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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Genesis 29

 

 


Verses 1-24

SECOND SECTION

Jacob’s wives and children. Jacob and Rachel, Laban’s youngest daughter. First and second treaty with Laban. His involuntary consummation of marriage with Leah. The double marriage. Leah’s sons. Rachel’s dissatisfaction. The strife of the two women. The concubines. Jacob’s blessing of children

Genesis 29:1 to Genesis 30:24

1Then Jacob went on his journey [lifted up his feet] and came [fled] into the land of the people [children] of the east [morning]. 2And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it [before him]; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well’s month 3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and [then] they rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well’s mouth in his place 4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we 5 And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. 6And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He Isaiah 7 well: and behold, Rachel [lamb, ewe-lamb] his daughter cometh with the sheep. And [But] he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them. 8And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till [then] they roll the stone from the well’s mouth; then [and] we water the sheep.

9And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them 10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother 11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother [nephew]. And that he was Rebekah’s son; and she ran and told her father 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 [Then] he told Laban all these things 14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.

15And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother [relative], shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be. 16And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah [scarcely, the wearied; still less, the dull, stupid, 17 as Fürst, rather: the pining, yearning, desiring], and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful [as to form] and well favored [as to countenance]. 18And Jacob loved Rachel: and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter 19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee than that I:20 should give her to another man: abide with me. And [thus] Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him [were in his eyes] but a few days, for the love he had to her.

21And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast [wedding feast]. 23And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her 24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah, Zilpah [Maurer: the dewy—from the trickling, dropping; Fürst: myrrh-juice] his maid, for an handmaid 25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did [have] not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? 26And Laban said, It must not be so done [it is not the custom] in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn 27 Fulfil her [wedding] week [the week of this one—fulfil, etc.—is too strong], and we will give thee this also, for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years 28 And Jacob did Song of Solomon, and fulfilled her week: and [then] he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also 29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah [Maurer, Fürst: tender. Gesenius: bashful, modest] his handmaid to be her maid 30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.

31And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated [displeasing] he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren 32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son; and she called his name Reuben [see there, a son]: for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me 33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon [schimeon, hearing]. 34And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this£ time [at last] will my husband be joined unto me, because I have borne him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi35[joining, cleaving]. And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she said, Now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah [praise of God, literally, praised, viz, be Jehovah]; and left bearing.

Genesis 30:1 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 2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel; and he said, Am I [then] in God’s stead, who hath with held from thee the fruit of the womb? 3And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her, and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may [and I shall] also have children4[be built] by her. And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife. And Jacob went in unto her 5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a Song of Solomon 6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me [decreed me my right], and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan [Judge; vindicator]. 7And Bilhah, Rachel’s maid, conceived again, and bare Jacob a second Song of Solomon, 8 Rachel said, With great wrestlings [wrestlings of God, Elohim] have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali [my conflict or wrestler]. 9[And] When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah, her maid, and gave 10 her Jacob to wife. And Zilpah, Leah’s maid, bare Jacob a Song of Solomon 11And Leah said, A 12 troop cometh [[FN1] with felicity, good fortune]: and she called his name Gad [fortune]. And Zilpah, Leah’s maid, bare Jacob a second Song of Solomon 13And Leah said, Happy am I [for my happiness], for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher [blessedness].

14And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes [love-apples] 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 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 16 And [as] 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 17 son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night. And God [Elohim] hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth Song of Solomon 18And Leah said, God hath given me my hire [wages, reward], because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar [Yisashcar,[FN2] it is the reward]. 19And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth Song of Solomon 20And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry [presented me with a beautiful present]; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun [dwelling, dwelling together]. 21And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah [judged, justified, judgment].

22And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb 23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24And she called his name Joseph [may he add]; and said, The Lord shall add to me another [a second] son.

GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS

1. The first half of the history of Jacob’s sojourn in Mesopotamia is a history of his love, his marriages, and his children. Bridal love, in its peculiar splendor of heart and emotion, never appeared so definitely in Genesis, after Adam’s salutation to Eve, as in the present case. With respect to the moral motives, by means of which Jacob became involved in polygamy, notwithstanding his exclusive bridal love, compare the preface p. lxxvi. We may divide the history into the following stages: 1. Jacob’s arrival at the shepherds’ well in Haran ( Genesis 29:1-8); 2. Jacob’s salutation to Rachel and his reception into Laban’s house ( Genesis 29:9-14); 3. Jacob’s covenant and service for Rachel and the deception befalling him ( Genesis 29:15-25). How Jacob, under the divine providence, through the deception practised upon him, became very rich, both in sons and with respect to the future. (Göthe: It has always been proved true, That he whom God deceives, is deceived to his advantage.) 4. His renewed service for Rachel ( Genesis 29:26-30); 5. The first-born sons of Leah ( Genesis 29:31-35); 6. Rachel’s dejection and the concubinage of Bilhah, her handmaid (30. Genesis 29:1-8); 7. Leah’s emulation, and her handmaid Zilpah ( Genesis 29:9-13; Genesis 8. Leah’s last children ( Genesis 29:14-21); 9. Rachel, Joseph’s mother ( Genesis 29:22-24).

2. Knobel finds here a mixture of Jehovistic representation with the original text. He knows so little what to make of the ancient mode of writing narratives that he remarks upon Genesis 29:16-17 : “Moreover the same writer who has spoken of Rachel already ( Genesis 29:9-12), could not properly introduce the two daughters of Laban, as is done in the present instance.”

