The Birth of the Twelve Sons of Jacob- Genesis 29:1 to Genesis 30:24 gives an account of Jacob coming to the house of Bethuel and marrying Leah and Rachael. This narrative material records the births of all but one of the twelve sons of Jacob. These sons were named according to an event surrounding their births.
Word Study on "Reuben" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Reuben" ( רְאוּבֵן) (H 7205) means "see ye a son." This name is based upon Leah's statement in Genesis 29:32, "Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me."
Word Study on "Simon" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Simon" ( שִׁמְעוֹן) (H 8095) means "hearing." This name is based upon Leah's statement in Genesis 29:33, "Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also."
Word Study on "Levi" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Levi" ( לֵוִי) (H 3878) means "attached." This name is based upon Leah's statement in Genesis 29:34, "Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons."
Word Study on "Judah" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Judah" ( יְהוּדָה) (H 3063) means "celebrated." This name is based upon Leah's statement in Genesis 29:35, "Now I will praise the Lord."
Word Study on "Dan" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Dan" ( דָּן) (H 1835) means "judge." This name is based upon Rachael's statement in Genesis 30:6, "God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son."
Word Study on "Naphtali" - Strong says the Hebrew name Naphtali ( נַפְתָּלִי) (H 5321) means "my wrestling." This name is based upon Rachael's statement in Genesis 30:8, "With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed."
Word Study on "Gad" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Gad" ( גָּד) (H 1410) means "fortune, troop." This name is based upon Leah's statement in Genesis 30:11, "A troop cometh."
Word Study on "Asher" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Asher" ( אָשֵׁר) (H 836) means, "happy." This name is based upon Leah's statement in Genesis 30:13, "Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed."
Word Study on "Issachar" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Issachar" ( יִשָּׂשׂכָר) (H 3485) means "there is recompense." This name is based upon Leah's statement in Genesis 30:18, "God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband."
Word Study on "Zebulun" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Zebulun" ( זְבוּלוּן) (H 2074) means "exalted" - This name is based upon Leah's statement in Genesis 30:20, "God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons."
Word Study on "Joseph" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Joseph" ( יׄוסֵף) (H 3130) means "Jehovah has added." This name is based upon Leah's statement in Genesis 30:23-24, "God hath taken away my reproach…The LORD shall add to me another son."
Genesis 29:4 — Comments- Jacob travelled East in search of his uncle named Laban because this is what his mother instructed him to do ( Genesis 28:2).
Genesis 28:2, "Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother"s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother"s brother."
Genesis 29:6 — Word Study on "Rachel" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Rachel" ( רָחֵל) (H 7354) means, "ewe."
Genesis 29:12 — Comments- In Genesis 29:12 Jacob called himself Laban's brother. However, he was actually Laban's nephew? This statement is made again in Genesis 29:15, "And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother." In the African culture, it is common to refer to a person who is a dear friend and even a close relative, as your father, mother, brother, or sister. It is a term of endearment, and not just a word of kinship. When extended families move in together, due to loss of parents, the children of the relatives become sons and daughters of uncles and aunts.
Genesis 29:13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister"s Song of Solomon, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things.
Genesis 29:17 — Word Study on "tender" - Strong says the Hebrew word translated "tender" ( רַךְ) (H 7390) means, "tender, soft, delicate, weak." This word is used 16 times in the Old Testament, and is most often translated "tender." Note other translations of this word:
Deuteronomy 20:8, "And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart."
Deuteronomy 28:56, "The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her Song of Solomon, and toward her daughter,"
2 Samuel 3:39 "And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me: the LORD shall reward the doer of evil according to his wickedness."
2 Chronicles 13:7, "And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Song of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them."
Job 41:3, "Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee?
Note how other translations differ in their interpretation of this phrase "tender eyed":
Brenton, "And the eyes of Lea were weak. But Rachel was beautiful in appearance, and exceedingly fair in countenance."
DRC, "But Lia was blear eyed: Rachel was well favoured, and of a beautiful countenance."
HNV, "Le"ah"s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful and well favored."
NAB, "Leah had lovely eyes, but Rachel was well formed and beautiful."
YLT, "and the eyes of Leah are tender, and Rachel hath been fair of form and fair of appearance."
Genesis 29:17 — Comments- Scholars are divided as to the meaning of the phrase "tender eyed." Some believe it means that Leah's eyes were unattractive. For example, Keil-Delitzsch notes that "…bright eyes, with fire in them, are regarded as the height of beauty in Oriental women," which he says Leah lacked. 237] A woman"s eyes play a large role in her beauty. If her eyes are poorly shaped, it takes away from her entire physical beauty. Other scholars suggest that her eyes alone were beautiful, while Rachel's figure was more attractive. Adam Clarke says, "The chief recommendation of Leah was her soft and beautiful eyes; but Rachel was יפת תאר yephath toar, beautiful in her shape, person, mien, and gait, and יפת מראה yephath mareh, beautiful in her countenance." 238]
237] C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Pentateuch, vol 1, in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, trans. James Martin, in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), comments on Genesis 29:15-20.
238] Adam Clarke, Genesis, in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on Genesis 29:17.
Genesis 29:18 — Comments- Adam Clarke notes that Jacob offered seven years of service to Laban because he was destitute and lacked the customary dowry that a young man gives to the bride's father. 239]
239] Adam Clarke, Job, in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on Genesis 29:17.
Genesis 29:30 — Comments- Leah and Rachel were given to Jacob near the same time period, after the first 7 years of his hired serve under Laban.
Genesis 29:31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.
Genesis 29:31 — Comments- God gave Leah children because He understood and sympathized with this polygamous relationship that women are forced into in particular cultures. God has compassion on those who are mistreated and have no deliverer. He Himself becomes their deliverer. In this case He delivered Leah from her reproach.
Genesis 29:31-35 — Comments- Leah's Bears Four Sons by Jacob- We see Leah, the wife of Jacob, simply wanting her husband's love. She thought she was winning his love by giving him a multitude of sons, when in fact she was destined to become the mother of six tribes of Israel. She had no idea that a nation was in her womb. Nor did she understand how much more important was her favor with God than her favor with her husband, which she never really received. Leah's greatness is found in her favor with God who gave her six sons rather than in her favor with Jacob; for there was nothing great about her relationship with her husband. This is what Paul meant in Ephesians 3:20 when he said that God was able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,"
As I write these notes, I am sitting in a church service listening to an elderly woman named Irene, who founded an orphanage in the dangerous region of northern Uganda. She is introducing some of her children who lost their parents in war and were raised in this orphanage. They are now healthy and strong, and some of them are going to the university with dreams of becoming a doctor. As a side note, she once testified how she and her husband first traveled to northern Uganda during the hot summer with the dry semiarid desert wind blowing sand in their faces for weeks at a time. She tells how her husband soon left her alone there and married a local native girl. Thus, Irene's greatness was not found in her relationship with her husband's love, which failed, but in the orphans that she has loved and cared for through these years.
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Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 29". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany