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.
Verse 1. - And when Rachel saw (apparently after, though probably before, the birth of Leah's fourth son) that she bare Jacob no children (literally, that she bare not to Jacob), Rachel envied her sister (was jealous of her, the root referring to the redness with which the face of an angry woman is suffused); and said unto Jacob, Give me children (sons), or else I die - literally, and if not, I am a dead woman; i.e. for shame at her sterility. Rachel had three strong reasons for desiring children - that she might emulate her sister, become more dear to her husband, and above all share the hope of being a progenitrix of the promised Seed. If not warranted to infer that Rachel s barrenness was due to lack of prayer on her part and Jacob s (Keil), we are at least justified in asserting that her conduct in breaking forth into angry reproaches against her husband was unlike that of Jacob's mother, Rebekah, who, in similar circumstances, sought relief in prayer and oracles (Kalisch). The brief period that had elapsed since Rachel's marriage, in comparison with the twenty years of Rebekah's barrenness, signally discovered Rachel's sinful impatience.
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?
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.
And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.
Verse 3. - And she said, - resorting to the sinful expedient of Sarah (Genesis 16:2), though without Sarah's excuse, since there was no question whatever about an heir for Jacob; which, even if there had been, would not have justified a practice which, in the case of her distinguished relative, had been so palpably condemned - Behold my maid Bilhah (vide Genesis 29:29), go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, - i.e. children that I may place upon my knees, as mothers do (Piscator, A Lapide, Calvin, Rosenmüller, Lange, Ainsworth); the literal sense of the words being too absurd to require refutation - that I may also have children - literally, be builded up (cf. Genesis 16:2) - by her.
And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.
Verse 4. - And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. "Whence we gather that there is no end of sin where once the Divine institution of marriage is neglected" (Calvin). Jacob began with polygamy, and is now drawn into concubinage. Though God overruled this for the development of the seed of Israel, he did not thereby condone the offense of either Jacob or Rachel.
And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.
Verse 5. - And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. "Conception and birth may be granted to irregular marriages" (Hughes). "So God often strives to overcome men's wickedness through kindness, and pursues the unworthy with his grace" (Calvin).
And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.
Verse 6. - And Rachel said, God hath judged me, - "hath chastened me," as in Genesis 15:14 (Ainsworth, Wordsworth); better, "hath procured for me justice," as if reckoning her sterility an injustice by the side of Leah's fecundity (Keil, Lange); or, hath carried through my cause like a patron, i.e. hath vindicated me from the reproach of barrenness (Munster, Rosenmüller); or, hath dealt with me according to his sovereign justice, withholding' from me the fruit of the womb while I was forgetful of my dependence on him, and granting me posterity when I approached him in humble supplication (Murphy), which it is obvious from the next clause that Rachel did - and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son. With undue severity older interpreters regard Rachel as using the Divine name more hypocritarum, who, when their schemes prosper, think that God favors them (Vatablus, Calvin). The employment of Elohim by Jacob and Rachel, supposed to mark the first thirteen verses as belonging to the primitive document (Tuch, Bleek, Kalisch), though by others (Davidson, Colenso) they are ascribed to the Jehovist, is sufficiently explained by Rachers consciousness that in a large measure her handmaid's son was rather the fruit of her own impious device than the gift of Jehovah (Hengstenberg). Therefore called she his name Dan - i.e. "Judge," one decreeing justice, vindex, from דּוּן, to judge (Gesenius, Keil, Lange, et alii), though, as in other proper names, e.g. Joseph, Zebulun, in which two verbs are alluded to, Michaelis thinks non ajudicando solum, sed et ab audiendo nomen accepisse Danem, and connects it with another verb, a denominative from an Arabic root, signifying to hear (vide 'Suppl.,' p. 425).
And Bilhah Rachel's maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son.
Verses 7, 8. - And Bilhah Rachel's maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, literally, wrestlings of God have I wrestled with my sister, meaning, by "wrestlings of Elohim;" not great wrestlings in rivalry, with Leah (A.V. Vatablus, Ainsworth, Rosenmüller, Calvin), nor wrestlings in the cause of God, as being unwilling to leave the founding of the nation to her sister alone (Knobel), but wrestlings with God in prayer (Delitzsch, Lange, Murphy, Kalisch), wrestlings regarding Elohim and his grace (Hengstenberg, Keil), in which she at the same time contended with her sister, to whom apparently that grace had been hitherto restricted - and I have prevailed (scarcely in the sense of achieving a victory over Leah, who had already borne four sons, but in the sense of drawing the Divine favor, though only indirectly, towards herself): and she called his name Naphtali - i.e. "My Wrestling."
