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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 30

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.

Give me children, or elso I die. — She was sick of the fret; and could not live, unless Jacob could cure her. "Envy is the rottenness of the bones," Proverbs 14:30 and ever devours itself first; as the worm doth the nut out of which it groweth.

Verse 2

And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, [Am] I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?

And Jacob’s anger was kindled. — He that will be angry, and not sin, must not be angry, but for sin. Reprove thy wife, thou mayest; chide her, thou mayest not, unless the offence be against God, as here, and Job 2:10 . And here a man may carry a severe rebuke in his countenance, as God doth, Psalms 80:16 , though he say nothing: he may chide with his looks only.

Am I in God’s stead? — Who carrieth this key under his own girdle; as is aforenoted. "Lo, children are a heritage that cometh of the Lord," as David Psalms 127:3 once sang for Solomon, who had the experience of it: for of so many wives, he had but one son, that we read of; and he was none of the wisest. Ecclesiastes 2:19 This Solomon foresaw, and bewailed, as one unhappy bird, in his nest of vanities.

Verse 3

And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.

Behold my maid Bilhah. — Given her by her father on purpose, it may seem; that in case she proved barren, she might be built up by her. So Stratonice, the wife of King Dejotarus, being barren, gave secretly her maid Electra unto her husband; by whom she had an heir to the crown, as Plutarch relateth.

Verse 4

And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.

And Jacob went in unto her. — Merely to please his wife, he yielded to that which he could not but disallow as evil. Heed must be taken that the hen crow not, that the wife rule not. This γυναικοκρατεια was a part of Jacob’s punishment.

Verse 5

And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.

And bare Jacob a son. — Whom Rachel might adopt, and dandle "on her knees," as Genesis 30:3 .

Verse 6

And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.

God hath judged me, … — A vile profanation of God’s holy name, under an opinion and pretence of piety. So they that, brow-beating their brethren, better than themselves, said, "Let the Lord be glorified"; Isaiah 66:5 and it grew to a proverb, In nomine Domini incipit omne malum . The conspirators in Edward VI’s time endorsed their letters with "Glory be to God on high, on earth peace," … Act. and Mon. A fair glove drawn upon a foul hand.

Verse 8

And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.

With great wrestlings. — Heb., With wrestlings of God; that is, with excellent and most earnest wrestlings and endeavours; by storms of sighs, and showers of tears. Magno desiderio, precibus, suspiriis luctata est adversus sororem . - Pareus, in loc . Stupidity is the low extreme, like the dull earth. Despair is as much too high, as it were in the element of fire, which scorches up the spirit. The middle region of air and water, sighs and tears, is the best.

Verse 9

When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.

Left bearing, — viz., Till she began again, Genesis 30:17 .

Verse 10

And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son.

Bare Jacob a son. — Here Jacob was too indulgent both to his wives and to himself.

Verse 11

And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.

A troop cometh. — Or, as some render it, Good luck cometh; compare Isaiah 65:11 . Theodoret saith Leah speaks thus, as one that had been profanely bred; and could not so suddenly forget her old language.

Verse 13

And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

For the daughters will call me blessed. — This phrase the Virgin Mary maketh use of, Luke 1:48 as she doth also of various other Scripture phrases, in that holy song of hers: which showeth that she was very well versed in the Book of God.

Verse 14

And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes.

And found mandrakes. — Some render it, lovely flowers; others, violets; others, lilies; others again, cherries of Jury; the Greek, and most interpreters, mandrakes, or mandrake apples. It is a plant very amiable, according to the name, ãåãàéí - Vide Drus. in fine Com. Ruth . both for sweetness of smell, Song of Solomon 7:13 the loveliness of the flower resembling a man; and for the peculiar virtue it hath, to cause sleep, affection, and conception.

Verse 15

And she said unto her, [Is it] a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son’s mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son’s mandrakes.

Therefore he shall lie with thee, … — Thus he is bought and sold by his emulous wives: which was no small affliction to him, and a punishment of his polygamy.

Verse 16

And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.

