Even though Jacob loves her, Rachel is discontent without a baby. When she sees her sister having children, Rachel refuses to wait any longer.
Rachel gave her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife, and he slept with her. Bilhah became pregnant and presented him with a son. Rachel named him Dan, for she said, “God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son.” Then Bilhah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a second son. Rachel named him Naphtali, for she said, “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!”
Meanwhile, Leah realized that she wasn’t getting pregnant anymore, so she took her servant, Zilpah, and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Soon Zilpah presented him with a son. Leah named him Gad, for she said, “How fortunate I am!” Then Zilpah gave Jacob a second son. And Leah named him Asher, for she said, “What joy is mine! Now the other women will celebrate with me.”
Rachel and Leah were competing in an arrogant contest. Racing to have more children, they both gave their servants to Jacob as concubines. This was an accepted custom of the day, but Jacob would have been wise to refuse. He was perpetuating bad relationships between the women. The fact that a custom is socially acceptable does not mean it is wise or beneficial.
There are many socially acceptable choices that have negative effects on others. Society often prioritizes a person’s freedom to choose above considering the impact those choices have on others. The choices of Jacob and his wives resulted in bitterness, anger, resentment, and jealousy among their sons. The rivalry and fighting between Leah’s sons and Rachel’s sons continued years later among the tribes that descended from them.
Think about how your choices might affect others. Will you help them or hurt them? Are you willing to give up some of your freedom to ensure that others do not suffer harm? Are you willing to go a step further and do something that will benefit them?