Gen. 30:1-8  Rachel envies Leah

             Gen. 30:1 “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. 2 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? 3 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. 4 And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. 5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 6 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. 7 And Bilhah Rachel's maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. 8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.”

            In the above passage we see that Rachel was not satisfied with the affection and love of her husband, but was envious of her sister’s reproductive ability.  Rather than look at her own inability to have children, she blames it upon Jacob and demands that he give her children.  In this Jacob appropriately replied, “Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?”  Obviously Jacob could father children, but it was God who had withheld from her the fruit of the womb.  Rather than praying that the Lord would give her the ability to have children she came up with her own perverted plan.  “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.”  The plan was reprehensible in several areas:

                        1.  Bilhah was her hand maid meaning that she was a bond servant.  However, to make a bondservant a concubine for your husband is morally wrong and and abuse of power over the poor bond maid. 

                        2.  Rachel is claiming the children of her bond maid for herself, which is also reprehensible.

                        3.  Jacob was complicit when the scheme and could certainly have put a stop to it, but rather went along with it.

            The above was an escalation of the war between the two sisters, who were warring for the affection of Jacob.  It seems foolish to me that anyone would look at the polygamy of this clan of people and think that somehow that God has authorized the practice of bigamy or polygamy.  

            It is easily discernable that both Leah and Rachel was greatly dissatisfied with having to share their husband.  Moreover, Jacob could not have been happy to have to listen to the constant complaints of these two sisters.  Surely, God’s way of marriage between one man and one woman is far better than any bigamist or polygamist arrangement. 

            Again, we see the names of the two sons in the above passage related to the feelings of the sisters.  The name “Dan” means “judged” because Rachel said that God had judged her.  The name “Naphthali” means “wrestling” because Rachel said that she had great wrestlings with her sister and had prevailed. 


Gen. 30:9-13 The Race for heirs

            Gen. 30:9 “When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. 10 And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad. 12 And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.”

            In this passage, Leah counters the action of her sister Rachel by giving her maid, Zilpah to Jacob to wife.  The only motivation that I can see for this action is that she wanted to stay ahead of Rachel in the race for children.  This action was just as morally odious as the previous action of Rachel in giving her maid to Jacob for wife. 

            The children, like the previous sons, were named according to the thinking of the two sisters at the time of their birth.  The name “Gad” means “troop” after the statement of Leah, “A troop cometh.”  The name “Asher” means “happy” after Leah’s statement “Happy am I.”