Jacob: competition of love…

Cover to Cover

Reading: Genesis 29:31-31:55

Focus: Genesis 29:31-30:24

In this account of the birth of Jacob’s first 11 sons, we find each son given name with meaning. Respective to the situation of their birth, each son was named accordingly. While the names are important, what stands out in this account of Jacob’s children is the situation which they are born into. Two sisters, Jacob’s wives—Leah and Rachel, compete for the love and affection of their husband (and you wonder why you would want more than one spouse?).

As the story goes, the sisters rival each other for love through childbirth. The ancient culture saw sons as a legacy of one’s heritage, prosperity and God’s favour. The contest between the sisters is so intense that their maidservants are also caught up in the rivalry. It really gets quite intense! As a result, Jacob ends up with a total of four wives, including two rival sisters, and twelve sons. It’s one way to make a name for yourself, I guess…?

While this is, primarily, an account of the birth of Jacob’s children and the rivalry between sisters, it is also an account of what will be the 12 Tribes of Israel (though not complete). This is the birth of a nation being recorded and it is humbling to recognise the origin of a nation is quite modest and ordinary. The Promise to Abraham playing out now in the birth of the sons of Jacob (Israel) is not some supernatural event but the result of a contest of love between sisters.

As you read the story of the Patriarchs, it is a remarkable tale of how God continually works amazingly through the ordinary. The supernatural is only super in the fact that behind such natural events is an amazing God weaving together all things for His purpose and glory. When one recognises God’s hand in natural events, even in the midst of hardship and struggle, one must come back to a point, as Leah does with the birth of her fourth son, Judah, “This time I will praise the LORD.

Next Reading: Genesis 32:1-35:15