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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Genesis 30

Verses 1-24

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 ) (H7205) 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 ) (H8095) 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 ) (H3878) 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 ) (H3063) 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 ) (H1835) 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 ) (H5321) 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 ) (H1410) 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 ) (H836) 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 ) (H3485) 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 ) (H2074) 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 ) (H3130) 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 ) (H7354) 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 son, 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 ) (H7390) 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 son, 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 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. 3.1 [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. 3.1 [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. 3.1 [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.

Verses 1-43

The Genealogy of Isaac The genealogies of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have a common structure in that they open with God speaking to a patriarch and giving him a commission and a promise in which to believe. In each of these genealogies, the patriarch’s calling is to believe God’s promise, while this passage of Scripture serves as a witness to God’s faithfulness in fulfilling each promise. Only then does the genealogy come to a close.

We find in Genesis 25:19 to Genesis 35:29 the genealogy of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Hebrews 11:20 reveals the central message in this genealogy that stirs our faith in God when Isaac gave his sons redemptive prophecies, saying, “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.” As Abraham’s genealogy begins with a divine commission when God told him to leave Ur and to go Canaan (Genesis 12:1), so does Isaac’s genealogy begin with a divine commission predicting him as the father of two nations, with the elder serving the younger (Genesis 25:23), with both nations playing roles in redemptive history, Jacob playing the major role. The first event in Isaac’s genealogy has to do with a God speaking to his wife regarding the two sons in her womb, saying that these two sons would multiply into two nations. Since his wife Rebekah was barren, Isaac interceded to God and the Lord granted his request. The Lord then told Rebekah that two nations were in her womb, and the younger would prevail over the elder (Genesis 25:21-23). Isaac, whose name means laughter (Genesis 21:6), was called to establish himself in the land of Canaan after his father Abraham, and to believe in God’s promise regarding his son Jacob. During the course of his life, Isaac’s genealogy testifies of how he overcame obstacles and the enemy that resisted God’s plan for him. Thus, we see Isaac’s destiny was to be faithful and dwell in the land and father two nations. God’s promise to Isaac, that the elder will serve the younger, is fulfilled when Jacob deceives his father and receives the blessings of the first-born. The fact that Isaac died in a ripe old age testifies that he fulfilled his destiny as did Abraham his father. Romans 9:10-13 reflects the theme of Isaac’s genealogy in that it discusses the election of Jacob over Isaac. We read in Hebrews 11:20 how Isaac expressed his faith in God’s promise of two nations being born through Rebekah because he blessed his sons regarding these future promises.

Genesis 12:1, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:”

Genesis 21:6, “And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.”

Genesis 25:23, “And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”

Genesis 25:19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:

Genesis 25:20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.

Genesis 25:20 Comments - The story of Isaac taking Rebekah as his wife is recorded in Genesis 2:1-25.

Genesis 25:21 And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Genesis 25:22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.

Genesis 25:22 “And the children struggled together within her” Comments - Hosea 12:3 says that Jacob entered two struggles in his life.

Hosea 12:3, “He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:”

1. At his natural birth in the womb with his brother:

Genesis 25:26, “And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.”

2. At his “spiritual” birth with an angel:

Genesis 32:24, “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”

Genesis 25:22 Comments - Any mother who has given birth to children understands the importance of the child’s continual kicks within her womb. Although painful at times, these kicks serve to assure the mother that the baby is alive and healthy. When these kicks cease for a few days a mother naturally becomes worried, but in the case of Rebekah the very opposite was true. There was too much kicking to the point that she besought the Lord in prayer. It was her beseeching God rather than her husband because a pregnant mother is much more focused upon these issues.

Genesis 25:22 Comments - Why did Jacob and Esau struggle within their mother’s womb? One pastor suggests that they were struggling for the birthright by becoming the firstborn, which struggle was played out during the course of their lives.

Genesis 25:23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

Genesis 25:23 “and the elder shall serve the younger” Comments - F. F. Bruce tells us that it is not so much the individuals that are prophetically referred to here in Genesis 25:23 as it is the two nations that will descend from Jacob and Esau. The Scriptures reveal that Esau himself never served Jacob during their lifetimes. However, during the long stretch of biblical history, the Edomites did in fact serve the nation of Israel a number of times.

