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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



GENESIS 30

 

CHAPTER XXX

 

Ver. 1.  Envied, or desired to have children like her.  Thus we may envy the virtues of the saints.  C. --- Give me, &c.  These words seem to indicate a degree of impatience, at which we need not be surprised, when we reflect, that Rachel had been educated among idolaters.  M. --- Die of grief and shame.  "I shall be considered as one dead."  Jun.  S. Chrysostom thinks she threatened to lay violent hands on herself, and through jealousy, spoke in a foolish manner.  This passion is capable of the basest actions, (H.) and is almost unavoidable where polygamy reigns.  C. 

 

Ver. 2.  Angry at the rash and apparently blasphemous demand of Rachel.  M. --- As God, pro Deo.  Am I to work a miracle in opposition to God, who has made thee barren?  To him thou oughtest to address thyself.  The Hebrews justly observe, that God has reserved to himself the four keys of nature:  1. Of generation;  2. Of sustenance, Ps. cxliv. 16;  3. Of rain, Deut. xxviii. 12.  And, 4. Of the grave or resurrection, Ez. xxxvii. 12.  T.

 

Ver. 3.  Servant, like a maid of honour.  Josephus says she was not a slave, no more than Zelpha. --- My knees, whom I may nurse with pleasure.  It was an ancient custom to place the new-born infants upon the knees of some near relation, who gave them a name, and thus in a manner adopted them.  C. l. 22.  Job iii. 12.  Ps. xxi. 11.  Homer.  C.

 

Ver. 4.  Marriage. The Manichees condemned Jacob for having more than four wives at once.  But S. Aug. replied, it was not then unusual or forbidden.  He took the two last only at the pressing instigation of Rachel and Lia, and that only for the sake of children.  Lia herself was forced upon him.  c. Faust. xxii. 48.

 

Ver. 6.  Dan, means judgment.  From the same root as Adonis; Adoni, my lord or judge, &c.  Rachel's whole solicitude was for children.  H.

 

Ver. 8.  Compared me, &c.  As Lia treacherously got my husband, so I have craftily surmounted the difficulties of barrenness; I have struggled earnestly, and have got the victory.  Patal, means to act with cunning.  Ps. xvii. 27.  C. --- Nephtali, "a crafty wrestler."  M.

 

Ver. 11.  Happily, fortunately. --- Gad, or Bonaventure.  H. ---"Good-fortune," was acknowledge by the pagans for a divinity; (Is. lxv. 11.) perhaps for the Sun, or Oromagdes, the Gad of Aram.  He was opposed to the wicked Arimenes in the Chaldee theology, by Zoroaster, (C.) the inventor of the Two Principles.  Whether Lia intended to attribute this child to the influence of the planet Jupiter, the Sun, or some other tool, we cannot determine.  H. --- Her naming my be simply; Behold I am now a mother of a troop, or little army, Gad; and to which (C. xlix. 19.) Jacob evidently alludes.  C.

 

Ver. 13.  Aser: happy.  My servant has now had as many sons as my sister (M.) and I have given them both names, indicating my great felicity and joy.  H.

 

Ver. 14.  Ruben, now perhaps about four years old, playing in the fields, in the latter harvest time, (Ex. ix. 32.) found mandrakes of an extraordinary beauty and flavour, (Cant. vii. 13.) whether they were flowers, lilies, jasmine, &c. as some translate; or rather, fruits of the mandrake tree, according to all the ancient versions; or of the citron, lemon, or orange tree, if we believe Calmet.  Dudaim designates two breasts, or something lovely and protuberant.  The ancients have spoken with admiration, and have attributed wonderful effects to the mandrakes, which, though controverted by moderns, might suffice to make Rachel greatly desire to have them; at least, if she believed they would contribute to remove her sterility, as Pliny xxv. 15.  Aristotle (de Gener. ii.) and other naturalists of eminence, have maintained they did.  H. --- The effect which she desired so much, was not, however, to be attributed to them, since she conceived only three years after, and that by the blessing of God.  T.

