God Remembered Rachel and Opened Her Womb and She Gave Birth to a Son

30: 22-24

DIG: In what sense had God remembered Rachel? What significance did Joseph’s name have for Rachel? What was the irony of childbirth for Rachel? How was Joseph’s birth a turning point in the life of Jacob?

REFLECT: What has God added to your life lately? Are you grateful or resentful?

God remembered Noah (8:1) and then He also remembered Rachel. Not that He had forgotten her, but He remembered her in the sense of moving toward her in grace. He listened to her prayers and opened her womb (30:22). This will be the eleventh son of Jacob; four with Leah (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah), two with Leah’s maidservant Zilpah (Gad and Asher), two more with Leah (Issachar and Zebulun), two with Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah (Dan and Naphtali), and now Joseph. Simply prodigious.

She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. There is no mention of mandrakes on her lips; she knew that ADONAI was at work in her life. She said: God has taken away the disgrace of my barrenness. The Hebrew word for has taken away is asaf, and means a removal of disgrace, in the past tense. Once proud of her beauty and figure, she has been sufficiently humbled. Probably at his circumcision, she named him Joseph, which means addition or he shall add, in the future tense. The name combines two thoughts, first the idea of asaph, to take away, and secondly, yosef, which means to add. By naming him this, she was saying that in the past God had taken away her disgrace. And by faith, she was praying that ADONAI would add to her another son in the future because Joseph means he shall add (30:23-24). Indeed, her hope was fulfilled, probably about fifteen years later, when she gave birth to Benjamin. At one time she felt that if she couldn’t have children, she would die (30:1), but the reality was that in having children, she would die in childbirth (35:16-18). This was Jacob’s twelfth, and last, child.

Ya’akov was ninety-three when Joseph was born, and his birth seems to be a turning point in his life. It prompted a desire for Jacob to return to his own country.


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