Genesis 30

 

וַתֵּרֶא רָחֵל כִּי לֹא יָלְדָה לְיַעֲקֹב וַתְּקַנֵּא רָחֵל בַּאֲחֹתָהּ וַתֹּאמֶר אֶל יַעֲקֹב הָבָה לִּי בָנִים  30:1

וְאִם אַיִן מֵתָה אָנֹכִי

Gene. 30:1  When Rachel saw that she did not bear children for Jacob, then Rachel was jealous of her sister and she said to Jacob, “Give me children,  and if not, let me be dying.”

וַיִּחַר אַף יַעֲקֹב בְּרָחֵל וַיֹּאמֶר הֲתַחַת אֱלֹהִים אָנֹכִי אֲשֶׁר מָנַע מִמֵּךְ פְּרִי בָטֶן  30:2

Gene. 30:2  Then the anger of Jacob was kindled toward Rachel and he said, “Is it I instead of God who is withholding from you the fruit of the womb?”

וַתֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה אֲמָתִי בִלְהָה בֹּא אֵלֶיהָ וְתֵלֵד עַל בִּרְכַּי וְאִבָּנֶה גַם אָנֹכִי מִמֶּנָּה  30:3

Gene. 30:3  Then she said, “Behold, my maid Bilhah.  Go into her that she may bear on my knees so I will also be built up through her.”

וַתִּתֶּן לוֹ אֶת בִּלְהָה שִׁפְחָתָהּ לְאִשָּׁה וַיָּבֹא אֵלֶיהָ יַעֲקֹב  30:4

Gene. 30:4  So she gave him Bilhah, her handmaid, for a wife and Jacob went into her.

וַתַּהַר בִּלְהָה, וַתֵּלֶד לְיַעֲקֹב בֵּן  30:5

Gene. 30:5  And Bilhah conceived and bore a son for Jacob.

וַתֹּאמֶר רָחֵל דָּנַנִּי אֱלֹהִים וְגַם שָׁמַע בְּקֹלִי וַיִּתֶּן לִי בֵּן עַל כֵּן קָרְאָה שְׁמוֹ דָּן  30:6

Gene. 30:6  And Rachel said, “God has judged me and also has heard my voice and has given me a son.”  Therefore she called his name Dan.

Dan means judge.

וַתַּהַר עוֹד וַתֵּלֶד בִּלְהָה שִׁפְחַת רָחֵל בֵּן שֵׁנִי לְיַעֲקֹב  30:7

Gene. 30:7  And Bilhah, the handmaid of Rachel, conceived again and bore a second son for Jacob.

וַתֹּאמֶר רָחֵל נַפְתּוּלֵי אֱלֹהִים נִפְתַּלְתִּי עִם אֲחֹתִי גַּם יָכֹלְתִּי וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ נַפְתָּלִי  30:8

Gene. 30:8  And Rachel said, “I have wrestled wrestlings of God with my sister but I have prevailed.”  So she called his name Naphtali.

Naphtali means wrestling.  The word for God, ~yhil{a, is elsewhere translated as an adjective such as mighty or powerful.  I see no reason to substitute for the literal translation.  It obviously implies a similar meaning.

וַתֵּרֶא לֵאָה כִּי עָמְדָה מִלֶּדֶת וַתִּקַּח אֶת זִלְפָּה שִׁפְחָתָהּ וַתִּתֵּן אֹתָהּ לְיַעֲקֹב לְאִשָּׁה  30:9

Gene. 30:9  When Leah saw that she had stopped from bearing, she took Zilpah, her handmaid, and gave her to Jacob for a wife.

וַתֵּלֶד זִלְפָּה שִׁפְחַת לֵאָה לְיַעֲקֹב בֵּן  30:10

Gene. 30:10   And Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah, bore a son for Jacob.

וַתֹּאמֶר לֵאָה בגד  וַתִּקְרָא אֶת שְׁמוֹ גָּד  30:11

Gene. 30:11   And Leah said, “Fortune has come.”  So she called his name Gad.

