Genesis 30:1-43

October 23, 2013 Jacob wanted to marry Rachel so he agreed to work for her father (his uncle Laban) seven years. On the wedding night Laban tricked Jacob and sent Rachel’s older sister, Leah, into Jacob’s tent. Jacob didn’t notice until afterwards but by then he was legally wed. He was allowed to marry Rachel as well but only in exchange for seven more years. Well, he loved Rachel because she was beautiful but he didn’t love Leah because she had “weak eyes.” His choice for love was in outward beauty but God had chosen to bring Christ through Leah. A tension, therefore, exists between the two sisters and it’s amplified after Leah delivers four sons for Jacob and Rachel delivers none. This is where we’ll pick up now, but before we get into it I want to remind you of the main point: I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of (Gen. 28:1315). The challenge as we read this chapter is to avoid drawing 21st century conclusions and trying to make application too quickly. We must read this within the proper context and through the eyes of an Israelite about to enter the Promised Land. What do these verses tell us about God and how do they build on His promise to Jacob? God Provides Many Children And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. 2And 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? Rachel envies Leah and blames Jacob for her barren womb. She lashes out against him and we’re reminded that this promise can only be fulfilled by God. Abraham couldn’t give a son to Sarah and Isaac couldn’t give a son to Rebekah. But Rachel can’t wait:


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. 4And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. 5And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 6And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan. 7And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. 8And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali. God allows Bilhah to have two children and Rachel sees this as a victory. The first child proves that God is on her side and the second proves she won the fight against Leah.

When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. 10And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son. 11And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad. 12And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son. 13And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher. Four children aren’t enough for Leah so she has two more children through Zilpah and considers herself happier for it. Now we come to the real point:

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. 15And 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 to night for thy son’s mandrakes. 16And 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. 17And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son. 18And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar. 19And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son. 20And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun. 21And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah. It’s probable that Rachel thought the mandrake would increase her ability to reproduce so she wants it badly enough to give up her husband for the night. This is the first of two superstitions in this chapter. Will they wait on God and trust in Him or will they resort to the flesh? Well, that’s been the question of the ages,

hasn’t it? Abraham didn’t do it and got Ishmael. Isaac didn’t do it and tried to bless Esau. Jacob didn’t do it and got Leah. Now Rachel will try and she’ll get nothing. Leah is the one who gets pregnant. She has two more sons and another daughter for Jacob, and her hopes of being accepted are rekindled. Surely all these kids will bring Jacob around, but there’s no evidence that he ever did.

And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. 23And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son. Rachel finally has a son of her own and it’s not because of mandrakes. The people of Israel can know that through all the tension and all the failures and despite trying in the flesh, God is faithful to deliver His promise. Now it’s time to see another part of the promise fulfilled: God Provides Many Animals

And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. 26Give 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. 27And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake. At this point Jacob has been with Laban for twenty years, and Laban is pleased having Jacob around because he prospers from Jacob’s blessing:

And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it. 29And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me. 30 For it was little which thou hadst 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? Laban really wants him to stay so he presses the matter, but Jacob knows he hasn’t started on his own nest egg yet. It’s not wise to keep working for uncle Laban without preparing for his own family:

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. 32I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the

speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire. 33So 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. All the spotted and speckled animals and all the brown sheep will be removed from the herd and Jacob will care for what remains. He receives no compensation except that from now on whenever a spotted or speckled animal is born it belongs to him; Laban can have all the rest. This is agreeable to Laban and so they begin:

And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats 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. 36And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks. There’s no way the already-born animals can be confused for Jacob’s now, and both men feel ready to make a profit. Laban obviously has the better end of the deal, but the crafty Jacob has a trick up his sleeve:

And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods. 38And he set the rods which he had pilled 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. 39And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted. 40 And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban’s cattle. 41And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods. 42But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses. Well this is strange, isn’t it? But don’t forget the mandrakes. This is the second superstition in this chapter and God blesses Jacob despite it. Jacob set a Guinness record for most brown sheep born in a year and Laban is dismayed; we learn from the next chapter (31:8) that he tries to switch the deal at least ten times: “Now I get

the speckled one and you can have the solids.” God says, “OK. Let them be solid.” Laban sees the change and now he wants the solid ones again, but God switches too! And Laban can’t win and God can’t lose and this shows us even more about the promised blessing. Why is this important? Because of the next words: “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.” Do you remember Bethel, Jacob? I made a promise and you vowed a vow. I am your God. It’s time to go home. It’s time to face Esau. And Jacob is able to say, “Ok, God. I trust you. I’ll go.” What do we, like the anxious pre-Promised Land Israelite, learn about God and His promise from this chapter? #1- God fulfills the promise in His time and it can’t be rushed. Think of those mandrakes again. Think of all the frustration and envy and strife and false accusations. God wasn’t budging until He was ready, and once He was no one could stop Him. #2- God allows us to experience adversity to build our confidence in Him. Why didn’t God have Jacob born first? Why didn’t God just strike Esau dead while Jacob was at home? Why didn’t He send Laban and his daughters to Isaac’s house? It would have saved a lot of trouble for Jacob. But Jacob is learning through all these things that he can trust God. His faith is increased with every trial. #3- God works on our behalf guaranteeing the promise. First, think about the weakness of Jacob’s faith. He actually thought shaving sticks would give him an advantage in securing the blessing. We might wonder why God would bless through all this, but let’s not forget what we read in the New Testament: For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth (Rom. 9:11). Why did God choose to bless Jacob? Because He wanted to! No one can stop what God has promised. If he can add and take away spots on the goat and lambs, He can give to us. And so I picture an Israelite about to advance into Canaan; will he be ok? Will he survive the battles? Take heart. God has promised!

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