Genesis Thirty

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Genesis 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.

Genesis 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?

Genesis 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.

go in unto her. In accordance with the customs of the time, which allowed both polygamy and concubinage, Laban had provided maids for his daughters as insurance that they would not be childless. Any children borne by their personal maids would legally be recognized as theirs. Even though this kind of arrangement was legal, it was not in accord with God's original plan for the marriage relation. The Bible tells of many polygamous marriages that God allowed, but of none which were happy marriages.

children by her. See note on Genesis 16:2.

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

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

Genesis 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.

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

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

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

Genesis 30:10 And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a son.

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

Genesis 30:12 And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son.

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

Genesis 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.

mandrakes. A mandrake is a small berry-like fruit, prized in ancient times as an aphrodisiac and inducer of fertility. Rachel did eventually have two sons, but it was not because of the mandrakes.

Genesis 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 to night for thy son's mandrakes.

Genesis 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.

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

Genesis 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.

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

Genesis 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.

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

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

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

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

Genesis 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.

Genesis 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.

Genesis 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.

by experience. The words “by experience” should be translated “by enchantments.” Though he knew God after a fashion, Laban had become a sort of pagan mystic. God had overruled even in this, however, and Laban learned that the unusual prosperity he was experiencing was because of Jacob's abilities and faithfulness.

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

I will give it. Laban gave Jacob carte blanche to set up his own terms. Thus, Jacob by no means took advantage of Laban, as many teach. Rather, the terms proposed by Jacob were heavily weighted in Laban's favor.

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

Genesis 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?

Genesis 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.

Genesis 30:32 I will pass through all thy flock to day, 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.

speckled and spotted cattle. Laban had received fourteen years of free labor from Jacob, and had prospered greatly as a result. Therefore he, in effect, told Jacob he would pay whatever Jacob wanted, if Jacob would continue. Jacob responded with a proposal which Laban quickly accepted, recognizing it as highly beneficial to himself. Jacob's wages would be the spotted and off-color animals which the flocks might produce in the future—first, however, removing all such animals in the existing flocks so they could not be used in breeding. Thus, Jacob would get only the off-colored and speckled animals which might be born to a flock containing only solid-colored, dominant-colored animals. These terms, apart from God's intervention, would have enormously favored Laban. Jacob did know, from long experience as a shepherd and stock breeder that some “heterozygous” animals would be in the flock even though all appeared to be “homozygous,” so that at least a few animals would be born spotted and speckled, even from Laban's solid-colored animals. He trusted the Lord to determine how many.

Genesis 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.

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

Genesis 30:35 And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstreaked 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.

ringstraked. That is, “having streaks of color around the body.”

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

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

pilled white strakes. That is, “pealed white streaks.”

Genesis 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.

rods which he had pilled. These striped rods were not for the purpose of inducing some “pre-natal influence” on the animals, as critics have scoffed. With his seventy years or more of practical experience with large flocks, Jacob knew better than that. Either the chemicals from the wood or the sight of the streaked rods must have served as an aphrodisiac for the animals, inducing them to mate as they came to the troughs. Jacob only used the rods with the stronger animals, so that the progeny would also be strong. Under usual conditions, this stratagem should have greatly benefited Laban's flocks.

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

conceived. The word for “conceived” can mean “were in heat.”

Genesis 30:40 And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstreaked, 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.

Genesis 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.

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

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