Genesis 30

1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”
3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”
4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her,
5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son.
6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.[a]
7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.
8 Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.[b]
9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife.
10 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son.
11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!”[c] So she named him Gad.[d]
12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.
13 Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.[e]
14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?” “Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”
16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.
17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son.
18 Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.[f]
19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son.
20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.[g]
21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.
23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.”
24 She named him Joseph,[h] and said, “May the LORD add to me another son.”

Jacob’s Flocks Increase

25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland.
26 Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”
27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.”
28 He added, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”
29 Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care.
30 The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?”
31 “What shall I give you?” he asked. “Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them:
32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages.
33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”
34 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.”
35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons.
36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.
37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches.
38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink,
39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.
40 Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals.
41 Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches,
42 but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob.
43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Genesis 30 Commentary

Chapter 30

A further account of Jacob's family. (1-13) Rachel beareth Joseph. (14-24) Jacob's new agreement with Laban to serve him for cattle. (25-43)

Verses 1-13 Rachel envied her sister: envy is grieving at the good of another, than which no sin is more hateful to God, or more hurtful to our neighbours and ourselves. She considered not that God made the difference, and that in other things she had the advantage. Let us carefully watch against all the risings and workings of this passion in our minds. Let not our eye be evil towards any of our fellow-servants, because our Master's is good. Jacob loved Rachel, and therefore reproved her for what she said amiss. Faithful reproofs show true affection. God may be to us instead of any creature; but it is sin and folly to place any creature in God's stead, and to place that confidence in any creature, which should be placed in God only. At the persuasion of Rachel, Jacob took Bilhah her handmaid to wife, that, according to the usage of those times, her children might be owned as her mistress's children. Had not Rachel's heart been influenced by evil passions, she would have thought her sister's children nearer to her, and more entitled to her care than Bilhah's. But children whom she had a right to rule, were more desirable to her than children she had more reason to love. As an early instance of her power over these children, she takes pleasure in giving them names that carry in them marks of rivalry with her sister. See what roots of bitterness envy and strife are, and what mischief they make among relations. At the persuasion of Leah, Jacob took Zilpah her handmaid to wife also. See the power of jealousy and rivalship, and admire the wisdom of the Divine appointment, which joins together one man and one woman only; for God hath called us to peace and purity.

Verses 14-24 The desire, good in itself, but often too great and irregular, of being the mother of the promised Seed, with the honour of having many children, and the reproach of being barren, were causes of this unbecoming contest between the sisters. The truth appears to be, that they were influenced by the promises of God to Abraham; whose posterity were promised the richest blessings, and from whom the Messiah was to descend.

Verses 25-43 The fourteen years being gone, Jacob was willing to depart without any provision, except God's promise. But he had in many ways a just claim on Laban's substance, and it was the will of God that he should be provided for from it. He referred his cause to God, rather than agree for stated wages with Laban, whose selfishness was very great. And it would appear that he acted honestly, when none but those of the colours fixed upon should be found among his cattle. Laban selfishly thought that his cattle would produce few different in colour from their own. Jacob's course after this agreement has been considered an instance of his policy and management. But it was done by intimation from God, and as a token of his power. The Lord will one way or another plead the cause of the oppressed, and honour those who simply trust his providence. Neither could Laban complain of Jacob, for he had nothing more than was freely agreed that he should have; nor was he injured, but greatly benefitted by Jacob's services. May all our mercies be received with thanksgiving and prayer, that coming from his bounty, they may lead to his praise.

