Rachel seethed with envy over Leah and her children, but she lashed out at Jacob. “I’ll die if you don’t give me children,” she complained violently.
Jacob said, “What do you want me to do, play God?”
As a matter of fact, that might not be such a bad idea, she thought.
Rachel left Jacob’s tent and returned a few minutes later with her maid, Bilhah. “Sleep with Bilhah,” she said, nudging her maid closer to Jacob, “and let her carry my babies.” Jacob took Bilhah into his bed, and they had a son named Dan.
Rachel was overjoyed. “God has weighed everything and has answered in my favor.”
Then Bilhah had another son, and Rachel named him Naphtali.
Jacob’s nocturnal visits with Leah were few, but because her rivalry with Rachel was strong, Leah took a strategy from Rachel’s playbook and gave her maid Zilpah to Jacob as a surrogate. Zilpah had two sons for her, and Leah named them Gad and Asher.
During the wheat harvest, little Reuben was playing out in the field and came across a sweet-smelling bouquet of mandragora flowers. He plucked them carefully by the root and brought them to his mother.
When Rachel saw her sister’s flowers and caught their pleasant scent, and believing them to aid in fertility, she wanted some for her own house.
“Please give me some of your mandrakes,” she said.
But Leah, remembering her bitterness toward her rival sister, said, “You stole my husband and you have the gall to ask me for flowers my child presented to me as a gift?”
“Give me some,” Rachel bargained, “and I’ll give you Jacob for the night.”
“Deal,” Leah said, collecting a handful from the bowl by the door.
Jacob was returning from the herds late in the day, and Leah met him halfway. “You’ll be sleeping with me tonight,” she said. “I bought an evening with you in exchange for exquisite mandrakes.”
Jacob slept with Leah, and she bore two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun, and a daughter named Dinah.
God also answered Rachel’s prayers, and from her own womb she bore a son named Joseph. “Thanks to God, I’m no longer a disappointment.” Then, as if Joseph weren’t enough, she added, “May God give me another son!”
So all of the bickering among Jacob’s wives brought to fruition the entry point of God’s promise of countless descendants for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Inspiration: Genesis 30, Song of Solomon 7:13