Four Wives, Twelve Sons, and One Big Mess!

Posted: May 31, 2018 in Genesis, Uncategorized

Genesis 29:1-30:24, “ Four Wives, Twelve Sons, and One Big Mess!”

Weddings can be super-fun, but (as most brides and their mothers know) they can also be super-stressful. Of course, not all weddings are expected – some come as a surprise, and after the wedding night, surprises keep on coming. Such was the case with Jacob and his family. Because of some trickery on the part of his father-in-law, and favoritism Jacob showed on his own, Jacob not only had a surprise on his wedding night, but he (and everyone else) had a lot of heartache in the days to come.

The good news is that even though much of the heartache was due to sin, God is sovereign. God is even sovereign over our sin. He can take the things that people mean for evil – He can take our shortcomings, mistakes, and sinful shortcuts – and from these things He can bring great good. And that is exactly what God did with Jacob.

Of course Jacob didn’t arrive on the scene completely innocent and spotless. The very reason he had been sent so far away to find a wife from his uncle Laban was due to Jacob’s (and his mother’s) own scheming and deception. A not-so-friendly rivalry had long existed between him & his twin-brother Esau, primarily over the covenant blessing that Jacob had been prophesied to receive but Esau (as the older) tried to keep for himself. Esau and their father Isaac had together conspired to find a way around the prophecy that the covenant would go to Jacob, but Jacob and his mother Rebekah had a conspiracy of their own. Together, they worked to deceive the nearly-blind Isaac, manipulating him to believe Jacob was really Esau & receive the fatherly blessing that had been intended for the older son.

Upon realizing the truth, Isaac recognized that the blessing rightfully belonged to Jacob, but Esau now desired to kill him. Thus, Isaac sent Jacob to the region of Haran (in Syria) to find Rebekah’s family in order that Jacob might take a wife. Once on the road with the full knowledgeable blessing of his father, Jacob had a vision from God. He saw a ladder leading to heaven and received God’s assurance that He would never leave Jacob, and that God would fulfill all of His covenant promises to him. To this word, Jacob began a road of faith, but didn’t quite complete it – and he gave God a conditional promise of his worship once God brought him back to the promised land.

Jacob still had much to learn, and he’d receive many of these lessons the hard way with his uncle Laban.

Genesis 29-30 introduces Jacob to the family, shows his marriages and ensuing children – but it doesn’t happen without a lot of stress along the way. The man who had so often deceived his family himself was the victim of deception. The son who knew what it was like to suffer unjust sibling favoritism himself showed sibling favoritism. And all of it led to a lot of pain. Yet in it was good news: God was sovereign over all of it. Through all their pain, God still worked His plan, and continued to lay the foundation for the Messiah Jesus.

God is sovereign over our stress & our sin…and praise God that He is!

Genesis 29

  • Jacob finds the family of Laban (29:1-14)

1 So Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the East. 2 And he looked, and saw a well in the field; and behold, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks. A large stone was on the well’s mouth. 3 Now all the flocks would be gathered there; and they would roll the stone from the well’s mouth, water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the well’s mouth.

  1. Arrived in Haran. When the writer last left off with Jacob, he had been in Bethel, still in the promised land. Now, the narrative finds him in Syria, several hundred miles to the north – the entire journey skipped over.
  2. Interestingly, Jacob arrives at a well – which ought to sound very familiar to the events of Genesis 24. At that time, Abraham’s servant also arrived in Haran and went to a well. Was this the same well as the one where Abraham’s servant met Rebekah? Perhaps, although that well was not described as having a stone lid. In any case, it is obvious that God was guiding Jacob just as God had guided Abraham’s servant – even if God is not specifically credited by Jacob as doing so.
  3. Why the stone? Probably to keep out dirt & animals. Easier to remove it once, and water all the animals, rather than to do it repeatedly throughout the day.

4 And Jacob said to them, “My brethren, where are you from?” And they said, “We are from Haran.” 5 Then he said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” And they said, “We know him.” 6 So he said to them, “Is he well?” And they said, “He is well. And look, his daughter Rachel is coming with the sheep.”

  1. Success! God led Jacob to exactly the right spot and people. He was in the right city – he met the right people who could lead him to his family – he was even there at the right time, just as one of his family members approached. Again, this is nothing less than a miracle of God, just as what had happened in the previous generation.
  2. This is the first of several parallels to earlier events among the Abrahamic family in Genesis. Jacob retraces a lot of steps – some good; some bad. At this stage, it is good – and it should have primed the pump of Jacob’s memory of the stories he had heard in his youth. If he remembered how things went in how Abraham’s servant met Jacob’s mother, he might find similar success himself.

