Nov 28

Part 60: The Sons of Jacob

Todd Pruitt |Series: Genesis |Genesis 29:31-30:24

As the story of Jacob unfolds we are once again caused to reckon with the mysterious and often confounding providence of God. How will God accomplish his covenant promises through such sinfully damaged raw material? “On the human plane the story demonstrates the craving of human beings for love and recognition, and the price of thwarting it; on the divine level it shows once again the grace of God choosing difficult and unpromising material” (Kidner, 161).

The obvious complications of Jacob’s household are indicated in the details of this passage. A second period of seven years is covered which corresponds to Jacob’s contract with his uncle Laban to secure marriage to Rachel. In the second seven year period of servitude Jacob has two wives, Leah and Rachel along with their maidservants Zilpah and Bilhah. During this time Jacob begins to build his family consisting of eleven sons and one daughter. The births are not successive and two or more of the four mothers would have been pregnant simultaneously.

It is worth being reminded that what the Bible describes here is not what God had prescribed for his people. Even though Jacob did not have access to God’s written law which would be given to Moses generations later, he nevertheless would have had access to the inner testimony of conscience which would have born witness to God’s design that marriage be between one man and one woman. Once again we see that the outcome of redemptive history would rest not on the virtue of its central players but on the power of God’s grace.

“Leah has the disadvantage of being unloved, but the Lord chooses the unloved to become a mother first. Rachel has priority in the home through her husband’s love but is barren and threatened to be displaced. Rachel’s disgrace is removed when she gives up access to her husband and turns exclusively to prayer. Jacob has the disadvantage of being second born, but the Lord chooses him to be first. He will finally prevail when the strength of his physique is replaced by strength in prayer (32:25-26)” (Waltke, 409).

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