12 Sons of Rachel and Leah (Genesis 30:7)

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The competition between Rachel and Leah reaches a fever pitch in Genesis 30, with arguably the weirdest “competition” of the Bible so far — who can have the most kids.

If you recall, Leah is “unloved” in Genesis 29. She has “weak eyes” and doesn’t capture Jacob’s attention nearly as fiercely as does Rachel.

Genesis 29 ends with a little bit of vindication for her, though, as she gives birth to four sons right in a row. 

In response, and because Rachel sees that she’s not bearing children, she gives her maid to Jacob as a concubine. Through her, Rachel has two sons of her own (They’re born to Bilhah, but legally, they’re still Rachel’s).

If you’re keeping score at home, the tally is now at 4-2. Leah has four sons, and Rachel has two.

I guess Rachel hasn’t looked at the scoreboard though, because after her second son is born, she claims in Genesis 30:7 that she has “prevailed” over her sister. Which brings about the question…how?

There’s two possibilities. First, it could be that since Rachel can have children (albeit, with the help of her maid), she is now in her husband’s good graces. Remember, Genesis 30:1 reveals her desperation in having kids; now that she has a few, she seems to be satisfied.

Alternatively, maybe since Rachel is having kids while Leah has stopped (Genesis 30:9), that means she wins. It’s not the cleanest scorecard, but I guess in Rachel’s mind, it counts.

Unfortunately for her, Leah beats at her own game by giving her maid Zilpah to Jacob as a second concubine (and fourth wife). Zilpah has two more children, which brings Leah’s count up to six, whereas Rachel sits squarely at two.

This entire scene is disheartening at best, and disrespectful at worst. To think that the the twelve tribes of Israel — the same twelve tribes that would define the Jews for thousands of years — came about due to a contest between two wives is sad. It’s not the most glamorous beginning for a family tree.

Still, the one takeaway from this entire scene is the importance of family. In a world where inheritance and family legacy matters for everything, people will stop at nothing to secure a future for themselves.