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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Genesis 30

Verses 1-24


Children born in Haran (29:31-30:24)

Jacob’s coolness to Leah created unhappiness in his household. Leah’s desire for Jacob’s love is seen in the names she gave her first four sons (31-35). Rachel, feeling ashamed that she had not yet produced a child herself, gave her slave-girl to Jacob so that the slave-girl might produce a son whom Rachel could adopt as her own. The result was two sons (30:1-8; cf. 16:1-4). Leah, believing she was not able to have any more children, did the same, and soon Jacob had two more sons (9-13).
When Leah obtained some mandrakes (plants used to make a medicine that people believed helped a woman become pregnant), Rachel bought them from her at the price of giving her a night with Jacob. Rachel’s bitterness increased when she found that the mandrakes did not help her, whereas Leah had another son. Leah soon afterwards had yet another son (her sixth) and then a daughter (14-21). Finally Rachel had a son, Jacob’s eleventh (22-24).

Verses 25-43


Jacob tricks Laban (30:25-43)

After Rachel had borne him a son, Jacob decided to return to Canaan. Laban asked Jacob what wages he would like, since much of Laban’s prosperity had resulted from Jacob’s farming ability (25-30). Jacob claimed as wages all the part-coloured animals in the flock, plus all the black sheep. As these were relatively few in number, Laban agreed, though he then attempted to lessen Jacob’s profit by removing from the flocks all the part-coloured animals and black sheep he could find (31-36).
But Jacob was not to be beaten. He decided not to return to Canaan immediately, and spent the next few years carefully breeding Laban’s animals. He cross-bred the best of the animals to produce more and more sheep and goats that were healthy and of a colour that advantaged him, while the number of all-black goats and all-white sheep (Laban’s share) steadily decreased, in both quality and quantity. Like others of his time, Jacob thought that if an animal when breeding was startled by the sight of something spotted or striped, its offspring would be spotted or striped. His success was due rather to his wise selection of animals, and especially to the overruling activity of God (37-43; cf. 31:8-9).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 30". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/genesis-30.html. 2005.