Genesis  30:1-43


It should be noted that this chapter contains the record of the birth's of Jacob's children.  Jacob will have 13 children by 4 different women over a period of approximately 14 or 15 years.  This shows us that it is not necessary for Jacob to have more than one wife in order to have the children God would give him.  God worked in the circumstances of Jacob to provide him the blessings He would give him.  God does the same thing for us.  God's will will be done in our lives.  God will "work around" the sin we commit in order to produce His will in us.  It is much better for us if we don't sin, but our sins don't stop the will of God from being accomplished.

There may be some who would think that these four women had in their mind to fulfill the promise of God to Jacob by having all these children.  That may be so, but the Bible seems to indicate that this was not the case.  It seems, from a careful reading of the scriptures, that Leah and Rachel were in almost constant competition for Jacob's attention and favors.  Rachel had Jacob's love and devotion from the start, but Leah had all the children.  Rachel apparently felt she would soon lose Jacob's love because she couldn't have children, and Leah felt she would soon gain his love because she could have his children.


Verse 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.

Envy is against the tenth commandment, Ex. 20:17 - thou shall not covet.  The envy was caused not only by her own barrenness, but by her sisters fruitfulness.

Rachel didn't pray to God but to Jacob.  She didn't pray to her false gods that she will later steal from her dad and hide from him when she secrets away with Jacob.

Rachel asks for children, not child.  And she dies giving birth to the second.  She has children, but gives her life for theirs.  Be careful what you ask for, the Lord just might give it to you.

Compare Rachel to Hannah.

Hannah's womb was shut up, I Sam. 1:5.  So was Rachel's.

Hannah didn't have children, but prayed to God for them.  There is no record that Rachel prayed to God.

Hannah's reaction to being barren was different from Rachel's and allowed her husband to speak kindly to her.  I Sam. 1:8.  Rachel spoke harshly to her husband.

Hannah told God she would give the child back to him, Rachel said nothing like that.

God gave Hannah a child which she gave back to the Lord.  Rachel took the one child God gave her and kept it close to her.

God gave Hannah four more children, two boys and two girls, making a total of five children. I Sam. 2:21.  Rachel had one more child, but died in giving birth.

Compare Rachel to Sarah who had completely given up having children, to the point that she laughed when the angels told her she would have the promised child.  (Gen. 18:12)

Compare Rachel to Rebekah (Gen. 25:20,21) who was barren for 20 years (Compare Gen. 25:20 to Gen. 25:26).  It was Isaac who intreated the Lord for his wife.  Verse 22 states that Rebekah enquired of the Lord why the two children struggled in her womb and the Lord answered her prayer.  I think it is logical to understand that Rebekah has prayed to the Lord for a child, but had received no answer from the Lord.  She then discussed the situation with her husband, Isaac, who prayed about it.  God answered his prayer.  When the two children struggled in her womb, (which must have been much more movement than usual: since this was her first children, she would have gained this information from the experience of other women) she first prayed to God about it.  God answered her prayer, but I believe it is reasonable to assume that if God hadn't answered her prayer, she would have discussed it with Isaac who would pray to God on her behalf.


Verse 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?

It is obvious that Jacob is not barren, but the problem lies with Rachel.  Rachel was trying to put the blame on her husband, but this is impossible.

Jacob's anger against Rachel.  His love for her is very great, but foolish demands can turn that love into fierce hate.

Psalms 127:3 - Children are the heritage (property, or inheritance) of the Lord.


Verse 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.

This does not speak so much of a desire by Rachel for Jacob to have yet another wife as it speaks of the desperation of a barren women for children.

Proverbs 30:21-23 - There are three things the earth is disquieted (made nervous, excited or upset) about: one of these is a handmaid that is an heir to her mistress.  Bilhah doesn't fit into this category because Rachel is claiming Bilhah's children as her own, Bilhah doesn't receive any inheritance.


Verse 4  And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.