Cross References 73

  • 1. S Genesis 11:30; Isaiah 49:21; Isaiah 54:1; Genesis 29:31; 1 Samuel 1:5-6
  • 2. S Genesis 16:4; Leviticus 18:18
  • 3. Genesis 50:19; Deuteronomy 32:35; 2 Kings 5:7
  • 4. S Genesis 16:2; Genesis 20:18; Genesis 29:31
  • 5. ver 7; S Genesis 29:29
  • 6. S Genesis 24:61
  • 7. Genesis 16:2
  • 8. ver 9,18
  • 9. Genesis 16:3-4
  • 10. Psalms 35:24; Psalms 43:1; Lamentations 3:59
  • 11. ver 23; Genesis 21:2; Ruth 4:13; 1 Samuel 1:20
  • 12. Genesis 46:23; Genesis 49:16-17; Numbers 26:42-43; Joshua 19:40-48; Judges 1:34; Judges 13:2; Judges 18:2; Jeremiah 4:15; Jeremiah 8:16; Ezekiel 48:1
  • 13. S ver 3
  • 14. Genesis 32:28; Hosea 12:3-4
  • 15. Genesis 35:25; Genesis 46:24; Genesis 49:21; Numbers 1:42; Numbers 26:48; Deuteronomy 33:23; Judges 4:6; Judges 5:18; 1 Chronicles 7:13
  • 16. S Genesis 29:16
  • 17. Genesis 29:35
  • 18. Genesis 29:24
  • 19. S ver 4
  • 20. Genesis 46:18
  • 21. Genesis 35:26; Genesis 46:16; Genesis 49:19; Exodus 1:4; Numbers 1:24; Numbers 26:18; Joshua 4:12; 1 Chronicles 5:11; 1 Chronicles 12:8; Jeremiah 49:1
  • 22. Psalms 127:3
  • 23. Ruth 4:14; Psalms 127:4-5; Proverbs 31:28; Luke 1:48
  • 24. Genesis 35:26; Genesis 46:17; Genesis 49:20; Numbers 1:40; Numbers 26:47; Deuteronomy 33:24; Joshua 19:24-31; 1 Chronicles 7:30-31
  • 25. Exodus 34:22; Judges 15:1; Ruth 2:23; 1 Samuel 6:13; 1 Samuel 12:17
  • 26. ver 15,16; Song of Songs 7:13
  • 27. Numbers 16:9,13; Isaiah 7:13; Ezekiel 34:18
  • 28. Genesis 38:16; Ezekiel 16:33; Hosea 9:1
  • 29. S ver 14
  • 30. S Genesis 25:21
  • 31. S ver 4
  • 32. Genesis 46:13; Genesis 49:14; Nu 1:8,28,29; Numbers 26:25; Deuteronomy 27:12; Deuteronomy 33:18; Joshua 17:10; Joshua 19:17; Joshua 21:6,28; Judges 5:15; Judges 10:1; 1 Chronicles 7:1
  • 33. S Genesis 29:34; 1 Peter 3:7
  • 34. Genesis 35:23; Genesis 46:14; Genesis 49:13; Numbers 1:30; Numbers 26:27; Numbers 34:25; Deuteronomy 33:18; Judges 5:18; Matthew 4:13
  • 35. Genesis 34:1; Genesis 46:15
  • 36. S Genesis 8:1; 1 Samuel 1:19-20
  • 37. S Genesis 25:21
  • 38. S Genesis 11:30; Genesis 29:31
  • 39. S ver 6; S Genesis 29:32
  • 40. Isaiah 4:1; Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 45:17; Isaiah 54:4; Luke 1:25
  • 41. S Genesis 29:6; Genesis 32:22; Genesis 33:2,7; Genesis 35:24; Genesis 37:2; Genesis 39:1; Genesis 49:22-26; Deuteronomy 33:13
  • 42. Genesis 35:17; 1 Samuel 4:20
  • 43. S Genesis 24:54
  • 44. S Genesis 28:15
  • 45. S Genesis 29:18; Genesis 29:20,30; Hosea 12:12
  • 46. Genesis 33:10; Genesis 50:4; Esther 2:15
  • 47. Genesis 44:5,15; Leviticus 19:26; Numbers 22:7; Numbers 23:23; Numbers 24:1; Joshua 13:22; 2 Kings 17:17; Jeremiah 27:9
  • 48. ver 30; S Genesis 26:24; Genesis 31:38; Genesis 39:3,5; Deuteronomy 28:11; 2 Samuel 6:11
  • 49. S Genesis 29:15
  • 50. Genesis 31:6
  • 51. Genesis 31:38-40
  • 52. S ver 27
  • 53. 1 Timothy 5:8
  • 54. ver 33,35,39,40; Genesis 31:8,12
  • 55. S Genesis 29:15
  • 56. S ver 32
  • 57. Genesis 31:39
  • 58. S ver 32
  • 59. Genesis 31:1
  • 60. Genesis 31:22; Exodus 3:18; Exodus 5:3; Exodus 8:27
  • 61. Jeremiah 1:11
  • 62. Ezekiel 31:8
  • 63. ver 38,41
  • 64. S ver 37
  • 65. Exodus 2:16
  • 66. ver 41; Jeremiah 2:24
  • 67. ver 41
  • 68. S ver 32
  • 69. S ver 32
  • 70. S ver 38
  • 71. S ver 37
  • 72. Ge 31:1,9,16,43
  • 73. ver 30; S Genesis 12:16; Genesis 13:2; Genesis 24:35; Genesis 26:13-14

Footnotes 8

  • [a]. "Dan" here means "he has vindicated."
  • [b]. "Naphtali" means "my struggle."
  • [c]. Or "“A troop is coming!”"
  • [d]. "Gad" can mean "good fortune" or "a troop."
  • [e]. "Asher" means "happy."
  • [f]. "Issachar" sounds like the Hebrew for "reward."
  • [g]. "Zebulun" probably means "honor."
  • [h]. "Joseph" means "may he add."

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives an account of Rachel's envy of her sister for her fruitfulness, and of her earnest desire of having children, which she expressed to Jacob in an unbecoming manner, for which he reproved her, Ge 30:1,2, of her giving her maid Bilhah to Jacob, by whom he had two sons, Dan and Naphtali, Ge 30:3-8; and of Leah's giving her maid Zilpah to him, by whom he had two other sons, Gad and Asher, Ge 30:9-13; and of Reuben's mandrakes he found in the field, and the agreement made between Rachel and Leah about them, Ge 30:14-16; and of Leah's bearing Jacob two more sons and one daughter, Ge 30:17-21, and of Rachel's also bearing him a son, whose name was Joseph, Ge 30:22-24; upon which he desires leave of Laban to depart into his own country, his time of servitude being up, Ge 30:25,26; which brought on a new agreement between him and Laban, that for the future he should have all the speckled, spotted, and brown cattle for his service, Ge 30:27-36; and the chapter is concluded with an account of a cunning scheme of Jacob's to increase that sort of cattle, which succeeded, and by which he became rich, Ge 30:37-43.

Genesis 30 Commentaries

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.