Blessed Lord, my heart is filled with gratitude. I rejoice that You are my God and You have chosen me to be Your child.
Read Genesis 29:31 – 30:24
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,[a] for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”
33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.[b]
34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.[c]
35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.[d] Then she stopped having children.
30 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”
3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”
4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.[e]
7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.[f]
9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!”[g] So she named him Gad.[h]
12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.[i]
14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”
“Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”
16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.
17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.[j]
19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.[k]
21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24 She named him Joseph,[l] and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”
- Genesis 29:32 Reuben sounds like the Hebrew for he has seen my misery; the name means see, a son.
- Genesis 29:33 Simeon probably means one who hears.
- Genesis 29:34 Levi sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for attached.
- Genesis 29:35 Judah sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for praise.
- Genesis 30:6 Dan here means he has vindicated.
- Genesis 30:8 Naphtali means my struggle.
- Genesis 30:11 Or “A troop is coming!”
- Genesis 30:11 Gad can mean good fortune or a troop.
- Genesis 30:13 Asher means happy.
- Genesis 30:18 Issachar sounds like the Hebrew for reward.
- Genesis 30:20 Zebulun probably means honor.
- Genesis 30:24 Joseph means may he add.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat does your name mean? Has this been an aspiration in your life, an embarrassment or an irrelevance?
At first glance, this passage might seem comedic – two women squabbling over who will sleep with their husband, and Jacob being pushed around between them. But the names Leah gives to her children reveal something of the tragedy of her situation – look at verses 29:32,35; 30:18,20.
Leah seems to recognize God’s hand at work in her life, despite her unhappy circumstances, but Rachel seems less able to trust God. She demands that Jacob give her some children (30:1), and he angrily points out that it is not his fault she has failed to conceive (30:2).
Then she gives her servant as a substitute (30:3). Next, she barters with Leah, offering her a night with Jacob in return for mandrakes, which were believed to enhance sexual desire and cure infertility (30:14–16). None of these stratagems work, but finally, in verse 22, God listens to Rachel and gives her a son.
Leah’s names for her children chronicled the sadness of her life. Rachel’s noted her jealousy and battles. And these would become defining names for the nation of Israel…
In what season do you find yourself? Content with your circumstances even if they’re difficult? Or striving to find fulfillment? Seek the Lord right now and ask Him to fill and sustain you.
Dear Father, as I pray for my own family today, I also remember families I know that are in trouble. Great Reconciler, bring restoration and healing to these families.