You would wonder why Bilhah would go along with such a plan.  I suppose Bilhah thought it better to have a form of a husband than no husband at all; to have children by a man not her husband than to have no children at all.  As a handmaid, there was little chance that she would ever be free to marry and bare children of her own.  Another line of thinking is that Bilhah, as a handmaid or slave, would consider it a great privilege to bear the child of her master's husband.

You would think that Rachel would be happier to love the children of her own sister than to love the children of her handmaid.  The relationship would be closer to Leah's children than to Bilhah's children.  But think: Bilhah is the handmaid, one that Rachel has control over, and she has no control over Leah; they are equals.  Rachel will be able to name and control Bilhah's children just like she controls Bilhah.  She cannot name or have any control over her sister's children.

Under the legal aspects of that day, the children of a slave belongs to the owner of the slave.  Therefore, in the legal sense, the children do belong to Rachel, but in the proper sense, it is still Bilhah's womb that God has opened.  It is still Bilhah that conceives and bares children.


Verse 5  And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.

Rachel is not like Sarah who gave her handmaid to Abram and was very jealous of both the handmaid and the child Ishmael.  Gen. 21:9  It should be noted that the jealousy of Sarah didn't start until she had her own child.  Rachel, on the other hand, does not appear jealous of Bilhah's children even after Joseph was born.


Verse 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.

It is apparent from this verse that Rachel prayed that God would justify what she has done.  Rachel feels God has judged her, found her just, and answered her prayer.  The Bible, however, doesn't say God did this.  Compare to verse 17 where the Bible clearly states God hearkened to Leah's prayer.

The name "Dan" means judge.  Rachel believes she has stood before God and he has heard her cry found her innocent and has given her this child as a sign of his favor toward her.  Whether this is so is a matter of conjecture.  While it is true that Rachel claims this child as her own, and it is true that God sometimes blesses us in spite of our sinfulness, it is doubtful to me that God is blessing Rachel.  I do believe God is blessing Jacob with all these children from all these women.  Let us always remember that God blesses His people, but His blessings do not come because they have ceased from sin.  His blessings come to them while they are still in their sins.


Verse 7  And Bilhah Rachel's maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son.

It seems Jacob was regularly going in to all these wives.


Verse 8  And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.

It is a shame that Rachel is using these children as a means of having a "victory" over her sister.

Naphtali means "wrestlings" as if Rachel and Leah are wrestling with one another for Jacob's favors.


Verse 9  When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.

Leah has left bearing children for 2 years at the most, very possibly only 1 year.  Leah is so afraid her sister will get ahead of her in bearing children, that she too gives Jacob her handmaid to wife.  The children Zilpah bears to Jacob will be counted as belonging to Leah because Zilpah belongs to Leah.

Note the jealousy of Leah.


Verse 10, 11  And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a son. {11} And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.

Here Leah expects many more children from this union.  There seems to be no tinge of guilt or jealousy because their husband has more than one wife.  This competition seems to be over who can have the most children, (which is a sign of which is the favorite wife) not who has more of the affection of Jacob.


Verse 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.

It is a shame that Leah desires for the other women to call her blessed.  Her happiness shouldn't be based on what other women think (or don't think) about her.  Happiness ought to be based on what God thinks about us.


Verse 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.

MANDRAKE A small, perennial plant (Mandragora officinarum) native to the Middle East. Although not grown for food, its root and berries are edible. The Ancient Near East viewed it as an aphrodisiac and fertility drug. It is often called love apple or devil's apple. According to Genesis 30:14-16, a barren Rachel bargained with Reuben (Leah's oldest son) for some mandrakes which he had found. Leah, however, produced the children (Gen. 30:17-21). Only when God "remembered Rachel" did she bear Joseph (30:24). Thus Israel learned that God controlled fertility; superstition and human manipulation cannot supply what God chooses not to.[1]

It is quite apparent that Rachel wants a gift from Leah.  Leah demands payment.

Reuben, the oldest child of Leah, is no more than 6 years old at the time, probably just 4 years old.  It is very likely he didn't know what the gift was that he gave to his mother.  This reminds me of the child who is gathering flowers (sometimes they are weeds) and proudly presents them to his mother.  The mandrakes have a yellow berry the size of a nutmeg.


