Thirty days of blogging! Jacob stayed with Laban for one month… and then worked for the next fourteen years. Shall it be the same for me? We shall see.
There are a lot of things I want to talk about right now, but I’m going to just get on with today’s chapter.
Here we have the soap opera that is Jacob’s life. Get ready for the Real Housewives of Haran.
Rachel wants children, and gets upset at Jacob for not giving her a child. This is a wonderful example of how we take out our anger, even on those we love, for no reason other than that we feel bad about something. Then Jacob gets mad at her and wonders why she doesn’t take it out on God for not giving her a fruitful womb.
Rachel “solves” this problem by giving her servant to Jacob for the purposes of bearing children. Sounds a little like Abraham and Sarah, no? So Jacob has two sons with his wife’s servant.
Leah, not to be outdone, does the same thing, and Jacob has two more sons by her servant.
Leah’s son Reuben at some point collects mandrakes from the fields. Rachel wants some of them, and agrees to whore out her husband for the mandrakes. Jacob doesn’t seem to mind, and he does his business with Leah. Long story short, he has two more sons with Leah, and a daughter.
I’m not going to count the size of Jacob’s family, here. This is getting ridiculous.
Oh! And let’s not forget Genesis 30:22. God remembers Rachel (finally!) and opens her womb that she might have a son of her own. (She does.)
So at this point, Jacob is ready to return home, but Laban implores him to stay, since the Lord seems to be blessing Laban for Jacob’s sake. Also, it sure helps to have free labor around his land, especially considering Jacob’s good business and farming sense.
Pictured: Jacob and his friendly Harvest Sprites.¹
Jacob makes a convincing case that he is to head home, but Laban wants to know what he can give him. Jacob and Laban make an agreement that all the brown lambs or speckled goats will belong to Jacob, and all the others will belong to Laban. Laban takes all of these animals and sets them aside while Jacob tends to the rest of the flock. Now here’s where Jacob gets tricky, and uses his herding experience (and informal genetics knowledge) to his advantage.
“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. 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.”
It took me a while to understand what this meant, but “Farmer Tom” at his blog explains that Jacob must have started breeding them to find out which animals were carriers for the recessive colors. This would obviously take some time, but once he had the genetics down, he made sure to breed the animals so that the strongest ones would be colored or speckled and the feeble ones would be colored normally. Farmer Tom also suggests that the rods had some kind of phytoestrogen that would induce “heat” in the female animals; Jacob only put the rods in the water when he wanted his strong, speckled or brown animals. When Laban’s livestock went to drink, Jacob did not place the rods, and thus he increased his own herds and left fewer and weaker animals for Laban.
It seems like this is once again a deceitful practice on Jacob’s part (has he learned nothing?!) but regardless of all that, it is at least shrewd business sense. Jacob puts time and care into increasing his herds and his wealth, and Lord knows he needs it to support all those kids!
Jacob’s adventures will continue tomorrow. Good night, all. Peace be upon you.
¹ Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. Natsume Co. & Marvelous Interactive. Image Credit: http://31.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lgr1xsTSAn1qb1zilo1_500.jpg