Genesis 30

1 And when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said unto Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die."
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?"
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."
4 And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid for a wife; and Jacob went in unto her.
5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son.
6 And Rachel said, "God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice and hath given me a son." Therefore she called his name Dan [that is, Judging].
7 And Bilhah, Rachel's maid, conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.
8 And Rachel said, "With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed." And she called his name Naphtali [that is, My wrestling].
9 When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob for a wife;
10 and Zilpah, Leah's maid, bore Jacob a son.
11 And Leah said, "A troop cometh." And she called his name Gad [that is, A troop or company].
12 And Zilpah, Leah's maid, bore Jacob a second son.
13 And Leah said, "Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed." And she called his name Asher [that is, Happy].
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."
15 But 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."
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.
17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob the fifth son.
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 [that is, A hire].
19 And Leah conceived again and bore Jacob the sixth son.
20 And Leah said, "God hath endued me with a good dowry. Now will my husband dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons." And she called his name Zebulun [that is, Dwelling].
21 And afterwards she bore a daughter, and called her name Dinah [that is, Judgment].
22 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her and opened her womb.
23 And she conceived and bore a son, and said, "God hath taken away my reproach."
24 And she called his name Joseph [that is, Adding], and said, "The LORD shall add to me another son."
25 And it came to pass, when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, "Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place and to my country.
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."
27 And Laban said unto him, "I pray thee, if I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry; for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake."
28 And he said, "Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it."
29 And he said unto him, "Thou knowest how I have served thee and how thy flocks have been with me.
30 For it was little which thou had 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?"
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:
32 I will pass through all thy flock today, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted animals, and all the brown animals among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and of such shall be my hire.
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."
34 And Laban said, "Behold, I would it might be according to thy word."
35 And he removed that day the hegoats that were ringstreaked and spotted, and all the shegoats 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.
36 And he set three days' journey between himself and Jacob; and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks.
37 And Jacob took rods of green poplar and of the hazel and chestnut tree, and peeled white strips in them and made the white appear which was in the rods.
38 And he set the rods which he had peeled 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.
39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth animals ringstreaked, speckled and spotted.
40 And Jacob separated 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 with Laban's flocks.
41 And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger animals conceived, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the animals in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.
42 But when the animals were feeble, he put them not in; so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.
43 And the man increased exceedingly and had large flocks, and 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