Before we look at today’s passage, let us see how Genesis 29–30 can help us defend the faith. Christian apologists (defenders of the faith) have to deal with attacks on the historical reliability of the Bible, with Genesis being regularly assaulted. Some suggest believers cannot take the historicity of the first book of Moses too seriously because it was composed long after the events it describes.
However, evidence against this view is found within the text itself. With Jacob we again have a patriarch breaking the standards of the Mosaic law, for he marries two sisters (Lev. 18:18). If Genesis had been written after the Law was known in Israel, we would expect the author to leave out Jacob’s transgression and present him more favorably. But the patriarch’s sin is in full view, and the best way to account for this fact is to accept that Genesis was written early in Israel’s history. Later man-made, oral traditions depict the patriarchs as scrupulous observers of the Law, but as we expect from an inspired text, Genesis presents the true facts. It does not whitewash history.
Today’s passage is notable for two reasons. First, we have the record of Dinah’s birth (Gen. 30:21). This is unusual as Scripture does not often mention the birth of a girl in such contexts because one’s inheritance was not traced through women in those days. The reference to Dinah heralds her place in history later on (chap. 34).
Second, we have in 30:22–24 the record of Joseph’s birth. He will play an important role in the history of the church and is a type of Christ in the way he will save his clan from ruin (chap. 37–50). Joseph’s arrival also marks a turning point in Jacob’s life; after this son is born, he begins seeking to return to the Promised Land (30:25).
Joseph is the first of Rachel’s sons that she actually bears herself (as opposed to her maidservant). Earlier in the narrative, she envied Leah and with little faith took matters into her own hand to get children (vv. 1–8). Now she recognizes the hand of God. The text says He “listened to her” (v. 22), thereby proving Rachel had prayed. But Moses mentions the Lord’s remembrance of her before her prayer to show us that divine grace initiates all of our blessings.
The sovereignty of the Lord in pouring out His blessings has been clear in our study of Genesis 30. No matter what Rachel tried with her maidservants or mandrakes, Leah was still given more children than she was. We must accept the truth that God dispenses His benefits in the way He sees fit, and thus we must not grow jealous of others as Rachel did. We are to seek the Lord in prayer as we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15).