February 14, 2019

Sister, Sister Smack Down

Genesis 30:1–24

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When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” Then she said, “Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf,1 that even I may have children2 through her.” So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan.3 Rachel's servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings4 I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.5

When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Then Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, “Good fortune has come!” so she called his name Gad.6 12 Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, “Happy am I! For women have called me happy.” So she called his name Asher.7

14 In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son's mandrakes.” 15 But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son's mandrakes also?” Rachel said, “Then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son's mandrakes.” 16 When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son's mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. 17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.8

19 And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she called his name Zebulun.9 21 Afterward she bore a daughter and called her name Dinah.

22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 And she called his name Joseph,10 saying, “May the LORD add to me another son!”


[1] 30:3 Hebrew on my knees
[2] 30:3 Hebrew be built up, which sounds like the Hebrew for children
[3] 30:6 Dan sounds like the Hebrew for judged
[4] 30:8 Hebrew With wrestlings of God
[5] 30:8 Naphtali sounds like the Hebrew for wrestling
[6] 30:11 Gad sounds like the Hebrew for good fortune
[7] 30:13 Asher sounds like the Hebrew for happy
[8] 30:18 Issachar sounds like the Hebrew for wages, or hire
[9] 30:20 Zebulun sounds like the Hebrew for honor
[10] 30:24 Joseph means May he add, and sounds like the Hebrew for taken away

Sister, Sister Smack Down

Key Verse | Genesis 30:22-23

Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son and said, "God has taken away my reproach."

Bio | Kristen Cox

Hiiii! It's Valentine's Day. I teach kindergarten. Candy hearts and five year olds can be an explosive combination. Pray for us! 

I walked through the doors at Watermark 10 years ago still following the ways of the world. I joined a community group where God used His people to teach me what it means to be completely vulnerable about my struggles and that following Christ is worth everything! I now get the opportunity to serve with Community Formation, Watermark's ministry that helps people get connected with other Christ followers. Come and see what it means to do life together!

Central Truth

When we compare and try to take control, it can lead to bitterness, division, and jealousy. God knows our hearts and our deepest desires. He is faithful and has a plan that is worth trusting.

Devotional | Genesis 30:1–24

There's probably a good reason why Valentine's Day was not around during the time of Genesis. I can imagine Rachel thinking, "Leah's flowers are prettier than mine"; or Leah...

There's probably a good reason why Valentine's Day was not around during the time of Genesis. I can imagine Rachel thinking, "Leah's flowers are prettier than mine"; or Leah thinking, "Rachel received the better assortment of chocolates." I have no doubt that sharing a husband would be difficult, but these sisters let the evil game of comparison wreak havoc on their relationships with each other and with Jacob. They both wanted love and affection from Jacob. Having children is a blessing, but they thought that children would bring the love and affection they desired. They became locked in a baby-making competition. Rachel and Leah compared themselves to each other, and that is where they found their worth. They stopped at nothing to get what they wanted, even if it meant giving Jacob their maidservants to have children on their behalf. This fueled the cycle of jealousy and bitterness even more. 

But in the middle of their mess, God did not forget them. He had a plan. Twice in this chapter we see that God listened and answered Rachel's and Leah's prayers (Genesis 30:17 and Genesis 30:22). I love how we get to see God's character. He listens to us and knows us. No mess is too big for Him to use for His glory! In fact, those 12 boys that Rachel and Leah were responsible for were used by God to establish the tribes of Israel.  

Like Rachel and Leah, I can be guilty of playing the comparison game. It starts with the subtle thought of "it must be nice to have that job" or "it must be nice to have a spouse." I'm sure you can fill in the blank: "It must be nice to ______." This leaves us empty. True satisfaction and worth can only be found in Christ because He loves us and knows us intimately (Psalm 139:13-16). God is not trying to rip us off (Psalm 84:11). I find comfort in knowing that I can rest in my identity in Christ. He knows what I need, when I need it, and how I need it.