Gad can mean fortune.

וַתֵּלֶד זִלְפָּה שִׁפְחַת לֵאָה בֵּן שֵׁנִי לְיַעֲקֹב  30:12

Gene. 30:12  And Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah, bore a second son for Jacob.

וַתֹּאמֶר לֵאָהבְּאָשְׁרִי כִּי אִשְּׁרוּנִי בָּנוֹת וַתִּקְרָא אֶתשְׁמוֹ אָשֵׁר  30:13

Gene. 30:13   And Leah said, “Happy am I, in fact the happiest of the daughters.”  So she called his name Asher.

Asher means happy.

וַיֵּלֶךְ רְאוּבֵן בִּימֵי קְצִיר חִטִּים וַיִּמְצָא דוּדָאִים בַּשָּׂדֶה וַיָּבֵא אֹתָם אֶל לֵאָה אִמּוֹ   30:14

וַתֹּאמֶר רָחֵל אֶל לֵאָה תְּנִינָא לִי מִדּוּדָאֵי בְּנֵךְ

Gene. 30:14   And in the days of the wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to Leah, his mother. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of the mandrakes of your son.”

וַתֹּאמֶר לָהּ הַמְעַט קַחְתֵּךְ אֶת אִישִׁי וְלָקַחַת גַּם אֶת דּוּדָאֵי בְּנִי וַתֹּאמֶר רָחֵל לָכֵן   30:15

יִשְׁכַּב עִמָּךְ הַלַּיְלָה תַּחַת דּוּדָאֵי בְנֵךְ

Gene. 30:15   And she said to her, “Is your taking my husband so little that you would also take the mandrakes of my son?”  And Rachel said, “Therefore he will lie with you tonight for the mandrakes of your son.”

וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב מִןהַשָּׂדֶה בָּעֶרֶב וַתֵּצֵא לֵאָה לִקְרָאתוֹ וַתֹּאמֶר אֵלַי תָּבוֹא כִּי שָׂכֹר   30:16

שְׂכַרְתִּיךָ בְּדוּדָאֵי בְּנִי וַיִּשְׁכַּב עִמָּהּ בַּלַּיְלָה הוּא

Gene. 30:16   And Jacob came from the field in the evening and Leah went out to meet him and said, “Into me you must go for I have surely hired you with the mandrakes of my son.”  And he lay with her that night.

וַיִּשְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים אֶל לֵאָה וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד לְיַעֲקֹב בֵּן חֲמִישִׁי  30:17

Gene. 30:17   And God hearkened to Leah and she conceived and bore a fifth son for Jacob.

וַתֹּאמֶר לֵאָה נָתַן אֱלֹהִים שְׂכָרִי אֲשֶׁר נָתַתִּי שִׁפְחָתִי לְאִישִׁי וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ יִשָּׂשכָר  30:18

Gene. 30:18   And Leah said, “God has given me my hire because I gave my handmaid to my husband.”   And she called his name Issachar.

Issachar means there is reward.

וַתַּהַר עוֹד לֵאָה וַתֵּלֶד בֵּןשִׁשִּׁי לְיַעֲקֹב  30:19

Gene. 30:19   And Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son for Jacob.

וַתֹּאמֶר לֵאָה זְבָדַנִי אֱלֹהִים אֹתִי זֵבֶד טוֹב הַפַּעַם יִזְבְּלֵנִי אִישִׁי כִּי יָלַדְתִּי לוֹ שִׁשָּׁה   30:20

בָנִים וַתִּקְרָא אֶת שְׁמוֹ, זְבֻלוּן

Gene. 30:20   And Leah said, “God has endowed me a good gift.  Now my husband will dwell with me, for I have borne him six sons.”  And she called his name Zebulun.

Zebulun can mean exalted, honored, or to dwell (possibly even to dwell exaltedly).