Verse 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.

Leah accuses Rachel of taking her husband.  This may be the reason Leah has stopped bearing.  Perhaps some deal was worked out to Rachel's advantage whereby Jacob would no longer be with Leah, but would be with Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah.  It seems strange that Rachel would give permission for Leah to be with her husband that night.

One thing we have here is Jacob who is being shuffled back and forth between all these women.  It is as if he has no control at all over what they are doing, even when he is directly involved.  This is what having more than one wife can cause.

A personal thought for more study.

1.   Gen. 29:35 - Leah left bearing.  Why?  The Bible doesn't say that God closed her womb.  The Bible doesn't say anything about why she left bearing.

2.   Gen. 30:15 - What does Leah mean when she accuses Rachel of taking her husband?

a.   She could mean that Rachel has given Jacob so much attention of late that Leah hasn't had an opportunity to be with him.

b.   She could mean that Rachel has given Jacob her handmaid and that forced Leah to give him her handmaid, and now Jacob hasn't had time to lie with her so she can conceive.

3.   Gen. 30:15 - Why does Rachel give Leah permission to lie with Jacob that night?

a.   It is very possible that these women were taking turns with Jacob.

b.   If this is so, tonight Jacob was to lie with Rachel, therefore, Rachel will allow Jacob to lie with Leah tonight.

4.   Gen. 30:19 - Leah bears a fifth son.

5.   These things make me wonder if Rachel did something to keep Jacob and Leah apart, so Leah could have no more children.

a.      There is nothing explicitly said that reaches that conclusion, but there seems to be something going on here that isn't explained.

b.      This whole thing makes me think that Rachel has done something to cause Jacob and Leah to be apart.

c.      When Reuben finds the mandrakes, which are supposed to help with fertility, Rachel decides it is worth the risk of letting Jacob lie with Leah, if she can get the mandrakes, use them and let their magical powers increase her changes of pregnancy.

d.   I think it is very appropriate to note that the mandrakes don't work!  When Rachel becomes pregnant, it is because God opened her womb.

6.   It is also entirely possible that Rachel is trying so hard to get pregnant that she hasn't given Jacob a chance to be with any of his other wives.  She is taking up all his spare time, encouraging him into her bed in the hopes that she will conceive.


Verse 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.

It seems that Jacob understands that his wives are fighting for his attentions, and he willingly goes along.  There is no mention that he thinks it strange, or unusual.

I think this would be a good time to look at the family life of Jacob.

1.   He is not really active in his own family life.

2.   He is letting his wives dictate who he sleeps with, he apparently goes along with all of their decisions.

3.   Jacob is busy working all day and is tired at night, therefore only wants to rest.

4.   This is like many husbands are today.  They work hard all day trying to earn a living for their family and don't take the time with their children when they are little.

5.   Notice some of the things on Jacob's mind.

a.      Laban has changed his wages by giving him Leah instead of Rachel.

b.   He believes Laban's prosperity is due to his hard work, but he is getting nothing for it.  The deal was that Jacob would work 14 years for the two wives.  In Jacob's mind, he ought to be getting more than just the two wives for all his hard work.  Jacob is expecting Laban to appreciate his hard work and give him compensation for it, but Laban isn't doing that.  Laban is not a good employer, and Jacob knows it and begins to resent it.

c.      Verse 30 - Jacob knows he is going to return to Canaan, and knows he doesn't have the material possessions to take care of his four wives and 13 children.  This would be on the mind of any man, and will drive him to do desperate things so his family will be cared for.

6.   Isn't all the things on Jacob's mind what is on the mind of working men today?

7.   The result of Jacob not paying enough attention to his family.

a.   The result in Jacob's family is the same as will be in ours.

b.      Gen. 34:2 - Dinah lay with Shechem, the son of Hamar the Hivite.

c.      Gen. 34:25 - Dinah's two brothers killed all the house of Shechem, with no regard as to Jacob's thoughts on the matter, or the consequences.

d.      Gen. 37 - The brothers of Joseph had so little regard for their fathers feelings they sold Joseph, the child of his old age, whom he loved so much he made a coat of many colors.

