Bartering to be with your husband 

Old Testament: Gen 30.14–16

To read the Bible in a year, read Genesis 29–30 on January 12, In the year of our Lord Christ 2022

By Don Ruhl 

Some might imagine polygamy to be a happy arrangement, because the man can have more than one woman, and the woman does not always have to please her husband, but can let another wife take care of the matter. 

However, as you read of Jacob’s life with four wives/concubines, things do not always appear to be the best: 

Now Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But she said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?”  And Rachel said, “Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.” When Jacob came out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” And he lay with her that night.

– Genesis 30.14–16 

The Bible does not tell us how often things like this happened, and that might be because it only happened this once, or the Bible only mentions this because of how it fits into the story. On the other hand, we know that there was competition to have children. 

Whatever the situation, God knew what was best for Man, stating in the beginning that marriage is only for one man and one woman. 

Questions: 

  • What are mandrakes? 
  • Why is polygamy not as popular in most places as it once was? 

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