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. Genesis 29:1-8. Jacob’s arrival at the shepherd’s well in Haran.—Then Jacob went on his journey.—This consoling and refreshing manifestation reanimated him, so that he goes cheerfully on his journey. Of course, he must use his feet, his bridal tour differs from that of Eliezer, although he himself is the wooer.—Into the land of the people of the East.—The choice of this expression, no doubt, indicates that from Bethel he gradually turned eastward, and crossing the Jordan and passing through the northern part of Arabia Deserta, he came to Mesopotamia, which is also included here.—He looked, and behold.—He looks around to find out where he is. Wells, however, are not only waymarks in nomadic districts, but also places of gathering for the shepherds.—It was not a well of living water,—at least not Eliezer’s well near Haran,—but a cistern, as is proved from the stone covering it. It seems to have been in the midst of the plain of Haran, and the city itself was not yet in sight.—There were three flocks of sheep lying by it.—Scenes of this description were frequently seen in the ancient Orient, ( Genesis 24:11, etc.; Exodus 2:16, etc,) and may still be seen today (Robinson: “Researches,” ii. pp180, 357, 371; iii27, 250). Watering troughs of stone are placed around the well, and the rule Isaiah, that he who comes first, waters his flocks first (V. Schubert: “Travels,” ii. p453; Burkhardt: “Syria,” p128, etc.). Among the Arabian Bedouins the wells belong to separate tribes and families, and strangers are not permitted to use them without presents, i.e. pay (Burkhardt: “Bedouins,” p185; Robinson, iii. p7; comp. Numbers 20:17; Numbers 20:19; Numbers 21:22). They are, therefore, often the cause of strifes ( Genesis 26:19, etc.). The Arabians cover them very skilfully, so that they remain concealed from strangers (Diod. Sic, ii48, 19, 94). Even now they are covered with a large stone (see Robinson, ii. p180). Knobel. Robinson: “Most of the cisterns are covered with a large, thick flat stone, in the centre of which a round hole is cut, which forms the mouth of the cistern. This hole, in many instances, we found covered with a heavy stone, to the removal of which two or three men were requisite.” As to the cisterns (see also Keil, p203).—And a great stone.—This does not mean that all the shepherds were to come together, that by their united strength they might roll it away. The shepherds of these three herds must wait for the rest of the shepherds with their herds, because the watering of the herds was common and must take place in due order. The remark, no doubt, indicates, however, that the stone was too heavy to be removed by one of the shepherds. The shepherds also appear to have made the removal of the stone as easy as possible to them.—My Brethren.—A friendly salutation between the shepherds.—Of Haran.—[Haran lay about four hundred and fifty miles northeast from Beer-sheba. It would, therefore, be a journey of fifteen days, if Jacob walked at the rate of thirty miles a day. Murphy.—A. G.] From this it does not follow certainly that the city was far off, still Laban might have had tents on the plains for his shepherds.—Laban, the son of Nahor.—Nahor was his grandfather. Bethuel, his father, here retires into the background, just as in Rebekah’s history.—It is yet high day.—According to Starke, Jacob, as a shepherd, wished to remind these shepherds of their duty. It is obviously the prudent Jacob who acts here. He wishes to remove the shepherds, in order to meet his cousin Rachel, who is approaching, alone (see Keil). He thus assumes that they could water their flocks separately, and afterwards drive again to the pasture.

2. Genesis 29:8-14.—Jacob’s salutation to Rachel, and his reception into Laban’s house.—For she kept them.—It is customary among the Arabians of Sinai, that the virgin daughters drive the herds to the pasture (see Burkhardt: “Bedouins,” p283). Knobel, Exodus 2:16.—And rolled the stone.—The strong impression that the beautiful Rachel made upon her cousin Jacob is manifested in two ways. He thinks himself powerful enough to roll the stone from the mouth of the cistern out of love to her, and disregards the possibility that the trial might fail. At the same time, too, he boldly disregards the common rule of the shepherds present. Rachel’s appearance made him eager, as formerly Rebekah’s appearance even the old Eliezer, when he took out the bracelets before he knew her. The power of beauty is also recognized here upon sacred ground. Tuch thinks that the united exertion of the shepherds would have been necessary, and the narrative, therefore, boasts of a Samson-like strength in Jacob. But there is a difference between Samson-like strength and the heroic power of inspired love. [Perhaps, however, there was mingling with this feeling the joy which naturally springs from finding himself among his kindred, after the long, lonely and dangerous journey through the desert.—A. G.]—Jacob kissed Rachel.—“The three-fold אחי אמו shows that he acted thus as cousin (rolling the stone from the well’s mouth, etc.). As such he was allowed to kiss Rachel openly, as a brother his sister ( Song of Solomon 8:1).” Knobel.—Yet his excitement betrays him even here, since he did not make known his relationship with her until afterwards.—And wept.—Teals of joy, of reanimation after a long oppression and sorrow ( Genesis 45:15; Genesis 46:29). He Wept aloud, with uplifted voice. Brother here equivalent to nephew ( Genesis 14:16; Genesis 24:48).—When Laban heard the tidings.—That Jacob made the whole journey on foot might have caused suspicion in the mind of Laban. But he is susceptible of nobler feelings, as is seen from the subsequent narration ( Genesis 31:24), although he is generally governed by selfish motives.—And he told Laban.—Surely, the whole cause of his journey, by which he also explained his poor appearance as the son of the rich Isaac. In the view of Keil, he relates only the circumstances mentioned from Genesis 29:2-12.—Surely thou art my flesh and my bone.—He recognizes him fully from his appearance and his communication, as his near relative.—The space of a month.—Literally, during some, an indefinite number of days. It was yet uncertain, from day to day, how they would arrange matters.

