14 ¶ And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes. 15 And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son’s mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son’s mandrakes. 16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night. 17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son. 18 And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar. 19 And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son. 20 And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun. 21 And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah. 22 And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. 23 And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: 24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.
In these passages we have been shown a great example of God’s permissive will. We have seen events occur that God did not specifically command or ordain but we see the actions and reactions of human beings and how God wove their free will into His will that a people should be formed whom He would enter in at a singular point in history as the Son of God, God in the flesh, who was and is Jesus Christ.
Mandrakes were, according to some authors, thought to be useful for stimulating fertility as well as for having an aphrodisiac quality. This was a purely humanistic and superstitious belief which, like others of man then and now, God simply ignores. Here, we are told of the argument between Rachel and Leah regarding mandrakes. Yet, it is only when God chooses to acknowledge or hearken unto Leah that she conceives. God cares not a whit for your rabbit’s foot, whether you think wearing your socks inside out is lucky, or for any other lucky charm you carry from your heathen ancestors. His will shall be done regardless of such accouterments. Do not mistake the mention of something in the Bible for God’s approval or for any power on its part. It merely reveals the incomplete and imperfect understanding of the Bible’s characters, similar to our own in many cases.
God heard Leah and gave her Issachar, meaning that God has paid Leah. He is sort of like her payment for giving up the mandrakes, in her thinking. She then gave birth to Zebulun, named so because God had lifted her up and given her a plentiful dowry with which to bless her husband.
Finally, she gave birth to a daughter named Dinah. Although it is not evident from the text Dinah’s name has a similar meaning to Dan’s in it being judgment.
Rachel is not forgotten. We’ve seen this use of the word remembered before, if you recall, in comments on 8:1.
And God remembered Rachel does not say, in this context, that God forgot about her but that God revisited her, brought her back into play, turned His attention to her. In pre-1611 dictionaries something remembered was something worthy to be mentioned, thought about, or spoken of, not as it is often today, something I had forgotten but has now come to mind.
Joseph’s name means that Jehovah, which is what LORD is with all capitals, has added, which is evident by the context.