Ahhh It’s February, that time of year when Pastors feel a certain amount of freedom and even a certain expectation to discuss issues related to love and sex. So with Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I thought I would do my part.
I’ve been working through the book of Genesis, rehearing so many stories I had read before. But then I read the story of Jacob, and how his family came to be, and I was shocked.
There is a lot happening in this chapter, so let me give you the rundown:
Jacob is married to 2 women — Leah and Rachel. You’re not suppose to have favorite wives, (and I always assumed you didn’t have a choice since you only had one) but it’s the bible…and Jacob loved Rachel more.
So Leah has four children and, Rachel, cannot conceive. Rachel, gets desperate and says to her husband, “give me children or I shall die.” No pressure eh?
Rachel, ends up offering her servant, Bilhah, to her husband in order to have children.
He ends up having 2 children with, Bilhah, and, Rachel, is happy.
Leah sees the situation, and that she is not bearing children, she offers her servant, Zilpah, to her husband, Jacob. Zilpah ends up having 2 children with Jacob, and, Leah, is happy.
Are you counting? We’re at 8 children.
Then one day one of Leah’s children brings home mandrakes and when Rachel sees them, she has to have them. She is desperate to have children and this root might be the answer. This is the exchange:
One day during the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakes growing in a field and brought them to his mother, Leah. Rachel begged Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
But Leah angrily replied, “Wasn’t it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son’s mandrakes, too?”
Rachel answered, “I will let Jacob sleep with you tonight if you give me some of the mandrakes.” Genesis 30: 14-15
Yep, little does Jacob know that his wives are making deals while he is away….deals that involve sex for plant roots.
So that evening, as Jacob was coming home from the fields, Leah went out to meet him. “You must come and sleep with me tonight!” she said. “I have paid for you with some mandrakes that my son found.” So that night he slept with Leah. Genesis 30:16
I have paid for you? Talk about your, “welcome home hubby.” But Jacob doesn’t seem to object, and Leah goes on to have 3 more children.
Oh….we’re at 11
Then we go to, Rachel. She conceives and has another son, Joseph.
That makes 12 sons (and one daughter though she doesn’t normally get included)
Can you believe that?? I mean you put this family on a stage with a studio audience and you have an episode of Jerry Springer. One chapter in the bible, with all of the jealousy, and anger, and bed-post notching, and competition, and sex, and pain, and low self-worth that often is the human experience….and you thought there was drama in your family.
And yet, through all of the craziness found in one chapter in Genesis, you still find a God who enters the mess of their experience, redeems, it, and leads them toward His purpose. From this family God would establish the twelve tribes of Israel (sorry Dinah). This chapter tells a story greater than 2 women locked in a baby war. As in the other chapters and books in the bible, this story speaks to the God who “works all things for good” and who seeks to draw all Peoples, all nations, and even all of history to Himself and for His glory.
There is nothing like the bible….and nothing like a good love story
Happy Valentines Day everybody!