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As the years wore on, Rachel told Jacob that if she didn't conceive a child for him, she was going to die. And this pissed off Jacob, because she was asking him to do what God alone could do. So Rachel resorted to surrogate mothers. The first one was her maid Bilhah. She authorized Jacob to impregnate her, and Bilhah bore Jacob a son named Dan and another one named Naphtali.

And Leah began to suspect that she was finished bearing children, so she authorized Jacob to impregnate her maid Zilpah, and Zilpah bore Jacob a son named Gad and another one named Asher. Then Leah tried her luck with Jacob once more, and she conceived and bore a son named Issachar, and later another son named Zebulun and a daughter named Dinah. Finally God allowed Rachel to conceive a son of her own, and she produced Joseph.

Now Jacob asked Laban to release him from service, so he could return to his own place. And Laban knew that God had greatly increased his herd for the sake of Jacob, and asked what shall be his final payment. Jacob suggested that they divide the flock such that Jacob received all the speckled cattle and all the spotted goats and sheep, leaving Laban all the rest. And this sounded like a good plan. "Make it so, Number One."

So Jacob took his portion about three days ride away, then he returned to keep feeding and tending Laban's flock, because it was not yet time to quit. And while the herd was drinking, Jacob whittled some green sticks so they they appeared with white stripes in them, and he set these sticks into the ground. And when Laban's unspeckled cattle and sheep and goats conceived near these rods, Jacob reasoned, they would bear calves which would be speckled.

There is no scientific basis for this procedure, of course, but God could have interfered with the genetic "allele frequencies" to favor Jacob, whatever he did. That Jacob provided the physical action of making and posting the sticks shows that humans are to cooperate with God's grace. "God helps those who help themselves" the cliche goes.

And to add insult to injury, Jacob did this stunt only when the stronger animals conceived, but withheld his sticks when the weaker ones conceived. Thus Laban's flock of unspeckled cattle, white sheep, and spotted goats dwindled in numbers and became enfeebled, while Jacob's herd grew in numbers and strength. Apart from Jacob's fourteen years of service for the hand of Leah and Rachel, he served Laban another six years, building his herd in this way. Thus Jacob is revenged a hundredfold for Laban's trickery, but no guilt can be laid at Jacob's door.

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Strangers In Paradise