7 Then he said, “Look, it is still high day; it is not time for the cattle to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go and feed them.” 8 But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and they have rolled the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep.”

  1. It seems as if Jacob was pushing to go ahead and have provision and water ready for Rachel, but the townsmen were not willing to budge. Jacob may have been in a rush, but they weren’t.
  2. That’s when Jacob took personal action…

9 Now while he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.

  1. Show of strength! Jacob moved the stone himself. Keep in mind, this was a “large stone” (29:2) – it was likely that several men usually teamed up together to remove it. Here, Jacob was so excited about his opportunity that he couldn’t help but show off a bit. He saw Rebekah, and he was more than willing to go through great difficulties for her.
  2. Although the love that Jacob had for Rachel will soon be described, the emphasis at this point is on Laban; not Rachel. God had blessed Jacob, bringing him to the right family, and it was the family connection that Jacob stressed in his story.

11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s relative and that he was Rebekah’s son. So she ran and told her father.

  1. Probably not a romantic kiss (yet!). This was an overjoyed greeting. Apparently, there was much shared excitement, as Rachel ran to tell her dad (leaving Jacob in the city square by the well?!), and her dad ran back to find Jacob…

13 Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. So he told Laban all these things. 14 And Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him for a month.

  1. Laban received Jacob with the same greeting Jacob had given Rachel. Despite the lack of wealth Jacob possessed (as opposed to Abraham’s servant), Laban was soon convinced that Jacob spoke the truth & he was truly family.
  2. Stayed much longer than Abraham’s servant! The servant arrived in town, refusing to even eat dinner before he told his business to find a wife for his master’s son. Once the arrangement was made, he left the next morning. In all likelihood, this is what Rebekah imagined Jacob would have done as well, as she believed Esau just needed a few days to calm his anger. As it turned out, Jacob lingered with Laban. He hadn’t arrived with the gold & gifts as had his grandfather’s servant, and he probably thought he needed to prove himself in the eyes of his uncle.
  • Love, marriage, deception (29:15-30)

15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what should your wages be?”

  1. Eventually Laban knew something was going on…there was a reason Jacob stayed with the family for so long. Jacob wanted something – he just needed to come out and say it.
    1. BTW – There’s a good principle here: a worker is worthy of his wages (1 Tim 5:18). Just because we have a good relationship with someone (or because a contractor is a born-again Christian) does not mean that they don’t deserve adequate compensation.
  2. At this point, Laban seems to be an honest man. Just wait!

16 Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance.

  1. Genesis introduces the reader to both of Laban’s daughters, and there is an immediate comparison. Leah is said to have “delicate” eyes, though the meaning of the term is unclear. The Hebrew word could be translated as “tender, weak, faint, or fair.” IOW, “delicate” doesn’t necessary equal “ugly.” The interpretation possibilities range from a compliment to a complaint. What is clear is the comparison between the two sisters. Even if the term “delicate” was a compliment, this was the best thing that could be said about Leah, as opposed to Rachel who was described as being strikingly “beautiful” all over.
  2. BTW – The details about Leah’s & Rachel’s appearances are not comments on their value; it is simply a record of fact, which probably played into Jacob’s own desire for them (something that is sad enough on its own). Physical beauty is something that can be appreciated, but it is not the end-all-be-all for value. Jesus Himself had no physical beauty about Him that people would desire Him as king (Isa 53:2), but He to be desired above all!

18 Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.” 19 And Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me.”

  1. Jacob arrived in Haran penniless. This was his offer of a dowry payment. Seven years of fieldwork as a livestock hand was worth quite a bit of money – if Laban was willing to negotiate the deal, it would be very profitable to him.
  2. Laban agreed to the terms, saying that it was “better” (literally “good”) to give her to Jacob. Despite the way 21st century westerners might read his words, Laban wasn’t settling for Jacob as 2nd best; he agreed that this was truly a good thing.
  3. Note: Jacob’s terms were very He requested “Rachel your younger daughter.” This is something Laban soon conveniently forgets or (most likely) ignores.

20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.

  1. True love! Time flew by, and the time spent in the fields was nothing compared to the time Jacob would spend with his bride-to-be. Or so he thought…

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.” 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast. 23 Now it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. 24 And Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid.

  1. Once time was up, Jacob had to prompt Laban to fulfill his end of the bargain. At first glance, everything appeared normal.
  2. They might have “appeared normal,” but they weren’t! Laban engaged in private deception.

25 So it came to pass in the morning, that behold, it was Leah. And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 And Laban said, “It must not be done so in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.”