3. Genesis 29:15-25. Jacob’s suit and service for Rachel, and the deception practised upon him.—Tell me what shall thy wages be.—This expression is regarded by Keil already as a mark of Laban’s selfishness, but there is no ground for this view. It is rather to be supposed that Laban wished to open the way for his love suit, which, on account of his poor condition he had not yet ventured to press. We see afterwards, indeed, that Laban willingly gives both his daughters to him. We do not, however, wish to exclude the thought, that in the meantime he may have recognized a skilful and useful shepherd in Jacob, and besides acted from regard to his own interest, especially since he knew that Jacob possessed a great inheritance at home.—The name of the elder was Leah.—It is remarkable, that in the explanation of this name we are mostly inclined to follow derived significations of the word לאה (see Fürst upon this verb).—The word רַךְ used to describe the eyes of Leah, means simply: weak or dull, whence the Arabians have made, moist or blear-eyed. Leah’s eyes were not in keeping with the Oriental idea of beauty, though otherwise she might be a woman greatly blessed. “Eyes which are not clear and lustrous. To the Oriental, but especially to the Arabian, black eyes, full of life and fire, clear and expressive, dark eyes, are considered the principal part of female beauty. Such eyes he loves to compare with those of the Gazelle, (Hamasa, i. p557, etc.” Knobel—Rachel, the third renowned beauty in the patriarchal family. If authentic history was not in the way, Leah, as the mother of Judah, and of the Davidic Messianic line, ought to have carried off the prize of beauty after Sarah and Rebekah.—And well favored.—“Beautiful as to her form and beautiful as to her countenance.” Beside the more general designation: beautiful as to her form, the second: beautiful מַרְאֶה must surely have a more definite signification: beautiful as to her countenance, and, indeed, with a reference to her beautiful eyes, which were wanting to Leah. Thus the passage indirectly says that Leah’s form was beautiful.—Serve thee seven years for Rachel.—Instead of wages he desires the daughter, and instead of a service of an indefinite number of days he promises a service of seven years. “Jacob’s service represents the price which, among the Orientals, was usually paid for the wife which was to be won (see Winer, Realw., under marriage). The custom still exists. In Kerek, a man without means, renders service for five or six years (Ritter, Erdkunde, xv. p674), and in Hauran, Burkhardt (“Syria,” p464), met a young man who had served eight years for his bare support, and then received for a wife the daughter of his master, but must render service still.” Knobel. On the contrary, Keil disputes the certainty of the assumption that the custom selling their daughters to men was general at that time. And we should certainly be nearer the truth in explaining many usages of the present border Asia from patriarchal relations, than to invert everything according to Knobel’s view. Keil holds that Jacob’s seven years of service takes the place of the customary dowry and the presents given to the relatives; but he overlooks the fact that the ideas of buying and presenting (and barter) are not as far apart in the East as with us. Nor can we directly infer the covetousness of Laban from Jacob’s acceptance of the offer, although his ignoble, selfish, narrow-minded conduct, as it is seen afterwards, throws some light also on these Eastern transactions.—It is better that I give her to thee.—“Among all Bedouin Arabians the cousin has the preference to strangers (Burkhardt, “Bedouin,” p219), and the Druses in Syria always prefer a relative to a rich stranger (Volney, “Travels,” ii. p62). It is generally customary throughout the East, that a man marries his next cousin; he is not compelled to do it, but the right belongs to him exclusively, and she is not allowed to marry any other without his consent. Both relatives, even after their marriage, call each other cousin (Burkhardt, “Bedouins,” p, 91, and “Arabian Proverbs,” p274, etc.; Layard, “Nineveh and Babylon,” p222; Lane, “Manners and Customs,” i. p167). Knobel.—They seemed unto him but a few days.—So far, namely, as that his great love for Rachel made his long service a delight to him; but, on the other hand, it is not said that he did not long for the end of these seven years. Yet he was cheerful and joyful in hope, which is in perfect keeping with Jacob’s character.—A Feast.—Probably Laban intended, at the great nuptial feast which he prepared, to facilitate Jacob’s deception by the great bustle and noise, but then also to arrange things Song of Solomon, that after seven days the wedding might be considered a double wedding. For it is evident that he wishes to bind Jacob as firmly and as long as possible to himself (see Genesis 30:27).—Leah, his daughter.—The deception was possible, through the custom, that the bride was led veiled to the bridegroom and the bridal chamber. Laban probably believed, as to the base deception, that he would be excused, because he had already in view the concession of the second daughter to Jacob.—And Laban gave unto her Zilpah.—We cannot certainly infer that he was parsimonious, because he gave but one handmaid to Leah, since he undoubtedly thought already of the dowry of Rachel with a second handmaid. The number of Rebekah’s handmaids is not mentioned ( Genesis 24:61).—Behold, it was Leah.—[“This is the first retribution Jacob experiences for the deceitful practises of his former days.” He had, through fraud and cunning, secured the place and blessing of Esau,— Hebrews, the younger, in the place of the elder; now, by the same deceit, the elder is put upon him in the place of the younger. What a man sows that shall he also reap. Sin is often punished with sin.—A. G.] See Doctrinal and Ethical paragraphs.

4. Genesis 29:26-30. His renewed service for Rachel.—It must not be so done.—“The same custom exists among the East Indians (see Manu.: “Statutes,” iii160; Rosenm, A. u. “Mod. Orient,” and Von Bohlen, upon this place). Even in the Egypt of to-day, the father sometimes refuses also to give in marriage a younger daughter before an older one (Lane: “Customs and Manners,” i. p169).” Knobel. Delitzsch adds the custom in old imperial Germany. This excuse does not justify in the least Laban’s deception, but there was, however, a sting for Jacob in this reply, viz, in the emphasis of the right of the first-born. But Laban’s offer that followed, and in which now truly his ignoble selfishness is manifest, calmed Jacob’s mind.—Fulfil her week.—Lit, make full the week with this one, i.e, the first week after the marriage, which is due to her, since the wedding generally lasted one week ( Judges 14:12; Tobit 11:19). [Her week—the week of Leah, to confirm the marriage with her by keeping the usual wedding-feast of seven days. But if Leah was put upon him at the close of the feast of seven days, then it is Rachel’s week, the second feast of seven days which is meant. The marriage with Rachel was only a week after that with Leah. The seven years’ service for her was rendered afterwards.—A. G.]—And we will.Genesis 31:1; Genesis 29:23; probably Laban and his sons. Laban also, as Rebekah’s brother, took part in her marriage arrangements.—Rachel his daughter.—Within eight days Jacob therefore held a second wedding, but he fulfilled the service for her afterwards. Laban, therefore, not only deceived Jacob by Leah’s interposition, as Jacob tells him to his face, but he overreached him also in charging him with seven years of service for Leah. Thus Jacob becomes entangled in polygamy, in the theocratic house which he had sought in order to close a theocratic marriage, first by the father and afterwards by the daughters.

5. Genesis 29:31-35. The first four sons of Leah.—When the Lord saw.—The birth of Leah’s first four sons is specifically referred to Jehovah’s grace; first, because Jehovah works above all human thoughts, and regards that which is despised and of little account (Leah was the despised one, the one loved less, comparatively the hated one, Deuteronomy 21:15); secondly, because among her first four sons were found the natural first-born (Reuben), the legal first-born (Levi), and the Messianic first-born (Judah); even Simeon, like the others, is given by Jehovah in answer to prayer. Jacob’s other sons are referred to Elohim not only by Jacob and Rachel ( Genesis 30:2; Genesis 30:6; Genesis 30:8), but also by Leah ( Genesis 29:18; Genesis 29:20), and by the narrator himself ( Genesis 29:17), for Jacob’s sons in their totality sustain not only a theocratic but also a universal destination.—He opened her womb.—He made her fruitful in children, which should attach her husband to her. But theocratic husbands did not esteem their wives only according to their fruitfulness (see 1 Samuel1) It is a one-sided view Keil takes when he says: “Jacob’s sinful weakness appears also in his marriage state, because he loved Rachel more than Leah, and the divine reproof appears, because the hated one was blessed with children but Rachel remained barren for a long time.” All we can say Isaiah, it was God’s pleasure to show in this way the movements of his providence over the thoughts of men, and to equalize the incongruity between these women.—Reuben.—Lit, Reuben: Behold, a son. Joyful surprise at Jehovah’s compassion. From the inference she makes: now, therefore, my husband will love me, her deep, strong love for Jacob, becomes apparent, which had no doubt, also, induced her to consent to Laban’s deception.—Simeon, her second Song of Solomon, receives his name from her faith in God as a prayer-answering God.—Levi.—The names of the sons are an expression of her enduring powerful experience, as well as of her gradual resignation. After the birth of the first one, she hopes to win, through her Song of Solomon, Jacob’s love in the strictest sense. After the birth of the second she hoped to be put on a footing of equality with Rachel, and to be delivered from her disregard. After the birth of the third one she hoped at least for a constant affection. At the birth of the fourth she looks entirely away from herself to Jehovah.—Judah.—Praised. A verbal noun of the future Hophal from ידה. The literal meaning of the name, therefore, is: “shall be praised,” and may thus be referred to Judah as the one “that is to be praised,” but it may also mean that Jehovah is to be praised on account of him (see Delitzsch, p465). [See Romans 2:29. He is a Jew inwardly, whose praise is of God. Wordsworth refers here to the analogies between the patriarchs and apostles.—A. G.]—She left bearing.—Not altogether (see Genesis 30:16, etc.), but for a time.

