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Genesis 30:37-43


30:37 But Jacob took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees. He made white streaks by peeling them, making the white inner wood in the branches visible. 30:38 Then he set up the peeled branches in all the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink. He set up the branches in front of the flocks when they were in heat and came to drink. 1  30:39 When the sheep mated 2  in front of the branches, they 3  gave birth to young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 30:40 Jacob removed these lambs, but he made the rest of the flock face 4  the streaked and completely dark-colored animals in Laban’s flock. So he made separate flocks for himself and did not mix them with Laban’s flocks. 30:41 When the stronger females were in heat, 5  Jacob would set up the branches in the troughs in front of the flock, so they would mate near the branches. 30:42 But if the animals were weaker, he did not set the branches there. 6  So the weaker animals ended up belonging to Laban 7  and the stronger animals to Jacob. 30:43 In this way Jacob 8  became extremely prosperous. He owned 9  large flocks, male and female servants, camels, and donkeys.

1 sn He put the branches in front of the flocks…when they came to drink. It was generally believed that placing such “visual aids” before the animals as they were mating, it was possible to influence the appearance of their offspring. E. A. Speiser notes that “Jacob finds a way to outwit his father-in-law, through prenatal conditioning of the flock by visual aids – in conformance with universal folk beliefs” (Genesis [AB], 238). Nevertheless, in spite of Jacob’s efforts at animal husbandry, he still attributes the resulting success to God (see 31:5).

2 tn The Hebrew verb used here can mean “to be in heat” (see v. 38) or “to mate; to conceive; to become pregnant.” The latter nuance makes better sense in this verse, for the next clause describes them giving birth.

3 tn Heb “the sheep.” The noun has been replaced by the pronoun (“they”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

4 tn Heb “and he set the faces of.”

5 tn Heb “and at every breeding-heat of the flock.”

6 tn Heb “he did not put [them] in.” The referent of the [understood] direct object, “them,” has been specified as “the branches” in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Heb “were for Laban.”

8 tn Heb “the man”; Jacob’s name has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Heb “and there were to him.”

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