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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 30

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1


1. Give me children Here breaks forth the passionate cry of the child of nature . Envy and jealousy, even to bitterness, speak out in this appeal, not the hopeful yearning of the child of faith .

Verse 2

2. Jacob’s anger Here is something that stings to the quick the soul of him who has hitherto showed such general gravity and calmness . Such rebuke from the lips of his beloved Rachel arouses him to a sudden outburst of anger, in which he administers to her a sharp rebuke .

Verse 3

3. Children by her In her impatience she resorts to the expedient of Sarai. Genesis 16:2, note .

Verse 6

6. Dan Which means a judge, for, as she puts it, God had judged her cause, and vindicated her in this procedure . Observe that Rachel here speaks of God, Elohim, whereas Leah acknowledged Jehovah .

Genesis 30:32-33; Genesis 30:35. In Genesis 30:20, however, Leah uses the name Elohim, and in Genesis 30:24, Rachel acknowledges Jehovah.

Verse 8

8. Naphtali Which means, my wrestling, in allusion to the struggle of rivalry between herself and Leah . Her words are, literally: wrestlings of God have I wrestled with my sister; also I have prevailed . The words, perhaps, have some allusion to Jacob’s reproof, Genesis 30:2, “Am I in God’s stead?” She assumes to have struggled as with God for this victory, and glories in a seeming victory over her sister . But what a vain boasting!

Verse 9

9. Leah… took Zilpah The passion and rivalry of Rachel provoke Leah to adopt the same expedient, and thus silence any boasting in that line .

Verse 11

11. A troop cometh Hebrews, בגד , in luck; with good fortune . So Sept . and Vulgate, Syriac and Chaldee . So she called his name Gad, as a memorial of her good fortune . The Masorites explain בגד as an abbreviation for בא גד , and so write it in the margin, and chap . 49:19, is thought by some to favour this; but the simpler sense is that of the Septuagint and other versions, as given above .

Verse 13

13. Asher Which means, blessed, happy . The words happy, blessed, and Asher in this verse are all from the same Hebrew root .

Verses 14-21

OTHER CHILDREN OF LEAH, Genesis 30:14-21.

Reuben went He was now a boy of four or five years. Mandrakes דודאים , dudhaim, love-apples, a fruit, as appears from this context, believed to have the power of promoting conception . Hence the anxiety of Rachel to obtain them . The fruit here named is believed to be the Mandragora officinalis, described by Tristram as “one of the most striking plants of the country, with its flat disk of very broad primrose-like leaves, and its central bunch of dark blue bell-shaped blossom . The perfume of the flower we found by no means disagreeable, though it is said by some to be fetid . It has a certain pungency which is peculiar . We found it not uncommon in every part of Palestine, but chiefly in marshy plains . ” Land of Israel, 8vo edit . , p . 103 .

Verse 18

18. God hath given me my hire Leah, of higher spiritual nature than Rachel, relies on God more than on any love potions, and she has her reward, and she gives her new-born son a name, Issachar, which means, there is a reward .

Verse 20

20. Zebulun Which means, dwelling or habitation; for now she fondly hopes that her husband will dwell with her; cleave to her in his home-life with a warmer attachment .

Verse 21

21. Dinah Which means, judgment; kindred to the name Dan . Genesis 30:6. Some suppose, from the language of Genesis 37:35; Genesis 46:7, that Jacob had other daughters . This is possible, and yet the word may, in those passages, refer to daughters-in-law . So full a narrative of Jacob’s family would not have been likely to omit mention of any child of his .

Verse 22

BIRTH OF JOSEPH, Genesis 30:22-24.

22. God remembered Rachel It would seem from the language of these verses that Rachel’s wrestling with God (comp . Genesis 30:8) had acquired a nobler tone; a more devout and humble trust .

God hearkened to her This implies a prevailing prayer on her part, which had probably softened and subdued her spirit, and begotten in her a forgiving disposition towards her rival a quality that impressed itself upon her son.

Verse 23

23. My reproach She has now no words of envy or triumph towards her sister, but a humble acknowledgment of her previous pitiable condition among women .

Verse 24

24. Joseph Which means adding, for she herewith expresses her faith that Jehovah will add to her another son . There seems also to be a play upon the word אס Š, hath taken away, used in the preceding verse . Thus the name takes on a twofold significance . Elohim has taken away her reproach, and Jehovah will add another son . While this faith showed a nobler spirit than she had manifested before, it also showed an impatience and ambition, which issued in sorrow and death, when the other son was added . See Genesis 35:18.

