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Genesis 29:31

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.

Genesis 30:22-24

Context

30:22 Then God took note of 3  Rachel. He paid attention to her and enabled her to become pregnant. 4  30:23 She became pregnant 5  and gave birth to a son. Then she said, “God has taken away my shame.” 6  30:24 She named him Joseph, 7  saying, “May the Lord give me yet another son.”

Genesis 35:16-18

Context

35:16 They traveled on from Bethel, and when Ephrath was still some distance away, 8  Rachel went into labor 9  – and her labor was hard. 35:17 When her labor was at its hardest, 10  the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you are having another son.” 11  35:18 With her dying breath, 12  she named him Ben-Oni. 13  But his father called him Benjamin instead. 14 

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 Heb “remembered.”

4 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 Since “God” is the subject of the previous clause, the noun has been replaced by the pronoun “he” in the translation for stylistic reasons

5 tn Or “conceived.”

6 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.

7 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.

8 tn Heb “and there was still a stretch of the land to go to Ephrath.”

9 tn Normally the verb would be translated “she gave birth,” but because that obviously had not happened yet, it is better to translate the verb as ingressive, “began to give birth” (cf. NIV) or “went into labor.”

10 tn The construction uses a Hiphil infinitive, which E. A. Speiser classifies as an elative Hiphil. The contrast is with the previous Piel: there “she had hard labor,” and here, “her labor was at its hardest.” Failure to see this, Speiser notes, has led to redundant translations and misunderstandings (Genesis [AB], 273).

11 sn Another son. The episode recalls and fulfills the prayer of Rachel at the birth of Joseph (Gen 30:24): “may he add” another son.

12 tn Heb “in the going out of her life, for she was dying.” Rachel named the child with her dying breath.

13 sn The name Ben-Oni means “son of my suffering.” It is ironic that Rachel’s words to Jacob in Gen 30:1, “Give me children or I’ll die,” take a different turn here, for it was having the child that brought about her death.

14 tn The disjunctive clause is contrastive.

sn His father called him Benjamin. There was a preference for giving children good or positive names in the ancient world, and “son of my suffering” would not do (see the incident in 1 Chr 4:9-10), because it would be a reminder of the death of Rachel (in this connection, see also D. Daube, “The Night of Death,” HTR 61 [1968]: 629-32). So Jacob named him Benjamin, which means “son of the [or “my”] right hand.” The name Benjamin appears in the Mari texts. There have been attempts to connect this name to the resident tribe listed at Mari, “sons of the south” (since the term “right hand” can also mean “south” in Hebrew), but this assumes a different reading of the story. See J. Muilenburg, “The Birth of Benjamin,” JBL 75 (1956): 194-201.



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