What does Genesis 30:40 mean?
ESV: And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban’s flock.
NIV: Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban's animals.
NASB: Then Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban; and he put his own herds apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock.
CSB: Jacob separated the lambs and made the flocks face the streaked sheep and the completely dark sheep in Laban's flocks. Then he set his own stock apart and didn't put them with Laban's sheep.
NLT: Jacob separated those lambs from Laban’s flock. And at mating time he turned the flock to face Laban’s animals that were streaked or black. This is how he built his own flock instead of increasing Laban’s.
KJV: And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban's cattle.
NKJV: Then Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the streaked and all the brown in the flock of Laban; but he put his own flocks by themselves and did not put them with Laban’s flock.
Verse Commentary:
The previous verses described Jacob's strategy for getting the black goats to produce striped, speckled, and spotted offspring. This verse describes his method for getting the white sheep to produce black lambs. This is a notoriously difficult verse to translate, and to interpret. It's possible that Jacob caused the white sheep to mate while facing the black and striped animals in the flock, causing them to produce black offspring.

Once more, this isn't intended to show that either Jacob or the Bible believed this to be a scientific method for breeding off-color animals. Jacob understood from the Lord that the flock was going to yield off-color animals (Genesis 31:7–12). The Lord honored Jacob's method for identifying which of those animals he wanted to produce off-color offspring and caused it to happen. As the following verses will reveal, Jacob did not want all of the animals to be striped, speckled, spotted, or off-color.

As the off-color animals were born, Jacob separated them from the rest of the flock. In short, he separated his burgeoning flock from Laban's, allowing him to keep track of just how quickly his own wealth was growing.
Verse Context:
Genesis 30:25-43 describes Jacob's struggle to convince Laban to allow him to return to his own people with his wives and children, even though the 14 years of Jacob's contracted service have ended. Laban asks Jacob to name new wages to continue to work for him. Laban knows he has grown wealthy due to the Lord's blessing on Jacob. Jacob asks to own all the new off-color sheep and goats that will be born to Laban's flock. Laban agrees and quickly tries to cheat Jacob. Nevertheless, the Lord blesses Jacob's unusual breeding practices, causing so many off-color animals to be born in the flock that Jacob becomes a wealthy man in his own right. Soon he will leave Laban behind for good.
Chapter Summary:
God alone gives children. He causes babies to be born. He even determines what color baby sheep and goats will be. Genesis 30 describes the urgent desire of Rachel and Leah to have sons for Jacob and how God hears and grants their prayers in His own time. In addition, God blesses Jacob's unusual breeding practices with Laban's flocks to finally allow Jacob to overcome his father-in-law's schemes to keep Jacob under his service.
Chapter Context:
In the previous chapter, Laban tricked Jacob both into marrying Leah along with Rachel and into working for him as a servant for a total of fourteen years. God blessed unloved Leah by allowing her to bear four sons to Jacob. As this chapter opens, Rachel remains barren while Leah and both of their servant women continue to bear sons. Finally God answers Rachel's prayer, allowing her to bear Joseph. His contract completed, Jacob demands Laban send him away to his own people. Laban refuses, asking Jacob to set new terms for his service. Jacob's deal, along with the Lord's blessing and his unusual breeding practices with the flocks, results in Jacob becoming a wealthy man in his own right. This wealth and power will enable him to finally break free and return home.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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