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Discussion Questions

1. Are there any subtle comparisons you make that you need to acknowledge today? If so, what can you do to shift your focus to who you are in Christ?

2. Is there anything that you are desiring more than having a relationship with the Lord? 

3. Do you believe that God has a plan and purpose for your life? Here are a few verses to get you started: Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 1:6; Proverbs 19:20-21; Hebrews 12:1-2; Micah 6:8. There are so many more!

4. Rachel and Leah both experienced the pain and struggle of infertility. Watermark's Shiloh ministry is for women and couples who are experiencing infertility and/or miscarriage. The hope of this ministry is to connect women/couples with others who understand and can share encouragement and wisdom through God's Word. 

9 Comments available

Ricardo Garcia 5 months ago

Q2. I believe in the plan God has for me. These two sisters let the worst take over them and it’s a reminder that God will keep showing his love even when we try to take our designer path a different way.

Holly Bell 5 months ago

I love your title, Sister, Sister Smack Down! God does not have problems, only plans. I’m glad He used their problems to complete His plans.

greg jones 5 months ago

Sons are the only means of economic protection for a woman in near eastern culture of the times, childlessness caused a different kind of stress. There is no reconciliation of these sisters in Genesis unlike brothers Jacob and Esau, Joseph and et al.

A midrash giving Rachel some character has her giving away hand signals she and Jacob have devised in case Laban trys to trick Joseph because she sees the pain of Leah not marrying.

Another midrash has Leah, Joseph, Bilhah, and Zilpah praying for Rachel’s fertility.

This is the only story of two sisters in the first testament. I don’t believe reconciliation or transformation is greater than what the sisters are capable of even though we don’t see it in the Genesis account.

Great devotional and central truth.

greg jones 5 months ago

improvised explosive device IED’s

That’s why you don’t let five year olds play in the street. It’s all making sense now.

Best bio this year

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

Sometimes the child born of travail becomes one God was working in a special way. This is true of Isaac, Joseph and Samuel.

( Joseph is long awaited but God will have a special plan to ‘save the sinners’ where part of the plan is the ‘sinners’ turn against Joseph )

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

What starts as strife between sisters will become strife between their sons in the next generations.

( And - SPOILER ALERT - the descendants of Ishmael come back as willing human trafficking merchants with the Jo Bro’s who sell a brother for cash in the strife of brother smacking down brother )

Sue Bohlin 5 months ago

One of my favorite JTJ titles, Kristen! Thanks for the smile!

The pain of longing for children that don’t come, and the pain of strife between sisters in this chapter, is so strong and pointed it makes my heart hurt. I am so grateful God’s word includes stories that highlight women, not just patriarchs and powerful men! That’s one more evidence that it’s a supernatural book truly inspired—God-breathed—in its writing. No other “holy book” (which are all written by men from a male-only perspective) does this.

Hugh Stephenson 5 months ago

More disobedience - Surely Jacob, Rachel and Leah knew of the promise. Yet here they are ignoring God’s clear will for them in using surrogate women in an exercise of competitive birthing. They even spar over the use of the supposed fertility vegetable mandrakes. It’s hard for me to see in this passage any real example of “trust and obey”.

In total contrast I see God demonstrating He really is Jehovah-Jireh. His faithfulness contrasts with their disobedience. I see how He still blesses them with the origin of the 12 tribes of Israel but does not take away the consequences of sin in that the sons argue and fight. A model their descendants adopt for centuries.

Do I trust and obey? I want to be in the driver’s seat. I am a slow learner.

Again, I pray to know Him more fully so that I may trust Him more completely.

Hope Harris 5 months ago

I have overlooked the competition and strife between Rachel in my prior readings of this passage.

These women model that despite their fallen broken state God used them to fulfill His promises. Here we see the birth of a nation and the Jewish people.

I am challenged this morning to examine what areas I contend with God and others in and lack trust to allow His will to be completed in and through my life

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