22 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.
23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:
24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The Lord shall add to me another son.
At long last the Lord saw fit for Rachel to conceive a child of her very own. After watching her sister and the two handmaids be able to what she could not, miraculously her womb was opened, and she gave birth to a son.
And Joseph is to become a mighty man, the greatest of all his brethren. Of course, it will be a long road before he realizes that, and first his brethren will despise and betray him. And it has occurred to me that Joseph might have always been the odd-one out because of his unique heritage. There were six sons born of Leah, two of Zilpah, and two of Bilhah. Thus, every one of the boys had at least one blood brother, except for Joseph.
Joseph would be the one and only son of Rachel until many years later. And having been born after all the other ten, he was surely much younger than the first ones. And that’s not all, there is also the fact that he was the favorite son, born of the favorite wife. Thus, there were many factors to isolate Joseph and make him despised of by his brethren, and it is little wonder that he ended up in such a complicated situation with them later on.
14 And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes.
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.
17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.
19 And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son.
21 And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah.
This incident of Rachel trading a night with Jacob for Reuben’s mandrakes is very similar to Esau giving up his birthright for Jacob’s mess of pottage. All Rachel wanted was to have a nice fruit, but she ended up extending her sister’s branch beyond her own.
It’s also interesting to note that previously Leah “had left bearing,” but now she was fertile once more. I can’t help but think that this would have been a particularly hard thing for Rachel to witness. Her sister that had initially been able to have children finally came into the same state of no longer being able to, only to have that ability returned to her out of the blue. Leah had twice received that which Rachel longed for even once!
But this humbling experience was the last one Rachel had to endure before finally receiving her own blessing. And while she would never bear as many sons as her sister, she would give birth to the choicest of them all.
1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
There has been some debate as to what is meant by “sons of God” and “daughters of men.” Proposed theories are as extreme as “sons of God” meaning fallen angels, that coupled with human women (daughters of men) to produce a race of demigod giants. Which, if true, holds many unsettling implications.
I personally find far more believable, and far more fitting in the context of the previous two chapters, the theory that the “sons of God” refers to the male Sethites, or those who believe in God and followed His precepts. Meanwhile the “daughters of men” would refer to the female Cainites, or those who had rejected God.
And this interpretation would also align today’s verses with a common theme in the bible: how intimacy with the things of the world turns mankind from God. It is seen in Adam receiving the fruit from Eve, in the Israelites chasing after false gods of the heathen, and in the Jews being so caught up with their embellished law that they could not recognize the Savior when he stood before them.