Thou must come in unto me. — These contentions, saith an interpreter, Ainsw. were not merely carnal, but partly also for desire of God’s ordinary blessing in propagation; and chiefly, for the increase of the Church, and obtaining the promised Seed for salvation.

Verse 17

And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.

God hearkened unto Leah. — She prayed then, and invited God to her marriage bed. This was praiseworthy in her, howsoever.

Verse 18

And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.

God hath given me my hire. — Wherein she was much mistaken, as having not her "senses exercised to discern good and evil." Here she rejoiceth in that for which she should have repented; and was in the common error of measuring and judging of things by the success; Foelix scelus virtus vocatur . - Cicero, De Divin ., lib. ii. as if God were not many times angry with men, though they outwardly prosper. Thus Dionysius, after the spoils of an idol temple, finding the winds favourable, Lo, said he, how the gods approve of sacrilege!

Verse 20

And Leah said, God hath endued me [with] a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.

God hath endued me with a good dowry. — That is, as it proves, though children are dulcis acerbitas , saith one; certain cares, but uncertain comforts, saith another; Fροντιδες μεγαλαι, ελπιδες αδηλοι . - Plutar., De Prolis Amore . yet all men desire them: how much more should we covet grace, and those things that accompany salvation! These having gotten, we may safely and surely say, "God hath endued me with a good dowry."

Verse 21

And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.

And called her name Dinah. — Philo in his "Antiquities" saith (but we need not believe him) that this Dinah was afterwards married to Job, and brought him many children.

Verse 22

And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.

And God remembered Rachel. — She began to think that God had forgotten her, because she was so long suspended, and her prayers not answered. This is a common fault. David bewails it in himself. Psalms 77:1-20 Basil grew so weary of the Arian persecution, that once he cried out, An Ecclesias suas prorsus dereliquit Dominus? an novissima hora est? … So the Church of old: "Where is thy zeal and thy strength, Lord? the sounding of thy heart and of thy mercies toward us? are they restrained?". Isaiah 63:15 Here we must check and chide ourselves, for once questioning God’s kind remembrance of us, whom he cannot forget, and learn and labour not to "waken our well beloved, until he please". Song of Solomon 3:5 He "waits to be gracious," Isaiah 30:19 and, when it is fit, will come "leaping over the mountains of Bether," Song of Solomon 2:17 all lets and impediments.

Verse 23

And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:

God hath taken away my reproach. — That is, her barrenness, - with which she was often upbraided, - when now she was sufficiently humbled; besides that her children, as the rest of those women that were long barren, are noted to have been the best, and most gracious; as Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samuel, the Baptist, … A child of many prayers cannot lightly miscarry, as he Ambrose. told Monica.

Verse 24

And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.

The Lord shall add to me another son. — A sweet and sure way of argumentation. God, that hath thus and thus done me good, will not be wanting to me in anything that may be conducive to mine eternal comfort; but "will perfect that which concerneth me". Psalms 138:8 Qui ad vituli hortatur esum, quid tandem mihi negaturus est? Bernard.

Verse 25

And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country.

Unto mine own place. — The Promised Land, which he reckoned his own. The promises are good surehold.

Verse 26

Give [me] my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee.

Let me go. — Here Jacob was too hasty; as Moses was, in doing justice before his time, and therefore fled for it. Exodus 2:11-14

Verse 27

And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, [tarry: for] I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake.

I pray thee, if I have found favour, … — This miserable muckworm, so he may advance his own ends, abased himself to his servants, colloguing or anything, to curry favour, and compass commodity. But he that is swallowed up of the earth (as Korah was), his ears stopped, his heart stuffed, and all passages for God’s Spirit obstructed by it, shall have earth enough when he dies: his mouth shall be filled with a spadeful of mould, and his never-enough quit with fire-enough, in the bottom of hell. Such another courteous caitiff as this in the text was that Plautianus, a rich Roman, of great authority with Severus the Emperor. Omnia enim petebat ab omnibus, et cupiebat omnia , saith the historian Is tantum filiae suae dedit, quantum reginis quinquaginta satis esset . - Dio in Vita Severi . Herein only he differed from Laban, when he married his daughter to Antonius the son of Severus, he gave her as much portion as would have sufficed for fifty queens. Dio in Vita Severi .