 וְאַחַר יָלְדָה בַּת וַתִּקְרָא אֶת שְׁמָהּ דִּינָה 30:21

Gene. 30:21   And afterwards she bore a daughter and called her name Dinah.

Dinah means judgment, undoubtedly a prophetic name only.

וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת רָחֵל  וַיִּשְׁמַע אֵלֶיהָ אֱלֹהִים וַיִּפְתַּח אֶת רַחְמָהּ  30:22

Gene. 30:22   And God remembered Rachel and God hearkened to her and opened her womb.

וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן  וַתֹּאמֶר אָסַף אֱלֹהִים אֶת חֶרְפָּתִי  30:23

Gene. 30:23   And she conceived and bore a son and she said: “God has removed my shame.”

וַתִּקְרָא אֶת שְׁמוֹ יוֹסֵף לֵאמֹר יֹסֵף יְהוָה לִי בֵּן אַחֵר  30:24

Gene. 30:24   So she called his name Joseph, saying, “The Lord has brought another son to me.”

Joseph can mean the Lord has added.

וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה רָחֵל אֶת יוֹסֵף וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב אֶל לָבָן שַׁלְּחֵנִי וְאֵלְכָה אֶל מְקוֹמִי וּלְאַרְצִי   30:25

 

Gene. 30:25   And it happened, when Rachel bore Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away that I may go to my own place and to my land.”

The word hk'l_eaew, that I may go, has a non-inverting vav prefix, because the verb is first person imperfect.

תְּנָה אֶת נָשַׁי וְאֶת יְלָדַי אֲשֶׁר עָבַדְתִּי אֹתְךָ בָּהֵן וְאֵלֵכָה כִּי אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ אֶת עֲבֹדָתִי אֲשֶׁר   30:26

עֲבַדְתִּיךָ

Gene. 30:26   “Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you well, for you know my service with which I have served you.”

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו לָבָן אִם נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ נִחַשְׁתִּי וַיְבָרְכֵנִי יְהוָה בִּגְלָלֶךָ  30:27

Gene. 30:27   And Laban said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes – I have observed the signs, and the Lord has blessed me in your cause.”

וַיֹּאמַר נָקְבָה שְׂכָרְךָ עָלַי, וְאֶתֵּנָה  30:28

Gene. 30:28   So he said, “Specify your compensation to me and I will give it.”

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר עֲבַדְתִּיךָ וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר הָיָה מִקְנְךָ אִתִּי  30:29

Gene. 30:29   And he said to him, “You have known how I have served you and how your cattle have been with me,

כִּי מְעַט אֲשֶׁר הָיָה לְךָ לְפָנַי וַיִּפְרֹץ לָרֹב וַיְבָרֶךְ יְהוָה אֹתְךָ לְרַגְלִי וְעַתָּה מָתַי אֶעֱשֶׂה   30:30

גַם אָנֹכִי לְבֵיתִי

Gene. 30:30   for there was little that was yours before me and you have increased in abundance and the Lord has blessed you at my foot.  And now when shall I also provide for my own house?”

וַיֹּאמֶר מָה אֶתֶּן לָךְ וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב לֹא תִתֶּן לִי מְאוּמָה אִם תַּעֲשֶׂה לִּי הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה אָשׁוּבָה  30:31

אֶרְעֶה צֹאנְךָ אֶשְׁמֹר

Gene. 30:31   And he said, “What should I give you?”  And Jacob said, “You need not give me anything if you do this thing for me:  I will return; I will tend your flock; I will observe.”

אֶעֱבֹר בְּכָל צֹאנְךָ הַיּוֹם הָסֵר מִשָּׁם כָּלשֶׂה נָקֹד וְטָלוּא וְכָל שֶׂה חוּם בַּכְּשָׂבִים וְטָלוּא  30:32

וְנָקֹד בָּעִזִּים וְהָיָה שְׂכָרִי

Gene. 30:32   “I will pass through among all your flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted one and every dark one among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and it will be my compensation.”