  1. Question: Why hadn’t Jacob known earlier? Answer: Weddings in that culture were very different. Between the darkness, the drunkenness, and the veil, Jacob wasn’t aware of the reality until dawn’s first light.
  2. Another parallel to the past. Jacob was deceived by Laban in much the same way as Jacob deceived his father. Isaac had been tricked by a disguised Jacob; Jacob was tricked by a disguised Leah (per the command of her father). It’s often said “What comes around, goes around,” and it was certainly true in Jacob’s case!
  3. Question: Was the idea of marrying off the older daughter first a true tradition in the culture? It’s possible, but it’s also just as possible that it was an invention of Laban to justify his unscrupulous actions. Whatever the case of the tradition, it was certainly advantageous to Laban. After all, he got another 7 years of free labor out of it!

28 Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week. So he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife also. 29 And Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as a maid. 30 Then Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he also loved Rachel more than Leah. And he served with Laban still another seven years.

  1. The “week” was the wedding feast week. Jacob did not have to wait another seven years before being wed to the woman he had initially desired. Instead, it was only seven days, after which he was married a second time.
  2. Although Jacob was deceived, he was faithful to his promise. He didn’t try to weasel his way out of “still another seven years,” but rather served it as expected. Perhaps Jacob realized all that he experienced had been allowed by God, and even recognized it as a bit of divine retribution. He had been deceptive towards his father, and now his father-in-law was deceptive towards him. Galatians 6:7–8, “(7) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (8) For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” This is not the eastern idea of karma; this is the Biblical idea of justice. God is not fooled by our actions and our attitudes. If we deceive, we need to expect deception – if we gossip, we need to expect to be gossiped about. The good news is that the reverse is also true! If we do things for the glory of God (loving others, showing compassion), we can expect the same. 
  • Sibling rivalry of the worst kind (29:31 – 30:24)

31 When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.

  1. Jacob may have been faithful to his promise, but he showed favoritism among his wives. “Leah was unloved” – literally, Leah was “hated.” Granted, the word could be used as a simple comparison, but there’s little doubt this is exactly the way it felt to Leah. (Can you imagine it? Can you imagine the pain that went with it?)
  2. In this is another parallel. Just as there was favoritism between the twin brothers Esau & Jacob and competition for the attention of their parents, so was there favoritism shown by Jacob to his wives & it began a terrible competition between the two sisters for the attention of their husband.
    1. BTW – This also provides a great example why polygamy is never endorsed by God. Although He allowed it at certain points in Biblical history, God never once commended it as being something good or desirable. God’s intent for marriage from the very beginning was one man + one woman, for life in submission to Him & to each other.
  3. Yet Leah was not alone. God “saw” her, God knew her grief, and God acted: He “opened” the womb of Leah, but allowed Rachel to remain “” Rachel’s situation will be addressed in a moment, but take note of the grace of God towards Leah. God ensured that Leah would be fruitful in her pregnancies, knowing that although she did not have a husband who loved her, she would have many sons who would. God knew exactly what it was Leah needed, and He provided for her.
    1. God sees us! He knows our griefs & our pains – and He knows exactly the right answers to them as well. 

32 So Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, “The LORD has surely looked on my affliction. Now therefore, my husband will love me.”

  1. All of the names of the sons of Jacob came with meaning (as was common in the day). The etymology is not necessarily historical from a linguistic point of view – many times, the name fit due to word-play or the way it sounded in relation to the experience of the mother.
  2. Here, the name was literal. Reuben = “Behold/Look, a son!” Not so much from the perspective of surprise, but that of proof. “Look, [I have borne you] a son!” Sadly, Leah believed she could earn the love of her husband. Her situation wasn’t her fault, but Jacob’s attention could not be bought.

33 Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon.

  1. This name involved a bit of word play. God “heard” the plight of Leah, the Hebrew word for “to hear” being Shema (שָׁמַע). “Simeon” (שִׁמְעוֹן) has a related sound and spelling.
  2. Notice that in the first two sons, Leah directly credited YHWH. For all of her troubles, she at least understood the source of her children. She had at least some faith in Almighty God. 

34 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi.

  1. The etymology for Levi is a little looser. It’s similar to the word for “attached” (לָוָה); Levi (לֵוִי) could be translated “joined/attached to me.” Leah is still thinking that her ability to bear children will make her loved & valuable in the eyes of her husband. 

