Jacob’s Famous Family

I. Jacob arrives in Haran (Genesis 29:1-14). 

A. Jacob “came into the land of the people of the east.” (29:1)

1. The trip itself (550 miles) is not spoken of.

2. The events covered are carefully selected.

a. Jacob stops at a well, where he meets Rachel.
1) This is the same well where Rebecca meets the “Eldest Servant” of Abraham (24:11-28).
2) Jacob probably knew this story.
3) Rebecca, after all, was his mother.
4) The stories are very similar – yet in reverse.
5) Rebecca and Rachel come to the same well.
6) Jacob waters the animals, not Rachel.
7) Abraham’s servant is rich and gives gifts.
8) Jacob is penniless and seeks employment.
9) Laban, 1st time, sends Rebecca away with blessings to Abraham
10) Laban, 2nd time, takes advantage of Jacob, using Rachel
b. Jacob works 7 years for Leah, 7 more for Rachel.
c. Incidents around the birth of the sons are recorded.
d. Incidents around the increase of Jacob’s wealth are noted.
e. Twenty years are covered in two chapters, 78 verses.
1) 30 verses speak of arrival and marriages.
2) 30 verses tell of the birth of the sons.
3) 18 verses cover Jacob’s prosperity.
f. The separation of Jacob and Laban is in Chapter 31.
g. The change of Jacob’s name is in Chapter 32.
h. The preparation to meet Esau is covered in Chapter 33.
i. The incident with Dinah and Shechem is in Chapter 34.

B.Jacob sires 12 sons by four wives.

Leah (the 1st wife) bears four sons.

a. Reuben (“Behold a son”) is the first born of Jacob.
b. Simeon (“Hearing”) is the second born.
c. Levi (“Attached”) is the third son in sequence.
d. Judah (“Praise”) is the fourth in order.

2. Rachel (the 2nd wife – the “loved” wife) was barren.

a. “Give me children, or else I die” (30:1).
b. Jacob: “Am I in God’s stead?” (30:2)
c. Rachel: “Behold my maid Bilhah...” (30:3)

3. Bilhah (Rachel’s maid – and Jacob’s 3rd wife) bears two sons.

a. Dan (“Justice”) is the 5th son in order.
b. Naphtali (“Wrestling”) is the 6th son.

4. Leah then gives Zilpah (her maid) to Jacob as a wife.

a. Leah had stopped bearing children.
b. Leah later gives birth to the only named daughter, Dinah.

5. Zilpah bears two more sons for Jacob.

a. Gad (“A troop comes” or “fortunate”) is number seven.
b. Asher (“Happy”) is the eighth son.

6. Reuben (Leah’s son) finds “mandrakes” in the field (30:14).

a. Mandrakes (the root) are still used as aphrodisiac
b. Were for his mother – to end her barren cycle.
c. “Sold” to Rachel for the right for Leah to sleep with Jacob.

7. Leah now bears two more sons and a daughter.

a. Issachar (“Reward”) is number nine.
b. Zebulun (“Dwelling”) is number ten.
c. Dinah (“Judgment”) is the only named daughter.

8. Rachel finally bears a son (30:22-24).

a. Joseph (“May He Add”) is son number eleven.
b. Benjamin (Rachel named him “Son of Sorrow”) was born many years later in Bethel (35:16-18) and is number 12.

II. Jacob asks Laban to allow him to return to Beersheba.

A. The fourteen years is up; Jacob is ready to return home (30:25-26).

B. Laban bargains to keep Jacob – offering to “pay” him wages (30:27-30).

1. Jacob refuses “wages” – offers to start with “spotted and speckled”

2. Jacob notes “my righteousness shall answer” when I do leave.

a. “Spotted and speckled” considered of little value
b. Jacob has wisdom to understand variation among kind
c. Every “white” (any white) animal went to Laban (30:35).
d. Jacob separated his “brown” from Laban’s “white” by three days journey – no “accidental” chance for interbreeding.
e. Jacob kept Laban’s flocks – Jacob’s sons kept his.
f. Jacob carefully bred stronger “brown” (30:37-42).

C. Jacob “increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses” – all in six (6) years.

The Patriarchs
ch. 29-30


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