Leah tells Jacob the whole story, and evidently Jacob accepts it at face value. 


Verse 17  And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.

Leah had prayed that God would let her have more children.  I believe this is done in an attempt to gain Jacob's love and not to fulfill the promise of God to Jacob.

It is interesting to compare the verse before us to verse 6.  Verse 6 records what Rachel said, not necessarily what God did.  It is clear that Rachel prayed and asked God for His blessing on her actions, and she believes God has judged her, found her just, and answered her prayer.  Whether God actually did this; the Bible does not say.  But it is very clear that God did hearken to Leah's prayer.


Verse 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.

Issachar means "there is recompense".

It seems that Leah is convinced that God has justified her in giving her handmaid to Jacob to wife.  I personally don't believe God's will of purpose was for Jacob to have all these women.  His will of purpose was for Jacob to have only Leah to wife, and bear all 12 sons by her.  God's will of command allowed Jacob to marry Rachel, then Leah, and for both Rachel and Leah to give Jacob their handmaids to wife.  Leah is mistakenly using her fifth son, Issachar, as proof that God approves of her situation.


Verse 19  And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.

A "natural" conception.  Evidently, whatever it was that Rachel was doing (if she was doing something) to keep Leah and Jacob apart is over.


Verse 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.

The word "dwell" means to exalt or honor.  It is plain that Leah still does not have the honor or respect due her, even though she has given Jacob these six sons.  Very possibly one of the reasons for this is that Leah has spent so much time trying to out do Rachel with children that she hasn't taken the time to out do her in winning Jacob's attention.

I wonder about Jacob's involvement with all this competition between his wives.  It is very likely he knows it is going on, unless he is totally blind to the situation in his house.  But, being a man, it seems he really doesn't mind because the more jealous his wives become of each other, the more attention, the more wives, and the more children he gets.


Verse 21  And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.

I think it is important to note that the Bible doesn't say Leah left bearing like it did in 29:35, but she bears no more children.


Verse 22  And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.

It is interesting to note that the mandrakes do not work!  Rachel traded Leah a night with Jacob for the mandrakes, but they do not work.  Only God can open and close a womb.

God did not bless Rachel until he is finished blessing all the other wives.  Rachel may be last in bearing children to Jacob, but her children will be the ones he loves the most.  They are the children of his old age, Gen. 37:3.  Jacob will be greatly relieved because the love of his life finally conceives.

It should be noted that Rachel continues to pray for a child of her very own, even though she claims Bilhah's children as her own.  It is possible for a barren woman to adopt a child, but the yearning for a child from her own womb will not easily go away.

I believe it is also important to note that Rachel is praying to God, not to the idols of her father.  Her worship of God is not entirely true because she continues to think her fathers gods have power.  This is the reason she steals them when they leave Pandanaram and go to Canaan.


Verse 23  And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:

It was a constant reproach to Rachel, although it probably didn't bother Jacob as much, that she had no children.  God, not man, or friends, took away her reproach.


Verse 24  And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.

The following chart should help to understand how Jacob's children came to him.

The name Joseph means "Jehovah has added".  This is a beautiful tribute to God from whom all blessings flow.  It is marvelous that Rachel gives God the glory for this son.  She gives no glory to "mother nature", or the mandrakes.






