15 And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son's mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son's mandrakes.
According to Tristram Natural History of the Bible, this plant has properties to aid conception. It is a large plant with broad flat lying leaves, and a central flower which turns into an edible sweet fruit. It also has a large dividing root or tuber, and is related to the potato family.
Reuben had collected these in the fields at the time of the wheat harvest and gave them to his mother Leah, although Rachel had requested them. "Give me I pray thee of thy son's mandrakes."
However this request was refused by Leah, and accompanied by an accusation that Rachel had stolen her husband, would she now steal the mandrakes. This was not very harmonious, and makes for a troubled household. Leah lay with Jacob that night and Yahweh blessed her with further children, this time Issachar ( a hire) and Zebulon (dwelling).
Leah had construed that Zilpah was hired, and that Jacob might now dwell with her, since she had borne him six sons. This suggests that they were dwelling in separate tents. We can imagine these were capacious Bedouin style tents with rich tapestries and curtains. Jacob with Rachel, and Leah on her own with her handmaid and six sons which must have been a sore trial and vexatious to her.
She further bare Jacob a daughter Dinah (Judgment). Now there are 10 sons and a daughter, beginning with See a Son, ending with Judgment, the, two cardinal points in spiritual life. Further steps are required. *
The Apocalyptic Messenger
22 And Elohim remembered Rachel, and Elohim hearkened to her, and opened her womb.
23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, Elohim hath taken away my reproach:
Rachel's life must have been exceedingly sorrowful thus far. We can compare her with Hannah (1Sam. 1), or the forsaken Bride (Is. 54). But unexpected joy was about to visit her. She bore a son and called his name Joseph (the Increaser). She had prayed. "Elohim remembered Rachel and hearkened to her." And now her prayers were answered. She utters the profound and heartfelt' words 'Elohim hath taken away my reproach.'
The words of Hannah and Mary (Miriam) (from myrhh = bitterness), are an expression of this taking away of the reproach in its full significance (1 Sam.2.1-10, Lk. 1.46-55). Those who bear the reproach of Christ will be blessed - *
For thy Maker is thine husband; YAHWEH hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The Elohim of the whole earth shall he be called. For YAHWEH hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy Elohim. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
(Isa 54. )
The Apocalyptic Messenger
25 And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country.
26 Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee.
It is true that, as regards ultimate results, a God-kept man will suffer no evil-will attain perfect blessedness , but the very process by which God causes a man to reach both results may involve unpleasant and apparently untoward experiences...
'... a God favoured and God kept man is not a man who suffers no evil, feels no anxiety, and resorts to no expedients.
Guided to the house of Laban, Rebecca's brother, and brought at once into contact with the wife prepared for him, he enters into a contract of service with Laban. His business is to look after Laban's flocks.
God is with him but is the work a continual pleasure on that account? Listen to Jacob:
" In the day the drought consumed me, and the night by frost, and my sleep departed from mine eyes.'
Ye who suffer the rigours of hard work, remember Jacob; do not think God has forsaken you because you feel the hardness of the way. In everything consider the end. Your suffering may be needful to hedge your way to the kingdom of God, or to prepare you for the exaltation that is to come. Resign yourselves to the will of God,, and " hope in Him in all thy ways ' You may yet see your deepest trouble was your best experience.
God was with Jacob , and He led him to the house of his relations , but did He thus give him a kind, considerate and just master ? Man might reason that if God gave Jacob a master, it would be sure to be a good master, but man is shortsighted. It all depends upon the object in view. The tool is adapted to the work. A saw to cut the wood that is to make a fence for a dangerous place over which the children might fall, is not necessarily an instrument of torture, but the children do not always understand, and the sight of the saw makes them shudder.
... It is no sign that a man is deserted of God that he falls into trouble ; all depends upon the nature and effect of trouble and the attitude of the man. It is no sign that a man is favoured of God that he prospers like a green bay tree ; it all depends upon how the prosperity is employed, and what the man's mental state may be. In these things we must intelligently discriminate in the light of the fact that God taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, and hath chosen him that is godly for Himself; and that His regard for such may sometimes allow of prosperity while it sometimes calls for the chastening rod.
We must judge all cases from the point of view of the kingdom of God. If we are guided there, no adversity is too bitter that may have prepared us ; no exaltation too high that has not spoiled us. Adversity may be bitter to the point of destructiveness ; prosperity also may be uplifting to our ruin. God can poise both and judge when they are safe or necessary for such as walk before Him in well-pleasing. Our part is to commit our way to Him in well-doing, forgetting not in any state of circumstances that at present we are strangers in the earth with Him, and stewards for Him of whatever favour may come to our hands.
Ways of Providence Ch 6