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Jacob’s Children. His Stratagem to Increase his Property
1. Rachel envied her sister] To be childless was regarded as a great reproach: cp. Luke 1:25. Fruitfulness meant an addition of strength and prosperity to a family.
3. By this symbolic act Bilhah’s children would be legally regarded as Rachel’s: cp. Luke 16:1 note.
6. Dan] ’judging.’ God had judged her case and decided in her favour by giving her, after a fashion, a child.
8. Great wrestlings] lit. ’wrestlings of God,’ an emphatic expression: cp. Luke 10:9 and Luke 13:13. Naphtali] ’my wrestling.’ Rachel regarded this child as a victory over her more fruitful sister.
11. A troop cometh] RV ’Fortunate!’ Gad] RM ’Fortune.’
13. Asher] ’happy, Or ’blessed.’
14. Mandrake] or ’love apple.’ A dwarf plant with large grey leaves and whitish-green blossoms. It yields in the spring a yellow fruit like a small tomato, and was believed to produce fruitfulness.
18-24. Note double derivations of names, due to the two traditions.
18. Issachar] ’there is a reward’ or ’hire.’
20. Zebulun] assonant with Zabal, ’to dwell.’ It may also mean ’endowed.’
21. Dinah] ’judgment,’ the feminine corresponding to Dan. Perhaps Leah chose this name for the same reason that Rachel called her son Dan: see on Luke 13:6. Jacob had other daughters (Genesis 37:35), but probably Dinah is mentioned because of the episode in Genesis 34.
22. At last Rachel receives a son, though not by her human devices, but by God’s grace and favour.
24. Joseph] i.e. may God add a son. ’Taking away’ the reproach of, childlessness is another meaning.
27. Learned by experience] RV ’divined’: by omens, etc. Laban does not want to lose Jacob.
31-43. Jacob by a stratagem possesses himself of a large portion of his uncle’s flocks. The natural craftiness of the patriarch comes out very strongly in the transaction, but Laban undoubtedly had already obtained Jacob’s services for fourteen years by mean and unworthy devices, and had given him no opportunity of enriching himself, nor had he assisted his daughters (Genesis 31:15-16).
32. As sheep are usually white, and goats either black or brown, Jacob proposes that Laban should keep these, whilst the few speckled or spotted ones should fall to him as his wage.
33. Jacob stakes his reputation that Laban shall never find any white sheep or black goats in his (Jacob’s) flocks.
35. Ringstraked] ’striped.’
35-42. It would appear that Laban, after sorting out Jacob’s speckled sheep and goats from his own pure ones, gave the former in charge of his sons to be kept at a distance from his own, thereby hoping to prevent there being any more spotted ones born in his own flock, which he would have to give to Jacob. Jacob meanwhile had to remain and look after Laban’s flocks. But Jacob had other plans for increasing his possessions. By the device described in Genesis 30:37-38 (which he only employed when the stronger ewes were breeding, Genesis 30:41), he brought it about that Laban’s pure ewes produced speckled lambs, which he claimed as his own. In addition he arranged to keep these speckled kids and lambs in view of Laban’s ewes with the same result (Genesis 30:40), thus gradually acquiring flocks of his own.
36. Betwixt himself and Jacob] Note that LXX and Samaritan versions read ’between them (i.e. Jacob’s flock) and Jacob.’
37. Poplar.. hazel.. chesnut] rather, ’storax,’ ’almond,’ ’plane.’
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 30". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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