Genesis 30:14-24: Living without scheming.
“14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”“Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son.18 Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.”So she named him Issachar.19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor,because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24 She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.” NIV
I’ve mentioned before how much I like Warren Wiersbe’s comment about faith, that it is ‘living without scheming.’ But here the manipulation goes on. There is evidence in the text that both Leah and Rachel were prayerful, but they also seemed determined to give God every possible help. I know that faith without works is dead, but there is a difference between doing certain things God’s Word commands, or that His Spirit within prompts, because we trust Him, and trying to control and manoeuvre circumstances for personal advantage. Sometimes the Bible storylines are even worse than what you might watch on some appalling ‘soap opera.’
In this passage, it appears Rachel believed that the mandrakes would help her with fertility. That’s why she wanted them so much. Jacob had not been sleeping with Leah, but Rachel came to an arrangement with her, in order to get her hands on those plants. It doesn’t make for pleasant reading really. If only both could have been content. Nevertheless God overruled in the machinations of this dysfunctional family to build the nation of Israel. You can’t be particularly impressed by the people in this storyline, but you can be amazed by God, and how He uses them in spite of everything.