In the same sense, the prophecy in Malachi 1:2-3 is not so much about the two individual sons of Jacob as it is a prophecy of two nations. In other words, God loved the nation of Israel and hated the nation of Edom.

Malachi 1:2-3, “I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”

Bruce goes on to explain that the Hebrew thought and speech is making an extreme contrast of love and hate in these passages for the sake of emphasis. He uses Luke 14:26 to illustrate this Hebrew way of saying that someone must love God far more than his earthly family. [227]

[227] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 46-47.

Luke 14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

This is exactly what the parallel passage in Matthew 10:37 says when Jesus tells us that we must love Him more than our parents or children.

Matthew 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

Thus, God was saying that He loved Jacob far more than He loved Jacob’s closest blood kin. This statement is meant to place emphasis upon the immeasurable love that God has for His people.

Genesis 25:23 Comments The genealogy of Isaac begins with a divine commission promising Isaac that he would father two nations, one mightier than the other, and both playing important roles in redemptive history. Genesis 25:23 records this divine commission to Isaac and Rebecca, which is the first recorded event of the Lord speaking to Isaac or his wife.

Genesis 25:23 Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - Note that the phrase “and the elder shall serve the younger” is quoted in the New Testament.

Romans 9:11-13, “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger . As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

Genesis 25:23 Scripture References - Note a reference to Jacob's favour over Esau in Malachi 1:1-3.

Malachi 1:1-3, “The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”

Genesis 25:24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.

Genesis 25:25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.

Genesis 25:25 Word Study on “red” Gesenius says the Hebrew word “red” ( אַדְמוֹנִי ) (H132) means, “red, i.e. red-haired.” This word occurs three times in the Old Testament. This same word is used to describe David (1 Samuel 16:17; 1 Samuel 17:42).

1 Samuel 16:17, “And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.”

1 Samuel 17:42, “And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.”

Genesis 25:25 Word Study on “Esau” Strong says the Hebrew name “Esau” (H6215) means “hairy.”

Genesis 25:25 Comments - Esau was a hairy man, while Jacob was not (Genesis 27:11).

Genesis 27:11, “And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:”

Genesis 25:26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

Genesis 25:26 Word Study on “Jacob” Gesenius says the Hebrew name “Jacob” “Ya’aqob” ( יַעֲקֹב ) (H3290) means, “taking hold of the heel, supplanter, layer of snares.” Strong says it means, “heel-catcher, supplanter.” Strong says it comes from the primitive root ( עָקַב ) (H6117), which means, “to seize by the heel, to circumvent.” One Hebrew derivative ( עָקֵב ) (6119) means, “heel, (figuratively) the last of anything.”

One pastor suggests that Jacob’s name means “hand upon the heel” because this is what his parents saw when he was born. He uses the Hebrew word “yod” ( י) as a symbol of a hand, with the root word ( עקב ) meaning “heel.”

Genesis 25:26 Comments - We know that Jacob and Esau struggled together in the womb. Why did Jacob grab his brother’s heel? One pastor suggests that he was trying to stop Esau from crushing his head. He refers to Genesis 3:15 as the prophecy to explain this suggestion. The seed of woman was going to crush the head of Satan. We know that according to Jewish tradition Cain, who was of the evil one, struck Abel on the head and killed him. So it appears that Satan was trying to reverse this prophecy by crushing the head of the woman’s seed. Perhaps Esau was trying to crush the head of Jacob while in the womb.

Genesis 25:27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.

Genesis 25:27 Word Study on “plain” Strong says the Hebrew word “plain” ( תָּם ) (H8535) means, “pious, gentle, dear,” being derived from the primitive root ( תָּמַם ) (H8552), which means, “to complete, to accomplish, to cease.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 13 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as “perfect 9, undefiled 2, plain 1, upright 1.”

Genesis 25:27 Comments - There will eventually arise between Esau and Jacob a similar competition that took place between Cain and Abel. Esau did eventually attempt to kill Jacob, but was protected by divine providence.

Genesis 25:28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 30". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/genesis-30.html. 2013.