When did you first begin to follow the Lord? What was happening in your life at the time?
Genesis 29:31- 30:24
A long time ago, a teacher colleague of mine told this story to an assembly of young teenagers as though he were giving the football results. ‘Leah1, Rachel 0, Leah 2, Rachel 0;’ ( and so on). He glossed things over somewhat with the addition of Bilhah and Zilpah into the relationships, but in essence his version of the story, as well as appealing to the sports-mad, captured the element of competition very well.
Emotions are more obvious in this reading, being directly mentioned and evident in the conversations, but there is little sense of the assign of time. A number of years, of course, went by whilst Jacob’s son and daughter were born– a long time for Rachel’s jealousy to fester, for her to grow desperate and bargain with her sister. There’s feeling of ‘anything yo can do, I can do better’ as they each give their maids to Jacob, and Leah’s desire for Jacob’s respect and affection after giving him all those sons is most touching. Also, despite the fact that Bilhah’s sons would be considered as if they were Rachel’s own, she still has a sense of shame within her that is only dispelled by Joseph’s arrival. In the middle of this emotionally-charged atmosphere is Jacob–contributing to the mix by loving one sister more than the other, but unable to give her what she so desires, until ‘God remembered Rachel’
Commentators indicate that the birth of Joseph is a turning point–Jacob’s life story turns around the birth of his sons, Joseph’s specifically. This careful arrangement of the narrative is seen in other Bible stories too, such as that of the flood, and Zacchaeus. God’s intervention is always decisive in that it brings about a change in thinking or circumstance, and things are reversed.
Reflect on any occasions in your life where God has intervened in a direct way. What led up to that? What followed? Give thanks for this hand on your life.