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GENESIS 30:1-5 "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. 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 she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also children by her. And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto. And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son."

Eighty-five years elapsed between God's first promise to Abraham and when Jacob and Esau were born. Now an additional seventy-seven years, plus the seven of Jacob's service to Laban had passed before Jacob was married, for a total of 169 years. Now we see a total of 12 sons being born to Jacob in a very short time; so begins the twelve tribes of Israel and the fulfillment of God's covenant promise.

Because Jacob loved Leah less than Rachel, God saw fit to give children to Leah first. Four sons were born to Leah before Rachel, in desperation, gave her handmaid to Jacob to bear children for her. Leah then also gave her handmaid to Jacob and between these two women, four more sons were born. The giving of maids to bear children was the custom of the day, even as Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham. Leah had two more sons and then God allowed Rachel to have a son; Joseph. Later, Rachel had another son for a total of twelve sons born to Jacob. Daughters were also born but only one is mentioned by name, Dinah, born to Leah (vs.21)

(Verses 25-27) "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. 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. And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake."

From verse 25, we can assume that Jacob's fulfillment of his fourteen years he served for his 2 wives did not occur until after Joseph was born, so it seems that 11 sons were born to him in the space of 7 years. At the end of the second 7 years served, Jacob wanted to go back to Canaan but Laban wanted him to stay. He saw that God had prospered him because of Jacob and didn't want to lose that prosperity! A bargain was struck between them that Jacob would receive all the offspring of the spotted and unusually colored sheep and goats that would be born.

Laban was a very crafty businessman. He promptly removed all the spotted animals and put them in the care of his own sons so Jacob could not use them to breed by. But God continued to bless Jacob. Jacob did 3 things. 1) He put peeled, streaked poles in front of the animals at the time of breeding. He believed this would provide a prenatal influence. 2) He put all multicolored animals that were born by themselves so they would hopefully interbreed and produce more spotted animals. 3) He made sure the prenatal measures were used on the strongest animals. Whether or not these measures delivered the desired effects or God just continued to bless Jacob is not known for sure but we do know that he continued to prosper despite the scheming of Laban!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  • Think about Rachel for a minute. She was kept from marrying Jacob and even had to see her future husband given to her sister first. Then she was forbidden to have children because she was loved the most. And, none of this was her fault! Not fair? Unjust? Some of this was God's doing! Life is not always fair or just. God has reasons for doing what He does, although they are not always clear to us.
  • Do you think what Jacob did to increase the spotted and colored animals worked or do you think God intervened?
  • How do you think the obvious scheming and rivalry in this family affected the children? Do your children see similar activities in your household? Really think about this one! It has been proven, that to a large extent, we are a product of our environment!


Thank you so much for doing the Bible Study with us this week. I hope you enjoyed your visit. I am looking forward to hearing your answers to the questions this week. Please feel free to e-mail me, post on the message board or write your comments in my guestbook so everyone can see what you think!

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