7/12/10 The first part of this chapter chronicles the strife between the women in Jacob’s household. Since Rachel was not bearing children she said to her husband, “Give me children or I’ll die!” At this Jacob got angry with her since it was not in his power to do this. So Rachel gave her maid to Jacob to have children for her, which he did. And somehow Rachel felt vindicated through this. So then Leah, who had stopped bearing children retaliated by giving Jacob her maid and she had a son also this way.
When Ruben brought Leah some mandrakes, Rachel wanted some and so she traded Jacob for the night for the mandrakes. Apparently Jacob was traded like a commodity by his wives. Leah, who must not have seen Jacob as much as Rachel did, made the trade and went out to meet Jacob with the announcement that he was hers tonight.
Finally, after Leah had three more children the story says that God gave Rachel a child, Joseph. It’s interesting to note how many of the sons have names given by Leah and Rachel that reflect the strife and contention between them.
1. Reuben: “Because the Lord has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” -Leah
2. Simeon: “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, he has therefore given me this son also”. -Leah
3. Levi: “Now this time my husband will become attached to me.” -Leah
4. Judah: “This time I will praise the Lord.” -Leah
5. Dan: “God has vindicated me and has indeed heard my voice and has give me a son.” -Rachel through Bilah
6. Naphtali: “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed.” -Rachel through, Bilah
7. Gad: “How fortunate.” -Leah through Zilpah
8. Asher: “How happy am I, for women will call me happy.” -Leah through Zilpah
9. Issachar: “God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband.” -Leah
10. Zebulun: “God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me because I have borne him six sons.” -Leah
11. Joseph: “God has taken away my reproach. May the Lord give me another son.” -Rachel
12. Benoni: “The son of my sorrow.” -Rachel (But Jacob named him Benjamin, the sone of the right hand).
After Joseph was born, Jacob talked to Laban about leaving, but Laban didn’t want him to go because he was being enriched by Jacob. But Jacob replied that it was time for him to start providing for his own family. Laban then agreed to pay him, but Jacob had a better plan: to take certain of the flock, those with black in them, as his own. Laban agreed to these terms, presumably because there were few of these animals.
Jacob began to try to cause the sheep and goats to bear young with black in them. Either he understood something of sheep that we have lost today, or he was just superstitious and God worked through that means. Either way Jacob managed to increase his own wealth quickly. Laban tried to counteract the situation by changing around Jacob’s wages but every time the flocks favored Jacob.