וְעָנְתָה בִּי צִדְקָתִי בְּיוֹם מָחָר כִּי תָבוֹא עַל שְׂכָרִי לְפָנֶיךָ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר אֵינֶנּוּ נָקֹד וְטָלוּא בָּעִזִּים   30:33

וְחוּם בַּכְּשָׂבִים גָּנוּב הוּא אִתִּי

Gene. 30:33   “And my righteousness shall testify by me in time to come when you shall come over my compensation before you; any not speckled or spotted among the goats or dark among the sheep with me, count it stolen.”

וַיֹּאמֶר לָבָן הֵן לוּ יְהִי כִדְבָרֶךָ  30:34

Gene. 30:34   And Laban said, “Lo, would that it will be according to your word.”

וַיָּסַר בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא אֶת הַתְּיָשִׁים הָעֲקֻדִּים וְהַטְּלֻאִים וְאֵת כָּל הָעִזִּים הַנְּקֻדּוֹת וְהַטְּלֻאֹת כֹּל  30:35

אֲשֶׁר לָבָן בּוֹ וְכָל חוּם בַּכְּשָׂבִים וַיִּתֵּן בְּיַד בָּנָיו

Gene. 30:35   But he removed on that day the striped and spotted he-goats and all the speckled and spotted she-goats, every one that had white in it, and the dark among the sheep, and gave into the hand of his sons.

It was Laban who did this.  Once more, despite his seemingly amicable agreement, he intended to trick Jacob and shortchange him.  Presumably, after Laban had completed this task, there were no defective (speckled, striped, spotted, or dark) sheep or goats left in the flock for Jacob to remove and keep for himself.

וַיָּשֶׂם דֶּרֶךְ שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין יַעֲקֹב וְיַעֲקֹב רֹעֶה אֶת צֹאן לָבָן הַנּוֹתָרֹת 30:36

Gene. 30:36   And he placed a distance of three days between himself and Jacob, while Jacob was tending the remaining flock of Laban.

In this verse we learn that during the subsequent events (vss. 30:37 to at least 30:41 or 42) Laban may have been a great distance from Jacob and the remainder of his flock.  Three days distance would likely be about 15 to 30 or more miles.

וַיִּקַּח לוֹ יַעֲקֹב מַקַּל לִבְנֶה לַח וְלוּז וְעַרְמוֹן וַיְפַצֵּל בָּהֵן פְּצָלוֹת לְבָנוֹת מַחְשֹׂף הַלָּבָן אֲשֶׁר   30:37

עַל הַמַּקְלוֹת

Gene. 30:37   Then Jacob took for himself a rod of fresh poplar and of the almond and of the plane tree, and peeled white stripes in them, making the white that was on the rods appear.

This verse seems to possess an odd grammatical error.  The word !heB in the middle of the verse, meaning in them, is feminine, but the apparent antecedents, the rods, are masculine.  The only feminine nouns in the verse are the white stripes, so the antecedent must be the rods.  However, the word for rod, lQ;m;, although masculine, is irregular, in that it takes a feminine ending in its plural form.  Thus it seems the scribe considered it to be feminine.

וַיַּצֵּג אֶת הַמַּקְלוֹת אֲשֶׁר פִּצֵּל בָּרְהָטִים בְּשִׁקְתוֹת הַמָּיִם אֲשֶׁר תָּבֹאןָ  הַצֹּאן לִשְׁתּוֹת לְנֹכַח   30:38

הַצֹּאן וַיֵּחַמְנָה בְּבֹאָן לִשְׁתּוֹת

Gene. 30:38   And he set the rods that he peeled in the hollows in the watering troughs where the flock would come to drink, near the flock, and they were in heat on coming to drink.

וַיֶּחֱמוּ הַצֹּאן אֶל הַמַּקְלוֹת וַתֵּלַדְןָ הַצֹּאן עֲקֻדִּים נְקֻדִּים וּטְלֻאִים  30:39

Gene. 30:39   And the sheep conceived on account of the rods, and the sheep brought forth the striped, speckled, and spotted.

