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Genesis 29:31--30:24

Context
The Family of Jacob

29:31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, 1  he enabled her to become pregnant 2  while Rachel remained childless. 29:32 So Leah became pregnant 3  and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, 4  for she said, “The Lord has looked with pity on my oppressed condition. 5  Surely my husband will love me now.”

29:33 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “Because the Lord heard that I was unloved, 6  he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. 7 

29:34 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “Now this time my husband will show me affection, 8  because I have given birth to three sons for him.” That is why he was named Levi. 9 

29:35 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” That is why she named him Judah. 10  Then she stopped having children.

30:1 When Rachel saw that she could not give Jacob children, she 11  became jealous of her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children 12  or I’ll die!” 30:2 Jacob became furious 13  with Rachel and exclaimed, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?” 14  30:3 She replied, “Here is my servant Bilhah! Have sexual relations with 15  her so that she can bear 16  children 17  for me 18  and I can have a family through her.” 19 

30:4 So Rachel 20  gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob had marital relations with 21  her. 30:5 Bilhah became pregnant 22  and gave Jacob a son. 23  30:6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me. He has responded to my prayer 24  and given me a son.” That is why 25  she named him Dan. 26 

30:7 Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, became pregnant again and gave Jacob another son. 27  30:8 Then Rachel said, “I have fought a desperate struggle with my sister, but I have won.” 28  So she named him Naphtali. 29 

30:9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she gave 30  her servant Zilpah to Jacob as a wife. 30:10 Soon Leah’s servant Zilpah gave Jacob a son. 31  30:11 Leah said, “How fortunate!” 32  So she named him Gad. 33 

30:12 Then Leah’s servant Zilpah gave Jacob another son. 34  30:13 Leah said, “How happy I am, 35  for women 36  will call me happy!” So she named him Asher. 37 

30:14 At the time 38  of the wheat harvest Reuben went out and found some mandrake plants 39  in a field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 30:15 But Leah replied, 40  “Wasn’t it enough that you’ve taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes too?” “All right,” 41  Rachel said, “he may sleep 42  with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 30:16 When Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must sleep 43  with me because I have paid for your services 44  with my son’s mandrakes.” So he had marital relations 45  with her that night. 30:17 God paid attention 46  to Leah; she became pregnant 47  and gave Jacob a son for the fifth time. 48  30:18 Then Leah said, “God has granted me a reward 49  because I gave my servant to my husband as a wife.” 50  So she named him Issachar. 51 

30:19 Leah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a son for the sixth time. 52  30:20 Then Leah said, “God has given me a good gift. Now my husband will honor me because I have given him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. 53 

30:21 After that she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.

30:22 Then God took note of 54  Rachel. He paid attention to her and enabled her to become pregnant. 55  30:23 She became pregnant 56  and gave birth to a son. Then she said, “God has taken away my shame.” 57  30:24 She named him Joseph, 58  saying, “May the Lord give me yet another son.”

1 tn Heb “hated.” The rhetorical device of overstatement is used (note v. 30, which says simply that Jacob loved Rachel more than he did Leah) to emphasize that Rachel, as Jacob’s true love and the primary object of his affections, had an advantage over Leah.

2 tn Heb “he opened up her womb.”

3 tn Or “Leah conceived” (also in vv. 33, 34, 35).

4 sn The name Reuben (רְאוּבֵן, rÿuven) means “look, a son.”

5 tn Heb “looked on my affliction.”

sn Leah’s explanation of the name Reuben reflects a popular etymology, not an exact one. The name means literally “look, a son.” Playing on the Hebrew verb “look,” she observes that the Lord has “looked” with pity on her oppressed condition. See further S. R. Driver, Genesis, 273.

6 tn Heb “hated.” See the note on the word “unloved” in v. 31.

7 sn The name Simeon (שִׁמְעוֹן, shimon) is derived from the verbal root שָׁמַע (shama’) and means “hearing.” The name is appropriate since it is reminder that the Lord “heard” about Leah’s unloved condition and responded with pity.

8 tn Heb “will be joined to me.”

9 sn The name Levi (לֵוִי, levi), the precise meaning of which is debated, was appropriate because it sounds like the verb לָוָה (lavah, “to join”), used in the statement recorded earlier in the verse.

10 sn The name Judah (יְהוּדָה, yÿhudah) means “he will be praised” and reflects the sentiment Leah expresses in the statement recorded earlier in the verse. For further discussion see W. F. Albright, “The Names ‘Israel’ and ‘Judah’ with an Excursus on the Etymology of Todah and Torah,” JBL 46 (1927): 151-85; and A. R. Millard, “The Meaning of the Name Judah,” ZAW 86 (1974): 216-18.

11 tn Heb “Rachel.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“she”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

12 tn Heb “sons.”

13 tn Heb “and the anger of Jacob was hot.”

14 tn Heb “who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb.”

15 tn Heb “go in to.” The expression “go in to” in this context refers to sexual intercourse.

16 tn After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with the conjunction indicates the immediate purpose of the proposed activity.

17 tn The word “children” is not in the Hebrew text but has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

18 tn Heb “upon my knees.” This is an idiomatic way of saying that Bilhah will be simply a surrogate mother. Rachel will adopt the child as her own.

19 tn Heb “and I will be built up, even I, from her.” The prefixed verbal form with the conjunction is subordinated to the preceding prefixed verbal form and gives the ultimate purpose for the proposed action. The idiom of “built up” here refers to having a family (see Gen 16:2, as well as Ruth 4:11 and BDB 125 s.v. בָנָה).

