Genesis 30 – Jacob’s Children

Genesis 30 continues what some call the “great baby race” that started in chapter 29 between Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel. So the first thing that sticks out like a sore thumb in this chapter is that Jacob not only has two wives, but he also has two other women (the two sister’s servants) bearing his children.  But God’s plan is for one man to be married to one woman (Gen 2:24 and Mt 19:3-9 are just two of the passages we can look to for this).  So how do we reconcile that with this and other Old Testament passages?  Jacob is intimate with four women here, two of whom are not even his wives. Abraham is intimate with Hagar while he is married to Sarah.  Later, even David has multiple wives and concubines.

Customs and traditions were indeed different in Old Testament times, and there are things that God’s word does not tell us. But as Paul tells us in Romans 15:4, “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction.” What is best for us, and what pleases and displeases the Lord has never changed.  That fact is clear in this chapter, and in each other case.  Having relations, and even other children, with more than one woman brought unhappiness to  Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar.  And it brings unhappiness here to Jacob, Leah, and Rachel.

Jacob loves Rachel, but cannot always be with her.  She is unhappy because he is with Leah.  Leah knows who Jacob really loves (and more to the point, that it isn’t her), but keeps hoping that bearing him more children will bring him to love her (once again, note the meanings of the names).  Jacob is having sexual relations with four women, and cannot make any of them happy!   God has given us ample instruction in the Old Testament and the New Testament that the sexual relationship for us is best between one man and one woman in marriage.  Will we ever learn?

So Jacob has 11 sons now, laying more foundation for God’s plan. Each of those sons will play a part.  Joseph’s part will begin soon, and will be important indeed.  For now, Jacob is making plans to leave, but must deal with more of Laban’s deception (verses 28-36).  But God is taking care of him as he makes preparations.

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