6. Rachel’s dejection, and the connection with Bilhah, her maid ( Genesis 30:1-8).—And when Rachel saw.—We have no right to conclude, with Keil, from Rachel’s assertion, that she and Jacob were wanting in prayer for children, and thus had not followed Isaac’s example. Even in prayer, patience may be finally shaken in the human sinful heart, if God intends to humble it.—Give me children or else I die, i.e, from dejection; not: my remembrance will be extinguished (Tremell); much less does it mean: I shall commit suicide (Chrysost.). Her vivid language sounds not only irrational but even impious, and therefore she rouses also the anger of Jacob.—Am I in God’s stead.—Lit, instead of God. God alone is the lord over life and death ( Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6). Rachel’s sad utterance, accompanied by the threat: or else I die, serves for an introduction as well as an excuse of her desperate proposition.—My maid, Bilhah.—The bad example of Hagar continues to operate here, leading into error. The question here was not about an heir of Jacob, but the proud Rachel desired children as her own, at any cost, lest she should stand beside her sister childless. Her jealous love for Jacob is to some extent overbalanced by her jealous pride or envy of her sister, so that she gives to Jacob her maid.—Upon my knees.—Ancient interpreters have explained this in an absurdly literal way. From the fact that children were taken upon the knees, they were recognized either as adopted children ( Genesis 50:23), or as the fruit of their own bodies ( Job 3:12).—That I may also have children by her.—See Genesis 16:2.—Dan ( Judges, one decreeing justice, vindex).—She considered the disgrace of her barrenness by the side of Leah an injustice.—Naphtali.—According to Knobel: wrestler; according to others: my wrestling, or even, the one for whom I wrestled. Delitzsch: the one obtained by wrestling. The LXX place it in the plural: Naphtalim, wrestlings. Fürst regards it as the abbreviated form of Naphtalijah, the wrestling of Jehovah. Against the two last explanations may be urged the deviation from the form Naphtalim, wrestlings; and according to the analogy of Daniel, vindicator, the most probable explanation Isaiah, my wrestler. As laying the foundation for the name, Rachel says: With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister.—The wrestlings of God could only be in the wrestlings of prayer, as we afterwards see from Jacob’s wrestlings, through which he becomes Israel. Delitzsch, too, explains: These are the wrestlings of prayer, in the assaults and temptations of faith. Hengstenberg: Struggles whose issue bears the character of a divine judgment, but through which the struggle itself is not clearly understood. Knobel: “She was not willing to leave the founding of a people of God to her sister only, but wished also to become an ancestress, as well as Leah.” But how can Rachel speak of a victory over her sister rich in children? Leah has left bearing, while Bilhah, her maid, begins to bear; at the same time, Rachel includes as much as possible in her words in order to overpersuade herself. [She believes that she has overcome.—A. G.] Hence, still, at Joseph’s birth she could say: Now (not before) God has taken away my reproach.

7. Genesis 30:9-13. Leah’s emulation, and Zilpah, her maid.—Took Zilpah, her maid.—Leah is still less excusable than Rachel, since she could oppose her own four sons to the two adopted sons of Rachel. But the proud and challenging assertions of Rachel, however, seem to have determined her to a renewed emulation; and Jacob thought that it was due to the equal rights of both to consent to the fourth marriage. That Leah now acts no longer as before, in a pious and humble disposition, the names by which she calls her adopted sons clearly prove.—A troop cometh.—Good fortune. An unnecessary conjecture of the Masorites renders it בָּא גָד, “fortune, victory cometh.”—Asher.—The happy one, or the blessed one.

