About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Verse 31 says that
"the Lord saw that Leah was not loved".
We need to think a bit about the words "not loved"
here. The Hebrew word
translated as "not loved" is also found in Deut. 21:15, Mal.
1:2 and 3. In
Mal. 1:3 we see the words "God hated Esau." Paul
picks up on this and quotes from Mal. 1:3 in Romans 9:13. The question
always arises concerning God hating Esau.
How could God hate someone, especially when Jesus died for that
someone. The Hebrew word
translated as "hate" in
Mal. 1:3 is translated as "loved less" here in Genesis 29:3.
It is a cultural idiom. Hate
thus means "love less". This
is how we should view God
hating Esau. He loved him
We also see in verse 31
that both Rachel was barren, but the Lord opened Leah's womb.
It was commonly held that when a woman got pregnant, it was God
who opened her womb. Because
the text says that God opened Leah's womb, does not mean she was barren
in the sense she could not have a child.
It simply means that she had not yet had a child to that point in
time. Yet when it comes to
Rachel, the text specifically said she was barren.
We don't know how long she was barren. She could have simply not
have been pregnant as yet, or, she could have needed a miracle to have a
We do see God here loving
those who are loved less. That
is the nature of God. He
does love, and He does love those who are loved less.
In verse 32 we see the
first born of Jacob's twelve sons who represent, and would become the
twelve tribes of Israel. His name was Rueben.
Because Leah finally had a child, she hoped that Jacob would now
love her as he loved her sister Leah.
One thing I'm sure of and that is you cannot make someone love
you, although Leah certainly tried to make Jacob love her.
In verse 33 we see that
Leah gave birth to yet another son who she named Simeon.
Once again she felt that God had blessed her because she was not
loved by Jacob.
Verse 34 tells us that
Leah had yet another son who she named Levi.
For sure she thought that Jacob would love her now, now that she
had given him three sons.
It is a bit ironic, that
even though Jacob apparently did not love Leah, he had no trouble
getting her pregnant. If he did not love her, he certainly loved
sleeping with her.
Verse 35 tells us that
Leah had a fourth son that she called
In chapter 30 verse 1 we
see the competitive nature of Leah and Rachel's relationship.
Rachel was quite jealous because Leah had given Jacob four sons
but she hadn't given him any sons. She
actually got upset with Jacob and told him to give her sons.
Of course, he had no control over that, and his answer showed his
disgust. In verse 2 he
answered by saying, "am I God".
People in those days understood that God,
or the gods, depending on one's religion, caused women to get pregnant.
Jacob was saying, "I'm not God. I can't make you get
course, he had his part to play, but ultimately the baby to be formed
inside the womb of the woman was Gods' responsibility, or so they
thought back then.
Jacob asked Rachel,
"who has kept you from having children?"
Jacob's question implied that it was not him that prevented her
from having children. It was
God who was stopping her from having children.
In today's world we abort
thousands of babies each year. If we viewed the conception of babies as
being from God as these people did back then, that would certainly make
a big dent in the number of babies we abort.
You would have a heard time aborting, or killing, a baby if you
understood that baby to come from God, not just your partner.
Verse 3 might sound
strange to some, but it was the culture of the day.
Rachel tells Jacob to sleep with her maid servant so she could
have children on her behalf, so she could build a family like Leah.
If you remember, Sarah told Abraham to do the same when she
couldn't have children. In
Sarah's case, the outcome was a total disaster.
Verses 4 and 5 state that
Rachel gave her servant girl to be Jacob's wife.
I don't think that the servant girl actually became his wife in
the real sense of the word. I
think she became is wife, so to speak, in the act of sleeping together.
She was acting as a wife, and was really acting in place of his wife.
The text states that
Rachel gave the girl to Jacob. To
me, that suggests that Rachel simply handed her over and said,
"here she is. Take her
and sleep with her." What
a different culture they lived in. It
was certainly different than ours.
In verse 6 we see that
the servant girl indeed did give birth to a son, who Rachel called Dan. Notice
that Rachel called him Dan, not the servant girl.
Rachel's understanding was that God gave her a son, even though
the son was not born from her. I'm
not sure her understanding was right, but that was how she thought.
In verse 7 we see the
competition between the two sisters rage on.
Rachel has Jacob sleep with her made servant again, and again she
has a baby boy. Rachel named
the boy Naphteli because in her mind she had won the battle with her
sister. Yet in reality, has
she really won the battle? Leah
has had four boys born from her own womb while Rachel has had only two
boys born not from her womb
but from her servant's womb. I
wouldn't call that winning the battle.
We see Leah's response to
Rachel in verses 9 through 11. Leah
appears to have stopped having children for a while.
The way the text has it, is that she had been trying, meaning,
Jacob was sleeping with her but she just didn't get pregnant. So, Leah
pulled a page out of Rachel's book and had Jacob sleep with her made
servant, which he probably gladly did, and she gave birth to a baby boy.
Leah called this boy Gad, because she now had good fortune.
