[Today: Genesis 30] The Company You Keep Affects Your Destiny. In this chapter we read about Jacob’s home life and the dealings of God between Jacob, Leah and Rachel. The misdeeds and hatred between them profoundly affected their lives. Likewise we see Jacob’s relationship with Laban determining much in terms of God’s dealings with Laban even though Laban evidently was nothing more than an idol worshipper.
Genesis 30:1-43 (KJV) 1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. 2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, [Am] I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? 3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. 4 And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. 5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan. 7 And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. 8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali. 9 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. 10 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad. 12 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher. 14 And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes. 15 And she said unto her, [Is it] a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son’s mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son’s mandrakes. 16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night. 17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son. 18 And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar. 19 And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son. 20 And Leah said, God hath endued me [with] a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun. 21 And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah. 22 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. 23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son. 25 And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. 26 Give [me] my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee. 27 And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, [tarry: for] I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake. 28 And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give [it]. 29 And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me. 30 For [it was] little which thou hadst before I [came], and it is [now] increased unto a multitude; and the LORD hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also? 31 And he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed [and] keep thy flock: 32 I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and [of such] shall be my hire. 33 So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that [is] not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me. 34 And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word. 35 And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats that were speckled and spotted, [and] every one that had [some] white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, and gave [them] into the hand of his sons. 36 And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks. 37 And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which [was] in the rods. 38 And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink. 39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted. 40 And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban’s cattle. 41 And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods. 42 But when the cattle were feeble, he put [them] not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43 And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.
In verses 1-6 we find the record of a season of strife between Jacob, Rachel and her sister Leah. Leah is bearing children to Jacob but Rachel remains barren. This inability to conceive is addressed in the previous chapter (v. 31) because the Lord saw that Jacob loved Rachel and hated Leah. This tells us that there can be situations in our lives, even in our health that arise not only from our own posture before God but also the condition of the hearts of others close to us. There is no indication that Rachel did anything to make the relationship between Leah and Jacob worse. The fault lie entirely with Jacob and for this reason God restrained Rachel from bearing. What about your own life? There may be areas of your life that are not yielding to prayer that are rooted in ungodliness in your home or in the lives of those in close relationship to you. We tend to assume that God just doesn’t want to answer our prayers because we are unwilling to take a hard look at ourselves or those we are connected to.
In frustration Rachel says to Jacob “give me children else I die…” and Jacob rails on her. Remember that Jacob’s name means “heel-grabber, and supplanter.” He made his way by deception and manipulation his whole life but now he is facing something beyond his control. When Sarah was barren Abraham prayed and she conceived. When Rebekah was barren Issac prayed and she conceived. Jacob conversely doesn’t see any way that he can change or make things different so he rails on Rachel. Rachel was looking to Jacob just as Rebekah looked to Isaac and Sarah looked to Abraham. Abraham looked to God in his wife’s stead and she conceived. Isaac looked to God in his wife’s stead and she conceived as well. Jacob in this instance is not looking to God but instead blames God rather than correcting his own lack of faith.
This situation between Rachel and Jacob is a lesson for husband’s and wives. If your spouse is in crisis particularly as a husband it is your responsibility to seek God for answers. Jacob no doubt knew that God wasn’t pleased that he preferred Rachel over Leah but he wasn’t willing to make a correction. When there is longstanding struggle that doesn’t yield to prayer rather than blaming God as Jacob does in v. 2 and as men commonly do today, we should look to ourselves to discover the heart correction that must take place to remove the hinderance to answered prayer.
Rather than humble themselves in the situation Rachel and Jacob decide to solve the problem on their own by having Jacob conceive children by Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah. Bihah gives birth to Dan setting off years of strife and competition between Rachel and Leah who each time they gave birth, named their children as a statement of insult to the other sister.
In verses 7-13 the birthing war over who will give Jacob more sons continues. This no doubt originated from the deception perpetrated by Laban against Jacob when he deceived him into marrying Leah thinking it was Rachel instead. Jacob did not choose to be in polygamy but because of the deception of Laban this was his plight. The commentators say of this circumstance:
“A bitter and intense rivalry existed between them, all the more from their close relationship as sisters; and although they occupied separate apartments, with their families, as was the uniform custom in ancient times where a plurality of wives existed. The husband and father was expected to spend a day with each in regular succession, but in this case the jealousy was not assuaged by the two sisters sharing Jacob between them but only grew worse.
Notice as this succession of one child after another were born it was because (v. 17) “the Lord hearkened…” The reproductive rights of women are abrogated by this fact that every child is a gift from God:
[Psa 127:3 KJV] 3 Lo, children [are] an heritage of the LORD: [and] the fruit of the womb [is his] reward.
The point being that a woman has no right in the eyes of God to terminate a pregnancy. In some instances (Gen. 38:9) even birth control provoked the hand of God against those practicing it. What are we to conclude from this? Simply that our lives are not our own, we are bought with a price and even in this very personal arena we are to stand subject to God in all things and not capriciously leave the counsel of the Spirit out of these important decisions.
In v. 23-28 Jacob makes plans to depart from Laban and return to his father’s house. He cannot do this without Laban’s permission however. Laban is reluctant to release Jacob because (v. 27) he had learned from experience that God’s hand of blessing was upon him because of Jacob. Again we see that because of Jacob’s hatred toward Leah, Rachel was barren, even so because of Laban’s nearness to Jacob he was blessed. The company you keep, we can clearly see, has a profound effect on the quality of our lives by God’s hand.
In verses 29-43 we find Laban trying to outsmart Jacob and God intervening to bless Jacob in spite of everything Laban did to keep Jacob down. What was the secret of the ring-straked and speckled sheep? There were no hidden principles of animal husbandry being deployed here. It is simply Jacob listening to God and doing what God said even if it didn’t make sense to him. Likewise in our own lives if we will hear the voice of God and do what He tells us in spite of whether or not it seems logical, we will be blessed as well.
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