Genesis 21-35 The beloved son…Isaac, cont’d.
Genesis 25-39 The father of the nation of Israel (Jacob), cont’d.
Genesis 29:1-14-Jacob makes the trip to the area of Haran, where his mother’s family lives…and begins to question the local shepherds if they know Laban. They say that they do and tell him that at that very moment his daughter, Rachel is bringing their sheep to be watered. He meets Rachel, introduces himself, and kisses her…this was an appropriate greeting among cousins. Rachel leaves to tell her father about Jacob and Laban returns to meet him. Jacob stays with Laban for a month.
Genesis 29:15-30-It is likely that during this time Jacob began to work for Laban…but no compensation had been discussed. So, Laban approaches the subject and asks Jacob what he thinks his wages should be. Jacob has fallen in love with Rachel and tells Laban that he will work for seven years if he will give her to him to be his wife. Laban agrees. Rachel was “beautiful of form and face”, but Leah’s “eyes were weak” (:17). This could mean that Leah’s eyes were visually weak; it could mean that they were dull, lacking luster and sparkle; or, it could mean that she was not attractive to Jacob. For seven years Jacob worked for Laban…and after those seven years, that “seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her” (:20)…it came time for the wedding. Laban gave a feast for the wedding and that night he brought his daughter to Jacob to be his wife. They consummated the relationship. The next morning, when Jacob woke up, much to his surprise, the woman he had been intimate with was not Rachel, but her sister Leah. Jacob goes to Laban and asks him why he has done this. His response is that it is their custom that the oldest daughter must be married, first. But, he agreed to give Rachel to Jacob as his wife if he agreed to serve him for another seven years. Jacob agreed. This time, Laban gave Rachel to Jacob at the beginning of the seven years, not at the end. As a wedding gift, Laban gave each of his daughters their maid…Zilpah (to Leah), Bilhah (to Rachel)…this was a common practice. Jacob loved Rachel more than he loved Leah (:30).
Genesis 29:31-34-Leah was the first to give birth and she had 4 sons…Reuben (means: “look a son”), Simeon (means: “hearing”…God heard her prayer), Levi (means: “attachment”…expressing her confidence that since she had given Jacob three sons her attachment to him was assured), and Judah (means: “praise”). Then she stopped having children.
Genesis 30:1-8-Rachel had not been able to get pregnant and was greatly distressed over it. So, as Sarah had given her maid to Abraham, she gave her maid, Bilhad, to Jacob…to have children on her behalf. Bilhad bore 2 sons…Dan (means: “justice”…she felt vindicated by God), Naphtali (means: “wrestling”).
Genesis 30:9-13-Leah saw that Rachel’s maid had born her sons…so, she gave Jacob her maid, Zilpah. She bore 2 sons…Gad (means: “luck, or fortune”), Asher (means: “happy”).
Genesis 30:14-21-The relationship between Leah and Rachel was one of jealousy and bickering. When Leah’s son, Reuben finds some mandrakes (an herb that supposedly had aphrodisiac qualities)…Rachel asked if she could have some. Leah said that she would give them to her if she agreed that Jacob would sleep with her that night. It sounds like Jacob alternated nights between his wives and that it was Rachel’s night…but, she agreed to let Leah have him for the night in return for the mandrakes. Leah made certain to let Jacob know of the deal. As a result, Leah became pregnant and bore a son named Issachar (means: “reward”). She then became pregnant again and bore her sixth son and named him Zebulun (means: dwelling). Again she became pregnant, but this time bore a daughter that she named Dinah.
Genesis 30:22-24-Finally, Rachel became pregnant and bore a son named Joseph (means either: “may the Lord add, or He has taken away”).
Jacobs children by his wives and their birthorder:
- Leah…1-Reuben, 2-Simeon, 3-Levi, 4-Judah, 9-Issachar, 10-Zebulun, Dinah (daughter-born after Zebulun)
- Bilhad…5-Dan, 6-Naphtali
- Zilpah…7-Gad, 8-Asher
Genesis 30:25-43-Jacob decides that it is time for him and his family to leave…so he goes to Laban and makes the request. Laban has realized that Jacob has been blessed by God and that he was also being blessed because of his association with Jacob. Laban discourages his leaving. Finally, they make a deal that Jacob will stay and that his wages will be the spotted and striped sheet and goats in the flocks. Laban is a smart man so he separates his flocks from Jacobs so that any new sheep or goats that are born will not be spotted. However, genetically there are still latent genes in Laban’s flocks. Jacob then uses common a practice of his day to stimulate his flocks to reproduce by placing the partially stripped branches from certain kinds of trees in the watering trough. The Hebrew word for “mated” (:38) comes from a root word which means to be hot, in other words, to be in heat. Jacob practiced selective breeding so that his flocks were the strongest and healthiest. As a result, his flocks increased in number and he became a very wealthy man. Someone has said, “The ancient Hebrew says, ‘the man burst out exceedingly exceedingly.’"
Prayer: Lord, as I read these chapters it reminds me of my own children, and grandchildren. I pray for every one of them. I pray that all of my grandchildren will accept Jesus as their Savior while they are still children. And that You will give them godly spouses who also accepted You while they were children. I pray that You will bless their marriages and that every one of them will last for a lifetime. And Lord, please bring all of our descendants to Christ and His salvation. Let our lineage be a godly lineage that brings glory and praise to Your name.