Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:8-9

8 And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn.

9 And the sons of Reuben; Hanoch, and Phallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.

We now get some more genealogy, with Jacob’s descendants at this point listed out. I won’t copy into here all the verses, but here are some statistics from them all.

  • Reuben: 4 sons
  • Simeon: 6 sons
  • Levi: 3 sons
  • Judah: 5 sons (2 died before the trip to Egypt), 2 grandsons
  • Issachar: 4 sons
  • Zebulun: 3 sons
  • Dinah: no children
  • Gad: 7 sons
  • Asher 4 sons, 1 daughter, 2 grandsons
  • Joseph: 2 sons
  • Benjamin: 10 sons
  • Dan: 1 son
  • Naphtali: 4 sons

This gives us 13 children of Jacob, 54 grandchildren (2 deceased), and 4 great-grandchildren. This means that Jacob, the only son of an only son, now had 69 descendants to his name.

Two of Jacob’s sons had already become grandfathers, Judah and Asher. Benjamin, though born last of all, has outstripped all of his brothers with ten children to his name. Gad had seven, and Asher and Judah only get up to seven by including their grandchildren.

The verses make also take special care to divide these generations by the mother at the head of the branch. So from that view:

  • Leah: 33 descendants (2 deceased)
  • Zilpah: 16 descendants
  • Rachel: 14 descendants
  • Bilhah: 7 descendants

Clearly Leah is far greater than any of the other wives, with 47% of the entire household to her name! Of course, she had 54% of the second generation, and so clearly her edge is starting to slip with the third and the fourth. In fact, with all of Benjamin’s children, the number of third-generation children under Rachel is twelve, which is equal to Zilpah and far exceeds Bilhah.

Of course, one thing to note is that this genealogy seems to be omitting nearly all of the daughters, grand-daughters, and great-granddaughters. Either that, or there were only two women born in the same timeframe that sixty-nine men were, not a very likely prospect!

Dinah is the only named daughter, who of course we know from her story back in chapter 34. Sadly, after her rape, it is entirely possible that she never married, meaning that she would have remained a part of Jacob’s household. It could be that something of this nature is also the case with the only other named woman, Serah, the daughter of Asher. Perhaps she never married, and so remained a part of Asher’s household, and was thus included in this genealogy. There is, however, no way to prove this theory from the little information that we have.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 30:35-36

35 And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats that were speckled and spotted, and every one that had some white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons.

36 And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.

Here we have two small verses that show a subtle, but significant shift in Jacob. He has agreed to continue tending to his father-in-law’s flocks, but first he removes all the cattle that belong to him and moves three day’s journey away. Thus Jacob is still here under Laban’s umbrella, but also he is not. He is physically and financially creating a space to be his own person.

And also notice to whom he is entrusting the goats and sheep that now belong to him: his sons. If Jacob is going to make it as the head of a household, he is going to need the help of the whole household. This is a family affair, and Jacob’s sons are going to have to step into Jacob’s position so that he may ascend to something higher.

And this gives an interesting background to a coming story of Jacob’s sons shirking their sheep-herding responsibilities and young Joseph being sent to monitor their activities.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 30:25-28

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.

27 And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake.

28 And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.

Jacob came to this land alone, but now he had become head of a great household. He came here without occupation, but now he had become the master of the cattle. All of his work in the field, though, had gone to the dominion of his uncle Laban. Jacob had become powerful, but Laban was the one that had been made rich.

Thus, Jacob had reached the pinnacle of what he could be while still under Laban’s trappings. This role had grown too small for him, and the time for living underneath another man’s shadow had passed. After many years, he was finally ready to leave this chapter for a new one.

But where Laban graciously extended his protection over Jacob when he arrived in want, he proved clingy when Jacob wanted to leave. Only now, when his nephew was on the cusp of leaving did he suggest paying Jacob for his work. To me that seems incredibly insulting, but as we will see, the situation turns to Jacob’s favor in the end.