Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Genesis 46:16-18 Jacob's Descendants Through Zilpah

When Jacob's uncle Laban tricked Jacob by giving him Leah as a wife (when Jacob had wanted Rachel), Zilpah had been given to Leah as a handmaid to accompany her.  Later, when Rachel and Leah had their "Battle of the Babies", Leah had given her servant Zilpah to Jacob as an additional wife, in order to have more children with which to impress Jacob and win his love.  Although this did not change Jacob's feelings toward her, it did result in two more sons being added to Jacob's line:  Gad and Asher.

Our present passage is discussing these sons of Jacob and Zilpah:

"The sons of Gad:  Zephon, Haggai, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.

The sons of Asher:  Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah.  Their sister was Serah.
                           The sons of Beriah:  Heber and Malkiel.

These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah --  sixteen in all."  (Genesis 46:16-18 NIV)
There are not too many passages which speak of Zilpah, aside from the fact that she bore Jacob two sons.  The only other one which I could find was in Genesis 37:2, where Joseph brought back a bad report about his half-brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah.

At times Zilpah is called the 'wife' of Jacob and at others, his 'concubine'.  I believe she would have had a lesser status than Rachel and Leah, and her children would be considered to 'belong' to Leah.  The same would be true of the relationship between Rachel and Bilhah.

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