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Matthew Henry's Commentary

Genesis Chapter 30

A further account of Jacob's family. (1-13) Rachel beareth Joseph. (14-24) Jacob's new agreement with Laban to serve him for cattle. (25-43)

Verses 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.

Verses 14-24: The desire, good in itself, but often too great and irregular, of being the mother of the promised Seed, with the honour of having many children, and the reproach of being barren, were causes of this unbecoming contest between the sisters. The truth appears to be, that they were influenced by the promises of God to Abraham; whose posterity were promised the richest blessings, and from whom the Messiah was to descend.

Verses 25-43: The fourteen years being gone, Jacob was willing to depart without any provision, except God's promise. But he had in many ways a just claim on Laban's substance, and it was the will of God that he should be provided for from it. He referred his cause to God, rather than agree for stated wages with Laban, whose selfishness was very great. And it would appear that he acted honestly, when none but those of the colours fixed upon should be found among his cattle. Laban selfishly thought that his cattle would produce few different in colour from their own. Jacob's course after this agreement has been considered an instance of his policy and management. But it was done by intimation from God, and as a token of his power. The Lord will one way or another plead the cause of the oppressed, and honour those who simply trust his providence. Neither could Laban complain of Jacob, for he had nothing more than was freely agreed that he should have; nor was he injured, but greatly benefitted by Jacob's services. May all our mercies be received with thanksgiving and prayer, that coming from his bounty, they may lead to his praise.

David Burnette's Life Application

Sin Makes a Mess

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Genesis with Chapter 30 and in today's text we see how Jacob handles this responsibility and the decisions he makes as a father. His decisions led to many wrong choices, that led to 4 different wives, that produced many children who became bitter rivals. What catches my eye is that wives of Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham had problems conceiving children. Each of these 3 patriarchs approached the situation differently. Abraham had relations from Sarah's servant girl which introduced bitterness and jealousy to his family. Isaac prayed to God and eventually God answered his prayers but their poor parenting skills produced a mess. Jacob sinned too, following his grandfather's example and had children by his wives servant girls which lead to sad consequences we will read about for chapters to come. It all comes down to our sin making a mess of what God has designed. All the heartache we see written comes from their sin. That is simply what the definition of sin is in our lives today. When we take our God given needs and desires and try to meet them apart from God's plan for our lives we sin. How about you? Do you see your sin in the light of you trying to meet your God given needs and desires apart from God's plan? Let us learn from the fall out of these three Patriarchs in the book of Genesis and allow God to meet our needs so we won't sin which will alleviate all the conflict.


Genesis 30

Genesis 30

 1And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.

 2And 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?

 3And 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.

 4And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.

 5And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son.

 6And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.

 7And Bilhah Rachel's maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son.

 8And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.

 9When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.

 10And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a son.

 11And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.

 12And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son.

 13And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

 14And 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.

 15And 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.

 16And 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.

 17And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.

 18And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.

 19And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.

 20And 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.

 21And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.

 22And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.

 23And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:

 24And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.

 25And 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.

 26Give 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.

 27And 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.

 28And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.

 29And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me.

 30For 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?

 31And 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.

 32I 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.

 33So 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.

 34And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word.

 35And 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.

 36And he set three days' journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks.

 37And 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.

 38And 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.

 39And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.

 40And 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.

 41And 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.

 42But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.

 43And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.