The Sons of Jacob
Jacob’s family record actually begins in Chapter 29. Genesis 29:31-35 Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” So she named him Simeon. She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.
Leah was pleased to give Jacob his first son, but she also remembered that Abraham’s firstborn and Isaac’s firstborn had not walked in the ways of their fathers, but had instead lived more by their animalistic instincts. Leah prayed about this. The sages teach:
” But she foresaw prophetically29 that not only would her newborn son be righteous: he would even be of extraordinarily righteous behavior.”~The Lubavitcher Rebbe
- Reuben: Firstborn son of Jacob and Leah. From Strong’s Concordance #7205: see ye a son. Reuben’s name is a coming together of Strong’s numbers H7200 and H1121: H7200 to see, countenance, fair, favored,vision. H1121: a son, a builder of the family name. ~ God had seen Leah’s affliction, His favor rested upon her and He opened her womb; He gave her a son to build the family name.
She again conceived and gave birth to a son—”because,” she said, “God heard [shama] that I felt hated, so He gave me this one as well,” and she named him Simeon.
Simeon from Strong’s Concordance: H8095: Hearing from H8085: to hear intelligently
Again she conceived and gave birth to a son, and she said, “This time my husband will become attached [yilaveh] to me, for I have borne him three sons and thereby fulfilled my procreative obligations to him.” Leah foresaw that Jacob would marry four women and eventually father twelve sons, so when she bore her third son, she assumed that she had fulfilled her equal share of this destiny. This third son was destined to be the progenitor of the priestly class of the Jewish people, so when he was born, God sent the angel Gabriel to bring him before Him, and He conferred upon him all the rights of the priesthood. God therefore named him Levi, both because he was accompanied [another meaning of yilaveh] by gifts when Gabriel returned him, and because of Leah’s pronouncement that Jacob would now become attached to her.~ The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Levi from Strong’s H3878 attached; from H3867; to twine, to unite, to remain, abide with, cleave, join.
Leah again conceived and gave birth to a son.
She said, “This time I will thank [odeh] God,” for He has allowed me to give birth to more than my natural share of the total number of my husband’s sons,and she therefore named him Judah [Yehudah]. She then ceased bearing children.~The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Judah from Strong’s number H3063 from 3034; celebrated. H3034 to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands).
At this time, Leah stops bearing children. Thus far, she has given Jacob four children who represent the eyes, the ears, the neck, and the hands. Can we see a body beginning to form in Jacob’s children?
Rachel Asked Jacob to Pray for Her
We enter Chapter 30 with Rachel asking Jacob to pray for her.
Rachel saw that she had not borne any children to Jacob; Rachel was therefore jealous of her sister‘s good deeds. Since the two sisters were otherwise identical in all aspects, Rachel concluded that it was in the merit of Leah’s good deeds that she was blessed with children.37 She said to Jacob, “Is this how your father behaved when your mother was barren? Didn’t he pray for her to conceive? Give me children, for if not, I will have no perpetuity and it will be as if I am dead.”~The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rachel felt that reminding Jacob that his father had prayed for his mother, he would be moved to pray for her as well, after all, he loved her. She was the bride he had chosen. However, as we will see below, Jacob did not respond the way she thought he would!
Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, “How can you compare me to my father? He felt justified in praying to God because he was childless. I, however, have children. He has denied you children, not me! Can I take the place of God, who has denied you the fruit of your womb?”
Here he was telling her, “I have not denied you children! See, I have children where my father had none when he prayed for my mother! Can’t you see, it is not I that deny you but it is God. I am not God, I can’t give to you what He denies you!” Jacob became angry.
Angry: from Stong’s concordance H639; properly, the nose – hence the face, and occasionally a person.
Rachel did not give up though! She desperately wanted a child! So she continued…
So she said, “Learn, then, from your grandfather Abraham’s example. Although he had children with Hagar, he nevertheless still prayed to have children with Sarah.” Jacob replied, “Yes, but he did so only after Sarah demonstrated to God that she was so desperate for children that she was willing to let Abraham marry her handmaid in the hopes that, in this merit, would she also conceive.” Rachel responded, “If that is the only obstacle, then here is my bondwoman Bilhah. Cohabit with her and let her bear you a child, and I will raise her children on my own lap, i.e., as if they were my own, and thus, through the merit of sharing you with her, I, too, will bear children of my own and thereby be built up into a matriarch whose essence will be perpetuated, just like Sarah.”38~ The Lubavitcher Rebbe
The King James Version states “that she may bear on my knees…” Knees in Strong’s Concordance is from Strong’s #H1288: to kneel; to bless God as an act of adoration and its opposite; to curse God or the king, as treason. “…that through her I too may have children…”, from Strong’s concordance #H1129: to build, obtain children, make, repair, set up. Rachel wants to find God’s favor upon her, so out of adoration she wants her handmaid, Bilhah, to “bear on my knees.”
More Sons are Born to Jacob
Rachel gave Jacob her handmaid, Bilhah. Bilhah conceived and gave birth to a son.
Rachel then said, “God has judged me [danani] and found me unworthy; therefore He made me barren. Now He has judged me again, this time favorably,and has also heard my prayer, and therefore He has given me a son.” She therefore named him Dan.
Rachel viewed her barrenness as a judgment of God, but she also viewed Bilhah’s delivery of a son as a judgment of God; therefore, she named him Dan. Dan, from Stong’s concordance number H1835: judge, from 1777: a straight course. However, if we search out the word “judge” in Strong’s concordance we find its connection to prayer! Strong’s number H6419: to judge; to interceded, pray :- intreat, make supplication.
