Genesis 30:41
And it came to pass, whenever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.
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(41, 42) The stronger cattle . . . when the cattle were feeble.—The words for “strong” and “feeble” are literally bound and covered, so that evidently we have technical terms, which Onkelos and the Syriac explain of the females at the two breeding seasons. The ewes in the spring, after the cold season, are bound, firmly knit together, and the lambs strong and healthy. The other word, covered, seems to mean seeking concealment, hiding away (Job 23:9); and therefore faint, its meaning in Psalm 61:2, Psalms 102, title (Authorised Version, overwhelmed), and Isaiah 57:16 (Authorised Version, fail). The autumn-born lambs are of no great value, and Jacob left them to the course of nature.

30:25-43 The fourteen years being gone, Jacob was willing to depart without any provision, except God's promise. But he had in many ways a just claim on Laban's substance, and it was the will of God that he should be provided for from it. He referred his cause to God, rather than agree for stated wages with Laban, whose selfishness was very great. And it would appear that he acted honestly, when none but those of the colours fixed upon should be found among his cattle. Laban selfishly thought that his cattle would produce few different in colour from their own. Jacob's course after this agreement has been considered an instance of his policy and management. But it was done by intimation from God, and as a token of his power. The Lord will one way or another plead the cause of the oppressed, and honour those who simply trust his providence. Neither could Laban complain of Jacob, for he had nothing more than was freely agreed that he should have; nor was he injured, but greatly benefitted by Jacob's services. May all our mercies be received with thanksgiving and prayer, that coming from his bounty, they may lead to his praise.Jacob devises means to provide himself with a flock in these unfavorable circumstances. His first device is to place party-colored rods before the eyes of the cattle at the rutting season, that they might drop lambs and kids varied with speckles, patches, or streaks of white. He had learned from experience that there is a congruence between the colors of the objects contemplated by the dams at that season and those of their young. At all events they bare many straked, speckled, and spotted lambs and kids. He now separated the lambs, and set the faces of the flock toward the young of the rare colors, doubtless to affect them in the same way as the pilled rods. "Put his own folds by themselves." These are the party-colored cattle that from time to time appeared in the flock of Laban. In order to secure the stronger cattle, Jacob added the second device of employing the party-colored rods only when the strong cattle conceived. The sheep in the East lamb twice a year, and it is supposed that the lambs dropped in autumn are stronger than those dropped in the spring. On this supposition Jacob used his artifice in the spring, and not in the autumn. It is probable, however, that he made his experiments on the healthy and vigorous cattle, without reference to the season of the year. The result is here stated. "The man brake forth exceedingly" - became rapidly rich in hands and cattle.

It is obvious that the preceding and present chapters form one continuous piece of composition; as otherwise we have no account of the whole family of Jacob from one author. But the names אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym and יהוה yehovâh are both employed in the piece, and, hence, their presence and interchange cannot indicate diversity of authorship.

- Jacob's Flight from Haran

19. תרפים terāpı̂ym, Teraphim. This word occurs fifteen times in the Old Testament. It appears three times in this chapter, and nowhere else in the Pentateuch. It is always in the plural number. The root does not appear in Biblical Hebrew. It perhaps means "to live well," intransitively (Gesenius, Roedig.), "to nourish," transitively (Furst). The teraphim were symbols or representatives of the Deity, as Laban calls them his gods. They seem to have been busts (προτομαί protomai, Aquila) of the human form, sometimes as large as life 1 Samuel 19:13. Those of full size were probably of wood; the smaller ones may have been of metal. In two passages Judges 17:1-13; 18; Hosea 3:4 they are six times associated with the ephod. This intimates either that they were worn on the ephod, like the Urim and Thummim, or more probably that the ephod was worn on them; in accordance with which they were employed for the purposes of divination Genesis 30:27; Zechariah 10:2. The employment of them in the worship of God, which Laban seems to have inherited from his fathers Joshua 24:2, is denounced as idolatry 1 Samuel 15:23; and hence, they are classed with the idols and other abominations put away by Josiah 2 Kings 23:24.

47. שׂהדוּתא יגר yegar-śâhădûtā', Jegar-sahadutha, "cairn of witness" in the Aramaic dialect of the old Hebrew or Shemite speech. גלעד gal‛ēd, Gal'ed; and גלעד gı̂l‛ād, Gil'ad, "cairn of witness" in Hebrew especially so called (see Genesis 11:1-9).

