Genesis 30

1 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister; and she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!"
2 Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"
3 Then she said, "Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, that she may bear upon my knees, and even I may have children through her."
4 So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife; and Jacob went in to her.
5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son.
6 Then Rachel said, "God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son"; therefore she called his name Dan.
7 Rachel's maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.
8 Then Rachel said, "With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed"; so she called his name Naph'tali.
9 When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife.
10 Then Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son.
11 And Leah said, "Good fortune!" so she called his name Gad.
12 Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.
13 And Leah said, "Happy am I! For the women will call me happy"; so she called his name Asher.
14 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, "Give me, I pray, some of your son's mandrakes."
15 But she said to her, "Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son's mandrakes also?" Rachel said, "Then he may lie with you tonight for your son's mandrakes."
16 When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and said, "You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son's mandrakes." So he lay with her that night.
17 And God hearkened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son.
18 Leah said, "God has given me my hire because I gave my maid to my husband"; so she called his name Is'sachar.
19 And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son.
20 Then Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good dowry; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons"; so she called his name Zeb'ulun.
21 Afterwards she bore a daughter, and called her name Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her and opened her womb.
23 She conceived and bore a son, and said, "God has taken away my reproach";
24 and she called his name Joseph, saying, "May the LORD add to me another son!"
25 When Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, "Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country.
26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go; for you know the service which I have given you."
27 But Laban said to him, "If you will allow me to say so, I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you;
28 name your wages, and I will give it."
29 Jacob said to him, "You yourself know how I have served you, and how your cattle have fared with me.
30 For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly; and the LORD has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?"
31 He said, "What shall I give you?" Jacob said, "You shall not give me anything; if you will do this for me, I will again feed your flock and keep it:
32 let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages.
33 So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen."
34 Laban said, "Good! Let it be as you have said."
35 But that day Laban removed the he-goats that were striped and spotted, and all the she-goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in charge of his sons;
36 and he set a distance of three days' journey between himself and Jacob; and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flock.
37 Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the rods.
38 He set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the runnels, that is, the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink,
39 the flocks bred in front of the rods and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted.
40 And Jacob separated the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban; and he put his own droves apart, and did not put them with Laban's flock.
41 Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding Jacob laid the rods in the runnels before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the rods,
42 but for the feebler of the flock he did not lay them there; so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.
43 Thus the man grew exceedingly rich, and had large flocks, maidservants and menservants, and camels and asses.

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.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 30

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