That is sort of like saying "I'm lucky.
It appears, or possibly appears, that in her eyes "good
fortune" had now replaced the will of God.
She once gave thanks to God for her babies. Now she calls it good
I said earlier that one
reason for Leah not giving birth was that maybe Jacob wasn't sleeping
with her. This passage
suggests he was, at least for this time period.
Still, there might have been a while when he was not sleeping
In verse 12 and 13 Leah's
made servant gives birth to yet another son who Leah called Asher
because it made her happy. It
all comes down to personal happiness at this point in the competition
between the two sisters. I
wonder how happy Jacob was. He
sure was a busy man, although he had to put up with two fighting
sisters. I can't see that making him very happy.
Time was now passing and
one year during wheat harvest one of Leah's sons named Rueben went out
and picked some mandrakes. Mandrakes
are herbs that grow in the
Mediterranean area. It is so
named because the root system looks like the form of a man.
It was is a narcotic of sorts and in civilizations past was seen
as a means to help women get pregnant.
So in verse 14 Rueben finds some mandrakes and when Rachel hears
that, she wants some. She is
surely thinking that they will help her get pregnant since she has not
yet had a child from her own womb.
I see verse 15 as being a
bit funny. Basically Leah
responds to Rachel's request
by saying, "you took my husband, now you want my sons
mandrakes." I think
it's funny because Leah compares a herb to her husband.
Her husband would be important. The herb shouldn't really be
compared with her husband. Rueben
could probably go out and find some more mandrakes.
Leah couldn't just go out and find another husband.
Rachel responds to Leah
by saying, "very well, Jacob can sleep with you tonight."
This response might suggest that Jacob had been sleeping with
Rachel now and that he had not been sleeping with Leah for a while.
Verse 16 seems to imply this too.
Leah meets Jacob as he was coming in from the fields and told him
that he had to sleep with her that night because she had "hired
him" with her son's mandrakes.
She paid for Jacob that evening.
That sounds weird, but I guess if you have two fighting sisters
that you are married to, anything can happen.
The last part of verse 16
says, "so he slept with her."
Jacob did as he was told.
Verse 17 tells us that
because of that night, Leah gave birth to a fifth son that she named
Issachar. This was her
reasoning. She thought that
because she let Jacob sleep with her made servant God blessed her for
that by giving her another baby. I'm
not sure that Leah's logic was correct, but that's what she thought.
So the battle goes on.
So there was a period of
time that Leah did not give birth. We
don't know why for sure. But
there is a hint that Jacob might not have slept with Leah as frequently
as he once did. This might
be the cause for Leah's temporary bareness.
Verse 17 begins with,
"God listened to Leah", so maybe Leah had a point when she
attributed the birth of this son to God.
Verses 19 and 20 tell us
that Leah now gave birth to a sixth son she called Zebulun.
She thought for sure that Jacob would honour her because she gave
him six sons. This battle
between the sisters never ends.
Verse 21 tells us that
some time later Leah gave birth to a daughter she named Dinah. We'll
see later in Genesis that Dinah was sexually assaulted by a man name
Sheckem who wanted her as his wife.
I'm not sure sexually assaulting her would help his cause.
In retaliation for this assault Simeon and Levi killed all the
men in the town the Sheckem lived. The
town was named after him.
In verse 22 we see that
God remembered Rachel and listened to her and opened
her womb. Verses 23
and 24 state that Rachel finally became pregnant and gave birth to a son
and she called him Joseph because God had taken away her disgrace.
Women in those days felt disgraced among other women if they
could not give birth to a baby. Joseph
was the son the was despised by the other brothers and was sold into
slavery. You might well
imagine why Joseph was not liked by his brothers.
He was a special son. The
only son born from Rachel to that date.
She probably really babied him.
This chapter lists eleven
of the twelve sons that Jacob had born to him.
The last son was born to Rachel after Joseph, the first son born
to Rachel, and the eleventh son to be born, was born after Joseph was
sold into slavery by his brothers.
So Jacob had twelve sons.
Leah gave birth to six sons.
They were, Rueben, Simeon,
Rachel gave birth to two
sons. There names were
Joseph and Benjamin.
Leah's maid servant gave
birth to two sons. There
names were, Gad and Asher.
Rachel's maid servant
gave birth to two sons. There
names were, Dan, Naphteli,
It looks like Leah won
the competition between the two sisters, but in the eyes of God, all
twelve sons were important, no matter how or when they were born.
In verses 25 and 26 we
see that after Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob wanted to return home.
It is only speculation, but the birth of Joseph must have really
meant something to Jacob. Jacob
loved Rachel more than Leah, and now Rachel, after all these years,
finally gave him a son. I
know from experience that when a couple gives birth, and if they are far
away from home, there is the feeling of wanting to return home if at all
possible. This is how I
think Jacob felt at this point. He
was a "mother's boy" as we would say.
I'm sure he wanted his mother to see his children before she
So Jacob asked Laban to
allow him to go home. You
might wonder why Jacob had to ask for permission.
