Genesis 30:3 MEANING

Genesis 30:3
(3) Behold my maid Bilhah.--Rachel had little excuse for this action; for there was no religious hope involved, as when Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham (Genesis 16:2), but solely vexation at her own barrenness, and envy of her sister. All that can be said in her defence is, that the custom existed, and, perhaps, because it was distasteful to the wife, was looked upon as meritorious (Genesis 30:18).

She shall bear upon my knees.--So in Genesis 1:23, it is said, in the Hebrew, that "the children of Machir were born upon Joseph's knees," not borne, as in our margin. It appears that there was a custom of placing the new-born child upon the knees, first of the father, who, by accepting it. acknowledged the infant as his own; and secondly, upon those of the mother. In this case, as Bilhah's children were regarded as legally born of Rachel, they would be placed upon Rachel's knees. Probably, too, the children of Machir, by being placed upon Joseph's knees, were in some way adopted by him.

That I may also have children by her.--Heb., be built by her. (See Note on Genesis 16:2.)

Verse 3. - And she said, - resorting to the sinful expedient of Sarah (Genesis 16:2), though without Sarah's excuse, since there was no question whatever about an heir for Jacob; which, even if there had been, would not have justified a practice which, in the case of her distinguished relative, had been so palpably condemned - Behold my maid Bilhah (vide Genesis 29:29), go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, - i.e. children that I may place upon my knees, as mothers do (Piscator, A Lapide, Calvin, Rosenmüller, Lange, Ainsworth); the literal sense of the words being too absurd to require refutation - that I may also have children - literally, be builded up (cf. Genesis 16:2) - by her.

30:1-13 Rachel envied her sister: envy is grieving at the good of another, than which no sin is more hateful to God, or more hurtful to our neighbours and ourselves. She considered not that God made the difference, and that in other things she had the advantage. Let us carefully watch against all the risings and workings of this passion in our minds. Let not our eye be evil towards any of our fellow-servants, because our Master's is good. Jacob loved Rachel, and therefore reproved her for what she said amiss. Faithful reproofs show true affection. God may be to us instead of any creature; but it is sin and folly to place any creature in God's stead, and to place that confidence in any creature, which should be placed in God only. At the persuasion of Rachel, Jacob took Bilhah her handmaid to wife, that, according to the usage of those times, her children might be owned as her mistress's children. Had not Rachel's heart been influenced by evil passions, she would have thought her sister's children nearer to her, and more entitled to her care than Bilhah's. But children whom she had a right to rule, were more desirable to her than children she had more reason to love. As an early instance of her power over these children, she takes pleasure in giving them names that carry in them marks of rivalry with her sister. See what roots of bitterness envy and strife are, and what mischief they make among relations. At the persuasion of Leah, Jacob took Zilpah her handmaid to wife also. See the power of jealousy and rivalship, and admire the wisdom of the Divine appointment, which joins together one man and one woman only; for God hath called us to peace and purity.And she said,.... in order to pacify Jacob, and explain her meaning to him; which was, not that she thought it was in his power to make her the mother of children, but that he would think of some way or another of obtaining children for her, that might go for hers; so the Arabic version, "obtain a son for me": but, since no method occurred to him, she proposes one:

behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her, take her and use her as thy wife:

and she shall bear upon my knees; either sit on her knees in the time of labour, and so bring forth as if it was she herself; or rather bear a child, which Rachel would take and nurse, and dandle upon her knees as her own, see Isaiah 66:12,

that I may also have children by her; children as well as her sister, though by her maid, and as Sarah proposed to have by Hagar, whose example, in all probability, she had before her, and uses her very words; See Gill on Genesis 16:2.

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