35 And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing.

  1. Finally a right perspective! At this point, it didn’t matter what her uncaring husband did, Leah knew what she would do. She would praise the Lord! Judah = “praise.” (יָדָה ~> יְהוּדָה)
    1. Whatever we do, we are to do it unto the praise of God! In good times, in bad times, praise the Lord! Psalm 146:1–5, “(1) Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! (2) While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. (3) Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. (4) His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish. (5) Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God,” Whom do you trust? Whom do you praise?
  2. Note: the priestly tribe of Levi and the kingly (and Messianic) tribe of Judah both came from Leah; not Rachel. The wife Jacob never intended to have (and never truly valued or loved) was God’s intent for Jacob all along.
    1. This is the sovereignty of God at work! 
  3. BTW – For the writer to say “she stopped bearing,” is really for him to write “she stopped bearing for now.” More children would come in the near future, but the first wave of four sons came to an end.
  4. Leah’s abundant fertility is contrasted with that of her younger sister…

Genesis 30:1–24

1 Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” 2 And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”

  1. Envy led to anger. Anger led to exaggeration & blame. Rachel lashed out at her husband – he had loved her, but she blamed him for all her problems.
  2. Jacob’s response was truthful, but hurtful all at the same time. He spoke in anger. (Truth in love is better!)
  3. Theologically speaking, why does God allow some women to be childless? We cannot answer every question, though we can know a few. (1) We live in a fallen world, and our bodies have fallen with the rest of creation. Although God originally created all males and females to reproduce (humans and animals alike), not all can due to the physical corruption. (2) God is the Author of life, so all life comes from Him and His will. All children are a blessing and gift from the Lord, because there is no other source from which they can come. (3) God has His own reasons for His actions. Sometimes, He has His own perfect timing at work – other times, it may be His own hidden will as to why some couples can never have children. It can be extraordinarily painful for couples in this situation, and it’s something that ought never be minimized or trivialized. Even so, this particular hardship needs to be dealt with in the same way as other trials & hardship: through humble faith and trust in the Lord Jesus. Our value/worth is not found in the ability to bear children; it is in the fact that we are the children of God, made in His image. … We need to seek Him and His will for us, even when our own wills and desires may seem to be unfulfilled.

3 So she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her.” 4 Then she gave him Bilhah her maid as wife, and Jacob went in to her.

  1. This sort of surrogate marriage was culturally acceptable. But it doesn’t mean it was Biblically justified. This was another shortcut attempting to circumvent God’s plan, just as it had been with Sarah regarding Hagar two generations earlier. (Another parallel!)

5 And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan.

  1. Bilhah had the child desired by Rachel, and Rachel recognized this to be the work of God. (Interestingly, not YHWH, as had been repeatedly said by Leah.)
  2. The etymology of the name comes from the Hebrew word for “to judge,” (דִּין). She believed herself vindicated (judged) by the Lord.

7 And Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.

  1. Bilhah continued to conceive, and the second son was named regarding this idea of wrestling (נַפְתּוּלִים) – the root word referring to twisting (פָּתַל). Naphtali (נַפְתָּלִי) is literally “my wrestling.”
  2. Notice with whom Rachel was wrestling/fighting: her sister. This was all a sad competition, and Rachel now believed she had the upper hand since it was her maid who bore her husband two additional sons.

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

  1. Leah took a cue from her younger sister, and gave her own maid to Jacob as a second concubine. By this point, Jacob basically has four wives and 6 sons. His house is growing by leaps and bounds!

10 And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “A troop comes!” So she called his name Gad.

  1. Translations vary regarding Gad. It could either refer to a “troop,” or “good fortune.” On one hand, having another son come from the influence of Leah was like receiving reinforcements in battle – on the other hand, it was “good fortune” for Leah since she had personally stopped bearing children by this point.

12 And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “I am happy, for the daughters will call me blessed.” So she called his name Asher.

  1. Happy” and “Blessed” come from the same root word: ashar (אָשַׁר). It is to be considered fortunate, thus the second son of Zilpah was named Asher (אָשֵׁר).
  2. Whether Leah viewed her blessedness as being from the Lord, or if she just thought she had a good reputation is unknown. Hopefully (ideally), we attribute our blessings to God, for every blessing is a gift of His grace.
  3. At this point, there’s a bit of a break in the child-bearing narrative, although the episode plays a part in it. Verse 14…

14 Now Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15 But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” …

  1. What exactly the plant was is unknown. The Greek LXX associated it with the mandrake plant, which is certainly possible, although the Hebrew word is used only once in the Old Testament outside of this context (Song 7:13). The plant was viewed as an aphrodisiac, and the mandrake definitely fits as it is a hallucinogenic (although potentially dangerous). 
  2. This was basic superstition at work – another one of Rachel’s shortcuts around her infertility. She believed the mandrake might make her bear children, which is why she was so desperate to take it away from Leah and use it herself.