8. Genesis 30:14-21. Leah’s last births.—Call me blessed.—An ancient mode of expression used by happy women from Leah to Mary ( Luke 1:48). The preterite expresses the certain future.—And Reuben went.—Reuben, when a little boy (according to Delitzsch five years old; according to Keil only four), brought unto his mother a plant found in the fields, and called דּוּדָאִים, a name which has been rendered in various ways. “The LXX correctly translates, דודאים = μῆλα μανδραγορῶν; דודי (and the kindred לולי) is the Mandragora venalis (high-German: alrû Nahum, alrûn, mandrake; Grimm, ‘Mythol.’ ii. p1153, edit, iii.), out of whose small, white and-green flowers, which, according to the Song vii14, are harbingers of Spring, there grows in May, or what is equivalent, at the time of the wheat-harvest, yellow, strong, but sweet-smelling apples, of the size of a nutmeg (Arab tuffah ex Saitân, i.e, pomum Satanœ), which in antiquity as well as during the middle ages (see Graesse: ‘Contributions to the literature and traditions of the Middle Ages,’ 1850) were thought to promote fruitfulness and were generally viewed as Aphrodisiacum.” Delitzsch. Hence the fruit was called Dudaim amatoria, Love-apple. Theophrastus tells us that love-potions were prepared from its roots. It was held in such high esteem by them that the goddess of love was called Mandragoritis. All the different travellers to Palestine speak about it (see Knobel, p224; Delitzsch, p467; Keil, p207; Winer: Alraun, Mandrake).—Give me of those mandrakes.—Love-apples. In the transaction between Rachel and Leah concerning the mandrakes, her excited emulation culminated, not, however, as Keil says, as a mutual jealousy as to the affection of their husband, but a jealousy as to the births, otherwise Rachel would not have been obliged to yield, and actually have yielded to Leah the right in question.—And God hearkened unto Leah.—Knobel thinks that the Jehovistic and Elohistic views are here mingled in confusion. The Elohist records of Leah after the ninth verse, that she prayed, and considers her pregnancy an answer to her prayer; the Jehovist, on the contrary, ascribes it to the effect produced by the mandrakes, of which Leah retained a part. Here, therefore, the critical assumption of a biblical book-making culminates. It is obviously the design to bring out into prominence the fact that Leah became pregnant again without mandrakes, and that they were of no avail to Rachel, a fact which Keil renders prominent. Moreover, it could not be the intention of Rachel to prepare from these mandrakes a Song of Solomon -called love-potion for Jacob, but only to attain fruitfulness by their effects upon herself. Just as now, for the same purpose perhaps, unfruitful women visit or are sent to certain watering-places. From this standpoint, truly, the assumed remedy of nature may appear as a premature, eager self-help.—Issachar.—According to the Chethib, יש שכ‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏ר, there is reward; according to Keil, ישׂא שׂכר, it brings reward, which is less fitting here. Leah, according to Genesis 30:18, looked upon Issachar as a reward for her self-denial in allowing her maid to take her place. By this Acts, also, her strong affection for Jacob seems to betray itself again. But no such struggle is mentioned of Rachel in the interposition of her maid.—Zebulun.—That the children here are altogether named by the mothers, is Jehovistic, as Knobel thinks: “The Elohist assigns the names to the children through the father, and is not fond of etymologies!” It is just as great violence to the words: God hath endued me, etc, to say the name signifies a present, while, according to the words following, it signifies dweller. The name of Zebulun is first formed after the inference which Leah drew from the divine gift or present. זָבַל, to dwell, alludes to the preceding זבד, to make a present; both verbs are ἅπαξ λεγ.—Dinah, is mentioned on account of the history, Genesis 34. Genesis 37:35 and Genesis 36:7 seem to intimate that he had other daughters, but they are not mentioned further. Dinah is the female Dan. Leah retains her superiority. Hence there is no fuller explanation of the name after the deed of Dinah’s brothers, Genesis 34.

9. Genesis 30:22-24. Rachel the mother of Joseph.—And God remembered Rachel.—The expression: he remembered, here also denotes a turning-point after a long trial, as usually, e.g, Genesis 8:1. In relation to the removing of unfruitfulness, see 1 Samuel 1:19.—And God hearkened to her.—She therefore obtained fruitfulness by prayer also.—Joseph.—This name, in the earlier document, as Knobel expresses himself, is called יֹאסֵף, one that takes away, i.e, takes away the reproach, from אסף; and then, in the second document, he shall add, from יסף. Delitzsch also explains: one that takes away. Keil adopts both derivations. The text only allows the latter derivation: he may add. To take away and to add are too strongly opposed to be traced back to one etymological source. Rachel, it is true, might have revealed the sentiments of her heart by the expression: God hath taken away my reproach; but she was not able to give to her own sons names that would have neutralized the significance and force of the names of her adopted sons Dan and Naphtali. That she is indebted to God’s kindness for Joseph, while at the same time she asks Jehovah for another Song of Solomon, and thereupon names Joseph, does not furnish any sufficient occasion for the admission of an addition to the sources of scripture, as Delitzsch assumes. The number of Jacob’s sons, who began with Jehovah, was also closed by Jehovah. For, according to the number of twelve tribes, Israel is Jehovah’s covenant people.

In regard to the fact, however, that Jacob’s children were not born chronologically in the preceding order, compare Delitzsch with reference to Eusebius: Prœparatio Evang., ix21, and Astruc.: “Conjectures,” p396, and Keil. The first-born, Reuben, was born probably during the first year of the second seven years, and Simeon at the close of the same. All the sons, therefore, were born during the second heptade. Dinah’s birth, no doubt, occurs also during this period, though Keil supposes, from the expression אחר, that she may have been born later. But if we now adopt the chronological succession, Leah would have given birth to seven children in seven years, and even then there was a pause for some time between two of them. The imperfect, with the ו consecutive, however, does not express always a succession of time, but sometimes also it expresses a train of thought. We may suppose, therefore, that Leah gave birth to the first four sons during the first four years. In the meanwhile, however (not after the expiration of the four years), Rachel effected the birth of Dan and Naphtali by Jacob’s connection with Bilhah. This probably induced Leah, perhaps in the fifth year, to emulate her example by means of her handmaid, who in a quick succession gave birth to two sons in the course of the fifth and sixth years. During the sixth and seventh years Leah again became a mother, and a short time after Zebulun, Joseph was born also. According to Delitzsch, Joseph’s birth would occur between that of Issachar and Zebulun. But then the expression Genesis 30:25 would not be exact, and the naming of Zebulun by his mother would be without foundation. The last remark also bears against Keil’s view, that Joseph probably was born at the same time with Zebulun, though he also considers it probable that he may have been born later.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The divine Revelation, its consolations and its promises, revive the believer, so that he can proceed on his pilgrimage with renewed vigor. An experience similar to that at Bethel Jacob afterwards met with at Peniel ( Genesis 32:30).

2. Eliezer, acting for Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, found their future brides by the side of wells. These charming descriptions of the East resemble each other, and yet greatly differ in their details. On account of their significance and beauty, they were applied to spiritual relations by the fathers. [See also Wordsworth, who goes fully into all the details of these analogies.—A. G.]

3. Jacob experienced the gracious providence of Jehovah here at the well, through one act after another: Shepherds from Haran; acquaintances of Laban; Rachel’s appearance; the occasion and call to assist her at the moment.

4. Is he well? הֲשָׁלוֹם לוֹ. Happiness and welfare, according to the oriental, but particularly according to the biblical, view, consists especially in peace, inviolability, both as to outward and inward life.

