As he has done in the past (see, e.g., Gen. 27), in Gen. 30:37ff Jacob is trying to achieve success by using questionable methods. The process he attempts to use to make the sheep give birth to lambs that will enlarge his flock has no scientific basis1, was, at best, a folk belief2 or, at worst, could even have been part of a pagan superstition3. This incident is another example of Jacob’s unfaithfulness to God and general deceitfulness.
Even though Jacob is being deceitful, God still blesses him and enlarges his flock. This is because God is a kind God who keeps his promises, and he’d made a promise to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, that he’d make him into a mighty nation (Gen. 12:2).
Thankfully, in Gen. 31, Jacob realises that his success was actually due to God (Gen. 31:7-12).
The real lesson from the record of Gen. 30 is not about Jacob’s deceitfulness, but about the kindness that God shows even to sinners like Jacob (and like you and me: Rom. 5:8).
- Clyde M. Woods
- E. A. Speiser, Anchor Bible Commentary: Genesis
- John T. Willis, Living Word Commentary