Genesis 30:16 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 30:16, NIV: "So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. 'You must sleep with me,' she said. 'I have hired you with my son's mandrakes.' So he slept with her that night."

Genesis 30:16, ESV: "When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night."

Genesis 30:16, KJV: "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."

Genesis 30:16, NASB: "When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, 'You must have relations with me, for I have indeed hired you with my son’s mandrakes.' So he slept with her that night."

Genesis 30:16, NLT: "So that evening, as Jacob was coming home from the fields, Leah went out to meet him. 'You must come and sleep with me tonight!' she said. 'I have paid for you with some mandrakes that my son found.' So that night he slept with Leah."

Genesis 30:16, CSB: "When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, "You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son's mandrakes." So Jacob slept with her that night."

What does Genesis 30:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The motive for this odd arrangement is a "birth race" between these two sisters. Leah has conceived four children of her own (Genesis 29:31–35), plus two more through her servant, Zilpah (Genesis 30:9–13). Rachel, on her part, has been infertile, but has obtained two children through her servant, Bilhah (Genesis 30:1–3). Rachel clearly holds the power in this growing and unusual family, and might very well have convinced Jacob to stop sleeping with Leah (Genesis 29:35; 30:15). Now, in exchange for some of Leah's mandrake plants, thought to be beneficial to infertile women, Rachel has agreed to allow their mutual husband, Jacob, to spend one night with Leah (Genesis 30:14).

Now Leah claims what she has purchased. She tells Jacob that he belongs to her for the night. She has hired him. He must come with her. We're not told any details of Jacob's response, but he does agree to come home with Leah and sleep with her. As he often does, Jacob appears to be a passive bystander in the story of his own life, submitting to the will of the stronger personalities around him.

Still, God uses all the personalities in this complicated and messy family to continue to accomplish His plan for Jacob and for Israel. God's blessings were not dependent on the apparent worthiness of those to whom He was giving them. He graciously keeps His promises in all circumstances.