31 Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 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.” 33 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. 34 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. 35 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.
The Sons of Jacob
30 Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.” 2 Then Jacob’s anger burned against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3 She said, “Here is my maid Bilhah, go in to her that she may bear on my knees, that through her I too may have children.” 4 So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5 Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me, and has indeed heard my voice and has given me a son.” Therefore she named him Dan. 7 Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 So Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed.” And she named him Naphtali.
9 When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “How fortunate!” So she named him Gad. 12 Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “Happy am I! For women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.
14 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.” 15 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.” 16 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. 17 God gave heed to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband.” So she named him Issachar. 19 Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Jacob. 20 Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. 21 Afterward she bore a daughter and named her Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb. 23 So she conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 She named him Joseph, saying, “May the Lord give me another son.”
Mr. Deffinbaugh pulled five lessons regarding love, sex and marriage out of this passage, and he makes some very good points:
(1) Sex, love, marriage, and family can never be fully satisfying unless enjoyed within the confines of the will of God and the Word of God. I see the family life of Jacob as a disaster. I believe that Moses is showing us by inference that while Jacob is outside the land of promise he may belong to God and be assured of His presence, protection, provision, and future promises; but he can never be happy there. Love, sex, marriage, and family are all gifts from a good and loving God, but their enjoyment cannot be complete apart from fellowship with Him.
(2) While love without sex may be frustrating, sex without love is folly. This is a lesson which we learn from Jacob. Surely those years with Rachel where sex was not possible or permissible were frustrating (cf. Genesis 29:21), but sex without love is just as bad. Jacob engaged in sex with his wife Leah, but there was no fulfillment in it. In fact, it degenerated to mere prostitution where Leah had to purchase his presence.
I do not think that this kind of bargaining with sex occurred only in the distant past. In our present day sex is often a commodity which is bargained for various considerations. That is mere prostitution. Sex without love is tragedy.
I feel that I must digress for a moment here on the relationship between sex and love, for this is not at all understood, even by Bible-believing Christians. I have read somewhere that “whoever” created men and women and sex must have been a very poor engineer. Men respond very quickly to physical stimuli; women do not. Men reach the peak of their sexual desire earlier in life; women, later. Secular thinking would suppose that this is poor design and that man and woman should precisely correspond in these and other areas. I disagree. These differences are by design. God made man and woman distinctly different so that the ultimate in physical pleasure can only be obtained by a deliberate and conscious love which makes sacrifices of itself for the pleasure of the other. Without sacrifice, love-making deteriorates into mere self-seeking gratification at the expense of the other partner. Love and sex must go together.
(3) Neither sex nor children can create love. Leah would be quick to tell us that she learned no amount of sex could ever earn the love of her husband. Even after six boys, she was still unloved. Love cannot be manufactured through sex.
This is a truth that I desperately desire my girls to learn. I see so many instances of girls who long to be loved giving their bodies in the vain search for love. Sex will produce children, but it will never produce love. I fear that many prostitutes were driven to their profession by the feeling that they were unloved. All they had to give, they supposed, was their body.
I have seen many marriages where the couple had very serious marital problems, and they decided to have children in order to hold the marriage together. This does not work either, for producing children does not produce love. Children are not creators of love but its consumer.
(4) He, or she, who places sex on an extremely high level of priority becomes its slave. I may be wrong, but Jacob’s love for Rachel seems to be largely based upon her physical attractiveness. Jacob appears to have been guided more by his hormones than anything else.
Our society informs men and boys that their masculinity is largely indicated by the number of conquests they can make among women. The more they make, the more of a man they are. Jacob did rather well by these standards. He circulated among his four wives frequently enough to produce a growing family, but look at what happened to him in the process. He was not the master of his harem, but he was mastered by his harem. He was pushed from bed to bed by his wives. He was purchased for the night. The passivity of Jacob in these verses is an indictment of his lack of leadership. He was a slave of sex and marriage, not its sovereign.
(5) Marriage cannot run for long on the fuel of romantic love. I believe that the love of Jacob for Rachel was primarily romantic. Romantic love is not necessarily wrong, for most couples who come to me for counseling and marriage have this same kind of love. I would be very uneasy if they did not. But in our premarriage counseling program we begin to prepare the couple for the stage of “disillusionment,” or the time that is commonly called “when the honeymoon is over.” In the humdrum and pressures of married life, romantic love is not sufficient to carry the relationship along for long. The woman whom we used to see after she had spent hours of preparation for being with us and who looked “fit to kill” is now the woman who has been up all night with a sick child. She comes to the table in a bathrobe and curlers and looks like she has been killed. Romance can quickly come and go.
Jacob does not seem to have worked at deepening and broadening his love. Instead it would appear that his love was largely on the romantic plane. No wonder Rachel should look with jealous eyes at Leah. No wonder she seemed so threatened and desperate. She felt unloved, just as Leah did. Love needs to be meticulously maintained and vigorously strengthened.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 30:25-31:16