Jacob has respect for Laban.
It might not have been a personal respect from his heart, but it
was a cultural respect. Laban was the head of this large extended family
that he was now a part of. What
Jacob was doing here was simply asking Laban's permission and blessing
to leave, as he asked for Laban's permission to marry Rachel.
Verse 27 tells us that
Laban did not want Jacob to leave. He
knew well that Jacob had become a real financial blessing for him.
Laban now had become wealthy because of Jacob's presence, and he
did not want to lose Jacob for that reason.
So Laban said that if he has found favour in Jacob's eyes, he
wanted Jacob to stay. We
will see that this actually turned out to be a detriment to Laban.
Verse 27 tells us
something about Laban. The
text says that Laban learned that the Lord, that is Yahweh, was the one
who had actually blessed him, and that was true.
Yet, the text says that Laban learned that through divination.
Divination is condemned in the Law of Moses, which was not yet in
existence. Divination is the
attempt by a person to contact the spirit world to find answers to
questions that could otherwise not be known.
For this reason, Laban could not have been a true worshipper of
Yahweh. It appears that he
acknowledged the existence of Yahweh, but also dabbled in spiritualism,
something that goes against the very heart and nature of worshipping the
one and only true God.
You might wonder why
Laban believed in divination. Divination
was part of the polytheistic culture of the day.
Laban was not a fearer of the God of Abraham.
You also might wonder if
Laban really needed to seek the demonic spiritual world to know that it
was Yahweh that had blessed him. Personally,
I think it is quite obvious that Jacob and his God was the means of
blessing. Laban had not been
so blessed prior to Jacob working for him.
It doesn't take much intelligence to put two and two together
here. This tells me that
divination was a practice for Laban, not just a one time thing.
That was part of his religion, as it was with most people back
In verse 28 Laban said,
"name your wages." He
told Jacob to just let him know how much he wanted to be paid in order
to stay and look after the cattle for Laban.
Laban wanted Jacob to stay pretty badly. He'd
pay anything, or so he said. I'm
not sure though that you could fully trust Laban.
In verses 29 and 30 Jacob
reminds Laban how long he had work for him for.
In verse 30 we learn that prior to Jacob's arrival, Laban had
little, but now he has a lot, but it was now time for Jacob to have and
build his own family. That's
only natural. Jacob did not
want to work for Laban forever. He
wanted his own flock, his own business.
You can't blame him for that.
Again, in verse 31, Laban
asked, "what can I give you."
Jacob replied by saying, "don't give me anything."
Jacob did not want a salary.
Verses 31 and 32 state
Jacob's plan. He told Laban
that he would go through Laban's flock, take out every spotted sheep and
lamb, and every dark sheep for himself.
That would be payment enough to keep Jacob there working for
Verse 33 tells us why
Jacob came up with this plan. It
was all a matter of honesty. His
cattle and Laban's cattle could be easily distinguished.
The babies born from Jacob sheep would be spotted, clearly
differentiating them from Laban's sheep.
Laban could go at any time to check out to make sure things were
as they had been agreed to. Jacob
said that if there were any unspotted sheep or sheep that weren't
darkened among his flock, Laban could consider them as being stolen.
That was a pretty simple way to keep the two flocks separated.
When Jacob brings up the
thought about honesty, he is simply saying, "trust me".
Of course, that was the problem.
There was no trust between these two men.
Laban did not trust Jacob, and Jacob did not trust Laban.
In verse 34 Laban simply
said, "agreed". I
think he jumped at Jacob's plan pretty quickly.
I think he thought that he was getting a real deal.
His side of the deal was better than Jacob's.
There would have been much less spotted and darkened animals that
Jacob would have acquired. Laban
would have kept the bulk of the sheep and lambs.
For this reason Laban agreed quickly before Jacob changed his
Verses 34 through 36 tell
us that after the agreement, Laban did the separating of the sheep and
lambs. I guess Jacob trusted
him that much. Once Laban
had separated the flock into two, then he had his sons look after
Jacob's flock while Jacob looked after his flock.
He also had his sons go on a three day journey with Jacob's flock
to make sure there was enough space between the two flocks so nothing
would get mixed up. That
sounds all very logical and sensible.
From verse 37 onward to
the end of the chapter, we see how Jacob tended Laban's flock.
I'm not convinced that he was being totally honest here.
If I understand the text right, Jacob devised a way with branches
that had been stripped of their bark and put in watering troughs as a
means to encourage mating. The
text says that he would keep the strong young lambs for himself and
leave the weak for Laban. By
so doing, Jacob became very wealthy
It's my feeling that the
process that Jacob went through in these last few verses was pure
superstition. Some think
that there is some prophetic significance here, but I don't think so.
We need to understand
that God blessed Jacob in his life, even though he was not acting
righteously. This is in
direct fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant that
stated God would bless Abraham.
God's blessings on Israel
has nothing to do with their righteousness.
That is clear in this chapter as well as in other chapters.