And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.
When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.
Verse 9. - When Leah saw that she had left bearing (literally, stood from bearing, as in Genesis 29:35), she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her to Jacob to wife - being in this led astray by Rachel's sinful example, both as to the spirit of unholy rivalry she cherished, and the questionable means she employed for its gratification.
And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a son.
Verses 10, 11. - And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a son. And Leah said, A troop cometh. בָּגָד, for בְּגָד, in or with good fortune; ἐν τύχη (LXX.); feliciter, sc. this happens to me (Vulgate), a translation which has the sanction of Gesenius, Furst, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, and other content authorities - the Keri, whith is followed by Onkelos and Syriac, reading בָּא גָד, fortune cometh. The Authorised rendering, supported by the Samaritan, and supposed to accord better with Genesis 49:19, is approved by Calvin, Ainsworth, Bush, and others. And she called his name Gad - i.e. Good Fortune.
And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.
And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son.
Verses 12, 13. - And Zilpah, Leah's maid, bare Jacob a second son. And Leah said, Happy am I, - literally, in my happiness, so am I ('Speaker's Commentary'); or, for or to my happiness (Keil, Kalisch ) - for the daughters will call me blessed (or, happy): and she called his name Asher - i.e. Happy.
And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.
And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes.
Verse 14. - And Reuben (at this time four or five years old) went (probably accompanying the reapers) in the days of wheat harvest (in the beginning of May), and found mandrakes - דּוּדָאים, μῆλα μαδραγορῶν, (LXX., Josephus), apples of the mandragora, an herb resembling belladonna, with a root like a carrot, having white and reddish blossoms of a sweet smell, and with yellow odoriferous apples, ripening in May and June, and supposed, according to Oriental superstition, to possess the virtue of conciliating love and promoting fruitfulness (vide Gesenius, p. 191, and cf. Rosenmüller's 'Seholia,' and Kalisch in loco) - in the field (when at his childish play), and brought them unto his mother Leah (which a son of more mature years would not have done). Then Rachel (not exempt from the prevailing superstition) said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes (in the hopes that they would remove her sterility).
And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son's mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son's mandrakes.
Verse 15 - And she (Leah) said unto her, - stomachose (Calvin) - Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? - literally, Is it little thy taking away my husband? meaning that Rachel had been the cause of Jacob s forsaking her (Leah's) society - and wouldest thou take away (literally, and to take also = wouldst thou take? expressive of strong surprise) my son's mandrakes also? Calvin thinks it unlikely that Jacob s wives were naturally quarrelsome; sod Deus confligere eas inter se passus est ut polygamiae puma ad posteras extaret. And Rachel said (in order to induce Leah's compliance with her request), Therefore he shall be with thee tonight for thy son's mandrakes.
And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.
Verse 16. - And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, - i.e. the harvest-field (ver. 14) - and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me (the Samaritan codex adds "this night," and the LXX. "today"); for surely I have hired thee (literally, hiring; I have hired thee) with my son's mandrakes. And (assenting to the arrangement of his wives) he lay with her that night.
And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.
Verse 17. - And God hearkened unto Leah, - i.e. unto Leah's prayers (Onkelos, Jerome, Rosenmüller, Murphy), which Calvin thinks doubtful - quis enim putaret, dum odiose sorori suae negat Lea fructus a puero collectos, et hoc pretio noctem mariti mercatur, ullum esse precibus locum. The historian employs the term Elohim to show that Leah's pregnancy was not owing to her son's mandrakes, but to Divine power (Keil, Lange) - and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son - or, counting Zilpah's, the seventh; while, reckoning Bilhah's, this was Jacob's ninth child.
And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.