Verse 28

And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give [it].

Appoint me thy wages. — Heb., Expressly name, or nominate plainly.

And I will give it.Pollicitis dives quilibet esse potest .

Verse 29

And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me.

Thou knowest how I have served thee,sc ., With all my might, and to thy singular advantage: if therefore I stay longer, reason requireth that there should be some respect had to my benefit also, since he that "provideth not for his own is worse than an infidel". 1 Timothy 5:8

Verse 30

For [it was] little which thou hadst before I [came], and it is [now] increased unto a multitude; and the LORD hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?

The Lord hath blessed thee since my coming. — Heb., At my foot. Hence grew that proverb used in Africa, Homo boni pedis ; a man whose coming is prosperous; - appliable to the ministers of the gospel, whose "feet are beautiful," Isaiah 52:7 Romans 10:15 and prosperous, if they faithfully feed the flock.

Verse 31

And he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed [and] keep thy flock:

What shall I give thee?Solent multum quaerere, qui cupiunt parum dare . But Laban would know his price, that he might be out of his pain.

Verse 32

I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and [of such] shall be my hire.

And of such shall be my hire. — As white and black sheep were most set by in Mesopotamia, so were the variously coloured in Palestine, Jacob’s country; whence the shepherds there are called Nochudim , Amos 1:1 that is, keepers of spotted cattle. This might be a reason why Jacob desires to be paid in such; and, perhaps, had learned that skill there which he used in the following verses.

Verse 33

So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that [is] not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me.

So shall my righteousness, … — A good conscience fears no judge; no, not God himself, in some particulars. as Psalms 7:3-4 That which Jacob did here was of God. Genesis 31:10 It was also a plain bargain between them, and Laban was handled in his kind. Besides, the means Jacob used was not fraudulent, but natural; not depending on man’s skill, but God’s blessing: and all to recover out of the wretch’s hands that which was but due to him for his hard service, and for his wives’ dowry.

Verse 34

And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word.

Behold, I would it might be. — He was glad to have him on the hip for a bad bargain, but is fairly deceived himself. God will see to his servants, that they shall not lose all: though the world think it neither sin nor pity to defraud them of their due.

Verse 36

And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.

And he set three days’ journey. — Hoping so to disappoint Jacob of having anything, and to make his own party good with him. For, naturally, the cattle would bring forth others like themselves; and so Jacob’s part should be little enough. Sed et hic fallitur sordidus impostor , saith Pareus. Laban was utterly out in his count, and crossed in his design.

Verse 37

And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which [was] in the rods.

And of the hazel. — Or nut tree, Heb. Luz, which was the ancient name of the city of Bethel; Genesis 28:19 so called, as it seemeth, of nut trees growing there.

Verse 38

And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.

And he set the rods which he had pilled. — This was done, partly by the force of the fantasy, which is much affected with objects of the sight; or some other cogitation in the time of conception: partly and chiefly by the blessing of God: for, he that shall now try the same conclusion, shall find himself frustrated.

Verse 39

And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.

Ring-straked. — With a round streak, or ring, about their legs, as if they were gartered.

Verse 40

And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban’s cattle.

And set the faces of the flocks, … — That by the sight of the speckled cattle they might bring forth lambs like them that were in their eye.

Verse 41

And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.

The stronger cattle. — Heb., Bound together, i.e., lusty and well set.

Verse 42

But when the cattle were feeble, he put [them] not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s.

So the feebler were Laban’s. — So elsewhere God promiseth that his people "shall rob those that robbed them, and spoil those that spoiled them". Ezekiel 39:10

Verse 43

And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.

And the man increased exceedingly. — So shall all those do, if it be for their eternal good, that depend upon God for success and blessing upon their hard and honest labours. As for others, that will needs care and carve for themselves, being troubled about many things, but neglecting that "one thing necessary," the Lord either gives the souls of such over to suffer shipwreck, or else strips them of all their lading and tacklings, breaking their estates all to pieces, and making them glad to go to heaven upon a broken plank.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 30". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/genesis-30.html. 1865-1868.
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