Richard Agee

Genesis 30, part 1: Battle of the Ya’akov’s handmaidens foretells of Messiah’s gathering of the nations

Richard AgeeDoes this chapter have anything to do with the Messiah, or is it just a history about the family of Ya’akov (Jacob)? The meanings of the names of each of these children in sequence tells the story of the Messiah and how He will gather the nations (gentiles) into God’s family. The entire Bible is about Yeshua the Messiah, not just about Abraham, Yitskhak (Isaac), Ya’akov, Yosef (Joseph) or their descendants.

I’m sure this chapter provokes a lot of questions, so we will have to split the discussion of this chapter in half to answer them all.

The chapter starts with Rachel’s zealous anger towards both Leah and Ya’akov because she saw that Leah was giving Ya’akov children and she was not. God had closed up Rachel’s womb and opened Leah’s womb, but Rachel can’t attack God so she strikes out at Ya’akov. 

Rachel decides on her own to give her handmaiden Bilhah to Ya’akov. Bilhah’s name means “a woman of troubles.” Bilhah bore Ya’akov a son and Rachel named him Dan, and Rachel raised Dan as her own.

“Here is my maid Bilhah, go in to her that she may bear on my knees, that through her I too may have children.” 

When Dan was born, Rachel said, “God has vindicated me, and has indeed heard my voice and has given me a son.” Rachel believes that God has made a judgement in her favor and this is why she named Bilhah’s son Dan. 

God does not live in the Torah, in the 10 commandments, He lives above them. He doesn’t have a neighbor, he doesn’t have a wife so the Torah does not apply to Him. 

Bilhah conceived another son for Ya’akov, who Rachel named Naphtali. Rachel felt inspired to give him this name because “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed.”

When Leah realized that she had stopped conceiving and saw Rachel’s success with Bilhah, Leah gives her handmaiden Zilpah to Ya’akov. Ya’akov accepts Zilpah, and she gives Ya’akov a son that Leah names Asher, whose name means, “to go straight, to advance” and also means blessed.  

There’s lots of competition, rivalry and quarreling between the sisters. 

In Gen. 30:14, we see Reuben doing something of his own accord for the first time. He went out to help his father with the wheat harvest. This would be the reason of Shavuot, although Ya’akov’s family would not have kept the festival because it was not given to the people of Israel until the time of Moses.

It says that Reuben found some “mandrakes,” which in Hebrew are called דּוּדַי dudai (Strong’s H1736). If these mandrakes are sexually stimulating, then why did Leah give them over to Rachel instead of keeping them for herself to sexually arose Ya’akov. It was Rachel’s time to have Ya’akov and Leah, “bought” Ya’akov for the evening by giving them to Rachel. 

This word shows up in Song of Songs:

“Come, my beloved, let us go out into the country, Let us spend the night in the villages. Let us rise early and go to the vineyards; Let us see whether the vine has budded and its blossoms have opened, and whether the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love. The mandrakes have given forth fragrance; and over our doors are all choice fruits, both new and old, which I have saved up for you, my beloved.” (Song of Songs 7:11-13)

The word dudai refers to the pleasant smell of fruit. That’s all it means, it’s not an aphrodisiac. 

What price did Leah pay for Ya’akov that night? She did not buy Ya’akov with the mandrakes as though he was a hired hand. Being with Ya’akov that night and conceiving another son was Leah’s reward but the reward was not due to the mandrakes but because she gave her handmaiden to Ya’akov. When Leah conceives again, she names the son Issachar because, “God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband.” 

Leah conceived another son, she named him Zebulun which means “to dwell with” or “exalted” because:

“God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons” (Gen. 30:20).

Next, Leah bore Ya’akov a daughter named Dinah, which is a very interesting name, which means “to judge.” It’s the feminine of the name Dan. 

After this Leah doesn’t have any more children. God “remembers” Rachel and she conceives and give birth to her first son, Yosef. His name means “God will increase” that God would give her another son. 

The Hebrew word for tribes — מַטֶּה matteh/mattah (H4294) — literally means branches, based on the root verb נָטָה natal (H5186), to stretch out, spread out, extend. Each “branch” of Ya’akov springs from Ya’akov as the vine. 

Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.

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