(Rachel's handmaid)


(Leah's handmaid)


1. Reuben

1. G. 29:32

2. Simeon

2. G. 29:33

3. Levi

3. G. 29:34

4. Judah

4. G. 29:35

5. Dan

1. G. 30:6

6. Naphtali

2. G. 30:8

7. Gad

1. G. 30:11

8. Asher

2. G. 30:13

9. Issachar

5. G. 30:18

10. Zebulun

6. G. 30:20

11. Diana

7. G. 30:21

12. Joseph

1. G. 30:21

13. Benjamin

2. G. 35:19


Jewish Historians give the following "facts":[2]




Birth Date

Age at Death

1. Reuben

Genesis 29:35

November 14

124 years

2. Simeon

Genesis 29:35

December 21

120 years

3. Levi

Genesis 29:35

March 16

137 years

4. Judah

Genesis 29:35

May 15

119 years

5. Dan

Genesis 30:8

August 29

127 years

6. Naphtali

Genesis 30:8

September 5

133 years

7. Gad

Genesis 30:13

October 10

125 years

8. Asher

Genesis 30:13

January 22

123 years

9. Issachar

Genesis 30:20

July 10

122 years

10. Zebulun

Genesis 30:20

September 7

124 years

11. Diana[5]

12. Joseph

Genesis 30:24

June 27

110 years

13. Benjamin

Genesis 35:18

October 11

111 years


Levi's sons went into the care of the tabernacle and lost their head ship and inheritance in Israel.  This "head ship" was lost only temporarily, however, because Revelation 7:7 records that 12,000 were sealed of the tribe of Levi.

Joseph doesn't appear to have an inheritance in Israel. His inheritance is given to his two sons.  This is actually showing that Joseph has a double portion.  See Revelation 7:6 where Manasseh had 12,000 sealed from that tribe, and Rev. 7:8 where 12,000 were sealed from that tribe.


Compare the tribes in Numbers 1:5-15, and Rev. 7:1-8.

The tribe of Levi and Joseph are added back into the list showing that God has a place for them in the eternal inheritance.

The tribe of Ephraim and Dan are not in the Rev. 7:1-8 list.  This shows these two tribes have no eternal inheritance.

The explanation is: (1) Deut. 29:18-20.  God will blot out all inheritance (not their salvation, but the rewards of their labors) of any man, woman, family, or tribe that worships false Gods.  (2) I Kings 12:26-31.  During the reign of Jeroboam a false God was set up in Dan and Bethel (Ephraim).  Therefore God removed the tribes of Dan and Ephraim from eternal inheritance. 

Who will comprise the tribe of Joseph?  I believe it will be those faithful in the tribe of Ephraim who opposed the setting up of the false Gods.  No opposition was mentioned in I Kings 12, but that doesn't mean there wasn't opposition.


Verse 25-43 Begins a New Section of Jacob's life



Verse 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.

Jacob has now been in Padanaram for 14 years, working for his wives.  He has 12 children.

Jacob is asking more than just to return to his family, to go back home to see mom and dad.  He is wanting to go back to the place that God gave him by promise.  In returning to Canaan, Jacob is realizing God's hand in his life.  I am sure that Jacob also remembers that Esau is living in Canaan.  He may not realize it at this point, but it comes to him as his meeting with Esau draws near: Esau can kill him, but his children will still be alive to claim the promise.


Verse 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.

His wives and children are his pay for 14 years of labor, and he asks for them, and nothing more.  Even though Jacob's wives are Laban's daughters, and Jacob's children are his grandchildren, he will give them nothing as a parting gift.  He does offer Jacob wages for his labor.

Jacob reminds Laban of their contract, which has been fulfilled.


Verse 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.

It seems that Laban knows that for the past 14 years, he has enjoyed the blessings of God through Jacob.  This is very remarkable because Laban wants these blessings to continue, yet he doesn't want to worship God.  He keeps false gods in his house, whom, I suppose, he worships because when Rachel stole those gods, Laban searched through Jacob's belongings to find them.

A lot of people are like Laban in that they want the blessings of God, but don't want to submit themselves to the worship of God.  They pray to God when things go wrong, but forget about Him when things go right.  They want to do things their way, but receive God's physical blessings in this life and eternal life at death.


Verse 28  And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give [it].

Laban asked Jacob to tell him how much his wages should be.  This seems to be a very crafty question to me.  Laban knows the type man Jacob is.  He will not give him a figure that is more than he should receive, but will give him a figure that is much less than he really thinks he deserves.  With some people this question would not work.  Some people want a very unrealistic amount for doing nothing, but with Jacob, he will want much less for more work.


