Jacob’s Family Grows

Genesis 29:31-30:24

God is acutely aware of Jacob’s preference for Rachel over Leah, and thus grants Leah children first. With the birth and naming of each child, Leah’s hope for her husband’s affection is evident. Reuben, meaning “See — a son!”, Simeon, meaning “God has heard”, and Levi, meaning “accompany”, are each named out of Leah’s hope that this will be the son who draws her into her husband’s good graces. When Judah, meaning “thanks”, is born, Leah is grateful that Jacob finally cares for her, if still less than for her sister.


Rachel realizes that if she has not yet gotten pregnant, she may be infertile, and she urges Jacob to consort with her maidservant, Bilhah, that she may serve as Rachel’s surrogate. Bilhah bears Jacob two more sons in Rachel’s name, Dan and Naphtali. Inspired by Rachel, Leah also gives Jacob her maidservant, Zilpah, as a surrogate, and she bears him Gad and Asher.


Desperate, Rachel prevails upon her sister to share the dudaim, or mandrakes, that her young son, Reuben, had collected. The plant was known to have fertility-enhancing qualities. In exchange, Rachel offers, Leah could enjoy Jacob’s company that night, out of turn. Leah agrees, and conceives another son, Issachar. She later gives birth to a sixth son, Zebulun, and a daughter, Dinah.


Finally, Rachel, too, conceives, and bears Joseph. In naming him thus, meaning “add”, Rachel prays that he should be the first, but not the last, child she bears.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think Jacob agrees to all the manipulation between his wives?

Comments ( 9 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • Shlomenu muendo

    Yaakov,he could allow for anything that would have him marry Rachel and never divorce her whom his navii parents commanded him to marry for the whole Israel to be born even if it meant doing anything her father who had the ability to separate them and wed her to another man asked him to do

  • He Consented Because Of Keeping Shalom In His Tents. He Also Wanted Rachel To Bear Children

  • I can't begin to explain Jacob's method of growing his personal flock. Yet, it is quite obvious Jacob was no "dummy" when it came to shepherding. It's also very obvious Laban is his greedy old self, which makes him no match for Jacob. Most of the sheep in a flock are strong and solid color. If left alone to mate, the speckled ones would be fewer and weaker. When Jacob named his wages, Laban was very likely seeing dollar signs in his eyes. As it turns out, Jacob's ritual with the sheep creates a huge windfall of profit for Jacob. I've heard it said, "what goes around comes around". Laban got just due for HIS deception against Jacob and was beaten by his own game. There is one obvious conclusion in this matter. If Jacob really was a deceiver, Hashem would never have blessed him as He did.

    • Danny, I have learnt over time that Yaakov's method of growing his flock is called genetic engineering; google up how making flock look through water that has artificial patterns in it causes the genes of their unborn to change. The NKJV brings it out clearly in Genesis 30:37-42: "37 Now Jacob took for himself rods of green poplar and of the almond and chestnut trees, peeled white strips in them, and exposed the white which was in the rods. 38 And the rods which he had peeled, he set before the flocks in the gutters, in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, so that they should conceive when they came to drink. 39 So the flocks conceived before the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted. 40 Then Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the streaked and all the brown in the flock of Laban; but he put his own flocks by themselves and did not put them with Laban’s flock.
      41 And it came to pass, whenever the stronger livestock conceived, that Jacob placed the rods before the eyes of the livestock in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods. 42 But when the flocks were feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s."

  • I think the word "agrees" in the question is not accurate.
    It appears to me that Ya'acov falls prey to the manipulation of his wives and he is helpless in the face of it. As he works hard to provide for his very large family and doesn't appear to act angry or resentful to the women, I admire his resilience. Many men would have given up and run for the hills with all the challenges he has to face.
    Baruch Hashem.

    • I agree, I think he was too busy putting food on the table to give attention to his wives' behavior; besides, he wanted to pay up Laban and then leave.

  • Jesse

    Even though he has a clear preference for Rachel, I think he does legitimately love Leah as well and wants to do well by both of them. Why he would he withhold honor from Leah even though he loves Rachel more?

  • Sheila

    Leah and Rachael both loved Jacob and bearing his sons was the ultimate honour. God’s love for Leah is displayed when she became the mother of six sons. This caused turmoil and rivalry in the household as Rachel was barren and was jealous and resentful towards Leah and also blamed Jacob for this. When she stopped her scheming, God opened her womb and she conceived and bore a son. Jacob needed to see firsthand the disfunction, the jealousies, the rivalries, the dishonesty which results from being involved in deception.

    • I fail to see where deception enters the picture. It's correct to assume Leah felt honored by bearing six sons and a daughter. It's also obvious Rachael felt dishonored by being barren. The problem is NOT deception. It's jealousy on the part of both sisters. It was like a contest between them. Why don't we quit bashing Jacob. My heart goes out for any man that can put up with that and still retain a semblance of sanity has a "leg up" on anything coming his way.

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