וְהַכְּשָׂבִים הִפְרִיד יַעֲקֹב וַיִּתֵּן פְּנֵי הַצֹּאן אֶל עָקֹד  וְכָלחוּם בְּצֹאן לָבָן וַיָּשֶׁתלוֹ עֲדָרִים  30:40

לְבַדּוֹ וְלֹא שָׁתָם עַל צֹאן לָבָן

Gene. 30:40   And Jacob separated the lambs.  Then he put the faces of the flock toward the streaked, and every dark one – in the white flock – but he set his own herd apart and did not put them near the white flock.

The Hebrew and meaning of this verse are somewhat confusing.  What did Jacob actually do?  What flock is being referred to in the first instance?  Is it the white flock or Jacob’s flock of colored sheep and goats?  Were there streaked and dark animals among the white flock?  The Hebrew offers little evidence as to the correct translation and interpretation.

Also in this verse, other bibles translate the word !b_l in its two appearances as the name Laban instead of the adjective white, resulting in two variations from this translation, “… among the flock of Laban, …” and “… near the flock of Laban…..”  In my opinion, these translations are less accurate and informative than this one, because we’re fairly certain that the remainder of Laban’s flock which was left with Jacob was all white. 

וְהָיָה בְּכָל יַחֵם הַצֹּאן הַמְקֻשָּׁרוֹת וְשָׂם יַעֲקֹב אֶת הַמַּקְלוֹת לְעֵינֵי הַצֹּאן בָּרְהָטִים לְיַחְמֵנָּה 30:41

בַּמַּקְלוֹת

Gene. 30:41   And it would be, whenever any of the stronger ones of the flock was in heat, that Jacob would place the rods before the eyes of the flock in the gutters so they would conceive because of the rods.

וּבְהַעֲטִיף הַצֹּאן לֹא יָשִׂים וְהָיָה הָעֲטֻפִים לְלָבָן וְהַקְּשֻׁרִים לְיַעֲקֹב  30:42

Gene. 30:42   But he would not place with the feeble of the flock, so Laban's would be feebler and Jacob's, stronger.

וַיִּפְרֹץ הָאִישׁ מְאֹד מְאֹד וַיְהִי לוֹ צֹאן רַבּוֹת וּשְׁפָחוֹת וַעֲבָדִים וּגְמַלִּים וַחֲמֹרִים  30:43

Gene. 30:43   So the man increased explosively and he had many sheep, and maidservants and menservants and camels and asses.

As I have noted, the events portrayed in vss. 30:35 to 42 are described in language that is at times peculiar and confusing, almost as if the author did not want the story to be fully understood (or more possibly, did not completely understand it himself).  In at least some of the bibles that contain commentary, there is a total absence of comments relating to the strange aspects of this story.  In fact, the translations are almost always incorrect: Tenses of many verbs are ignored, for instance.  I am inclined to believe that the strangeness of these verses was intentional, for either of the reasons I mentioned above.  It’s also possible that this is a deliberate sign from the Lord, a prophecy, perhaps hinting at a sequence of events in our time.  I suggest this in accordance with my belief that Jacob represents the Jewish people after the rebirth of Israel into the future.

Note also that the time progression of this episode is not specified in the narration.  It seems apparent that many years must have passed between vss. 30:35 and 30:43.  Yet we are led in the next chapter to believe that only a short time had transpired.  So here we may have an implied miracle that the entire episode took place in perhaps days, rather than years.

There are many questions raised by this confusing narration.  One might ask, what’s going on here?  How did Jacob know to prepare and use the rods?  Did he know in advance that Laban would again try to trick him?  What is the power of the rods?  We know that the bible often omits or condenses details that we can at best only surmise.  Had God told Jacob about this in advance?  We will find some of this mystery cleared up in the next chapter.

This is an exceedingly strange story.

 

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