49. מצפה mı̂tspâh, Mizpah, "watch-tower."

Jacob had now been twenty years in Laban's service, and was therefore, ninety-six years of age. It has now become manifest that he cannot obtain leave of Laban to return home. He must, therefore, either come off by the high hand, or by secret flight. Jacob has many reasons for preferring the latter course.

38. watering troughs—usually a long stone block hollowed out, from which several sheep could drink at once, but sometimes so small as to admit of only one drinking at a time. It is known that the cattle in those parts did conceive and bring forth twice in a year, at spring and in autumn; and it is supposed that the

stronger here mentioned, are such as joined in the spring, and the feeble they that joined in autumn. And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive,.... Whose limbs were well compact, and were strong and healthy:

that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters,

that they might conceive among the rods; and bring forth party coloured ones, and such as were robust and strong like themselves; and this was another device of Jacob's to get the best of the flock. Aben Ezra thinks this refers to the two seasons of the year, when the flocks conceived; the one was in Nisan, in the spring, and such as were brought on that conception were strong, and therefore Jacob chose to lay the rods in the gutters at that time, that he might have the best cattle; and so the Targum of Jonathan calls these here the forward ones, as it does those in Genesis 30:42 we render feeble, the latter ones; which, according to Aben Ezra, conceived in Tisri or September, and what they brought were weak and feeble. (Based on the laws of genetics, Jacob's breeding of the best of the flock would produce higher quality offspring. Ed.)

And it came to pass, whensoever the {m} stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.

(m) As they which took the ram about September and brought forth about March: so the feebler in March and lamb in September.

41. the stronger] A third device on Jacob’s part. He is careful, at the breeding season, to pick out only the finer animals before which to place the peeled rods. Hence he obtained for his own share the young of the better animals.Verse 41. - And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, literally, in every healing of the cattle, the bound ones, i.e. the firm, compact sheep, "the spring flock" (Luther), which, being conceived in spring and dropped in autumn, are supposed to be stronger than those conceived in autumn and dropped in spring; but this is doubtful - that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods. Jacob s third artifice aimed at securing for himself a vigorous breed of sheep. Laban cheerfully accepted the proposal, but did not leave Jacob to make the selection. He undertook that himself, probably to make more sure, and then gave those which were set apart as Jacob's wages to his own sons to tend, since it was Jacob's duty to take care of Laban's flock, and "set three days' journey betwixt himself and Jacob," i.e., between the flock to be tended by himself through his sons, and that to be tended by Jacob, for the purpose of preventing any copulation between the animals of the two flocks. Nevertheless he was overreached by Jacob, who adopted a double method of increasing the wages agreed upon. In the first place (Genesis 30:37-39), he took fresh rods of storax, maple, and walnut-trees, all of which have a dazzling white wood under their dark outside, and peeled white stripes upon them, הלּבן מחשׂף (the verbal noun instead of the inf. abs. חשׂף), "peeling the white naked in the rods." These partially peeled, and therefore mottled rods, he placed in the drinking-troughs (רהטים lit., gutters, from רהט equals רוּץ to run, is explained by המּים שׁקתות water-troughs), to which the flock came to drink, in front of the animals, in order that, if copulation took place at the drinking time, it might occur near the mottled sticks, and the young be speckled and spotted in consequence. ויּחמנה a rare, antiquated form for ותּחמנה from חמם, and ויּחמוּ for ויּחמוּ imperf. Kal of יחם equals חמם. This artifice was founded upon a fact frequently noticed, particularly in the case of sheep, that whatever fixes their attention in copulation is marked upon the young (see the proofs in Bochart, Hieroz. 1, 618, and Friedreich zur Bibel 1, 37ff.). - Secondly (Genesis 30:40), Jacob separated the speckled animals thus obtained from those of a normal colour, and caused the latter to feed so that the others would be constantly in sight, in order that he might in this way obtain a constant accession of mottled sheep. As soon as these had multiplied sufficiently, he formed separate flocks (viz., of the speckled additions), "and put them not unto Laban's cattle;" i.e., he kept them apart in order that a still larger number of speckled ones might be procured, through Laban's one-coloured flock having this mottled group constantly in view.
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