Verse 18. - And Leah said, God - Elohim; a proof of the lower religious consciousness into which Leah had fallen (Hengstenberg), though perhaps on the above hypothesis an evidence of her piety and faith (Keil, Lange) - hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: - i.e. as a reward for my self-denial (Keil, Murphy); an exclamation in which appears Leah's love for Jacob (Lange), if not also a tacit acknowledgment that she had her fears lest she may have sinned in asking him to wed Zilpah (Rosenmüller) - and she called his name Issachar - "There is Reward," or "There is Hire;" containing a double allusion to her hire of Jacob and her reward for Zilpah
And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.
Verses 19, 20. - And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son. And Leah said, God (Elohim; vide supra) hath endued me with a good dowry. Δεδώρηται μοι δῶρον καλον (LXX.), dotavit me dote bona (Vulgate), hath presented me with a goodly present. The word זָבַד is a ἄπαξ λεγόμενον. Now will my husband dwell with me. זָבַל, also a ἅπαξ λεγ., signifies to be or make round (Gesenius), to limit round or encompass (Furst); hence, according to both, to cohabit or dwell together as husband and wife. The LXX. render αἱρετιεῖ, the meaning being that Leah's six sons would, in her judgment, be an inducement sufficiently powerful to cause Jacob to select her society instead of that of her barren sister. And she called his name Zebulan - i.e. Dwelling; from zabal, to dwell with, with a play upon the word זָבַל, to hire, which, commencing with the same letter, was regarded as similar in sound to זָבַד, the ד and the ל being sometimes interchangeable (Keil, Kalisch).
And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.
And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.
Verse 21. - And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah - i.e. Judgment. Dinah (the female Dan) may not have been Jacob's only daughter (vide Genesis 37:35; Genesis 46:7). Her name is here recorded probably because of the incident in her history afterwards related (Genesis 34:1).
And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.
Verses 22-24. - And God remembered Rachel (cf. Genesis 8:1; 1 Samuel 1:19), and God hearkened to her, - as to Leah (ver. 17) - and opened her womb - as he had previously done to Leah (Genesis 29:31). Rachel's barrenness had not continued so long as either Sarah's or Rebekah's. And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach - i.e. of sterility. The mandrakes of Leah having proved inefficacious, Rachel at length realizes that children are God s gift, and this thought sufficiently explains the use of the term Elohim. And she called his name Joseph; - יוסֵפ, either, "he takes away," with allusion to the removal of her reproach, or, "he shall add," with reference to her hope of another son. Perhaps the first thought is not obscurely hinted at, though the second appears' from the ensuing clause to have occupied the greater prominence in Rachel's mind - and said, The Lord - Jehovah; a trace of the Jehovistic pen (Tuch, Bleek, et alii); rather an outcome of the higher spiritual life of Rachel, who had now got emancipated from all such merely human devices as resorting to mandrakes, and was able to recognize her complete dependence for offspring on the sovereign grace of the covenant God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob (Hengstenberg, Keil) - shall add to me another son.
And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:
And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.
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.
Verse 25. - And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, - either at or about the expiry of the second term of seven years. Jacob's family now consisted in all of eleven sons and one daughter, unless Dinah's birth occurred later in the next term of service (Keil). Since these were all born within seven years, the chronological cannot be the order observed by the historian in recording the events of the preceding paragraphs. Rather the births of the children are arranged in connection with the mothers from whom they sprang. Hence the possibility of acquiring so large a family in so short a time. The six sons of Leah might be born in the seven years, allowing one year's complete cessation from pregnancy, viz., the fifth; Bilhah's in the third and fourth years; Zilpah's in the beginning of the sixth and seventh; and Rachel's toward the end of the seventh, leaving Dinah to be born later (cf. Keil in loco) - that Jacob said unto Laban (if not immediately, certainly soon, after Joseph's birth), Send me away (meaning that Laban should permit him to depart), that I may go (literally, and I will go) unto mine own place, and to my country - to Canaan in general, and to that part of it in particular where he had formerly resided (cf. Genesis 18:33; Genesis 31:55).
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.
Verse 26. - Give me (suffer me to take) my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go (literally, and I will go): for thou knowest my service which I have done thee - implying that he had faithfully implemented his engagement, and that Laban was aware of the justness of his demand to be released from further servitude.
And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake.
Verse 27. - And Laban said unto him (having learnt by fourteen years' acquaintance with Jacob to know the value of a good shepherd), I pray thee, if I have found favor in thine eyes (the clause is elliptical, the A. V. rightly supplying), tarry: for (this word also is not in the original), I have learned by experience - literally, I have divined (נִחַשְֹׁתִּי, from נָחַשׁ, to hiss as a serpent, hence to augur); not necessarily by means of serpents (Gesenius, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary'), or even by consulting his gods (Delitzsch, Kalisch), but perhaps by close observation and minute inspection (Murphy, Bush). The LXX. render οἰωνισάμην; the Vulgate by experimento didici - that the Lord - Jehovah. Nominally a worshipper of the true God, Laban was in practice addicted to heathen superstitions (cf. Genesis 31:19, 32) - hath blessed me (with material prosperity) for thy sake.
And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.
Verse 28. - And he said, Appoint me thy wages. Literally, distinctly specify (from a root signifying to bore, hence to declare accurately) thy hire upon me, i.e. which I will take upon me as binding. Laban's caution to be clear and specific in defining the terms of any engagement he might enter into was much needed, and would doubtless not be neglected by Jacob, whose past experience must have taught him he was dealing with one who, in respect of covenants and contracts, was eminently treacherous. And I will give it.
And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me.
Verse 29. - And he (Jacob) said unto him (Laban), Thou knowest how (literally, what) I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me - literally, and what thy cattle has been (or become) with me, i.e. to what a number they have grown.
For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude; and the LORD hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?
Verse 30. - For it was little which thou hadst before I came, - literally, for little (it was) was to thee before me; i.e. not in place, ἰναντίον ἐμοῦ (LXX.), but in time, i.e. before my arrival - and it is now increased - literally, broken forth (cf. ver. 43) - unto a multitude; and the Lord (Jehovah) hath blessed thee since my coming (literally, at my foot, i.e. wherever I have gone among your flocks): and now when shall I provide (literally, do) for mine own house also?
And he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock:
Verse 31. - And he (Laban, unwilling to part with so profitable an assistant) said, What shall I give thee? He was apparently prepared to detain Jacob at his own terms. And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me anything. Jacob did not design to serve Laban gratuitously, but chose rather to trust God than Laban for recompense (Wordsworth, Gosman in Lange); or he may have meant that he would have no wages of Laban's setting, but only of his own proposing (Hughes). If thou wilt do this thing for me (accede to this stipulation), I will again feed and keep thy flock - literally, I will turn, I will tend thy flock, I will keep (sc. 2).
I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire.
Verse 32. - I will pass through all thy flock today, - wrongly rendered παρελθέτω πάντα τὰ πρόβάτα σου (LXX), gyra per omnes greges tuos (Vulgate}, as if Jacob proposed that the separation of the flocks should be effected by Laban, and not by himself - removing from thence - not remove thou, as if the verb were imperative (Rosenmüller, Murphy, Kalisch), but "to remove," the verb being in the inf. (Keil; cf. Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 279) - all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats. Since in Oriental countries sheep are commonly white and goats black, the number of speckled and spotted animals (i.e. sheep with little spots and largo patches of black, and goats with little or large points of white, in their hair) would be unusually small. And of such shall be my hire - i.e. the dark-spotted or entirely black sheep and white or white-speckled goats were to be Jacob's reward (Knobel, Delitzsch, Keil, Lunge), which was to be subsequently increased by whatever speckled animals might appear among the one-colored flocks; but it seems more probable that Jacob only claimed the latter, and, both to make the bargain more attractive to Laban and to show that he wanted nothing from Laban but only what God might be pleased in accordance with this arrangement to bestow, he suggested that the flocks and herds should be purged of all such speckled and spotted animals to begin with (Tuch, Baumgarten, Kurtz, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Candlish; Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Clarke, Bush).
So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me.
Verse 33. - So shall my righteousness (literally, and my righteousness) answer for me (or bear testimony in my behalf) in time to come, - literally, in the day, tomorrow; meaning in the future (Gesenius) rather than the day following (Delitzsch) - when it shall come for my hire before thy face. Either,
(1) for it (my righteousness) shall come, concerning my wages, before thy face, sc. for consideration (Calvin); or,
(2) when thou shalt come to my reward, connecting "before thy face" with the previous clause (Chaldee, Rosenmüller, Ainsworth, Lange); or,
(3) when thou shalt come to my wages before thee (Murphy), or to inspect it (Kalisch). Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me - and therefore to be delivered up to thee.
And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word.
Verse 34. - And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word. Jacob s chances of obtaining speckled animals by this arrangement were so small that Laban, with his customary selfishness, had no difficulty in closing with the offered bargain. As originally proposed by Jacob it seems to have been an honest desire on his part to commit the question of wages to the decision rather of God's providence than of his kiss-man's greed. That at this time Jacob's mind "had already formed the whole fraudulent procedure by which he acquired his wealth" (Kalisch) does not accord with the statement subsequently made.
And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats that were speckled and spotted, and every one that had some white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons.
Verse 35. - And he - Laban (Rosenmüller, Keil, Delitzsch, Kalisch, Murphy, et alii); Jacob (Lange) - removed that day (that the smallest possible chance of success might remain to his nephew) the he-goats that were ringstraked (striped or banded) and spotted, and all the she-goats that were speckled and spotted, and every one that had some white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, - four sorts of animals were to be removed:
(1) the dotted,
(2) the patched,
(3) the ring-marked or striped, and
(4) the black or brown - and gave them into the hand of his (Laban's or Jacob's, ut supra) sons.
And he set three days' journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks.
Verse 36. - And (as if to insure the impossibility of the two flocks mingling and breeding) he set three days journey betwixt himself (with his sons and the parti-colored animals) and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks - out of which he was to pay himself as best he could in accordance with the contract.
And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.
Verse 37. - And Jacob took him rods of green poplar - literally, a rod (the singular being used collectively for rods) of לִבְנֶה, (from לָבַן, to be white, meaning either the) poplar (LXX., in Hosea 4:13; Vulgate, Kalisch) or the storax (LXX. in loco, Keil; cf. Michaelis, 'Suppl.,' p. 1404) fresh green - and of the hazel - לוּז, the hazel tree (Raschi, Kimchi, Arabic, Luther, Furst, Kalisch) or the almond tree (Vulgate, Saadias, Calvin, Gesenius, 'Speaker s Commentary') - and chestnut tree; - עַרְמון, the plane tree (LXX., Vulgate, et alii), so called from its height - and pilled white strakes in them (literally, peeled off in them peeled places white), and made the white appear (literally, making naked the white) which was in the rods.
And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.
Verse 38. - And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flecks in the gutters (רִחָטִים; literally, the canals or channels through which the water ran, from a root signifying to run) in the watering troughs (שִׁקֲתות, i.e. the troughs which contained the water, to which the animals approached) when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive (literally, and they became warm, in the sense expressed in the A.V.) when they cams to drink - this was Jacob's first artifice to overreach Laban.
And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.
Verse 39. - And the flocks conceived (ut supra) before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted. The fact is said to have been frequently observed that, particularly in the case of sheep, whatever fixes their attention in copulation is marked upon the young. That Jacob believed in the efficacy of the artifice he adopted is apparent; but the multiplication of Parti-colored animals it will be safer to ascribe to Divine blessing than to human craft.
And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban's cattle.
Verse 40. - And Jacob did separate the lambs (i.e. the speckled lambs procured by the foregoing artifice he removed from the main body of the flock), and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban (this was Jacob's second artifice, to make the speckled lambs serve the same purpose as the pilled rods); and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban's cattle - so that they were not exposed to the risk of producing offspring of uniform color.
And it came to pass, whensoever 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.
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.
But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.
Verse 42. - But when the cattle were feeble, - literally, in the covering (sc. with wool; hence weakening) of the flock, which took place in autumn - he put them not in (partly to prevent the introduction of feeble animals amongst his parti-colored flocks, but partly also, it is thought, to avoid prematurely exciting Laban's suspicion): so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.
And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.
Verse 43. - And - as the apparent result of the triple stratagem, though vide supra, ver. 38, and cf. Genesis 31:12 - the man increased exceedingly, - literally, broke forth greatly (vide ver. 80) - and had much cattle, and maid-servants, and men-servants, and camels, and asses - like Abraham (Genesis 13:2) and Isaac (Genesis 26:13, 14). Thus far the historian simply narrates the fact of the patriarch's priority, and the steps which to it, "without expressing approbation of his conduct or describing his increasing wealth as a blessing from God. The verdict is contained in what follows (Keil).