Genesis Chapter 30


A further account of Jacob’s family. (Verse 1-13.)

Rachel beareth Joseph. (Verse 14-24.)

Jacob’s new agreement with Laban to serve him for cattle. (Verse 25-43.)

The story of Joseph begins in Haran where Jacob his father has fled from his Brother Esau’s wrath, under the guise of going to find a wife. Instead of finding one wife he finds four and a mess of problems to go along with it. God however in his sovereignty takes this sin laden family and makes out of them a great nation.

God takes a young lad named Joseph from the midst of this bunch of thugs and uses him to save his people as well as many nations and uses him unbeknown to himself a beautiful type (or picture) of the earthly ministry of the Messiah as we shall see in the pages of this book.

Have you ever wondered what the Messiah would be like? Joseph, while just a man, is the closest example we have whose life portrays many of the events that scriptures foretell will happen to the Messiah.

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?

[Gen 16:2, Jud 13:2, Luke 1:7]

[stead – place]

The truth of the matter is that it was Rachel’s fault that she could not have any children at this time because of her hatred and jealousy towards Leah her older sister who had done no wrong. See Genesis 29:31

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.

[Gen 16:2]

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

[Gen 35:22]

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.

The name Dan means “judge”

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.

The name Naphtali means “wrestlings”

Notice that to Rachel it became a competition with her sister for the love of her husband. In their culture the woman who could bare the most sons received the most honor because her sons would be able to provide for them in their later years.

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.

The name Gad means “a troop, To Crowd upon, to attack”

12 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a second son.

The name Asher means “happy”

13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

God returns the favor of barrenness unto Leah as she in turn begins to hate her younger sister who is still yet without a child and begins to compete with her handmaiden against Rachel’s handmaiden.

Did they learn from this? No! Notice how the game continues and the comments that these two sisters make unto each other and to themselves that defy logic, but the truth remains they did what they did and God still used this bunch of rascals to build a great nation.

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.

[Song of Solomon 7:13]

mandrakes are a carrot shaped fruit with dark green leaves.  It is about this size of an apple and though too poisonous to be eaten, it was used as an aphrodisiac and was supposed to produce fertility and cure sterility.

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.

mandrakes are a carrot shaped fruit with dark green leaves.  It is about this size of an apple and though too poisonous to be eaten, it was used as an aphrodisiac and was supposed to produce fertility and cure sterility.

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.

mandrakes are a carrot shaped fruit with dark green leaves.  It is about this size of an apple and though too poisonous to be eaten, it was used as an aphrodisiac and was supposed to produce fertility and cure sterility.

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.

The Name Issachar means “hired, he will bring a reward”

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.

The name Zebulun means “dwelling, habitation”

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

[Gen 34:1]

“Dinah” is the feminine of “Dan”

The name Dinah means “justice”

Leah wanted to purchase her husband’s favor with food but his heart remained loyal to Rachel. All this fighting did was to produce a mess of a family that would reap what their parents had already sown.

It would take many outside enemies to unite this family of misfits which would happen many times, but they would turn around immediately after a united victory and begin infighting again because of their unscriptural foundation of one man and four wives which God never intended.

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

Joseph’s name literally means, God will give another. God is a sovereign God and he can do as he pleases in the opening of a womb or in the closing of one. God had allowed Rachel’s womb to be closed until this particular time to give her a child that would be a type (or picture) of the Messiah to deliver his people as well as the world.

Joseph’s birth took a supernatural act of God for him even to be conceived because Rachel was barren, and while Rachel had her reproach taken away Mary’s just began when she conceived.

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.

The name Joseph means “adding, let him add”

God did add another son to Rachel which was the twelfth son of Jacob – his name was “Benjamin” (35:16-18) and Rachel died in childbirth delivering this 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.

What is interesting to me here is that while Leah, her handmaid and the handmaid of Rachel were producing children for Jacob he was happy to remain with Laban in Haran, but the moment his favorite wife bore him a child he wanted to get back to the Promised Land with him. There is more here than meets the eye.

