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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 30

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-43

Genesis 30:2. Am I in God’s stead. Rachel’s impatience provoked Jacob’s anger, because she asked of man whist was the prerogative of God to give. The rabbins remark here, that God keeps in his own hands the four grand keys of nature. First, the key of life or generation; secondly, the key of bread; thirdly, the key of rain, Deuteronomy 28:12; fourthly, the key of the grave, or resurrection from the dead. Ezekiel 37:12. Those favours of posterity are to be asked in prayer, and with all deference and submission to the Father of spirits.

Genesis 30:3. She shall bear upon my knees; that the child might be free born, and adopted from its birth. By these privileges it became heir of the wealth and hopes of the family; and with this view a dotal maid was usually given with a lady on her marriage, as a precaution against the want of issue.

Genesis 30:11. A troop cometh, and she called his name Gad. From this birth, Leah augured a numerous progeny to Jacob; yea, a troop or army of descendants. The apostate Israelites gave the name of Gad to the altars which they built to prosperity, as in the note on Isaiah 65:11. Gad is also used to designate happiness.

Genesis 30:13. She called his name Asher; that is, blessed.

Genesis 30:14. Mandrakes. We do not know what sort of fruit these were. Augustine says he once saw some. They were beautiful in appearance, fragrant in smell, but insipid in the taste. Song of Solomon 7:13. Some think they were apples of that name.

Genesis 30:18. She called his name Issachar; that is, hire.

Genesis 30:20. She called his name Zebulon; that is, a dwelling, or a little habitation.

Genesis 30:24. Joseph, that is, addition.

Genesis 30:37. Made the white appear. The human fÅ“tus is often marked in the mother’s womb with blood, or with the shape of red and purple fruits; but when do we see cattle devoid of reason, so marked? Though we presume not to deny the influence of those rods, yet it is safer to say that God gave Jacob the cattle.

Genesis 30:38 . The rods which he had peeled. This was a mere prejudice of the ancient shepherds. The rods, however they were peeled, could not procure these effects on the cattle. It was God therefore who graciously blessed him with substance. But with regard to women, there have been many occurrences in natural history, which strongly corroborate what is here asserted of the effects of the imagination, &c. Vide Poli. syn. crit. in loc. An Ethiopian lady once had a white child, which made a great deal of talk; but as no one could impeach the lady’s chastity, the physicians at length ascribed the cause to a portrait of Andromache, which hung in the lady’s bedchamber.


From the painful feelings of Rachel at the happiness and prosperity of Leah, let us endeavour never to envy another in regard to the wealth, honour, talents, or advantages they may enjoy, of which we are for the present deprived. Having God, the alsufficient God for our portion, let us be content with our lot.

Was Rachel so afflicted for the want of children as to be on the point of dying with anguish and grief? How much more should ministers of the gospel travail, that children of the promise may be converted under their word. Oh, how afflictive to a faithful minister, to see his audience crowded from week to week, and yet to hear of no conversions! Let him weep, and grieve, and pray for success. Tears will soften his soul, devotion will raise him up to God, and heaven will descend with his ministry in more fruitful showers of grace. The God who pitied Rachel, will not forget the weeping pastor of his flock.

Was Laban poor when Jacob arrived; and did God in fourteen years bless him exceedingly by Jacob’s industry and superior skill? How happy is a man, surrounded by religious and faithful servants; how happy is the house where the ark of God abides. But oh blessed man, be not content with the inferior gifts, look for the double portion promised in the covenant. God will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

Did Jacob serve Laban faithfully in three successive engagements, though the terms were apparently hard? He is then a fine example to young men who enjoy the honourable liberty of serving their fathers. Let them be faithful in the discharge of every duty as unto God, and they shall reap the rewards here in peace of conscience, in temporal happiness, and the works of virtue shall not be forgotten in the life to come.

But did Laban deceive Jacob, and change his wages ten times? Let parents learn to keep faith with their children, and not to provoke them. To envy another in his prosperity is sinful, and much more unnatural to envy a son- in-law, in whose children the parents still survive. God requires fidelity in all men; and peculiarly so in persons so nearly connected. Blessed is the man that hath sworn to his hurt, and keepeth his word: he shall ascend into the holy hill of the Lord. Psalms 15:4. This is the high morality of our scriptures; and godliness with contentment is great gain.

In the extraordinary prosperity of Jacob we see farther, the faithfulness of God to his covenant and promises. And indeed, while a man continues to walk with God, it is a continued chain of blessedness here, and the fulness of felicity for ever.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 30". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/genesis-30.html. 1835.
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