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Let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

The Bible in fewer words

Episode 14: The great baby-making contest

(Genesis 29:13 - 30:39)

29 13 Laban invited Jacob to stay at his house and said to him,

15 How much should I pay you for working for me?

18 Jacob said, "I'll serve you seven years for Rachel."

19 Laban said, "OK.".

20 So Jacob worked for Laban for seven years.

21 After the seven years were over, Jacob said to Laban,

Give me my wife so I can have sex with her.

23 But Laban brought Leah to Jacob and Jacob had sex with Leah.

25 Jacob thought he was having sex with Rachel, but in the morning he saw that it was Leah instead.

Jacob confronted Laban about it, saying,

I was supposed to get Rachel, not Leah.
26 Laban said,

In our country we don't give away the younger before the firstborn.

Work for me for another seven years and I'll give you Rachel, too.

28 So Jacob worked another seven years. And Laban gave him Rachel.

30 Finally, after fourteen years of work, Jacob had sex with Rachel. (And he loved Rachel more than Leah.)

31When God saw that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, he opened Leah's womb, but Rachel was barren.

32-35 Leah conceived and had four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.

30 1 When Rachel saw that she couldn't have children, she envied Leah and said to Jacob,

Give me children or I will die.

2 Jacob said, "Don't talk to me about it. Talk to God."

3 But luckily, Rachel had an idea. She said to Jacob,

Here's my slave, Bilhah. Have sex with her.

4-7 So Jacob had sex with Bilhah, who had two sons, Dan and Naphtali.

9 Leah couldn't get pregnant again, so she gave Jacob her slave Zilpah.

10 The result was two baby boys, Gad and Asher.

14 One day, Reuben found some mandrakes and brought them to his mother Leah. When Rachel found out about the mandrakes, she said to Leah,

Please give me your son's mandrakes.

15 Leah replied,

You've already taken my husband. Now you want my mandrakes, too?

Rachel said,

I'll trade you sex with Jacob for some of your mandrakes.

16 When Jacob came home that evening, Leah went out to meet him, and said to him,

You must have sex with me tonight because I have hired you with mandrakes.

The Mandrake
Rachel and Leah - Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1855

So Jacob had sex with Leah that night.

17 And God heard Leah, and she conceived, bearing her fifth son for Jacob, Issachar.

18-20 And Leah conceived again, bearing her sixth son, Zebulun.

21 Finally, after ten consecutive sons, a daughter is born (Dinah).

22 And God remembered Rachel and opened her womb.

23-24 She conceived, and bare a son, whom she named Joseph.

Jacob asks Laban to let him leave

25-26 After Jacob's 12th child was born (11 boys, 1 girl), he was ready to go back home. He asked Laban to give him his wives and children and let him go.

27 Laban asked Jacob to stay a little longer, since he believed that God blessed him for Jacob's sake.

Jacob's speckled and spotted goat trick

32 Jacob asked Laban for all the speckled and spotted goats. Laban agreed to the deal.

37-39 So Jacob produced streaked, speckled and spotted baby goats by having them copulate while looking at streaked rods. In this way Jacob became wealthy with many goats, camels, donkeys, and slaves.


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A few more words about this episode

Rachel was barren (29:31)

Rachel, like Sarah and Rebekah before her, Rachel couldn't have children.

In the Bible, it's always the women who are barren, never the men.

The great baby-making contest continues (30:1-24)
Jacob's wives and concubines compete to the have the most babies, with God inspecting, opening, and closing wombs, as required.
Here's my slave, Bilhah. Have sex with her (30:3)
Rachel solved her fertility problem the same way Sarah did in Genesis 16:2.
Leah couldn't get pregnant again (30:9)
Leah got a big headstart in baby-making contest when God opened her womb, resulting in four consecutive children. But I guess after thant, God shut her womb again.
Reuben found some mandrakes (30:14)

Mandrakes are narcotic plants in the Solanaceae family, with many associated superstitious beliefs. Their bulbous roots sometimes resemble male sexual organs and were thought to be aphrodisiacs. Unfortunately, they only grow where the semen of a hanged man falls to the ground, so they are rare nowadays. If you find one, don't dig up the root; if you do, you will be instantly killed by its scream.

The Powerful Solanaceae: Mandrake

And God remembered Rachel (30:22)
He probably said something like, "Oh yeah, she's the one with the really cool mandrakes."
Our attempt to draw all this out