Bilhah conceived again and once again delivered another son.
Rachel said, “I have persistently pleaded [niftalti] with God to be on par with my sister, and I have prevailed,” so she named him Naphtali.~The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rachel wanted to be equal with Leah. Leah seemed to be receiving God’s favor while Rachel felt left behind. Yesterday we learned that Rachel’s light illuminated the environment; yet here she had felt surrounded by darkness because she could not have children.
Naphtali, we learn from Strong’s 6617 means my wrestling; to twine, literally to struggle.
The Competition Continues
Seeing that her sister, Rachel, had given Jacob her handmaid to have children for her; and realizing she is no longer having children herself; Leah decides to also give Jacob her handmaid to father children with. Leah gives Jacob Zilpah. Zilpah conceives and delivers a son.
When Zilpah gave birth, Leah said, “Good fortune [gad] has come,” so she named the newborn Gad. “Still,” she said to Jacob, “you betrayed me [bagad] when you agreed to be intimate with my handmaid, for since I already had borne you children, you did not have to consent to my offer.” Although Leah herself had given her handmaid to Jacob, she felt that he should have refused. Gad was born circumcised. ~The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Leah named this son, Gad, meaning good fortune has come. When we look to Strong’s concordance concerning Gad we find #H1410 son of Jacob, prophet; to crowd upon, attack:- invade, overcome: H1408: fortune.
Zilpah conceived again and delivered another son.
“Now that I have borne yet another son through my handmaid, I will be praised, for young women will praise [ishru] me on this account,” so she named him Asher.~The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Asher from Strong’s H836, from H833 means happy, to be straight, be honest, blessed.
Genesis 30:14-18 Now in the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But she said to her, “Is it a small matter for you to take my husband? And would you take my son’s mandrakes also?” So Rachel said, “Therefore he may lie with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, then Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. God gave heed to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. Then Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband.” So she name him Issachar.”
Notice the wording above, Leah doesn’t state that she is being rewarded for selling the mandrakes to his sister, Rachel, but is being rewarded because she gave her maid to Jacob.
Issachar: Strong’s H3485, he will bring a reward.
Leah once again conceived and gave to Jacob a sixth son.
Then Leah said, “God has indeed given me a superlative portion in my husband’s household: I myself have borne him the same number of sons that his other three wives will bear him together. Now my husband will surely make his chief50 abode [zevul] with me,” and she named him Zebulun.~ The Lubavitcher Rebbe
We find in Strong’s concordance number H2074 the name Zebulon means “to inclose, to reside:- dwell with.”
After that, Leah conceived again. When she learned that she was pregnant, she prayed for a girl, in order to save her sister Rachel from humiliation. Since she knew that Jacob was destined to have only twelve sons, and that she herself had already borne him six and the handmaids two each, leaving two, it followed that if this child of hers were to be a boy, her sister Rachel would be able to have only one son at most. This would leave Rachel with fewer sons than each of the handmaids. As a result of her prayer, the baby boy she was carrying in her womb was miraculously transformed into a girl. Thus, she gave birth to a daughter, and she named her Dinah [“judgment”], recalling how she had “judged” herself and determined that she was not willing to be the cause of her sister’s humiliation. ~ The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Even though there seems to be a competition between Leah and Rachel, Leah did not want to humiliate her sister. She loved her sister. Leah judged herself, she looked at her heart, and decided that she could not cause he sister’s humiliation. She then prayed that she would not have a son this time, reserving the next son for her sister.
Dinah, Strong’s H1779; the feminine of 1779, justice; 1779 judgment.
God Remembered Rachel
Then God remembered how Rachel had similarly saved Leah from humiliation when, on Leah’s wedding night, she divulged the secret signs Jacob had given her. In addition, Rachel was now afraid that Jacob might divorce her because she was barren, and that Esau might then try to marry her. God hearkened to her prayers and opened her womb.
She conceived and gave birth to a son,and she said, “God has taken away my disgrace: until now, people belittled me for being childless and tormented me by insinuating that I will fall into Esau’s clutches. Furthermore, now that I have a son, my husband will no longer be able to blame me alone for everything that goes wrong.“
She named him Joseph [“May He add”], saying, “May God add [yoseif]another son for me.” Since she knew that Jacob was destined to father only one more son, she therefore did not pray for any more than one. Joseph was born circumcised.52 ~ The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rachel, finally, has a son of her own; her very own! She realizes that God has remembered her and she asks Him for just one more son because she knew that Jacob was destined to have one more. By remembering how she had helped her sister, Leah, and blessing her with this son, Joseph, God had also restored Rachel’s hope.
Joseph from Strong’s H3084; a fuller form of H3130, let him add.
The Place of Prayer
The place of prayer is found in the Dalet. Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilpah together represent the Dalet.
And Jesus is the Dalet! In John 10:9 KJV, Jesus says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Come now to the Dalet, the place of prayer!
Acts 1:14 They all met continually for prayer. Father, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, thank you for taking me the long way around to find the Dalet in Jacob’s children. I must admit, the whole time I have worked on this post, I wasn’t sure what You would point out. Thank you for showing us that Jacob’s four wives represent the Dalet. Thank you for showing us the end in the beginning! Thank you for showing us a part of Christ in each of the children of Jacob mentioned in this chapter. It is my prayer, that I have shown others the place of prayer as You would have me to show. I pray that this post blesses many. Please, use this post to allow others to see the Dalet, the door of prayer! In Jesus name. Amen.