In this chapter we have an account of the increase,
Of Jacob's family; eight children more we find registered in
this chapter; Dan and Naphtali by Bilhah, Rachel's maid,
ver. 1 - 8.
Gad and Asher by Zilpah, Leah's maid, ver. 9 - 13.
Issachar, Zebulon, and Dinah, by Leah, ver. 14 - 21.
And last of all Joseph by Rachel, ver. 22 - 24.
Of Jacob's estate.
He comes upon a new bargain with Laban, ver. 25 - 34.
And in the six years further service he did to Laban,
God wonderfully blessed him, so that his flock of all cattle
became very considerable, ver. 35 - 43,
And herein was fulfilled the blessing which Isaac dismissed
him with, chap. xxviii. 3.
God make thee fruitful and multiply thee.
1: Rachel envied her sister - Envy is grieving at the good of
another, than which no sin is more injurious both to God, our neighbour, and
ourselves. But this was not all, she said to Jacob, give me children
or else I die - A child would not content her; but because Leah
has more than one, she must have more too; Give me children: her heart
is set upon it. Give them me, else I die, That is, I shall fret myself
to death. The want of this satisfaction will shorten my days. Observe a
difference between Rachel's asking for this mercy, and Hannah's,(1Sa 1:10), &c.
Rachel envied, Hannah wept: Rachel must have children, and she
died of the second; Hannah prayed for this child, and she had four
more: Rachel is importunate and peremptory, Hannah is submissive and
devout, If thou wilt give me a child, I will give him to the Lord. Let
Hannah be imitated, and not Rachel; and let our desires be always
under the conduct and check of reason and religion.
2: And Jacob's anger was kindled - He was angry, not at the
person, but at the sin: he expressed himself so as to shew his displeasure.
It was a grave and pious reply which Jacob gave to Rachel, Am I
in God's stead? - Can I give thee that which God denies thee? He
acknowledges the hand of God in the affliction: He hath withheld the
fruit of the womb. Whatever we want, it is God that with - holds it, as
sovereign Lord, most wise, holy, and just, that may do what he will with his
own, and is debtor to no man: that never did, nor ever can do, any wrong to
any of his creatures. The key of the clouds, of the heart, of the grave,
and of the womb, are four keys which God has in his hand, and which (the
Rabbins say) he intrusts neither with angel nor seraphin. He also
acknowledges his own inability to alter what God appointed, Am I in
God's stead? What, dost thou make a God of me? There is no creature
that is, or can be, to us in God's stead. God may be to us, instead of any
creature, as the sun instead of the moon and stars; but the moon and all the
stars will not be to us instead of the sun. No creature's wisdom, power,
and love will be to us instead of God's. It is therefore our sin and folly
to place that confidence in any creature, which is to be placed in God only.
3: Behold my maid, Bilhah - At the persuasion of Rachel he took
Bilhah her handmaid to wife, that, according to the usage of those
times, his children by her might be adopted and owned as her mistresses
children. She would rather have children by reputation than none at all;
children that she might call her own, though they were not so. And as an
early instance of her dominion over the children born in her apartment, she
takes a pleasure in giving them names, that carry in them nothing but marks
of emulation with her sister. As if she had overcome her,
At law, she calls the flrst son of her handmaid, Dan, Judgment,
saying, God hath Judged me - That is, given sentence in my favour.
In battle, she calls the next Naphtali, Wrestlings, saying, I
have wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed - See what roots of
bitterness envy and strife are, and what mischief they make among relations!
9: Rachel had done that absurd and preposterous thing of putting
her maid into her husband's bed, and now Leah (because she missed one
year in bearing children) doth the same, to be even with her. See the power
of rivalship, and admire the wisdom of the divine appointment, which joins
together one man and one woman only. Two sons Zilpah bare to Jacob,
whom Leah looked upon herself as intitled to, in token of which she
called one Gad, promising herself a little troop of children. The
other she called Asher, Happy, thinking herself happy in him, and
promising herself that her neighbours would think so too.
14: Reuben, a little lad of five or six years old, playing in the
field, found mandrakes. It is uncertain what they were; the critics are
not agreed about them: we are sure they were some rarities, either fruits or
flowers that were very pleasant to the smell, (So 7:13). Some think
these mandrakes were Jessamin flowers. Whatever they were, Rachel,
could not see them in Leah's hands, but she must covet them.
17: And God hearkened unto Leah - Perhaps the reason of this contest
between Jacob's wives for his company, and their giving him their maids
to be his wives, was the earnest desire they had to fulfil the promise made
to Abraham (and now lately renewed to Jacob) that his seed should be
as the stars of heaven for multitude, and that, in one seed of his, the
Messiah, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Two sons Leah
was now blessed with; the flrst she called Issachar, a hire, reckoning
herself well repaid for her mandrakes; nay, (which is a strange
construction of the providence) rewarded for giving her maid to her
husband. The other she called Zebulun, dwelling, owning God's
bounty to her, God has endowed me with a good dowry. Jacob had not
endowed her when he married her; but she reckons a family of children, a
21: Mention is made, of Dinah, because of the following story
concerning her, (Ge 34:1-16), &c.
Perhaps Jacob had other daughters, though not registered.
22: God remembered Rachel, whom he seemed to have forgotten, and
hearkened to her, whose prayers had been long denied, and then she
bare a son. Rachael called her son Joseph, which, in
Hebrew, is a - kin to two words of a contrary signification: Asaph,
abstulit, he has taken away my reproach, as if the greatest mercy
she had in this son were, that she had saved her credit: and Joseph,
addidit, the Lord shall add to me another son: which may be looked upon
as the language of her faith; she takes this mercy as an earnest of further
mercy: hath God given me this grace? I may call it Joseph, and say, he
shall add more grace.
34: Laban was willing to consent to this bargain, because he
thought if those few he had that were now speckled and spotted were
separated from the rest, which was to be done immediately, the body of the
flock which Jacob was to tend, being of one colour, either all black or
all white, would produce few or none of mixt colours, and so he should have
Jacob's service for nothing, or next to nothing. According to this
bargain, those few that were party - coloured were separated, and put into the
hands of Laban's sons, and sent three days journey off: so great was
Laban's jealouly lest any of those should mix with the rest of the flock
to the advantage of Jacob.
37: Here is Jacob's policy to make his bargain more advantageous to
himself than it was likely to be: and if he had not taken some course to
help himself, it would have been an ill bargain indeed; which he knew
Laban would never have considered, who did not consult any one's
interest but his own.
Now Jacob's contrivances were, He set pilled sticks before the cattle
where they were watered, that looking much at those unusual party - coloured
sticks, by the power of imagination, they might bring forth young ones in
like manner party - coloured. Probably this custom was commonly used by the
shepherds of Canaan, who coveted to have their cattle of this motly
When he began to have a flock of ring - straked and brown, he
contrived to set them first, and to put the faces of the rest towards them,
with the same design as he did the former. Whether this was honest
policy, or no, may admit of a question. Read (Ge 31:7-16), and the
question is resolved.