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Genesis - Chapter 30

Bible Study Notes
Genesis 30:1 Rachel was so completely devastated that she could not produce children she felt as if she would die if she could not. She demanded that Jacob give her a child.

Genesis 30:2 Jacob recognized that it was not in his power to do so, but only God could grant children.

Genesis 30:3 Desperate, Rachel gave Bilhah, her servant to Jacob to have children by her, just as Sarah did with her servant, Hagar, to Abraham.

Genesis 30:4-5 Jacob agreed to take Bilhah as a wife, and conceived a son for Rachel.

Genesis 30:6 Rachel claims that God granted her a son through Bilhah.  They named Jacob’s fifth child, Dan.

Genesis 30:7-8 Rachel claims that God granted her a second son and they named him Naphtali. She acts as though being in competition with her sister Leah, God has granted her the winner or something.

Genesis 30:9-13 Rachel’s behavior now has pulled Leah into this struggle. Seeing that she couldn’t produce any more children, she gave her servant, Zilpah, to Jacob to bare more children and to make sure that Rachel does not even the score. Zilpah bore a son and they called him Gad. She bore another son and called him Asher.

Score: Leah 6 - Sarah 2 (4 boys, 8 to go)

Genesis 30:14-15 Rachel and Leah’s competing with one another is getting really weird. Using Jacob as a bargaining chip, Rachel was willing to give Jacob to Leah for the night so she can get some of the mandrake’s that Leah’s son, Reuben found in the field. This odd and desperate bargain by Rachel was an attempt to become pregnant with the aid of the mandrakes, a folk remedy that failed to understand that God gives children.

Notes: The oldest son, Reuben, was about five. Playing in the field during wheat harvest, he found this small, orange-colored fruit and “brought them to his mother Leah.” These were superstitiously viewed in the ancient world as “love-apples,” a  fertility-inducing narcotic.

Genesis 30:16 How sad it is that Leah, who is supposed to be Jacob’s first wife, had to inform Jacob that he must sleep with her tonight because as she said, “hired him” from Rachel based on the deal made between the sisters.

Notes: Because Jacob loved Rachel, it would appear that Jacob and Rachel slept together in the same bed every night even though technically Jacob now had four wives. Leah had to agree to bargain with her sister Rachel to get Jacob to sleep in her bed that rightfully she should have in the first place.

Genesis 30:17-18 God answered what appears to be Leah’s ongoing agonizing prayer for the attention of her husband Jacob, and the Lord grants Leah another child. They named her fifth son, Issachar.

Notes: It appears that Leah felt God granted her another son out of pity because Leah had to stoop to Rachel’s level by giving Jacob her servant to bare more children to help ease her reproach.

Genesis 30:19-21 God granted Leah a sixth son, and they named him, Zebulun. Leah was convinced that Jacob would now honor her because she herself bore Jacob six sons. Not.

Notes: Oh yah, and Leah had a girl named Dinah. Not that Dinah was the only girl, but she is introduced her because she is involved in a future drama.

Genesis 30:22-24 God finally answered Rachel’s prayer and granted her a son that they named, Joseph, naming him in the hope that the Lord would grant her another son.

Score: Leah 8 - Sarah 3 (11 boys, 1 to go)

Detailed breakdown:

Leah (6)            Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
Rachel (1)         Joseph
Zilpah (2)          Gad and Asher
Bilhah (2)          Dan and Naphtali.

Genesis 30:25-26 The additional seven years Jacob promised Laban to serve him were complete (Jacob now in Haran for a total of 14 years) and asked permission to leave and go home with his wives and kids.

Genesis 30:27-28 Laban realized that Jacob’s worked was blessed by the Lord which made him very rich and didn’t want Jacob to leave. He now offered him wages to stay (since he already has his brides).

Genesis 30:29-30 Jacob rejects Laban’s offer to stay and just be a servant to him and wants instead to provide for his own family, be his own boss, the head and leader of his own family and livelihood, not dependent anymore on Laban.

Genesis 30:31 Realizing that Jacob was correct in making him wealthy, he offered Jacob some payback.

Genesis 30:32-34 Jacob insisted he wanted nothing from Laban anymore. He had learned that God would supply what He wanted him to have, and he did not wish to be indebted in any way to a man whom he had come to know as a self-seeking, deceptive, ungodly schemer. Instead, he agreed to not return home at this time if Laban would at least give him some of the flock for his own and would also continue to pasture Laban’s flock for him. Jacob needed to build his own wealth.

Jacob contrived a plan to take his share of the unborn flock as his wages that were marked with spots and color to easily distinguish with the normal colored ones left over for Laban. (White sheep, Black goats, and brown cattle). If any of the flock found with Jacob yet to be born were found to be of normal color, it would be considered stolen and Laban was given the right to take it from him. Laban agrees to the deal. Normal color was more valuable than the flock marked with spots and color. Laban knew he was getting the better deal.

Notes: Indeed, it was an act of pure faith on his part. He had put himself entirely at God's mercy. It would be up to the Lord to indicate, by a very unlikely set of circumstances, whether Jacob should prosper personally or not.

Genesis 30:35 Laban again deceives Jacob by having his own sons remove and keep charge of the flock marked with spots and color to ensure that they did not breed more animals spotted and colored. Laban believed that the normal colored animals would not produce animals marked with spots and colors. The majority of the future flock would then be normal colored, ensuring that Laban ended up with more and Jacob less.

Genesis 30:36 Laban further ensures that Jacob could not breed more animals spotted and colored by separating the flocks by a 3-day journey.

Genesis 30:37-40 To recover the loss of animals spotted and colored, Jacob attempts to manipulate the breeding process of the flocks by placing fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees in the troughs where the flocks were watered. Jacob understood the selective mating process and knew how to manipulate the recessive spotted gene of the normal colored flock to produce flock that is more spotted. Jacob then separates his animals from those of Laban.

Notes: How exactly these sticks worked in the process is not clear. It is possible that the sticks produced some sort of stimulant that caused the flock to want to breed, and also a chemical reaction in the flock that affected the genetic process. Jacob, being very wise, and the knowledge probably lost to scientists today, understood the process of  transmission of hereditary factors.

Genesis 30:41-42 Realizing that Laban had again deceived him, Jacob devised a plan to ensure that the striped, speckled, and spotted animals came from the strongest animals in Laban’s flocks. Not only did Jacob end up with more flock than Laban, but his flock was stronger.

Notes: God promised Jacob that he would bless those who blessed Jacob and curse those who cursed Jacob. Laban was getting his due.

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