Genesis 30:1 Commentary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
1. envied ] The desire for children and the dread of the reproach of childlessness are frequently referred to in Scripture, e.g. 1 Samuel 1. In this chapter the childlessness of Rachel should be compared with that of Sarah and Rebekah (Gen 16:5, Gen 25:21). It is part of the discipline of the covenant.
31 35 (J); Gen 30:1-24 (J, E and P)
In this section is narrated the account of the birth of eleven sons and one daughter. Six of the sons, viz. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun, and the daughter Dinah, are the children of Leah; Gad and Asher are the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Dan and Naphtali are the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; and Joseph is the son of Rachel. These are all born to Jacob in Haran. The only son born in Canaan is Benjamin (see Gen 35:16-19).
It has been conjectured that this account not only furnishes the popular etymology of the names of the tribes of Israel, but may also symbolize, under the terms of family life, the growth of Israelite clans into a united, though composite, people in the land of Mesopotamia, before the migration into Canaan.
The explanation of the meaning of the names is of the usual popular kind, based upon resemblances of sound. The fact that in some cases more than one etymology is given reflects the composite nature of the narrative (cf. Gen 30:16; Gen 30:18; Gen 30:20; Gen 30:23-24).
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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges is a biblical commentary set published in parts by Cambridge University Press from 1882 onwards. Anglican bishop John Perowne was the general editor. The first section published was written by theologian Thomas Kelly Cheyne and covered the Book of Micah.
Perowne exercised limited editorial control over the writers of individual commentaries: his aim was "to leave each contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment".