Wesley's Notes on the Bible
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.
30:1 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, 1Sam 1:10, and 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.
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?
30:2 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.
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.
30:3 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!
And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.
And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.
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.
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, 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.
30:9 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.
And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a son.
And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.
And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son.
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.
30:14 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.
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.
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.
And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.
30:17 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 good dowry.
And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.
And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.
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.
30:21 Mention is made, of Dinah, because of the following story concerning her, Ge 34:1 - 16, and c. Perhaps Jacob had other daughters, though not registered.
And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.
30:22 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.
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.
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 favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake.
And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.
And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me.
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?
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:
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.
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.
And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word.
30:34 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.
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.
And he set three days' journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks.
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.
30:37 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 colour. 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.
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.
And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.
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.
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.
But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: 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.