…And Rachel said, “Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.” 16 When Jacob came out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” And he lay with her that night.

  1. Prostituting their husband! What did Jacob think of all of this? What kind of example was this for their many children?
  2. (NET) “The irony is that Rachel thought the mandrakes would work for her, and she was willing to trade one night for them. But in that one night Leah became pregnant.”

17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, “God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.

  1. Although Leah had previously stopped bearing children, God allowed her to start again. “God listened to Leah” – not that He had previously stopped His ears, but that He heard her prayers and gave grace.
  2. Unfortunately, it seems that Leah didn’t see it as grace, but was an earned wage. “Wages” is “sacar” (שָׂכָר = hire, wages, reward), which is the reason for “Isaachar,” (יִשָּׂשכָר). There isn’t a direct grammatical tie, but it’s a sound-based word play. 

19 Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 And Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she called his name Zebulun.

  1. The right perspective Leah previously had with the birth of Judah seems to have been lost by this point. Once again, she’s back at the point of believing that her husband would value her based off of the children she bore for him. Like Issachar, this was also viewed as a type of reward or payment. Zebud (זֶ֫בֶד) is a gift/endowment. A similar sounding word (זָבַל) refers to exaltation & honor. Zebulun (זְבֻלוּן) seems to call upon both ideas: a gift that would exalt her in the eyes of her husband.
    1. Where are our true riches found? Christ!

21 Afterward she bore a daughter, and called her name Dinah.

  1. The writer includes this almost as an afterthought, but it bears importance. Daughters are rarely mentioned in genealogies, and it’s possible that Jacob had more children than the ten sons listed to this point. Dinah becomes a central character in a later event once the family clan is back in Canaan, so she is introduced at this point.
  2. Interestingly, her name shares the same etymology with Dan, basically being the female form of the same word (דִּינָה). The reasoning behind naming her “judge / judgment” is unknown.

22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 And she conceived and bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 So she called his name Joseph, and said, “The LORD shall add to me another son.”

  1. Finally, after all this time, Rachel is blessed to bear a son. “God remembered Rachel,” not that He had ever forgotten her; God simply had her on His own special timeline. Like Sarah and Rebekah before her, Rachel was not able to bear children until God specifically allowed her to bear children. And like the generations before her, the child she bore would be viewed as special – and he was. Not only was he the favorite of his father Jacob, but he was the one through whom the entire clan would be saved and preserved.
  2. What was Rachel’s response to this son? “God has taken away my reproach.
    1. God removes our disgrace!
  3. Was Rachel satisfied with her son? Already, she looks forward into the future saying, “The LORD shall add to me another son,” and naming her current child after that hope. “Joseph” (יוֹסֵף) = “He adds,” (to add = yasaf – יָסַף).
    1. Was this faith? Was this prophecy? Perhaps also. It was certainly true. God did add to Rachel another son, though the birth of that son would come at the expense of her own life, which embittered her at the very end (Gen 35:18).
  4. Where should Rachel’s satisfaction have been? The Lord God. Likewise Leah.


For all the joy that is normally included with weddings and childbirth, there was a lot of division & heartache among the family of Jacob! Jacob couldn’t get married without getting swindled by his uncle & future father-in-law. Once married, because of his lack of love, his wives (sisters) starting a tragic competition using their babies as bait. Division, deception, and devious plans of men (and women) seem to be the order of the day!

Yet in all of it, don’t miss the sovereignty of God. God showed Himself sovereign even over the worst of their sin. After all, if Jacob had received what he originally desired, he would have ended up with one wife and one child – neither of whom would lead to the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. Where would be the nation? Who would inherit the land? From where would come the Messiah & blessing to the world? There is no doubt that Laban sinned against Jacob, that Jacob sinned against Leah, and that Leah & Rebekah sinned against each other – but out of all of that sin, God brought forth the foundation of the nation of Israel and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Our God is so sovereign, He can even turn our sins into blessings. As Joseph would later observe regarding his brothers: what man means for evil, God means for good (Gen 50:20).

That said, we don’t sin in order that we might see God work greater examples of His sovereignty. Granted, He will ensure His will is done (no matter what), but we might experience some pretty painful lessons along the way. There was a lot of heartache endured by Jacob, Leah, Rachel (and probably Bilhah and Zilpah as well) – not to mention among the kids themselves. God would spare us from that pain, and the way He does is through our humility.

Stop fighting against each other – stop trying to force your own will. Humble yourself under the hand of God, and see what it is He does.


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