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.
What do you want to say to God in thanks for your family? Do not forget your first family, your brothers and sisters in Christ.
I was somewhat disconcerted when a friend expressed difficulty in teaching about family relationships from the Bible because it fails to provide any examples of a healthy marriage or stable family. Like me, you might wish to disagree, pointing to the Song of Solomon or Ruth and Boaz, but you can see my friend’s point. The Bible provides a litany of dysfunctional households. In today’s passage are 11 brothers and a sister, born to four different mothers. Competitiveness and jealousy are rife between the two main wives, breeding future hatred and animosity among the brothers. Yet each child is simultaneously recognized as a gift from God and as one in the eye for the other sister! The carefully chosen names for each son show a profound sense of gratitude to God, deriving from a worldview that understands God as the provider (and sometimes withholder) of every good gift. These women teach us about dependence on God and detecting His involvement in every aspect of life. They also reassure us that God works despite our muddled motives and even our self-interested obsessions. Leah and Rachel are sinful people who at points decide to take matters into their own hands (30:3,14–16), but God hears and responds to the heartfelt cries of those who are otherwise unloved (29:31); He listens and vindicates the plaintiff’s cry (30:6,17). He is capable of using opposition to bring about salvation.1
Is there a reason that the perfect family is not widely portrayed in the Bible story? It is certainly true to life. It also witnesses to God’s grace and to His determination to fulfill His promise. The Lord Jesus proclaims, ‘I will build My church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it’.2 Ultimately, it is the diverse church that is God’s greatest witness to family.
Does your lack of perfect relationships cause you to panic or to trust God afresh?
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.
1 Acts 2:22–24 2 Matt 16:18, NLT, italics added