NKJV - 41 And it came to pass, whenever the stronger livestock conceived, that Jacob placed the rods before the eyes of the livestock in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.
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[Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree] Here Jacob tampered with nature but whether this caused him any prosperity is not certain, because Gen. 31:4-13 indicates that God was helping him. Laban had deceived him by changing his wages ten times, but God saw to it that Jacob received his just compensation (Gen. 31:5,7,9,11-12). [pilled] Literally, "peeled a peeling," meaning he made white stripes in the rods by laying the white wood bare (Gen. 30:37). Notes For Verse 39 a [conceived] Hebrew: yacham (HSN-), be in heat. When translated conceived it is only used of animals except in Ps. 51:5.
Though the bible does not say so, I believe that Jacob had been in prayer about how Laban had cheated him in the past and wanting to return to his family. God probably either spoke to him or inspired him to place the spotted and or striped poles before the livestock in heat as an act of faith that God would influence the outcome favorably in Jacob's behalf. Verse 33 of the same chapter shows that Jacob knew it was God, not he, who influenced the outcome when he used the word "tsedaqah," meaning "righteousness of God," when he said, "So shall my righteousness answer for me". This would be similar to God instructing his prophets, like Isaiah, to perform certain physical acts as an indicator of things to come. The rods themselves did not accomplish the feat; rather the faith demonstrated by placing the rods accomplished the feat.
Genesis 30:41 is an interesting insight into Jacob’s mistaken view that what a mother sees during conception influences the appearance of the offspring. The truth be told, that folktale is still prevalent today is some places. Nevertheless, these events have been a source of criticism by nonbelievers. They contend that the Bible is nothing more than a series of folktales and should not be taken seriously. On the surface this seems like a valid view point without further investigation. It is probably true that Jacob thought he was influencing the beneficial outcome that was giving him more and stronger sheep than Laban. So, does that mean that the Bible agrees with what today is scientific nonsense? No, because a few verses later in the text, God informs Jacob of what was really happening. “The angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob.' I answered, 'Here I am.' (12) And he said, 'Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.” (Genesis 21:11-12) So, the matter is cleared up despite what Jacob’s original thoughts might have been. Once again, the Bible shuts the mouths of its critics. As an aside, it is interesting to note that the “Angle of God” may have been Jesus in his pre-human form because he concludes his comments to Jacob by speaking in the first person as if he were God Himself.
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