Gen 30, general background: "Jacob fled to the house of Laban
because he had deceived his brother Esau too many times. He was born grasping
the heel of Esau, he took his birthright and his blessing. The meaning of his
name, Jacob, is, 'He deceives.'
"When Esau spoke about Jacob he said, 'Isn't he rightly named
Jacob? He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright and now he's
taken my blessing!' (Gen 27:36).
"But when Jacob went to Laban's house he met his match. There
was deceit in everything Laban did for Jacob. He gave him Leah instead of
Rachel, he made Jacob work 14 years instead of 7 for Rachel, he demanded payment
for any stolen property -- even though it was not Jacob's responsibility, and he
changed Jacob's wages ten times. If it was possible, Laban would have kept all
the benefit of Jacob's hard work and sent him away empty-handed.
"So Jacob, the deceiver, learned what it was like to be
deceived. He learnt how distasteful it was and, it seems, his character was
improved by his experience.
"God may put us in similar situations to improve our
characters. If we have a problem he may sting us with it as he did to Jacob. So
when we are confronted by attributes we despise in others, let us make sure we
cleanse those attributes thoroughly from our own lives to become more like the
people God wants us to be" (RP).
SHE BECAME JEALOUS OF (ENVIED) HER SISTER: Continuous
animosity between Leah and Rachel: (1) Saul (of Rachel) vs David (of Leah); (2)
Judah/Southern Kingdom (Leah) vs Israel/Northern Kingdom (Rachel). God shows
greater favor to Leah's seed.
OR I'LL DIE!: She DID die, at birth of her second son
SHE CAN BEAR CHILDREN FOR ME: Or "upon my knees" (AV).
A custom of placing the newborn on the knees first of the father (who, by
accepting it, acknowledged the infant as his own), and secondly upon the knees
of the mother. So Bilhah's children were put on Rachel's knees to show they were
HOW HAPPY I AM!: 'I am in luck' -- no real thought of
Mandrakes were thought to have aphrodisiac qualities,
according to the superstition of the times. This would mean much to Rachel, if
not to Leah. The people's superstitions are shown clearly in this chapter (vv
Leah has been revealed in five stages, in which she typifies
Israel after the flesh:
Bearing Jacob's (ie, God's) children.
from husband (cp Isa 54:5), promoting jealousy with sister (ie Gentiles, Rom
Restored to her husband again.
Again producing children, now in
the Kingdom, as Hos 2:19: "I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you
in righteousness and justice, in love and
Leah, as the ecclesia, had borne fruit to her husband (sym
Christ): "But women will be saved through childbearing -- if they continue in
faith, love and holiness with propriety" (1Ti 2:15). Therefore, she expected
acceptance (the Marriage Supper of the Lamb). But, instead, she was to
experience the same sad unfulfilled hope. For Leah, patience and sadness, but
reward in the future Kingdom.
JOSEPH: Sig either "take away" or "add" -- given as
"Jehoseph" in Psa 81:5, Heb. Jehoseph is the first personal name to include
The birth of a son to his beloved Rachel (the son Jacob
considered his true firstborn) inspired him to assert his
DIVINATION: "Experience" in AV, but "divination" (NIV)
is better. Divination = consultation of witchcraft. Note Laban's use of idolatry
with God's covenant name (use of both "gods" together again: Gen 31:53). Laban
professed true religion, but his familiar speech patterns gave himself
THE LORD HAS BLESSED ME BECAUSE OF YOU: A great lesson:
God blesses those who are closely associated with His saints.
Laban was a greedy man, not a generous man. Prob, Jacob knows
full well that he cannot ask for a fair wage; so he very carefully chooses his
Quite often in Scripture God blesses one person or group
because of their attachment to the initial righteous person. God had been
prepared to spare Sodom for the sake of ten righteous men; He blessed Potiphar
and the whole land of Egypt for Joseph's sake; the widow for Elijah; the
shipload of men for Paul.
And -- wonder of wonders! -- for the sake of one man Jesus,
God has gladly forgiven the sins of multitudes who have joined themselves to
WHEREVER I HAVE BEEN: Lit, "at my foot". RV:
"Whithersoever I turned". AV: "since my coming".
Jacob receives wages for his long labor. Cp the nation in
leaving Egypt: Exo 3:22; 11:2.
Vv 35,36: Laban wonders at such a foolhardy request by Jacob
-- for there can be only a very few such animals as he requests. Nevertheless,
Laban tries to hide even the few that should go to Jacob.
Vv 37-43: It is God who causes Jacob to prosper: Gen
God prepares Jacob to leave Laban. No scheming here, but a
reliance upon God's providence. "Diligent application of legitimate efforts and
precautions" (GVG, Ber 43:55; WP 57).
The sheep were normally white; the goats, black or brown.
Black sheep and goats which were "speckled or spotted" were very few. So Jacob
proposed to Laban that the inferior animals (black sheep and spotted goats)
would be his and the rest would be Laban's. Laban immediately agreed and then,
to make doubly sure of his own profit in this transaction, Laban weeded from
among the flock all the sheep not totally white and all the goats not wholly
black or brown. Therefore Jacob was left with a flock of all white sheep and all
brown or all black goats. Their offspring could not have been expected to be any
that Jacob had bargained for, so it appeared that Laban had gotten by far the
best deal. Jacob, however, schemed to recoup his losses at his father-in-law's
expense. So Jacob made rods of certain trees and set them before the flocks when
they came to the watering troughs, so that the stronger might conceive there
among the rods. There is, of course, no biological proof behind this device
which Jacob was now putting into practice, because animals are not influenced by
such things. But in those days, the laws of heredity and genes and such like
were not known. But Jacob's planning did work and therefore he (Jacob) increased
exceedingly (Gen 30:43). But although Jacob thought it was through his own
cleverness that he was prospering, it was actually the angel of the Lord who was
prospering his service to Laban. Jacob will learn this in due time. The promise
of Bethel (Gen 28:15) was being faithfully kept by God even though at this time
Jacob probably thought it was all due to his intelligence. We know that it is
God who causes Jacob to prosper: see Gen 31:7-9.