Joseph and Mary like Jacob and Rachel had to flee to the west for safety after the birth of Mary’s son.

In case you didn’t notice I have skipped chapters thirty-one through thirty-six because Joseph is not mentioned in them. Many significant things happened there however, such as Jacob’s name is changed to Israel once he crossed over the Jordan River which is the reasoning behind the modern nation of Israel being called by the name Israel.

Also, we read of the death of Rachel in a small town known as Bethlehem. Bethlehem is the hometown of both David and Jesus. God in His Sovereignty wanted Rachel’s place of burial to be in a special place that all Israel would hold near and dear to themselves.

When the Prophet Micah prophesied that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, Israel’s people must have thought, “How fitting that our Lord should come from there”.

Joseph and Mary, like Jacob and Rachel, had to flee to the west for safety after the birth of Jesus.

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?

“provide for mine own house…”

Study Question

What does I Timothy 5:8 have to say about this?

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.

[Gen 31:8]

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.

[Gen 37:6]

in Oriental countries, most of the cattle (cows, sheep, goats, etc.) are a solid black or white; to Laban this seemed like a foolproof way of paying Jacob, making sure he didn’t steal any animals, and at the same time getting plenty of cheap labour out of him.

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.

[pilled – peeled]

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.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Verse 1-13 – Rachel envied her sister: envy is grieving at the good of another, than which no sin is more hateful to God, or more hurtful to our neighbours and ourselves. She considered not that God made the difference, and that in other things she had the advantage. Let us carefully watch against all the risings and workings of this passion in our minds. Let not our eye be evil towards any of our fellow-servants, because our Master’s is good. Jacob loved Rachel, and therefore reproved her for what she said amiss. Faithful reproofs show true affection. God may be to us instead of any creature; but it is sin and folly to place any creature in God’s stead, and to place that confidence in any creature, which should be placed in God only. At the persuasion of Rachel, Jacob took Bilhah her handmaid to wife, that, according to the usage of those times, her children might be owned as her mistress’s children. Had not Rachel’s heart been influenced by evil passions, she would have thought her sister’s children nearer to her, and more entitled to her care than Bilhah’s. But children whom she had a right to rule, were more desirable to her than children she had more reason to love. As an early instance of her power over these children, she takes pleasure in giving them names that carry in them marks of rivalry with her sister. See what roots of bitterness envy and strife are, and what mischief they make among relations. At the persuasion of Leah, Jacob took Zilpah her handmaid to wife also. See the power of jealousy and rivalship, and admire the wisdom of the Divine appointment, which joins together one man and one woman only; for God hath called us to peace and purity.

Verse 14-24 – The desire, good in itself, but often too great and irregular, of being the mother of the promised Seed, with the honour of having many children, and the reproach of being barren, were causes of this unbecoming contest between the sisters. The truth appears to be, that they were influenced by the promises of God to Abraham; whose posterity were promised the richest blessings, and from whom the Messiah was to descend.

Verse 25-43 – The fourteen years being gone, Jacob was willing to depart without any provision, except God’s promise. But he had in many ways a just claim on Laban’s substance, and it was the will of God that he should be provided for from it. He referred his cause to God, rather than agree for stated wages with Laban, whose selfishness was very great. And it would appear that he acted honestly, when none but those of the colours fixed upon should be found among his cattle. Laban selfishly thought that his cattle would produce few different in colour from their own. Jacob’s course after this agreement has been considered an instance of his policy and management. But it was done by intimation from God, and as a token of his power. The Lord will one way or another plead the cause of the oppressed, and honour those who simply trust his providence. Neither could Laban complain of Jacob, for he had nothing more than was freely agreed that he should have; nor was he injured, but greatly benefitted by Jacob’s services. May all our mercies be received with thanksgiving and prayer, that coming from his bounty, they may lead to his praise.