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What wrestling?

Genesis 30:1–8

Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” And Jacob's anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”

So she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her.” Then she gave him Bilhah her maid as wife, and Jacob went in to her. And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, “God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan. And Rachel's maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.

Rachel sees Leah’s gain as her loss. The pretty one isn’t used to being on the same level as her sister. Rachel’s petulant line, “Give me children, or I shall die!” is reminiscent of Esau’s silly claim that he was about to starve to death when he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. Jacob is right to be angry; Rachel is being a spoiled brat.

Jacob still loves Rachel more than Leah; he just doesn’t hate Leah any more. If Rachel was being rational, she would realize that her four nephews are almost like sons to her. Bilhah’s sons are much less related to her than Leah’s; the only thing special she gets with them is the right to pick the names.

And she plays that to the max. Dan means “judge” and Naphtali means “my wrestling.” That’s ridiculous. No one’s being judged here, and it’s not a wrestling match. It’s a good thing that Jacob is growing because Rachel sure isn’t.

Rachel is being sinfully competitive. Conversely, Leah just wants to be loved. She may not be pretty, but all these sons make her a star among women. Check out how much higher birth-related mortality rates were just a few decades ago.

Imagine what they were hundreds of decades ago.

Praise God for modern medicine. Science has made many wondrous advances. Still, many of us have ongoing battles with illness.

We pray for those who are ill (as we should) but what about the researchers? Lately, a lot of the most amazing answers to my prayers have come though new technologies. People are actually getting cured of cancer. Immunotherapy has changed everything.

God works through His servants. While God can and does heal miraculously, He also heals through the hands of others. Don’t forget to pray for them too.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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