20 tn Heb “and she”; the referent (Rachel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

21 tn Heb “went in to.” The expression “went in to” in this context refers to sexual intercourse.

22 tn Or “Bilhah conceived” (also in v. 7).

23 tn Heb “and she bore for Jacob a son.”

24 tn Heb “and also he has heard my voice.” The expression means that God responded positively to Rachel’s cry and granted her request.

25 tn Or “therefore.”

26 sn The name Dan means “he vindicated” or “he judged.” The name plays on the verb used in the statement which appears earlier in the verse. The verb translated “vindicated” is from דִּין (din, “to judge, to vindicate”), the same verbal root from which the name is derived. Rachel sensed that God was righting the wrong.

27 tn Heb “and she became pregnant again and Bilhah, the servant of Rachel, bore a second son for Jacob.”

28 tn Heb “[with] a mighty struggle I have struggled with my sister, also I have prevailed.” The phrase “mighty struggle” reads literally “struggles of God.” The plural participle “struggles” reflects the ongoing nature of the struggle, while the divine name is used here idiomatically to emphasize the intensity of the struggle. See J. Skinner, Genesis (ICC), 387.

29 sn The name Naphtali (נַפְתָּלִי, naftali) must mean something like “my struggle” in view of the statement Rachel made in the preceding clause. The name plays on this earlier statement, “[with] a mighty struggle I have struggled with my sister.”

30 tn Heb “she took her servant Zilpah and gave her.” The verbs “took” and “gave” are treated as a hendiadys in the translation: “she gave.”

31 tn Heb “and Zilpah, the servant of Leah, bore for Jacob a son.”

32 tc The statement in the Kethib (consonantal text) appears to mean literally “with good fortune,” if one takes the initial בְּ (bet) as a preposition indicating accompaniment. The Qere (marginal reading) means “good fortune has arrived.”

33 sn The name Gad (גָּד, gad) means “good fortune.” The name reflects Leah’s feeling that good fortune has come her way, as expressed in her statement recorded earlier in the verse.

34 tn Heb “and Zilpah, the servant of Leah, bore a second son for Jacob.”

35 tn The Hebrew statement apparently means “with my happiness.”

36 tn Heb “daughters.”

37 sn The name Asher (אָשֶׁר, ’asher) apparently means “happy one.” The name plays on the words used in the statement which appears earlier in the verse. Both the Hebrew noun and verb translated “happy” and “call me happy,” respectively, are derived from the same root as the name Asher.

38 tn Heb “during the days.”

39 sn Mandrake plants were popularly believed to be an aphrodisiac in the culture of the time.

40 tn Heb “and she said to her”; the referent of the pronoun “she” (Leah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

41 tn Heb “therefore.”

42 tn Heb “lie down.” The expression “lie down with” in this context (here and in the following verse) refers to sexual intercourse. The imperfect verbal form has a permissive nuance here.

43 tn Heb “must come in to me.” The imperfect verbal form has an obligatory nuance here. She has acquired him for the night and feels he is obligated to have sexual relations with her.

44 tn Heb “I have surely hired.” The infinitive absolute precedes the finite verbal form for emphasis. The name Issachar (see v. 18) seems to be related to this expression.

45 tn This is the same Hebrew verb (שָׁכַב, shakhav) translated “sleep with” in v. 15. In direct discourse the more euphemistic “sleep with” was used, but here in the narrative “marital relations” reflects more clearly the emphasis on sexual intercourse.

46 tn Heb “listened to.”

47 tn Or “she conceived” (also in v. 19).

48 tn Heb “and she bore for Jacob a fifth son,” i.e., this was the fifth son that Leah had given Jacob.

49 tn Heb “God has given my reward.”

50 tn The words “as a wife” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied for clarity (cf. v. 9).

sn Leah seems to regard the act of giving her servant Zilpah to her husband as a sacrifice, for which (she believes) God is now rewarding her with the birth of a son.

51 sn The name Issachar (יְשָּׁשכָר, yishakhar) appears to mean “man of reward” or possibly “there is reward.” The name plays on the word used in the statement made earlier in the verse. The Hebrew noun translated “reward” is derived from the same root as the name Issachar. The irony is that Rachel thought the mandrakes would work for her, and she was willing to trade one night for them. But in that one night Leah became pregnant.

52 tn Heb “and she bore a sixth son for Jacob,” i.e., this was the sixth son that Leah had given Jacob.

53 sn The name Zebulun (זְבֻלוּן, zevulun) apparently means “honor.” The name plays on the verb used in the statement made earlier in the verse. The Hebrew verb translated “will honor” and the name Zebulun derive from the same root.

54 tn Heb “remembered.”

55 tn Heb “and God listened to her and opened up her womb.” Since “God” is the subject of the previous clause, the noun has been replaced by the pronoun “he” in the translation for stylistic reasons

56 tn Or “conceived.”

57 tn Heb “my reproach.” A “reproach” is a cutting taunt or painful ridicule, but here it probably refers by metonymy to Rachel’s barren condition, which was considered shameful in this culture and was the reason why she was the object of taunting and ridicule.

58 sn The name Joseph (יוֹסֵף, yoseph) means “may he add.” The name expresses Rachel’s desire to have an additional son. In Hebrew the name sounds like the verb (אָסַף,’asasf) translated “taken away” in the earlier statement made in v. 23. So the name, while reflecting Rachel’s hope, was also a reminder that God had removed her shame.



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