 

Ver. 15.  From me.  Lia was aware that Jacob's affection lay entirely towards Rachel; particularly now, as she had ceased to bear children herself.  H. --- This might, when it is my turn to have him.  To prevent any jealousy, the husband visited his wives one after another, as was the case with Smerdis, the king of Persia.  Herod. iii. 79.  Exod. xxi. 10.  C.

 

Ver. 18.  Issachar, "the reward of the man, or husband."  C. --- She might allude also to the reward she had obtained for her mandrakes.  H.

 

Ver. 20.  Zabulon, "dwelling or cohabiting."  Zobad (which resembles the sound of Zobal) means to endow, (C.) to which she seems also to refer; as if her marriage was renewed, and God had given her more children for a dowry. M.

 

Ver. 21.  Dina, "judgment," like Dan.  God hath done me justice.  The Hebrews assert that Dina was married to holy Job.  She was born the same year as Joseph, the 91st of Jacob.  Lia brought forth seven children in seven years.

 

Ver. 24.  Joseph.  In imposing this name, Rachel looks both to the past and to the future; thanking God for taking away (asop) her reproach, and begging that He would add (isop or Joseph) the blessing of another son, as he really did, though it occasioned her death: so little do we know what we ask for!  Joseph means one "adding or increasing."  C. xlix. 22.  H. --- He was born when the 14 years of service were over; being a most glorious figure of Jesus Christ, who came to redeem us from slavery.  D.

 

Ver. 28.  Give thee.  He wishes to engage him to continue in his service; being convinced, that a faithful and pious servant is a great treasure.  Laban promises every thing, and performs little according to his agreement.  He never thinks of making Jacob any present for his extraordinary diligence.

 

Ver. 31.  Nothing.  I am willing to depart with my family towards my father.  But if I must stay, these are my terms.  H. --- I require no certain wages, committing myself entirely to what Providence shall send.  Salien.

 

Ver. 32.  Speckled; from those which are all of one colour.  Those which should be of the former description must belong to Jacob, while all the black and the white should be Laban's. --- Brown, or of a dull mixture of white and black. --- Spotted, having large patches of either colour. --- Divers, little spots variegating the fleece.  M. --- The original is extremely obscure.  Jacob asks only for the worst; the speckled sheep and goats, also the black sheep and the white goats, v. 35.  Bochart.  C.

 

Ver. 33.  Of theft, if they be found in my possession.  I am so well convinced that God will reward my justice, that, even contrary to what might naturally be expected, he will enable me to have plenty of spotted sheep and goats, though their mothers be all of one colour.  It is not certain, that Jacob agreed to have the flocks parted till the end of the year.  M.

 

Ver. 35.  His sons.  These continued to observe the conduct of Jacob, while Laban drove off all the flocks of divers colours to so great a distance, (v. 36.) that there was no danger of the sheep under Jacob's care getting to them.  Thus Laban first began to violate the agreement; and the angel of the Lord suggested to Jacob, the plan by which he was preserved from serving a cruel and avaricious man without wages.  C. xxxi. 12.  M.

 

Ver. 40.  All the white, &c.  Notwithstanding Jacob's stratagem, some had lambs all of a colour.  The force of fancy is very surprising on such occasions.  Oppian, Aristotle, and others, recommend Jacob's plan as consonant to nature.  H.

 

Ver. 42.  Later-coming, in autumn, when the spring lambs were of an inferior value.  These he was willing to abandon for the most part to Laban; and therefore did not use his rods.  Pliny viii. 47. and Columella viii. 3. agree, that the lambs which are produced in spring do not thrive so well as those of autumn, at least in Italy, and in those countries where sheep lamb twice a year.  Bis gravidæ pecudes.  Virg.  C. --- Many who have tried the same experiment as Jacob, have not experienced the same success; whence S. Chrysostom, and most of the Greek fathers, suppose that it was miraculous.  T.

 

 








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