5. The characters. Laban’s character. That Laban was really a sharer in the theocratic faith, and susceptible of noble and generous sentiment, is evident not only from the manner in which he receives Jacob, but also from the way in which he dismisses him ( Genesis 31:24; Genesis 31:54 ff.). But we also see, how, under the influence surrounding him at home ( Genesis 31:1), the selfishness in him gradually increased, until it culminated in the base use which he made of his nephew’s necessity and love, and thus, at last, proceeds to practise the grossest deception. Even in this deception, however, we must not overlook the fact that, with a friendly interest in Jacob, he considered it as a pious fraud. He was willing to give both his daughters to Jacob; perhaps, too, he had in his eye Leah’s quiet but vehement affection for Jacob. He so far restrained his selfishness, also, that he permits Jacob to return home with the large possessions that he had acquired while with him. Moreover, he had to overcome the excited spirit of his sons and brethren. The lower standpoint which he occupies is evident from the fact that he himself leads his nephew into a theocratic double-marriage, but perhaps also with the intention of securing to his house, with greater certainty, a full share in the mysterious blessing expected by Abraham, and because he quietly consented that the strife of his daughters should involve Jacob still farther in polygamy.—As to Leah, the narrator has no fault to find, except that her eyes were not as beautiful as those of her sister, but were tender. The vehement, though quiet love for Jacob, as seen on every occasion, no doubt made her also willing to enter into the deception of Jacob by Laban. Besides, she regarded herself certainly as excusable upon higher grounds and motives, just as Thamar, who fanatically married into the house of promise, and that by a guilty course ( Genesis 38). Her increasing humility (see Exegesis) causes her to be an object of Jehovah’s peculiar regard, or rather, by this humility, her especial election as ancestress of David and the Messiah becomes evident, and even in her over-zealous strife with her sister, in which the question is about the increase of the patriarchal family, her self-denial is proven by the struggle with which she gives her maid to Jacob, and the kindness with which she gave the mandrakes to her sister. Rachel, on the other hand, possessed not only bright eyes, but also ardent affections. In the fiery and glowing nature of her affection ( Genesis 30:1), as well as in her cunning ( Genesis 31:34-35) Rachel is the image of Rebekah, but with these features of character more strongly marked. So also at the end, in the tragical issue of her life. For as Rebekah did not reach the goal and see Jacob again, so Rachel did not attain her aim in sharing with him peacefully and honorably his paternal heritage. In Rachel’s sinful impatience too, there was not wanting also a moral element, for “the pure desire of parents for offspring is the highest degree of virtuous matrimony.” Delitzsch (see p465, and the words of Luther there quoted). Keil, without any sufficient reason, places Rachel (p206), in religious respects, below Leah. Distinctions of election are not always contrasts of light and darkness. Finally, Jacob here appears clearly as the man of the wrestlings of faith, and as the patriarch of hope. However prudent, it happens to him as to the Œdipus in the Greek tragedy. Œdipus solved the riddle of the sphinx, yet is blind, and remains blind in relation to the riddle of his own life. Laban cheated him, as his sons did afterwards, and he is punished through the same transgression of which he himself was guilty. Jacob is to struggle for everything—for his birthright, his Rachel, his herds, the security of his life, the rest of his old age, and for his grave. But in these struggles he does not come off without many transgressions, from which, however, as God’s elect, he is liberated by severe discipline. Hebrews, therefore, is stamped as a man of hope by the divine providence. As a fugitive he goes to Haran, as a fugitive he returns home. Seven years he hopes for Rachel, twenty years he hopes for a return home; to the very evening of his life he is hoping for the recovery of Joseph, his lost son in Sheol; even whilst he is dying upon Egyptian soil, he hopes for a grave in his native country. His Messianic hope, however, in its full development, rises above all these instances, as is evident in the three chief stages in his life of faith: Bethel, Peniel, and the blessing of his sons upon his death-bed. His life differs from that of his father Isaac in this: that with Isaac the quickening experiences fall more in the earlier part of his life, but with Jacob they occur in the latter half; and that Isaac’s life passes on quietly, whilst storms and trials overshadow, in a great measure, the pilgrimage of Jacob. The Messianic suffering, in its typical features, is already seen more plainly in him than in Isaac and Abraham; but the glorious exaltation corresponds also to the deeper humiliation.

6. Jacob’s service for Rachel presents us a picture of bridal love equalled only in the same development and its poetic beauty in the Song of Solomon. It is particularly to be noticed that Jacob, however, was not indifferent to Rachel’s infirmities ( Genesis 30:2), and even treated Leah with patience and indulgence, though having suffered from her the most mortifying deception.

7. The deception practised by Laban upon Jacob was perfectly fitted, viewed as a divine punishment through human sin, to bring his own sin before his eyes. As he introduced himself as the first-born, by the instigation of his mother, so Leah, the first-born, is introduced to him by his mother’s brother, under the pretence of the appearance of his own Rachel. And this deception Laban even excuses in a sarcastic way, with the custom as to the birthright of the daughters at Haran. Thus Jacob atones for his cunning, and Laban truly must atone for his deception.

8. Leah’s election is founded upon Jehovah’s grace. Without any doubt, however, she was fitted to become the ancestress of the Messianic line, not only by her apparent humility, but also by her innate powers of blessing, as well as by her quiet and true love for Jacob. The fulness of her life becomes apparent in the number and the power of her children; and with these, therefore, a greater strength of the mere natural life predominates. Joseph, on the contrary, the favorite son of the wife loved with a bridal love, is distinguished from his brethren, as the separated ( Genesis 49) among them, as a child of a nobler spirit, whilst the import of his life is not as rich for the future as that of Judah.

9. If we would regard the deception and imposition practised upon Jacob as at all endurable, we must assume, on the one hand, Leah’s fanatic and vehement love; on the other, his own perfect illusion. This unconscious error and confusion of nature, seems almost to have been transmitted to Reuben, the first-born ( Genesis 35:22; Genesis 49:21); and therefore, in consequence of his offence, he also lost the birthright. We cannot, however, entirely concur in Luther’s view, which Delitzsch approves, that while there was nothing adulterous in the connection of Jacob and Leah, it was still extra-natural, and in that sense, monstrous. There was undoubtedly an impure and unnatural element in it. But we must bear in mind, as was remarked above, not only Leah’s love, but also Jacob’s self-oblivion, in which the free choice is generally limited and restrained by the blind forces of the night-life, through and in which God works with creative energy. It is the moment in which the man falls back into the hand of God as the creator.

10. The difference between the house at Haran and Isaac’s house at Beer-sheba, appears from this, that Laban, entangled Jacob in polygamy. And even in this case the evil consequences of polygamy appear: envy, jealousy, contention, and an increased sensuality. Nevertheless Jacob’s case is not to be judged according to the later Mosaic law, which prohibited the marrying of two sisters at the same time ( Leviticus 18:18). Calvin, in his decision, makes no distinction between the times and the economies, a fact which Keil justly appeals to, and insists upon as bearing against his harsh judgment (that it was a case of incest) (p205).

