She Bartered Mandrakes For Lovemaking

A Mandrake Plant Called A “Love Apple” Is Exchanged For Love Making

 

One day during the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakes growing in a field and brought them to his mother, Leah. Rachel begged Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
 

Genesis 30:14 (NLT)

 

mandrake

It was late spring, when wheat was harvested and mandrakes grew ripe in the fields. The tuberous plant would be hard to miss with its “large leaves, violet flowers, and yellow fruit.” In those days, the fruit of the mandrake plant was called a “love apple” and was considered to be a powerful love potion.

 

The ancients believed that if a woman gazed upon a mandrake root, she’d become fertile, perhaps because the root was large and often forked, resembling the lower half of a person’s body. The mandrake was thought to “cure fevers, heal wounds, and open the wombs of barren women.”

 

When Rachel saw Reuben’s mandrakes, she wanted them for her own use and was willing to give Leah a night with Jacob as “payment” for the plants. Perhaps Rachel thought that by eating the mandrake fruit she would become fertile.

 

This gives a little more insight into the family life of Jacob. Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, and apparently Rachel was determined which one Jacob had sexual relations with, often leaving Leah out in the cold.

 

Leah answered, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken away my husband? Now you are even trying to take away my son’s mandrakes.”
Rachel said, “If you will give me your son’s mandrakes, you can sleep with Jacob tonight.”
 

Genesis 30:15 (GNT)

 

This is Leah’s confirmation that Rachel was primarily in charge of which wife Jacob spent his time with. Rachel took advantage of her sister’s misery and offered her a shocking solution.

 

The woman traded a night with her husband for a plant?

 

One writer suggested, “We have to admire Leah and Rachel for their forthrightness.” No we don’t. There’s nothing admirable about selling a husband’s sexual services. Unbeknownst to him, Jacob was “bartered like a ram between two ewes.”

 

Leah didn’t respond verbally, so she must of agreed to her sister’s terms and handed over the mandrakes. No loss for Leah; their potency was rooted in superstition, not science. As time will soon prove, “Leah did not need the mandrakes, and they did Rachel no good.”

 

They also cost Rachel nothing but a night with her husband, which she apparently held in little esteem. Jacob was the one who had to fulfill her side of the bargain.

 

So when Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him.
 
Leah: Tonight you must sleep with me because I have hired you for a good price—some of my son’s mandrakes.
 
So he slept with her that night.
 

Genesis 30:16 (VOICE)

 

We see in this episode another evidence of Jacob’s spiritual growth; for not only did Laban tell him what to do, but also Jacob’s own wives made agreements that he knew nothing about until he came home weary from caring for the flocks. Rachel and Leah treated Jacob like a servant and used him as a pawn in their family bargaining, and he patiently bore with it.

 

Although Leah was Jacob’s wife, Jacob let his services be bartered much like a prostitute. This whole arrangement with his wives and concubines was not the way God intended.

 

Blessings From Heaven

 

God listened to Leah and showed her His favor, and after many years she again conceived and gave birth to her fifth son for Jacob.
 
Leah: God has paid me my wages, since I gave my servant to my husband.
 
This is why she named her son Issachar.
 

Genesis 30:17-18 (VOICE)

 

Hebrew wording indicates that, although the ancient law called her to do so, “it was a difficult decision for Leah to share Jacob with yet another woman” and that she’d been “struggling with her own conscience” rather than struggling with her sister.

 

blessings from aboveFrom Leah’s perspective got rewarded her obedience by blessing her womb on a night of bartered lovemaking.

 

There are numerous examples of God granting barren women children. Sarah was barren and had Isaac when she was 91. Rebekah had been barren for 20 years of marriage before she had Esau and Jacob. Now Leah and Rachel both have the Lord open their wombs when they were unable to bear children. This happened many times in Scripture and still happens today for those who believe.

 

Issachar means “a hire.”

 

What effect did it have on Issachar to bear that name and know the story of his conception?

 

 

And God’s favor didn’t stop with him; Leah conceived again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob.
 
Leah: God has given me a plentiful gift. Now my husband will surely honor me, because I have given him six sons.
 
This is why she named her sixth son Zebulun.
 

Genesis 30:19-20 (VOICE)

 

Leah had a total of six sons, Zilpah had two, Bilhah had two, and Rachel had two. This brought the total number of Jacob’s sons to twelve.

 

The name Zebulun means, “dwelling.” Leah was still trying to win Jacob over to dwelling with her as the preferred wife. This was Leah’s sixth son she bore to Jacob.

 

Once again Leah had every human reason in the world to be bitter, jealous, and vindictive. Instead she prayed, trusted, and praised God. He rewarded Leah once more with a long-awaited addition to the family: a baby girl.

 

And at last after that, she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
 

Genesis 30:21 (VOICE)

 

The name Dinah means “judgment.” Female children were not typically listed in genealogies. This was only done when the woman figured prominently in the story. In Genesis 34 Dinah is involved in one of the major events of Jacob’s life.

 

As for Rachel, the mandrakes not only didn’t work, they backfired: two more sons for Leah and a daughter as well.

 

Would Rachel have her heart’s desire?

 

Finally, Finally

 

Then God remembered Rachel. He heard her prayer and made her fertile.
 

Genesis 30:22 (VOICE)

 

Understand, God never forgot Rachel, not for a moment. He simply waited while she tried every scheme, every superstition, and every emotional trick in her well-thumbed book. Finally Rachel must have admitted to herself and to God that he alone could unlock her womb, and “she went and prayed on her own behalf.”

 

And so God remembered Rachel. Rachel finally trusted in God rather than in human endeavors, and he “answered her prayer” and “made her fertile.”

 

This was primarily an act of mercy on God’s part and not a demonstration of great faith on Rachel’s part, because later, as they fled from Laban, Rachel took some idols with her (Genesis 31:19). She was not what you would call a committed follower of the Lord.

 

She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. “God has removed my disgrace,” she said.
 

Genesis 30:23 (NLT)

 

This statement from Rachel reveals a lot about her character, or lack thereof. She wasn’t as excited about the child as she was about the fact that her reproach had been removed. Everything in her life was all about her, not others. And she wasn’t just content with this one child. She wanted more.

 

And she named him Joseph for she said, “May the LORD add yet another son to my family.”

 
Genesis 30:24 (NLT)

The name Joseph means, “adding” or “may he add.” Now that Rachel had broken the barrier of barrenness, she was expecting to have another son. She did have another son but that didn’t make her happy or complete. Rachel called that child Benoni, which meant “son of my sorrow.” Jacob refused to call his son by that name and called him Benjamin (Genesis 35:18), which meant “son of the right hand.” Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin.

 

It appears that Rachel was not a happy and/or fulfilled person even though she obtained everything she wanted. So many people are in this same position. Happiness and contentment are not to be found in things or people. Our identities have to be in the Lord alone.

 

References

Andrew Wommack’s Living Commentary
 

072125: Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible: Flawed Women Loved by a Flawless God Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible: Flawed Women Loved by a Flawless God
By Liz Curtis Higgs / WaterBrook Press

Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible is the latest of Liz Curtis Higgs’ “girlfriend theology” Bible study. Combining contemporary fiction with a verse-by-verse commentary, she explores the “slightly bad” lives of a few Old Testament women. Far from evil, yet slightly bad, these women from the book of Genesis stubbed their toes along the rocky path of righteousness. Sound familiar? These ancient sisters aren’t a whole lot different from us. Laced with humor and built on solid research, this book will bring you to the realization that God loves you just the way you are. Flaws and all! Each chapter concludes with a series of questions for personal reflection.

 

 

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