Genesis 30:2
And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God's stead, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 30:2. And Jacob’s anger was kindled — He was angry at the sin, and showed his displeasure, by a grave and pious reply: 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 withholds it, as sovereign Lord, most wise, holy, and just, who may do what he will with his own, and is debtor to no man; who 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 trusts neither with angel nor seraph. He also acknowledges his own inability to alter what God appointed; am I in God’s stead? 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.30:1-13 Rachel envied her sister: envy is grieving at the good of another, than which no sin is more hateful to God, or more hurtful to our neighbours and ourselves. She considered not that God made the difference, and that in other things she had the advantage. Let us carefully watch against all the risings and workings of this passion in our minds. Let not our eye be evil towards any of our fellow-servants, because our Master's is good. Jacob loved Rachel, and therefore reproved her for what she said amiss. Faithful reproofs show true affection. God may be to us instead of any creature; but it is sin and folly to place any creature in God's stead, and to place that confidence in any creature, which should be placed in God only. At the persuasion of Rachel, Jacob took Bilhah her handmaid to wife, that, according to the usage of those times, her children might be owned as her mistress's children. Had not Rachel's heart been influenced by evil passions, she would have thought her sister's children nearer to her, and more entitled to her care than Bilhah's. But children whom she had a right to rule, were more desirable to her than children she had more reason to love. As an early instance of her power over these children, she takes pleasure in giving them names that carry in them marks of rivalry with her sister. See what roots of bitterness envy and strife are, and what mischief they make among relations. At the persuasion of Leah, Jacob took Zilpah her handmaid to wife also. See the power of jealousy and rivalship, and admire the wisdom of the Divine appointment, which joins together one man and one woman only; for God hath called us to peace and purity.Bilhah, Rachel's maid, bears two sons. Rachel becomes impatient of her barrenness and jealous of her sister, and unjustly reproaches her husband, who indignantly rebukes her. God, not he, has withheld children from her. She does what Sarah had done before her Genesis 16:2-3, gives her handmaid to her husband. No express law yet forbade this course, though nature and Scripture by implication did Genesis 2:23-25. "Dan." "God hath judged me." In this passage Jacob and Rachel use the common noun, God, the Everlasting, and therefore Almighty, who rules in the physical relations of things - a name suitable to the occasion. He had judged her, dealt with her according to his sovereign justice in withholding the fruit of the womb, when she was self-complacent and forgetful of her dependence on a higher power; and also in hearing her voice when she approached him in humble supplication. "Naphtali." "Wrestlings of God," with God, in prayer, on the part of both sisters, so that they wrestled with one another in the self-same act. Rachel, though looking first to Jacob and then to her maid, had at length learned to look to her God, and then had prevailed.CHAPTER 30

Ge 30:1-24. Domestic Jealousies.

1. Rachel envied her sister—The maternal relation confers a high degree of honor in the East, and the want of that status is felt as a stigma and deplored as a grievous calamity.

Give me children, or else I die—either be reckoned as good as dead, or pine away from vexation. The intense anxiety of Hebrew women for children arose from the hope of giving birth to the promised seed. Rachel's conduct was sinful and contrasts unfavorably with that of Rebekah (compare Ge 25:22) and of Hannah (1Sa 1:11).

Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel for the injury done to himself, and especially for the sin against God, in which case anger is not only lawful, but necessary.

Am I in God’s stead? It is God’s prerogative to give children. See Genesis 16:2 1 Samuel 2:5,6 Psa 113:9 127:3. And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel,.... Whom yet he dearly loved, hearing her talk in such an extravagant manner, as her words seemed to be, and were not: only expressive of great uneasiness and impatience, but implied what was not in the power of man to do:

and he said, am I in God's stead: do you take me to be God, or one that has a dispensing power from him to do what otherwise no creature can do; and which also he never gives to any? for, as the Targum of Jerusalem on Genesis 30:22 says, this is one of the four keys which God delivers not to an angel or a seraph; even the key of barrenness. Children are the gift of God, and his only, and therefore he is to be sought unto for them: hence Onkelos land Jonathan paraphrase it;"wherefore dost thou seek them of me? shouldest thou not seek them of the Lord?"

who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? children, Psalm 127:3; not Jacob, but the Lord.

And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in {a} God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?

(a) It is only God who makes one barren or fruitful, and therefore I am not at fault.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Am I in God’s stead] See Genesis 50:19. For God as the author and giver of human life, cf. Genesis 16:2, Genesis 29:31; 1 Samuel 1:5. A similar exclamation occurs in 2 Kings 5:7.Verse 2. - And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel (not without just cause, since she not only evinced a want of faith and resignation, but wrongfully imputed blame to him): and he said, Am I in God's stead, - i.e. am I omnipotent like him? This you yourself will surely not presume to believe. The interrogative particle conveys the force of a spirited denial (vide Ewald, 'Hebrew Syntax,' § 324) - who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? Rachel herself understood that God alone could remove sterility (ver. 6); but to this fact jealousy of Leah appears for the moment to have blinded her. Leah's First Sons. - Jacob's sinful weakness showed itself even after his marriage, in the fact that he loved Rachel more than Leah; and the chastisement of God, in the fact that the hated wife was blessed with children, whilst Rachel for a long time remained unfruitful. By this it was made apparent once more, that the origin of Israel was to be a work not of nature, but of grace. Leah had four sons in rapid succession, and gave them names which indicated her state of mind: (1) Reuben, "see, a son!" because she regarded his birth as a pledge that Jehovah had graciously looked upon her misery, for now her husband would love her; (2) Simeon, i.e., "hearing," for Jehovah had heard, i.e., observed that she was hated; (3) Levi, i.e., attachment, for she hoped that this time, at least, after she had born three sons, her husband would become attached to her, i.e., show her some affection; (4) Judah (יהוּדה, verbal, of the fut. hoph. of ידה), i.e., praise, not merely the praised one, but the one for whom Jehovah is praised. After this fourth birth there was a pause (Genesis 29:31), that she might not be unduly lifted up by her good fortune, or attribute to the fruitfulness of her own womb what the faithfulness of Jehovah, the covenant God had bestowed upon her.
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