11. In our narrative we first read of a great and splendid wedding-feast, lasting for seven days. It is therefore not by chance that this splendid wedding-feast was followed by a painful illusion. And, leaving out of view grosser deceptions, how often may Rachel’s image have been changed afterwards into Leah’s form.

12. While the sisterly emulation to surpass each other in obtaining children is tainted with sin, there is yet at the bottom a holy motive for it, faith in the Abrahamic promise consisting in the blessing of theocratic births. Thus also we can explain how the fulness of the twelve tribes proceeded from this emulation.

13. Isaac’s prejudice, that Esau was the chosen one, seems to renew itself somewhat in Jacob’s prejudice that he must gain by Rachel the lawful heir. The more reverent he appears therefore, in being led by the spirit of God, who taught him, notwithstanding all his preference for Joseph, to recognize in Judah the real line of the promise.

14. That the respective mothers themselves here assign the names, is determined by the circumstances. The entire history of the birth of these sons, too, is reflected in their names. Of similar signification are the names: Gad and Asher; Levi and Zebulun; Simeon and Naphtali; Judah and Joseph; Reuben and Benjamin born afterwards; Issachar, Dan and Dinah.

15. The progress of life equalizes and adjusts, to a great extent, the opposition between Jacob’s love for Rachel and his disregard toward Leah, especially by means of the children. At the same time in which he recognizes Leah’s resignation, Rachel’s passionate ill-humor incites him to anger.

16. He shall add; he shall give to me another son. This wish was fulfilled, and was the cause of her death. She died at Benjamin’s birth. How dangerous, destructive, and fatal, the fulfilment of a man’s wishes may be to him, is illustrated by frequent examples in the Scriptures. Sarah wished for a son from Hagar, a source of great grief to her. The desire of Judas to be received among the disciples of Jesus was granted, but just in this position he fell into the deepest corruption. Peter wished to be as near as possible to the Lord in the house of the high priest, but hence his fall. The sons of Zebedee wished for places at the right and left hand of Jesus,—had their wish been fulfilled they would have filled the places of the malefactors on the cross, at the right and left of the Crucified. Rachel’s wish, it is true, was not the only cause of her death, but with a certain triumph the once barren one died in childbirth, just as she was completing the number twelve of Israel’s sons.

17. How important Joseph’s birth was to Jacob is seen from this: that henceforth he thinks of his journey home, although the report looked for from Rebekah tarried long. He was urged to venture a journey home.

18. This history of Jacob’s and Leah’s union sheds a softening light upon even the less happy marriages, which may reconcile us to them, for this unpleasant marriage was the cause of his becoming the father of a numerous posterity; from it, indeed, proceeded the Messianic line; leaving out of view the fact that Leah’s love and humility could not remain without a blessing upon Jacob. The fundamental condition of a normal marriage is doubtless bridal love. We notice in our narrative, however, how wonderfully divine grace may change misfortune, even in such instances, into real good. God is especially interested in marriage connections, because he is thus interested in the coming generations.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

See Doctrinal and Ethical paragraphs. Jacob’s wrestlings of faith.—The patriarch of hope.—Jacob’s double flight, from Esau and from Laban.—Rich in fortune and rich in misfortune, in both respects rich in blessing.—Jacob and Rachel, or the consecration of bridal love.—The shepherd and the shepherdess: the same condition.—Jacob’s service for his bride a type of the same service of Christ for the church, his bride.—Rachel and Leah, or God makes a great difference between his children, and yet esteems them alike according to his justice.—The three marriage connections at wells: that of Isaac, of Jacob, and of Moses.—The names of Jacob’s sons, a type of human weakness and divine salvation in his house. (Texts for marriage occasions.)

To Section First, Genesis 30:1-8. Starke: Cramer: If God’s command and promise are before us, we can proceed in our undertakings with joy and confidence.—Places where wells are mentioned (see Concordances).—(Jesus, the well of life. The stone, the impotence of human nature, to be removed by faith. Since, according to Genesis 31:47, the Chaldæans spoke a different language from that of the inhabitants of Canaan, Jacob probably made himself understood to the people of Haran, because he had learned the Chaldee from his mother (Clericus).—The changing of the language of the patriarchs into the later Hebrew of the Jews.) [There is every reason to believe that these dialects were then so nearly alike that there was no difficulty in passing from one to the other.—A. G.]—Because the word peace embraces both spiritual and natural well-being, the Hebrews used it as a common salutation.

Section Second, Genesis 30:9-14. Divine providence was here at work.—(Allegory of the well. How Christ has removed the heavy stone of sin and death. The three herds referred to the three days in which Christ was in the grave! etc. Burmann.)

Genesis 30:13. This was necessary in order to remove all suspicion from the mind of Laban, since he still remembered what a numerous retinue had accompanied Eliezer.—As three distinguished patriarchs found their brides at wells (Moses and his Zipporah), just so the Lord Christ presents to himself the church, his spiritual bride, through holy baptism, as the laver in the word.—Schröder: Their first meeting a prophecy of their whole future united life.

Genesis 30:11 (Calvin). In a chaste and modest life greater liberties were allowed.—(If any one turn to the true source of Wisdom of Solomon, to the word of God, and to the Saviour revealed therein, he will receive celestial wisdom for his bride. Berl. Bibel.)

Section Third, Genesis 30:15-25. Genesis 30:20. As a regular servant. A typical intimation of the Messiah, who in the form of a servant, with great and severe toil, obtained his bride.—(Reward of Jacob’s patient waiting, of his faith and his chastity.

Genesis 30:18. Virtuous maidens do not attend large, exciting assemblies, to get a husband, but remain at their vocation, and trust in God, who is able to give to them a pious, honorable, and upright husband.—Lange: If the whole difficult service became easy to Jacob from the love he had to Rachel, why should it not be said of God’s children, that it is from love to God that we keep his commandments, etc. ( 1 John 5:3).—Bibl. Wirt.: A chaste love is a beautiful thing, by which conjugal love is afterwards more and more strengthened and confirmed.

Genesis 30:25. Here Jacob might have understood how it grieved Esau when, for the sake of his birthright, he had practised upon him such cunning and deceit. As he had done unto others, God permitted that he should receive from others.—The crafty Laban wears the image of the world; whoever serves it never receives what he expects; he looks for Rachel, and behold it is Leah (Olear).

