Genesis 30: Jacob’s Prosperity at Laban’s Expense

Who did Rachel blame for not having children? Why?

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Genesis 30:1–2 Because Leah was having children and she had none, Rachel was jealous of her sister. “Give me children,” Rachel said to Jacob, “or I will die.”
“Am I God?” Jacob was angry. “Why is it my fault that God has kept you from having children?”
King James
Genesis 30:1–2 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. 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?

Why was Rachel’s servant having children an acceptable alternative to having her own?

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Genesis 30:3–8 “Take my servant Bilhah,” she said. “Sleep with her so she can bear children for me. I will have a family through her.”
So she arranged for Jacob to sleep with Bilhah, who became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Rachel named him Dan, saying, “God has judged and heard my plea, giving me a son.”
Rachel’s servant Bilhah became pregnant and gave Jacob another son. “I have wrestled with my sister and have won,” Rachel said. So she named him Naphtali.
King James
Genesis 30:3–8 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. And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 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. And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.

After having four sons, why did Leah feel a need to have more?

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Genesis 30:9–13 When Leah saw that she was no longer having children, she arranged for Jacob to sleep with her servant Zilpah, who became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Leah named him Gad, saying, “How fortunate I am.”
Leah’s servant Zilpah became pregnant and gave Jacob another son. “I am delighted,” Leah said. “Young women will call me blessed.” So she named her son Asher.
King James
Genesis 30:9–13 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son. And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad. And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son. And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

Why were mandrake plants valuable?

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Genesis 30:14–15 During the wheat harvest, Reuben found mandrake plants and gave them to his mother, Leah.
Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
“Wasn’t stealing my husband enough for you?” Leah said. “Would you take my son’s mandrakes too?”
“Okay,” Rachel said, “for your son’s mandrakes, you can sleep with Jacob tonight.”
King James
Genesis 30:14–15 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.
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.

Why was sleeping with Jacob a bargaining tool for Rachel?

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Genesis 30:15 “Wasn’t stealing my husband enough for you?” Leah said. “Would you take my son’s mandrakes too?”
“Okay,” Rachel said, “for your son’s mandrakes, you can sleep with Jacob tonight.”
King James
Genesis 30:15 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.

How did Jacob feel after learning that his sexual favor had been purchased?

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Genesis 30:16–18 That evening when Jacob was returning from the fields, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me tonight,” she said. “I have paid for you with my son’s love flowers.”
So he slept with her that night.
God answered Leah’s prayers. She became pregnant and gave birth to her fifth son. “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband,” Leah said. So she named her son Issachar.
King James
Genesis 30:16–18 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. And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son. And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.

How much competition existed among Rachel and Leah and their servants in seeking Jacob’s attention?

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Genesis 30:19–20 Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to her sixth son. “God has given me a wonderful gift,” Leah said. “My husband will live with me now, since I have given him six sons.” She named her son Zebulun.
King James
Genesis 30:19–20 And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son. 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.

Why did the four women have so few daughters?

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Genesis 30:21 She later gave birth to her daughter Dinah.
King James
Genesis 30:21 And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.

How did Rachel feel after realizing she was pregnant? How might this have changed her attitude toward the other women?

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Genesis 30:22–24 Finally, God remembered Rachel, answering her prayer. He made it possible for her to have children. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. “God has taken away my disgrace,” she said. “May the Lord give me another son,” so she named her son Joseph, meaning “he adds.”
King James
Genesis 30:22–24 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: And she called his name Joseph; and said, The Lord shall add to me another son.

After so many years in Haran, what stirred Jacob’s desire to return to Canaan?

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Genesis 30:25–26 After Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Release me so I can return to my homeland. Let me take my wives and children for whom I have served you, for you know how faithfully I have worked for you.”
King James
Genesis 30:25–26 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. 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.

Why did Laban want Jacob to stay in Haran?

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Genesis 30:27–28 “If you care for me,” Laban said, “please stay, for I know the Lord has blessed me because of you. Name your wages, and I’ll pay it.”
King James
Genesis 30:27–28 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. And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.

Why did Jacob agree to stay? Was he still planning to leave at some point? If so, when?

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Genesis 30:29–34 “You know how hard I’ve worked for you,” Jacob said, “caring for your livestock. The little you had before has grown to a multitude. The Lord has blessed you since I arrived. When do I get to provide for my own household as well?”
Laban said, “How much do you want?”
“I’m not asking you to give me anything,” Jacob said. “If you’ll do this one thing, then I will keep feeding and caring for your sheep and goats. Let me have from your flocks all the speckled or spotted sheep and dark-colored lambs. They will be my wages. You can account for my wages in this way. Any animals in my flocks that are not speckled, spotted, or discolored will be considered stolen, belonging to you.”
“Agreed,” Laban said. “Let it be exactly as you have said.”
King James
Genesis 30:29–34 And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me. 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?
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: 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. 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.
And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word.

Why did Jacob locate his flocks so far away from Laban’s?

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Genesis 30:35–36 That day, he removed his streaked, spotted, or discolored sheep, lambs, and goats and gave them to Jacob to tend three days’ journey away.
King James
Genesis 30:35–36 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. And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.

How could peeled branches in the watering troughs have had any effect on the breeding of Jacob’s livestock?

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Genesis 30:37–43 Jacob took green branches of plane, storax, and almond trees and peeled away strips of bark to leave streaks. He stuck the peeled branches in the watering troughs where his flocks came to drink during the breeding season. When the flocks conceived before the branches, they gave birth to streaked, spotted, or discolored lambs.
Jacob’s flocks kept producing streaked, spotted, or discolored lambs, which were kept separate from Laban’s spotless flocks, preventing any crossbreeding.
Jacob placed the branches before his stronger animals when they were breeding but not the weaker. So the strongest animals were in Jacob’s flocks, not Laban’s.
In this way, Jacob became very wealthy, with an abundance of livestock, male and female servants, camels, and donkeys.
King James
Genesis 30:37–43 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. 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. And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted. 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. 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. But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.