthly or a spiritual body—the ego, or life, is put into a new vessel. “Thou sowest not that body that shall be” (1 Cor. 15:37).

God’s control is seen in this type. When Rachel was barren, that restriction had been put there. By nature, Rachel had the capability to bear children, but it was stopped. These types were made without the individuals’ realizing what was happening.

Comment: Rachel lived only about 2,000 years from the creation of perfect Adam and Eve, so perhaps infertility was not common back there. For that reason, Rachel definitely felt her barrenness was a reproach. And so did Sarah.

Reply: Yes, the proof is the number of children so many women had. Ishmael had 12 sons, and so did Jacob eventually, although four females were involved in his case. The children of promise were limited and especially controlled. The limitation and control were a form of discipline in developing the faith and the character of the individuals God was particularly dealing with.

Gen. 30:24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.

Rachel’s womb was opened, and she bore a son: Joseph. The account is stated simply, with no embellishments. We must think about the situation to realize the joy, the tremendous emotion, when Rachel said, “God hath taken away my reproach.” The Bible is purposely written lowkey so as not to attract the curiosity seeker. We must study to understand the problems of Leah and Rachel. We must read the details and reflect on the struggle and the pent-up emotions.

When Joseph was born, Rachel uttered a prophetic statement, “The LORD shall add to me another son.” The name Joseph means “adding.” Moreover, she said “son” (singular), not “sons.” Benjamin, who was born years later, was that son, and Rachel died in childbirth. The delay in his birth tested her faith.

The fact that Joseph’s name meant “adding” merits further discussion. The prophecies concerning Joseph that Jacob and Moses had just prior to their deaths show what the “adding” was (Gen. 48:1-5; Deut. 33:13,17). Joseph had a double representation in the tribes: Ephraim and Manasseh. Therefore, one adding occurred when Joseph’s name was dropped out and the names of his two sons were substituted. There were additional addings as well.

Gen. 30:25 And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country.

Gen. 30:26 Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee.

Gen. 30:27 And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake.

Gen. 30:28 And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.

When Jacob asked Laban for liberty to return to his homeland, what was the time period?

Jacob had served Laban for 14 years (he would stay six more years before leaving, for a total of 20 years). In those 14 years, Jacob had obtained two wives (plus children) but no crops, flocks, etc. Therefore, Jacob’s wage for working 14 years was his two wives, but by faith, Jacob was willing to go back to Canaan.

Laban wanted Jacob to tarry because Jacob was a good worker. Laban’s reply was to ask Jacob what wages he wanted, and Laban said he would pay Jacob. Note: Laban’s temporal prosperity had noticeably increased, and he did acknowledge that Jacob’s term of service had been a blessing to him personally.

Gen. 30:29 And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me.

Gen. 30:30 For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude; and the LORD hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?

Gen. 30:31 And he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock.

Gen. 30:32 I will pass through all thy flock today, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire.

Gen. 30:33 So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me.

Gen. 30:34 And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word.

Gen. 30:35 And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats that were speckled and spotted, and every one that had some white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons.

Gen. 30:36 And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.

Verse 32 is not clear in the King James Version: “I will pass through all thy flock today.”

Fourteen years had now expired, and Jacob wanted to go home. Laban wanted Jacob to tarry, but he asked Jacob to name his wages. Jacob said he would take all of the animals that were striped, speckled, and spotted for his wages, plus brown sheep. However, Jacob, knowing that Laban would connive, had long-term plans to take the newborn.

One interpretation is that Jacob would go through Laban’s flocks and gather out the striped, speckled, and spotted animals that very day. A second reading indicates the proposition that Jacob would stay and care for Laban’s sheep if he could have the newborn that were striped, speckled, and spotted, plus the brown lambs. Laban was conniving, but Jacob was shrewd too.

Jacob had something in mind, which he did not disclose to Laban.

The flocks in the Near East are almost wholly black goats and white sheep. Very few are mottled. Jacob was asking as his wages the few that were speckled. Laban thought this arrangement was a wonderful deal for him, for he would automatically get 95 percent. But even that percentage did not satisfy him, so he told his sons to remove all of the striped, speckled, and spotted of the flocks, plus the brown sheep, and take them a three days’ journey away. Laban had these removed because they would tend to have similar young—striped, speckled, and spotted.

The phrase “in time to come” in verse 33 indicates that Jacob knew Laban would use deceit, so he said his own righteousness would be manifested in due time. Jacob did not trust Laban and vice versa. Laban thought that he was clever and that if Jacob got anything out of the agreement, it would be a miracle. And Jacob was saying, “If I prosper in this deal, it will vindicate my righteousness.” If Jacob prospered, it would be providential.

When Jacob said, “I will pass through all thy flock today,” he was expressing what he would like to do, but he knew that Laban would go ahead and pull out all the specified animals. Laban had been deceitful all along, and now would be no exception. Laban may even have served Jacob a leisurely meal in order to give his sons time to remove the sheep. Laban was greedy, but Jacob exercised faith in making such a seemingly one-sided proposition.

Gen. 30:37 And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chestnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.

Gen. 30:38 And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.

Gen. 30:39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.

Gen. 30:40 And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban’s cattle.

When Jacob made the proposition, he probably had this strategy in mind. Jacob had had years of experience tending flocks—14 years with Laban in addition to many years earlier during his family’s bedouin type of existence. With this experience, he had probably observed an environmental influence. Just as the human mother’s disposition, thinking, and experiences leave an impress on the embryo, so here Jacob was exerting a physical influence in a physical way with the flocks. When a striped, speckled, or spotted animal was born, he put it in front of the others, penning them together. Initially, he used the rods to get things started, peeling the rods to achieve a striped, speckled, and spotted effect. Once some striped, speckled, and spotted animals were born, he penned them with the ewes so that the ewes would see them.

Hence he used an environmental influence. In other words, Jacob started with the rods and ended up using the speckled, etc., young themselves as “rods.” This procedure went on for six years.

Gen. 30:41 And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.

Gen. 30:42 But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s.

Gen. 30:43 And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.

Jacob also made another selection. First, he selected according to the mating ewes. Then he selected according to strength and health. The law of genetics favored Jacob by creating the right conditions. Nevertheless, Jacob proceeded largely according to faith because in the final analysis, the miracle had to be produced by God.

The two theories, the Pavlovian and the Mendelian, are true. Environment can influence the genes to a certain extent, and so do the genes. Jacob used both theories. By selecting out the stronger animals, he used heredity and genes. By placing the striped, speckled, and spotted rods and the young born, he used environment.

The rest of Jacob’s exceeding wealth was obtained by trading some of his striped, etc., flock. He thus got “cattle,” male and female servants, asses, and camels. He needed shepherds as his flocks grew, and they brought their families. Imagine Laban watching this process for six years!

What a grievous sore! While Laban’s own flocks diminished, Jacob’s prospered exceedingly.

(1987–1989 Study)

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