Gerlach: From this instance onward (especially) God speaks to Jacob by every occurrence. Laban deceives him, because he thinks that Laban’s (Jacob’s?) service will be profitable to him, and thus he (Laban) loses not only a great part (?) of his herds, but is also obliged to part from his children.—The misery of bigamy: it was therefore expressly forbidden in the law ( Leviticus 18:18) that any one should marry two sisters at the same time, or to favor one wife before the other ( Deuteronomy 21:17). The seven years of service reminds us perhaps of the later statute among the Israelites, according to which servants were to obtain their freedom during the seventh year ( Exodus 21:2); Jacob, therefore, as a compensation for the daughters, took upon himself a seven years’ service (slavery).—(The danger of exciting Esau prevented him from bringing the price from his home, even had he entrusted his affair to God.)—Schröder: Space is no obstacle to faith, nor time to hope.—An engagement of long standing, if decreed by God, may become a salutary and beneficial school for a Christian marriage.—Comparisons between the deception practised by Laban upon Jacob, and that which Jacob practised upon Esau: 1. One brother upon another2. There the younger instead of the older; here the older, etc8. (Roos) He did not know Leah when he was married to her, just as his father knew him not when he blessed him4. Leah at the instigation of her father, Jacob at the instigation of his mother.—But he received, notwithstanding his ignorance as to Leah, the wife designed for him by God, who was to become the mother of the Messiah, just as Isaac blessed him unwittingly as the rightful heir of the promise. Ah, in how many errors and follies of men, here and everywhere, do we find God’s inevitable grace and faithfulness intertwined (Roos).

Section Fourth, Genesis 30:26-30. Starke: Genesis 30:27. It is remarkable that the ancient Jews, at births, marriages, and deaths, observed the seventh day as an holy day ( Genesis 21:4; Luke 2:21; Genesis 50:10; Sirach 22:13). From this fact we may conclude that the ancient Hebrews already considered the day of birth and circumcision, the day of marriage, and the day of death, as the three most important ones in life.—( Genesis 30:28. Jacob might have asked for a divorce.)—Jacob’s polygamy not caused by sensuality; but did not remain unpunished.—(Burmann: Comparison between the two wives and the Old and New Testament, the two churches to whom the Lord is betrothed. The Old Testament Leah, the wearied, the tender eyed.)—Hall: God often afflicts us through our own friendship (relatives). He often punishes our own sins by the sins of others, before we are aware of it ( 2 Samuel 16:22).—Osiander: Oh, what is avarice not capable of?—Hall: God’s children do not easily obtain what they wish for, but must toil hard for it; (German) work for it, tooth and nail.—Schröder: Jacob’s history, in its turning-points, meets with personages who serve to bring out his character more clearly in contrast with theirs; their thoughts bound in the present,—his looking on into the future. Thus Esau and Laban.

Section Fifth, Genesis 30:31-35. Starke: Osiander: It is still customary with God to take care of the distressed.—Cramer: God distributes his gifts by parts. Do not despise any one.—Hall: God knows how to weigh to us in similar ways both our gifts of grace and our crosses.—Bibl. Wirt.: There is nothing so bad or so complicated but that God can bring good out of it.—(Signification of the word from which “Judah” is derived: 1. To thank; 2. to commend; 3. to praise; 4. to confess.) From this Judah all Jews received their beautiful name.—Gerlach: Reuben: see a son; in allusion to Raah-Be-Onyi, i.e, he (Jehovah) hath looked upon my affliction.—Schröoder: The mother gives the names, as she does also in Homer.

Section Sixth, Genesis 30:1-8. Starke: Bibl. Wirt.: Impatience is the mother of many sins.—Even to the pious in their married life the sun of peace and harmony does not always shine; at times dark clouds of dissension and strife arise. But we must guard in time against such clouds and storms.—We must not try to obtain the divine blessing by unrighteous means.—Schröder: Children are God’s gift. All parents should consider this, and take such care of these divine gifts that when God calls those whom he has entrusted to them, they may render a good account (Valer. Herb.).—In Rachel we meet with envy and jealousy, while in Jehovah there is compassion and grace.

Section Seventh, Genesis 30:9-13. Schröder: For all times Israel is warned by the patriarch’s culpable weakness and pliancy in relation to his wives, as well as by the frightful picture of his polygamy. (Israel, it is true, should even in this way learn to distinguish the times, to recognize the workings of divine grace in and over the errors of men, and to rejoice at the progress in his law.)

Section Eighth, Genesis 30:14-21. Starke: (Do you ask as to the nature of the Dudaim? some think they are lilies, others that they are berries, but no one knows what they are. Some call them “winter cherries.” Luther.)—The rivalry of the sisters. Thus God punished him because he had taken two wives, even two sisters. Even the holy women were not purely and entirely spiritual.—Schröder: In reference to the maid’s children, God’s name is neither mentioned by Leah nor by the narrator. They were in the strictest sense begotten in a natural way (Hengstenberg). (This is wrong, for in the first place Jacob had nothing to do with the maids in the natural way of mere lust; 2. in that case they would not have been numbered among the blessed seed of Israel. The principal tribes, indeed, did not spring from them.)

Section Ninth, Genesis 30:22-24. Starke: Why barrenness was considered by Abraham’s descendants as a sign of the divine curse: 1. It appeared as if they were excluded from the promise of the enlargement of Abraham’s seed; 2. They were without the hope of giving birth to the Messiah; 3. They had no share in God’s universal command: be fruitful and multiply.—Osiander: Our prayers are not to be considered as in vain, if we receive no answer immediately. If we are humbled sufficiently below the cross, then we will be exalted.—Schröder: Luther says respecting Jacob’s wives that they were not moved by mere carnal desire, but looked at the blessing of children with reference to the promised seed.


Footnotes:

FN#1 - Genesis 30:11. Lit, with a troop or band.—Lange follows the Sept, Vulg, and the most of the early versions. But whether we follow the Keri, or the Chethib, as in our version, it is better to adhere to the signification, a troop or band. For while Leah uses hereafter the name אֱלֹהִים instead of יְהוָֹה indicating the lower religious state into which she has fallen, through the use of these mere human expedients, we can hardly suppose that she would thus name her child in recognition of the power of a fictitious deity, or avow her faith that her children were the result of mere fortune. Aside from this, Genesis 49:19, is decisive.—A. G.

FN#2 - Genesis 30:18. Heb. יֵשׁ שָׂכָר, there is a reward—or יִשָּׂא שָׂכָר, he brings reward. A. G.

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 29:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/genesis-29.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, August 5th, 2020
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18
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