Verse 29, 30, 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?

Jacob reminds Laban how he took care of his cattle for the past 14 years, treating them like they were his own.  He reminds him that his flock was so small 14 years ago that Rachel was able to take care of them, but now that small flock has increased to a vast multitude.  Jacob declares this hasn't happened because of his skill, but because God was with him.  Jacob also reminds Laban that he has been so busy taking care of his flocks, that he hasn't had time to develop a flock of his own.  Now he has 17 mouths to feed, and there is a possibility more children could be born.

Jacob seems to press upon Laban the importance of receiving a wage for all his work, but hesitates to name a price.  I believe Jacob hesitates because of two things:

1.   It has become his nature to let the other person set the wage.  This is because he remembers how Esau felt when Jacob bought the birthright from him for a bowl of pottage.  He doesn't want Laban feeling the same way toward him.

2.   He remembers that he has already agreed to work for 14 years for his two wives.  If he accepts a wage in addition to the two wives, he is the one that is changing the agreement, not Laban.


Verse 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:

Laban once again asks Jacob what his wage should be.  This shows the character of Laban.  He knows his wealth is due largely to the work of Jacob and God's blessings, but refuses to acknowledge it with an amount that would be enough for Jacob to return to Canaan well supplied.  Laban seems to be wanting to hang on to everything he has, while seeming to be very generous with Jacob.  It must be noted that Laban makes no mention of trying to help his daughters or grandchildren.

Jacob doesn't ask for anything.  Actually, this seems correct to me.  Jacob and Laban had an agreement that Jacob would work 14 years for his two wives.  Well, actually, the original agreement was that Jacob would work 7 years for Rachel.  Laban changed that agreement without Jacob's knowledge, then Jacob accepted the changes in order to have Rachel as his wife.  It doesn't seem proper to me that Jacob would now ask for wages on top of his original agreement.  It also seems to me as I read the text, that both Jacob and Laban agree there ought to be some sort of financial reconciliation.


Verse 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.

Jacob will make these changes today, not tomorrow.  He has a sense of urgency about providing for his family, and for "getting on with his life," saving enough for the trip to Canaan.

There is no doubt that Laban thought this was a good deal because he would have all the best of the cattle while Jacob would receive that which was less perfect.  What Laban doesn't realize is that most things are imperfect.  He is settling for fewer cattle, but supposedly better cattle.  In my mind's eye, I can see Laban examining his "perfect" herd, feeling superior to others because he has been crafty enough to "fool" Jacob into giving him the very best.  He doesn't understand that only God can give prosperity.  He says that God has blessed him because of Jacob, but he really doesn't understand that God intends to bless Jacob.  He doesn't understand that God will bless anybody and everybody that blessed Israel and will curse anybody and everybody that curses Israel.  Remember that Jacob's name later becomes Israel.  He also doesn't understand how his "wisdom" will be turned into foolishness by God.


Verse 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.

Jacob doesn't trust Laban, or those people in the area (whether they are Laban's sons or Laban's neighbors) who will bring an accusation against him for stealing from Laban.  It seems to me that Jacob is expecting to be accused of stealing and is making provision for that very likely possibility.

Proverbs 27:23,24 - "Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds, {24} for riches are not forever; and doth the crown endure to every generation?"  This is what Jacob will do.  When Laban's sons complain (31:1) that Jacob has got his wealth at Laban's cost, it is really their problem.  They made the deal with Jacob, and failed to look after their own flocks.  Jacob is the one looking after their welfare.  They really should be grateful they have anything.

It is very amazing to me that those that have nothing, and do not watch out for their own welfare often complain about those that have gain material wealth because they watch out for themselves and their possessions. 

It is amazing to me that poor people think someone else should watch out for them, giving them what they lack.  This is especially bad in these United States today (1995) where welfare recipients generally believe they don't have enough, that the government should provide for their everyday needs and wants, and that they deserve every convenience of life simply because they are born in this great country.


