New American Bible (Revised Edition)
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he made her fruitful, while Rachel was barren. 32 Leah conceived and bore a son, and she named him Reuben;[a] for she said, “It means, ‘The Lord saw my misery; surely now my husband will love me.’”(A) 33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “It means, ‘The Lord heard that I was unloved,’ and therefore he has given me this one also”; so she named him Simeon.[b] 34 Again she conceived and bore a son, and she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, since I have now borne him three sons”; that is why she named him Levi.[c] 35 Once more she conceived and bore a son, and she said, “This time I will give thanks to the Lord”; therefore she named him Judah.[d] Then she stopped bearing children.(B)
1 When Rachel saw that she had not borne children to Jacob, she became envious of her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children or I shall die!”(C) 2 Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, “Can I take the place of God, who has denied you the fruit of the womb?”(D) 3 She replied, “Here is my maidservant Bilhah. Have intercourse with her, and let her give birth on my knees,[e] so that I too may have children through her.”(E) 4 So she gave him her maidservant Bilhah as wife,[f] and Jacob had intercourse with her. 5 When Bilhah conceived and bore a son for Jacob, 6 Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; indeed he has heeded my plea and given me a son.” Therefore she named him Dan.[g] 7 Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah conceived again and bore a second son for Jacob, 8 and Rachel said, “I have wrestled strenuously with my sister, and I have prevailed.” So she named him Naphtali.[h]
9 When Leah saw that she had ceased to bear children, she took her maidservant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as wife. 10 So Leah’s maidservant Zilpah bore a son for Jacob. 11 Leah then said, “What good luck!” So she named him Gad.[i] 12 Then Leah’s maidservant Zilpah bore a second son to Jacob; 13 and Leah said, “What good fortune, because women will call me fortunate!” So she named him Asher.[j]
14 One day, during the wheat harvest, Reuben went out and came upon some mandrakes[k] in the field which he brought home to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15 Leah replied, “Was it not enough for you to take away my husband, that you must now take my son’s mandrakes too?” Rachel answered, “In that case Jacob may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 16 That evening, when Jacob came in from the field, Leah went out to meet him. She said, “You must have intercourse with me, because I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So that night he lay with her, 17 and God listened to Leah; she conceived and bore a fifth son to Jacob. 18 Leah then said, “God has given me my wages for giving my maidservant to my husband”; so she named him Issachar.[l] 19 Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Jacob; 20 and Leah said, “God has brought me a precious gift. This time my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons”; so she named him Zebulun.[m] 21 Afterwards she gave birth to a daughter, and she named her Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel. God listened to her and made her fruitful. 23 She conceived and bore a son, and she said, “God has removed my disgrace.”(F) 24 She named him Joseph,[n] saying, “May the Lord add another son for me!”
Jacob Outwits Laban.[o]
- 29:32 Reuben: the literal meaning of the Hebrew name is disputed. One interpretation is re’u ben, “look, a son!”, but here in Genesis (as also with the names of all the other sons of Jacob), it is given a symbolic rather than an etymological interpretation. Name and person were regarded as closely interrelated. The symbolic interpretation of Reuben’s name, according to the Yahwist source, is based on the similar-sounding ra’a be‘onyi, “he saw my misery.” In the Elohist source, the name is explained by the similar-sounding ye’ehabani, “he will love me.”
- 29:33 Simeon: in popular etymology, related to shama‘, “he heard.”
- 29:34 Levi: related to yillaweh, “he will become attached.”
- 29:35 Judah: related to ’odeh, “I will give thanks, praise.”
- 30:3 On my knees: in the ancient Near East, a father would take a newborn child in his lap to signify that he acknowledged it as his own; Rachel uses the ceremony in order to adopt the child and establish her legal rights to it.
- 30:4 As wife: in 35:22 Bilhah is called a “concubine” (Heb. pilegesh). In v. 9, Zilpah is called “wife,” and in 37:2 both women are called wives. The basic difference between a wife and a concubine was that no bride price was paid for the latter. The interchange of terminology shows that there was some blurring in social status between the wife and the concubine.
- 30:6 Dan: explained by the term dannanni, “he has vindicated me.”
- 30:8 Naphtali: explained by the Hebrew term naftulim, lit., “contest” or “struggle.”
- 30:11 Gad: explained by the Hebrew term begad, lit., “in luck,” i.e., “what good luck!”
- 30:13 Asher: explained by the term be’oshri, lit., “in my good fortune,” i.e., “what good fortune,” and by the term ye’ashsheruni, “they call me fortunate.”
- 30:14 Mandrakes: an herb whose root was thought to promote conception. The Hebrew word for mandrakes, duda’im, has erotic connotations, since it sounds like the words daddayim (“breasts”) and dodim (“sexual pleasure”).
- 30:18 Issachar: explained by the terms, sekari, “my reward,” and in v. 16, sakor sekartika, “I have hired you.”
- 30:20 Zebulun: explained by the terms, zebadani…zebed tob, “he has brought me a precious gift,” and yizbeleni, “he will honor me.”
- 30:24 Joseph: explained by the words yosep, “may he add,” and in v. 23, ’asap, “he has removed.”
- 30:25–43 Jacob’s deception of Laban. Jacob has been living in Laban’s household as an indentured worker paying off the bride price. Having paid off all his obligations, he wants to settle his accounts with Laban. His many children attest to the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise of numerous progeny; the birth of Joseph to his beloved Rachel signals the fulfillment in a special way. To enter into the Lord’s second promise, the land, he must now return to Canaan.