Genesis 29:31−30:24

June 2nd, 2016| Topic: aBeLOG, Genesis | 0

Genesis 29:31−30:24

Highhandedness precludes God’s blessing, but faithful submission to God brings it about.

Jacob now has two wives, Leah, the unloved, and Rachel, the loved (29:31). Though unloved, Leah is the one producing children, one in almost every verse in 29:31–35. The naming of each son is poignant, as she hopes against hope that her husband’s unloving attitude to her will change. But what is significant is that Leah then stopped bearing (29:35; also 30:9). We have to wait to find out why ….

This frenzy of baby-production by the unloved woman puts the loved woman in the green grip of jealousy (30:1), setting Rachel on a course of threatening, manipulation, monopolizing, exchanging, and domineering: a highhanded attitude! She appeals to Jacob in a fit of pique, demanding that he provide her with children (30:1–2). She wants what she wants and when she wants it. Jacob, however, correctly diagnoses that such blessing is the work of God (30:2), and Rachel’s accusation elicits an equally irate rejoinder from her husband, “Am I in the place of God who has kept from you fruit of the womb?”

Rachel then decides to takes matters into her own hands, and arranges for her maid to be Jacob’s concubine (30:3–4). She will do anything to get blessed, even if it means offering Jacob a surrogate womb, and two sons come from that deal (30:5, 7). But Leah decides two can play that game of concubinage, and she offers Jacob her maid, who also bears two sons (30:10, 12). Rats! Rachel’s one-upmanship isn’t working!

And that’s when Leah’s oldest, Reuben, brings home mandrakes that he found in the field—an aphrodisiacal plant, the ancient version of Viagra for women. Rachel views this as the answer to her infertility problems and demands it—physiological manipulation with a bit of flora!

What is significant here is Leah’s expostulation: “Is it a small thing for you take my husband? And will you take my son’s mandrakes also?” (30:15). Aha! Now we why Leah had stopped bearing: because Rachel would not allow Jacob to sleep with her! If Rachel was not going to have children by Jacob, then, by golly! she was not going to allow Leah that privilege either.

At any rate, Leah hires Jacob’s sexual services (30:15–16) for one night in exchange for her son’s mandrakes. But this deal that gave Jacob to Leah for “tonight” (30:15) produces three children (30:17, 19, 21). How on earth did that happen without Rachel intervening?

It appears, then, that in these final days of her crises of fertility, Rachel had given up! Nothing had worked for her, not jealousy, not concubinage, not obstruction, not aphrodisiacs—nothing! Jacob’s argument finally hit her: “Am I in the place of God who has kept from you fruit of the womb?” (30:2)? And the narrator wants us, the readers, to arrive at that same conclusion along with Rachel, and realize that that was how Leah got her unfettered access to Jacob: because Rachel had given up! She surrendered and renounced her manipulative and conniving and deceptive tendencies, and, instead, submitted to the will of Yahweh.

No wonder, that immediately after readers are nudged towards such a conclusion, the narrator ends this story with: “Then God remembered Rachel,” and she conceives (30:22). That’s when God remembered Rachel, when Rachel had given up. For, you see, the proper posture to receive the blessings of God is not one of highhandedness, grasping, exploitation, and overbearing. Not at all! If one is to obtain the blessings of God one must take on the posture of openhandedness, of letting go, of gracious generosity, and humility.

Share Your Thoughts

Copyright © 2012 Homiletix  |  Blog theme by ThemeShift customized by Gurry Design  |  Full sitemap