Verse 34  And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word.

Laban agrees to Jacob's plan, but it seems he also changed the plan later.  In Genesis 31:7,8, Jacob declares that Laban has changed his wages 10 times and the daughters of Laban voice no disagreement.

There is a very interesting to note right here about work ethics:

1.   Jacob is very will to settle for the slightly inferior animals, but will have more of them.  It is often better to work for a little than not to work at all.  The welfare system in the United States often pays people more than they can get than some jobs pay.  However, a person will be better off in the long run if they take the lower paying job instead of welfare.  Welfare (getting something for nothing) tends to make a person lazy and they aren't learning any new trades, or increasing their knowledge about their old trade.  They aren't in the "flow" of job opportunities, therefore won't know about a good paying job if it comes up.  Also an employer is more likely to hire a person that is already working than to hire a person that is getting welfare.

a.      Jacob is going to finish his course as a very wealthy man simply because he did what was before him, and did it well.  Jacob will do what is necessary to do to get the job done, and this he also passes on to his children.

b.   It would suit us well to work diligently at the job before us, always doing the very best job we can for our present employer.  Tell the story of mowing the school yard with the new John Deere mower very fast.  One man in the town got on to me for mowing so fast, but I was obeying my employer.  I told him that if he was my boss and he wanted me to mow very slow that is what I would do.  I took some low paying jobs, but because of taking those low paying jobs, higher paying jobs were offered to me.

2.   Laban wants only the perfect animals, even though there will be fewer of them.  He may not realize there will be fewer perfect animals and imperfect.

a.   The person that lets the other person do his work will always be held back from success by that person.  It is not wrong to be the very best you can be, but it is wrong not to do anything because you can't do it perfectly.  If I waited to do something perfectly, I would never get anything done.  I would never have written the book In The Name Of... if I had waited for it to be perfect.

b.      Laban doesn't seem to have a very good work ethic, although he wants the material possessions that come because of a good work ethic.

c.      This is true of almost every person on welfare.  Many people want the government to give them more and more while they do less and less.


Verse 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.

The agreement was carried on the very day it was agreed to.  There would be no laxity on Jacob's part because Laban might change his mind.

Jacob gave all the spotted cattle into the hand of Laban's sons so they could examine each and every one of them, confirming that they all belonged to Jacob.

I would suppose that at this point, there weren't many spotted cattle.  I would imagine that Laban had a very good looking herd and that Jacob received only a few of the animals that belongs to Laban as his wage.


Verse 36  And he set three days' journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks.

The three days journey would not only separate the herds of Jacob and Laban, but would also give a "cushion" of protection against the herds mixing together again.  The three days journey would also make it very difficult for Jacob to take care of Laban's flock.  If I was Jacob I would spend more time with my own herds than I would with another mans.  I would want to be home every night with my wife and children than to be gone a week at a time.  A three days journey to Laban's, work one day, then travel back three days makes one week away from home.

The phrase "Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks", means that Jacob remained in charge of Laban's flocks.  This is a very strange thing.  Why don't Laban's sons take charge?  A better question might be, Why don't Laban take charge?  What is he doing?  What is the sons doing?  There is no Biblical record of what they are doing, but there is a record that they complain when things are not going their way, Genesis 31:1.  There are definite indications that there had already been complaining as Jacob tried to "cover himself" in verse 33 of this chapter.

What is Laban and his sons doing?  I believe they are doing exactly what they did before Jacob came.  Before Jacob came, the flock was little and Rachel was taking care of it.  They weren't taking care of the flock then, and they don't take care of the flock after Jacob came.  When Rachel got married and was under the rule of Jacob, then Jacob took over her duties.


Verse 37-42  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.

The plain truth of working is that a person will work harder for what is his than for what is another's.  This is what Jacob is doing.  He is spending a great deal of time and energy to improve what is his, but is not taking near as much time and energy (thought) into Laban's herd.  After all, Jacob will not gain anything if he does an excellent job caring for Laban's herd.  There is no incentive given by Laban.

