This chapter is about more of Jacob’s children, Rachel & Leah’s relationship with Jacob due to their children, & Jacob’s flocks increasing. This chapter is kind of a lengthy one. But it’s a good read. I hope you enjoy it!!
When Rachel saw that she wasn’t bearing Jacob any kids, she became jealous of Leah. So she says to Jacob that if he doesn’t give her kids, she’ll die. Jacob gets angry with Rachel, telling her that he’s not God & that he’s not keeping her from having kids.
So Rachel pulls a move from her grandmother-in-law, Sarah. She gives Jacob her servant, Bilhah, to sleep with. So that she could have kids through her & raise her kids as her own. Rachel have Jacob Bilhah “as a wife” (just like Abraham, Sarah, & Hagar. Segway: You know I just thought about why Ishmael is under the covenant & not any other of Abraham’s kids (besides Isaac). Because Hagar & Sarah were Abraham’s wives & the other kids’ moms were concubines, not wives.). Jacob consummated their “marriage.” Bilhah got pregnant & she had a son. Rachel was stoked!! So she named him Dan.
Bilhah conceived again (They still call her Rachel’s servant. Which slays me! Because how can she be a wife to Jacob but still be Rachel’s servant?). She had a 2nd son. Rachel named him Naphtali (which means ‘my struggle.’), she named him this because “I’ve had a great struggle with my sister & I’ve won.”
When Leah saw that she stopped have kids, she took her servant Zilpah & “gave her to Jacob as a wife.” (So if you’re counting, that’s 4 wives for Jacob.) Zilpah got pregnant with a son. Leah named him Gad (which means good fortune.) because Leah said “What good fortune!” Zilpah (still called Leah’s servant) bore Jacob a 2nd son. Leah was stoked!!! So she named this 2nd son Asher (which means happy. And if you’re keeping count that 8 kids between 3 women. Remember Rachel hasn’t had any biological kids of her own at this point.).
During the wheat harvest, Reuben (it doesn’t say how old Reuben is at this point. But he’s old enough to find mandrake plants. Remember Reuben is the oldest.) went out to the fields. He found some mandrake plants, which he brings to his mom Leah (his bio mom). Rachel asks Leah for the mandrake plants that Reuben had got. (In those days, mandrake plants, or more specifically the roots, were used as a “baby maker.” Women used this plant/root to help with fertility.) But Leah says to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son mandrake too?” Rachel said that Leah could sleep with Jacob that night for the mandrake plants/root.
So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went to meet him. She let him know that he had to spend the night with her & let him know the reason too. So he did & had martial relations with her. She became pregnant & had another son because “God listened to her.” She name him Issachar.
Leah became pregnant again & bore Jacob a 6th son between the 2 of them. (At this point, Jacob has 10 known/named sons. If you’re keeping a running total.) She named him Zebulun. She thought that finally Jacob will treat her with honor because she had 6 sons with him. Some time later Leah gave birth to a daughter & named her Dinah (we’ll come back to Miss Dinah in chapter 34. It gets pretty interesting.).
God remembered Rachel. (I’ve always thought this was interesting. Why would God forget about someone, or a group of people, or anything for that matter?) He listened to her & let her become pregnant. She had a son & named him Joseph.
After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob tells Laban that he wants to take his family back to his homeland. Jacob reminds Laban of how much work he’s done for him. Laban tells Jacob that he wants him to stay. That he’s learned through divination that God has blessed him because of Jacob. Laban says “Name your wages, & I’ll pay them!” Jacob is like “Look uncle Laban. While I’ve been here, you’ve become super blessed. I’d like to provide for my own family.” Laban begs him to stay, “What can I give you?” Jacob tells Laban that he wants to go through his flocks & pick out all the “speckled, spotted, dark-colored lamb or goat.” He tells Laban that these goats & lambs will be his wages. He also tells Laban that if there are any of those kinds of animals in his flock that it would be considered stealing. Laban agreed.
Then Laban put a 3 day journey between himself & Jacob. All the while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks. Jacob then took fresh-cut poplar, almond, & plane tree branches. He made white stripes on them by peeling the bark & exposing the whiter inner wood, exposing the white inner wood of the branches. He then placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs. So that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat & came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. They bore young that were streaked, speckled, or spotted. Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves. But he made the rest face the streaked & dark-colored animal that belonged to Laban. Jacob made a separate flocks for himself, & didn’t put them with Laban’s animals. Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals. So they’d mate in front of the branches. If they were weak animals he wouldn’t put them in front of the branches. The weak animals went to Laban, & the strong ones went to Jacob. This is the way that Jacob became rich, have a large flock, have servants, camels, & donkeys.