Genesis 30

* A further account of Jacob's family. (1-13) Rachel beareth

Joseph. (14-24) Jacob's new agreement with Laban to serve him

for cattle. (25-43)

1-13 Rachel envied her sister: envy is grieving at the good of

another, than which no sin is more hateful to God, or more

hurtful to our neighbours and ourselves. She considered not that

God made the difference, and that in other things she had the

advantage. Let us carefully watch against all the risings and

workings of this passion in our minds. Let not our eye be evil

towards any of our fellow-servants, because our Master's is

good. Jacob loved Rachel, and therefore reproved her for what

she said amiss. Faithful reproofs show true affection. God may

be to us instead of any creature; but it is sin and folly to

place any creature in God's stead, and to place that confidence

in any creature, which should be placed in God only. At the

persuasion of Rachel, Jacob took Bilhah her handmaid to wife,

that, according to the usage of those times, her children might

be owned as her mistress's children. Had not Rachel's heart been

influenced by evil passions, she would have thought her sister's

children nearer to her, and more entitled to her care than

Bilhah's. But children whom she had a right to rule, were more

desirable to her than children she had more reason to love. As

an early instance of her power over these children, she takes

pleasure in giving them names that carry in them marks of

rivalry with her sister. See what roots of bitterness envy and

strife are, and what mischief they make among relations. At the

persuasion of Leah, Jacob took Zilpah her handmaid to wife also.

See the power of jealousy and rivalship, and admire the wisdom

of the Divine appointment, which joins together one man and one

woman only; for God hath called us to peace and purity.
14-24 The desire, good in itself, but often too great and

irregular, of being the mother of the promised Seed, with the

honour of having many children, and the reproach of being

barren, were causes of this unbecoming contest between the

sisters. The truth appears to be, that they were influenced by

the promises of God to Abraham; whose posterity were promised

the richest blessings, and from whom the Messiah was to descend.
25-43 The fourteen years being gone, Jacob was willing to

depart without any provision, except God's promise. But he had

in many ways a just claim on Laban's substance, and it was the

will of God that he should be provided for from it. He referred

his cause to God, rather than agree for stated wages with Laban,

whose selfishness was very great. And it would appear that he

acted honestly, when none but those of the colours fixed upon

should be found among his cattle. Laban selfishly thought that

his cattle would produce few different in colour from their own.

Jacob's course after this agreement has been considered an

instance of his policy and management. But it was done by

intimation from God, and as a token of his power. The Lord will

one way or another plead the cause of the oppressed, and honour

those who simply trust his providence. Neither could Laban

complain of Jacob, for he had nothing more than was freely

agreed that he should have; nor was he injured, but greatly

benefitted by Jacob's services. May all our mercies be received

with thanksgiving and prayer, that coming from his bounty, they

may lead to his praise.
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