Genesis Chapter 30

At this point in the book of Genesis, Jacob has married Leah and Rachel. He loves Rachel, but she is barren, while Leah has already had four sons to Jacob. Both Leah and Rachel have handmaids given to them by their father. The book continues:

1 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.
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 to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.
5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.
6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.
7 And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare 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.
9 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.
10 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son.
11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.
12 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son.
13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

Rachel was so sad about the trial that she had of not being able to have children. She took her sadness out on Jacob, who reminded her that he was not God, but God was the one who could control if she could have children or not. Since she could not have her own children, Rachel gave Jacob her handmaid to marry, so that she could have children through her. Anything that her handmaid had, was legally hers, including her children. This practice of giving a handmaid to wife, was completely normal for the time, and through marriage, Jacob remained faithful to his covenants. The handmaid, Bilhah, had two sons for Rachel, Dan and Naphtali. I believe that these sons were an answer to the pleading prayers of Rachel, although not the exact answer she desired in her heart, which was to have her own child. At this point, Leah was not having children. She gave Jacob her handmaid, Zilpah, so that she could continue to have children also. Zilpah had two sons, Gad and Asher, which became Leah’s sons, making her happy for being blessed.

The scriptures remind me just how important the role of motherhood is for us. I don’t think that enough women today, recognize the eternal significance of the opportunity to bear children. But there are many who wish desperately for it, as Rachel did, and who are unable to have children. We all have trials in life, but I think that for a woman, this is one of the greatest and most trying challenges to face. I am so grateful that I have been blessed to have children and to experience the incredible responsibility to be a mother.

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 And 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.
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 bare 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.
19 And Leah conceived again, and bare 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 born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.
21 And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.

Reuben harvested mandrakes, which if I understand correctly, are an herb that may have been believed to have some power of healing or such. Rachel asked for some, but Leah refused because Jacob was not loving her as the first wife she was. Rachel offered Jacob to Leah in return for the food. I find it interesting that the right to be with their husband, was decided between the women and did not really seem like his decision.
Leah had two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun, and a daughter, Dinah. Leah felt like this would give her the right to be treated as the favored wife, because she had given Jacob so many children.

22 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.
23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:
24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The Lord shall add to me another son.

Finally, Rachel was able to have a son and his name was Joseph. Rachel felt truly blessed to be able to finally have a son, after there were already 10 sons and 1 daughter in their family. This had surely been a long and difficult trial for Rachel. I like that the scriptures often say a woman is remembered when she conceives a child. I know that the work of creating a child is more than a work between a man and woman. It is a work of God made available through a man and woman. A woman is doing her divine duty when she bears a child. Men do the work of God through the priesthood and I believe women to the work of God through having children. It is an amazing gift.

Note: At this point, Leah has 7 children of her own: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah. Then she has 2 children through Zilpah: Gad and Asher. Rachel has one son of her own: Joseph. Then she has 2 children through Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali. This makes a total of 12 children of Jacob up to this time, 11 sons and 1 daughter.

25 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.
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 favour 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 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?
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 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.
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 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.
36 And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.

Jacob asked to be allowed to go with his family away from Laban where he had served for so many years, because he had completed the service he agreed to of fourteen years. Laban, however, recognized that he had been blessed to have Jacob there, and did not want him to leave. Instead, he offered to pay him wages for his continued service. Jacob wanted to be able to freely provide for his family, so in exchange for his service, he asked to have some of the cattle and sheep that he had already been taking care of. I think that Jacob knew that if he lived in righteousness, the Lord would bless him and his family even though it may have seemed that he was taking the less desired of the flocks. Then they seperated themselves some, and Jacob continued to take care of Laban’s flocks for him.

37 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.
38 And 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.
39 And 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.
41 And 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.
42 But when the cattle 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 much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.

Jacob was wise in how he took care of his flocks and the flocks of Laban, making himself an increase in his own belongings. I am sure that the great blessings that came to Jacob were due to his righteous living and keeping the covenants of the priesthood which he had made. I know that God will bless us both in this life and after if we make and keep sacred covenants of the priesthood. I am so grateful for the blessings I have received in this life because of the covenants I have made.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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