*Condensed version of what the text says-
-Rachel gets very jealous of Leah’s ability to have children and commands, it appears from the text, Jacob to give her children or she will die. Jacob’s anger burns at his favorite wife telling her that he is not in the place of God in these matters of procreation.
-Rachel has him take her maid, Bilhah, as a wife and from this comes two sons: Dan, “God has vindicated me,” and Naphtali, “with mighty wrestlings I have prevailed over my sister.”
-Leah then responds in this tit-for-tat competition with giving Jacob her maid, Zilpah. Zilpah conceives twice also and two more sons are born: Gad, “How fortunate,” and Asher, “Happy am I!”
-There is then a deal made for some mandrakes (for an interesting take on what this means in particular see http://biblestudyconnection.blogspot.com/2009/02/mandrakes.html). Mandrakes apparently was a superstitious method for fertility and Rachel desperate for children wanted to use them to increase, at least in her mind, the chances of bearing children. Leah is hot when she finds out what is up and works a deal with her sister. The payment for the mandrakes is the opportunity to sleep with Jacob. God gave heed to Leah and she conceived from this and bore a fifth son named Issachar, “God has given me my wages.” The Bible tells us that Leah bears yet a sixth son after that named Zebulun, “God has endowed me with a good gift.” Leah also has a daughter named Dinah, who was loved by her older brothers (Genesis 34).
-Then God remembered Rachel and gave heed to her and opened her womb. It was not the mandrakes; it was God that made her fertile! She named her son Joseph, “May the LORD give me another son.”
-Jacob is now ready to venture back to his country and fulfill the LORD’s word to him (Genesis 28:15). Laban wants him to stay and recognizes, from divination (it appears he was practicing pagan rituals and was not of God), that the LORD was blessing him on account of Jacob being with him. This was an accurate insight, but Satan was using him in an attempt to divert and confused God’s will and perfect plan. Jacob and Laban agree to separate the flocks based on outward appearances of the sheep and Jacob uses agricultural skill and cunning to have healthier animals than Laban. So Jacob became exceedingly prosperous having large flocks of sheep, servants both male and female, camels, and donkeys.
-Get the family of Jacob: 12 sons (Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachur, and Zebulun from the older sister Leah) (Dan and Naphtali from Rachel’s maid Bilhah) (Gad and Asher from Leah’s maid Zilpah) (Joseph and Benjamin [yet to be born at this point] from the younger sister and beloved Rachel), 1 daughter Dinah from Leah
-Sibling rivalries can get out of hand. In this case we see constant quarreling with the sisters. It must have been hard on Jacob to endure these situations. How sweet it is when we can rest in who we are rather than comparing ourselves to our brothers and/or sisters for significance or security in the eyes of God. God deeply desired to bless both. They just couldn’t ever get along enough to enjoy His richest blessings.
-Rachel went to superstition and possibly even pagan practices to purchase those mandrakes in an attempt to bear children. It was her desperation and impatience that lead her to go outside of what God wanted from her. The text shows really no indication that she even knew the LORD even though she was in the middle of God’s salvation plan.
-Laban had a hard time understanding God’s plan and wanted to have success solely for himself. His not letting Jacob depart instantly with blessing would prove costly for him in the long run. We too should yield to things that may be beyond our control and trust in God. God is our source of blessing, not another person. I believe if Laban would have recognized that sooner, he would have been given blessing from the LORD’s right along with Jacob.
Verse to Memorize: Genesis 30:22