Notes: Genesis 30

Trinity International Baptist Church, English language Bible study guide for February 5, 2008

Unlike the old chewing gum jingle which promised “double the pleasure, double the fun” when a good flavor was doubled, Jacob’s life is askew when there are two wives in his household.

I. Rachel asks Jacob to have a child with her servant Bilhah (1-8:)

1-2: The envious complaint: “Give me children, or else I die.” The angry response: “Am I in God’s stead?”

3-5: Take my handmaid…and he did

6-8:  Jacob’s sons with Bilhah

  • Dan
  • Naphtali

II. Leah asks Jacob to have a child with her servant Zilpah (9-13:)

9: Take my handmaid…and he did

10-13: Jacob’s sons with Zilpah

  • Gad
  • Asher

III. Rachel bargains for mandrakes, and trades off her man (14-21:)

15:  True or False: Rachel took Leah’s husband

17-21: Jacob’s last three children with Leah

  • Isaachar
  • Zebulon
  • Dinah (a daughter)

IV. Rachel has a child of her own (22-24:)

Jacob’s first son with Rachel

  • Joseph

V. Jacob and Laban conduct an exit interview with salary negotiation (25-36:)

25: The birth of Joseph sparks homesickness in Jacob

26: He asks leave of Uncle Laban, wishing to take his (4) wives and (12) children with him

28: Laban offers to give Jacob for his service

31: Jacob does not want Laban to “give” him anything

32-33: They agree that Jacob will tend Laban’s animals one last time, with the understanding that Jacob is free to take all the animals with spotted or speckled hide.

35-36: Jacob will start with unblemished animals (the blemished animals are culled from the herds and flocks).

VI. A lesson in animal husbandry (37-43:)

37-41: Unusual selective breeding techniques at work

42: Jacob kept the strong animals for himself


Meditation Points:

  1. Does God control who can have children and when those children will be born?
  2. Remember the trouble that Sarah started when she urged Abraham to have a child by their servant Hagar? Rachel follows Sarah’s bad example; and not long afterwards, Leah follows too.
  3. Only this time, the animosity in the home was not between the wife and the servant, but rather between the two wives.
  4. Food got Esau into trouble over a birthright, and food got Isaac into trouble over a blessing. Rachel’s craving for fresh fruit gets her into trouble over Jacob
  5. Notice the significance of the various names found in today’s reading.
  6. Laban knows that God has blessed him because Jacob was around.
  7. As Abraham didn’t want anything from the king of Sodom, so Jacob doesn’t want anything given to him by Laban.
  8. Animals in heat surrounded by folks in polka dot dresses don’t bear spotted-skinned offspring.
  9. Was Jacob’s breeding technique inspired or “lucky”?