The dates of the birth of the above-named children of Jacob are not given, though Genesis 30:25 shows that on the birth of Joseph, Jacob had served out his fourteen years. Here, then, eleven children appear to have been born unto him in seven years, and yet during that period Leah for a time left bearing, (Genesis 29:35. ) All this, however, may be readily understood as follows . Dinah was born “afterwards,” (Genesis 30:21;) so she may be set aside from the seven years; and nothing necessarily hinders our supposing Zebulun, Leah’s sixth son, to have been born after Joseph . Leah probably bore the four sons named in Genesis 29:32-35, in rapid succession within the first four years after marriage . Then she left off bearing for two years, which would be noticeable after having borne four sons so quickly . Meanwhile, and probably before the birth of Judah, Leah’s fourth son, Rachel sought children by Bilhah, and during the fourth and fifth years the children of both the hand-maids were born . At the beginning of the seventh year Leah may have borne Issachar, and Zebulun at its close, or very soon after. So there is nothing improbable in the narrative of the eleven children being born in seven years.

Verse 25


25. Send me away Jacob doubtless felt that Laban had been ungenerous and exacting, and, besides deceiving him in the case of Leah, had sought to make the most of all his other advantages to make out of him all he could .

Mine own place… my country Jacob remembered the promises at Beth-el . Genesis 28:13-15.

Verse 26

26. Thou knowest my service Jacob is not afraid to reckon on the value of his labours, and Laban had, doubtless, profited greatly by them as he at once acknowledged. Genesis 30:27.

Verse 27

27. I have learned by experience נחשׁתי , I have divined; or, I have learned by divination . The words indicate that Laban had become, to some extent at least, involved in heathen and idolatrous practices . Compare Genesis 31:19; Genesis 30:32. Some, however, take the word in the wider signification of diligent inquiry and examination, a meaning not sustained by general usage . Laban rather claims to have discovered, by some sort of augury, that Jacob’s God, Jehovah, had favoured him for Jacob’s sake .

Verse 30

30. Since my coming Hebrews, at my feet; as if the blessings of Jehovah had broken forth and followed Jacob’s footsteps wherever he went .

Verse 32

32. Brown cattle among the sheep… spotted and speckled among the goats The Syrian sheep are said to be usually all white, and the goats black or brown . This seems to have been the case with Laban’s flocks, so that Jacob’s proposition would leave Laban with by far the larger proportion of the flocks and their probable increase .

Verse 33

33. My righteousness My uprightness in the whole business .

In time to come Hebrews, in the day of to-morrow; meaning, any and every to-morrow. From that day forward there would be no dispute over rights in the cattle, for the colour would decide.

When it shall come Rather, when thou shalt come ( תבוא ,) upon my wages before thee; that is, when thou comest to inspect my wages or share in the flock .

Stolen with me That is, Laban will be welcome to look upon all the white sheep and black or brown goats which he finds with Jacob as stolen, and claim them for himself .

Verse 35

35. Gave them into the hand of his sons Here note the overreaching and imperious disposition of Laban . He does not leave Jacob to divide the flocks, but does it himself, and then removes Jacob’s part three days distant . Jacob was bound to look after Laban’s flock, (Genesis 30:31,) and the latter takes every advantage of that fact .

Verse 37

JACOB’S ARTIFICE, Genesis 30:37-43.

37. Took him rods At sight of such imperious attempt at overreaching him, Jacob is not slow to devise means to counteract the wrong . The artifice he adopted was in well-known accord with the fact that any impressive colours fixed in the attention of a female at the time of conception are almost sure to mark the offspring .

Poplar… hazel… chestnut Some render storax, almond, and plane-tree; others render maple instead of hazel, and walnut instead of chestnut . The wood was doubtless such as had a white wood under a dark bark .

Verse 40

40. Separate the lambs That is, the lambs produced after the separation mentioned in Genesis 30:35. These ringstreaked lambs were, as a second artifice, made like the rods to serve his purpose .

Put his own flocks by themselves As he had a right to do . Laban’s cattle here denote those of uniform color in the flocks tended by Jacob .

Verse 42

42. The feebler were Laban’s This was a third trick . The Eastern sheep lamb twice a year, in spring and fall, and those born in the fall, according to Pliny, were the stronger. It is probable that after a time Laban suspected or discovered Jacob’s artifice, and accordingly changed his wages, or the terms of the contract, many times. See Genesis 31:7-8. But Jacob was smart enough to frustrate all his attempts to overreach him .

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 30". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/genesis-30.html. 1874-1909.
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