Jacob birthed 12 Tribes through a number of different women
Rachel used a surrogate in a manner common even in our day
Jacob gets payback against Laban for lost wages
Genesis 30 is an intriguing chapter. Lots of human behavior is taking place, and God redeems all those things.
Childlessness often causes pain for those wanting children. During this time in biblical history, the consequences for not having children were severe, families needed lots of children to help work and defend their interests. Without children, even to this day, there is limited communal life, and many believed themselves cursed by the gods if they did not have children.
Rachel barked at Jacob making him mad enough to say, “Am I in the place of God,” and it was not a question.
The Bilhah Solution
Depending upon your viewpoint Jacob greatly enjoyed what was about to happen. Rachel took her servant, a young gal named Bilhah, and asked Jacob to have sex with her, claiming Bilhah as her surrogate, and the baby as her own.
When Bilhah gave birth, Rachel named the baby Dan.
Jacob and Bilhah had sex again and gave birth to a baby boy, whom Rachel named Naphtali.
The catfight between Leah and Rachel was far from over.
Leah was not favored by Jacob, but Rachel was the apple of his eye. God allowed Leah to conceive as a mercy gift for her pain, but for Rachel, there was no such fruit.
The Zilpah Solution
Leah noticed the lack of bedroom activity between her and Jacob, and in a rival move against her sister, took her own servant girl, a young gal named Zilpah, and gave her to Jacob so another baby could be born. Leah named the baby Gad.
And just like her sister, Leah allowed Jacob to have double the pleasure with Zilpah and named the boy Asher.
Rueben, Leah’s older son, brought her some prized mandrakes. The mandrake is a capable drug, chemically known as a strong narcotic, and capable of putting one into a good-sized hippy drug trip. Throughout history, people thought the mandrake helped with pregnancy, which it does not.
People most likely thought such a thing because the mandrake, when ingested, caused one to lose restraint, and people openly became more sexual, and that increased sexual activity most likely upped the chance of pregnancy.
Adding weirdness to the mandrake, the root when pulled up, often resembles a creepy human.
Until now Rachel was keeping Jacob away from Leah, but Rachel purchased Leah’s mandrakes for the price of having sex with her husband.
So Jacob and Leah hooked up again, the text says “God listened to her,” and gave Jacob a fifth son named Issachar.
After Issachar was born Jacob and Leah got together again, she gave him a sixth son, named Zebulun.
And wait there is more, Leah also gave Jacob his only daughter, and a girl named Dinah.
The text says, “Then God remembered Rachel.” The word remember in Hebrew is Zakar, the same word used to describe God’s actions toward Noah, “Then God remembered Noah,” Genesis 8:1.
The text is an important clarification on Rachel’s pregnancy, without those words, the text reads like superstition because of the mandrakes.
Rachel named her firstborn Joseph, and he would achieve greatness.
Show Me The Money
By the numbers, Jacob served Laban for more than twenty years, and it seems Laban did not play fair with Jacob’s wages. Now Jacob has almost a dozen children from more than one lady, and it’s possible most of those kids were born with six years of each other, causing stress upon Jacob’s finances.
Laban allowed Jacob to strike a deal with him.
Sometimes smart people are not so smart is an old phrase, and Laban is about to prove the point.
Laban allowed Jacob to negotiate a deal where all the solid colored animals were Laban’s, and all the stripped, speckled or spotted, belonged to Jacob.
I live among elite breeders of large animals— it’s easy for someone in the know to breed animals in their favor, and that is exactly what Jacob did.
The net result was financial prosperity for Jacob, and mediocrity for Laban.
Jacob took his wives, children, huge herd of cattle, and wanted to go home, but Laban had other plans.