This plan of Jacob will not work unless God is in it.  Grandpa Chapman (who lived in Willow Hill, Illinois) tried this plan and announced that only God could make such a plan work.  What it amounts to is that Jacob took different colored wood and put that before the cattle, so they would always want to look at that which was different colored.  The idea is that cattle do not see themselves and do not know whether they are spotted, ring-straked, of one color, two colors, three colors, or whatever.  But if they continually look at objects that are of multiple colors, they will begin to think that only things that are of multiple colors are good.

The green popular is not popular wood that is freshly cut, it is actually popular wood that is of a vivid green color.  Hazel wood and Chestnut is white wood with a dark bark.  Jacob pilled (stripped away some of the bark) of these cut poles (rods) making various colors appear when he put these together.  So Jacob's feeding and watering lots appeared as great big blotches of vivid green, white, and various colors of brown and black.  The gutter is the low place in the watering trough which held the water so the cattle could drink.



Verse 40-42, 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.

As the cattle bred and lambs were born, Jacob was careful to put all the ringstraked in a herd by themselves, and all the brown (the perfect ones that Laban wanted) in a herd by themselves.

Placing the rods before the cattle or laying the rods before the eyes of the cattle:  This means either one of two things.

1.   The rods were portable and could be moved at will.

2.   The rods were permanent and Jacob moved the cattle as necessary.  It seems to be it would be a lot easier to move the cattle than to move the rods.

Another thing he did was to place the rods (the various colored watering troughs and feed lots) before the eyes of the stronger cattle when they came to the gutters (the low place that held the water), so they could conceive when they came to drink.  It didn't make any difference whether the cattle was his or Laban's, as long as they were stronger.  When the weaker cattle came to drink, he didn't put the rods before their eyes, or he watered them in a different place.  This was his effort to keep the image of various colors before the eyes of the cattle he wanted to bred and bear spotted and ringstraked cattle.  It was Jacob's opinion that as long as the cattle had the image of many colors before their eyes, they would mate only with other cattle that had many colors.  And this is what happened.  Thus God blessed Jacob.


Verse 43  And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.

The result of Jacob's labors and God's blessings is that he became a very wealthy man with many servants.

The necessity of camels and asses fits well into God's future plans for Jacob returning to Canaan.  I do not know if Jacob has on his mind to return to Canaan or not, but I imagine it is in the back of his mind.

[1]Holman Bible Encyclopedia, article "Mandrake"  (WWR - This article makes it sound like Rachel used the mandrakes to entice Jacob to her bed.  The opposite is what actually happened.  Rachel, because she felt secure in Jacob's love, didn't mind Leah having him for one night if she could have the aphrodisiac mandrakes for her own personal use - without a husband!  This shows that Rachel was more interested in exciting sex than she was in sharing love with her husband.  Another point - Rachel didn't bargain with Reuben, but with Leah.  I think it is only fair to point out that the mandrakes was used as a fertility drug.  It is very possible that Rachel used the drug to increase her fertility, instead of depending of God to open her womb.  It is also possible that she used mandrakes with the intent that God would use her efforts to cause her to be fertile. {God helps those that help themselves!})


[2]Exposition of the Old & New Testaments, John Gill, Genesis chapter 30


[3]Some Jewish Expositors believe a twin was born with each of Jacob's sons except Joseph.  There is no record that this is true.  John Gill states (see his comments on verse 25) that they "pretend".  It is also interesting to note that many Jewish Historians believe that the gestation period for each child was only seven months.  There is no proof of this.  It is very interesting to note, however, that Leah (29:35) considered herself to have "left bearing" when in fact she had 7 children in 7 years!


[4]This scripture reference is the verse in John Gill's Exposition of the Old & New Testaments.


[5]John Gill does not record a birth date, or the length of life for Diana.  It may be that the Jewish Historians do not keep records of the women, only of the men.  They believed God traced the genealogy through the men, therefore kept accurate records of them.  Some Jewish Historians believe Diana was a twin to Zebulun, but there is no evidence this is true.