14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?” “Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” 16 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. 17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar. 19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. 21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah. 22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24 She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”
This passage occurs in the midst of a competition between two sisters (Rachel and Leah) married to the same man (Jacob). Whilst Rachel has Jacob’s heart, Leah is the one bearing him sons. So an exchange occurs – Rachel asks for Leah’s mandrakes in exchange for a night with Jacob. I wasn’t sure of the importance of mandrakes so I looked up what they were used for in ancient times, and found out that Rachel probably hoped they’d act as a fertility drug. However doing things in her own strength doesn’t pay off. Leah ends up pregnant yet again and Rachel remains childless. In fact Leah has another two children before God finally blesses Rachel with a son, Joseph, who goes on to do amazing things for God and his people.
Reading this today I’m reminded of the importance of waiting on God, even when it seems He’s being slow to respond. When I try to make things happen in my own strength so often I find myself fighting an uphill battle, struggling and definitely not bearing the fruit I’d hoped for. But when it’s God’s timing doors open and things fall into place and I’m always left amazed.
God, thank you that you know what you’re doing. Thank you that you don’t call us to strive for blessing but instead to wait on you. Help me to trust you and your timing.
Written by Rhiannon Mellor