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Genesis 30:1-24, Rachel’s Jealousy

Too Many Wives

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

I'm not gonna lie -- I think this whole story is seriously messed up. It appears Rachel and Leah are waging war against each other, and are using their maids and their children as weapons of war. Rachel can't have kids, so she gives her handmaid to Jacob. Leah gets jealous, so she gives her handmaid to Jacob. Over and over again, Rachel and Leah conceive children (either themselves or through their handmaids) to try to win the affections of their husband, Jacob. I would hate to be that family's psychologist!

I have lately been obsessed with the A&E TV show, Escaping Polygamy. It's hard to believe that in 2017 we still have people who are enslaved by polygamy. In a similar manner to Rachel and Leah, the wives in polygamist cults are often uneducated and abused so they cannot envision any life other than the life that their husband dictates for them. Pleasing their husband is their primary purpose in life. Often, wives are little more than baby factories for men who like to pollinate a few too many fields. Without getting too preachy, I would like to say it's time to stop. It's time we work hard to stop all manner of human trafficking, polygamy, the sex media industry, and anything that abuses or demeans women. Ok, standing off my soapbox now. Just think about it.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Genesis 30:1-24

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” Jacob became very angry with Rachel and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” Then she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, that she may bear upon my knees and that I too may have children through her.” So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife; and Jacob went in to her. And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son”; therefore she named him Dan. Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed”; so she named him Naphtali. When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Then Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. And Leah said, “Good fortune!” so she named him Gad. Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. And Leah said, “Happy am I! For the women will call me happy”; so she named him Asher.

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 that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” Rachel said, “Then he may lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.” When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and said, “You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. And God heeded Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. Leah said, “God has given me my hire because I gave my maid to my husband”; so she named him Issachar. And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good dowry; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons”; so she named him Zebulun. Afterwards she bore a daughter, and named her Dinah. Then God remembered Rachel, and God heeded her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach”; and she named him Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”