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Genesis 30: 31 - 43
31 And he* said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock.
32 I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire.
35 And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats that were speckled and spotted, and every one that had some white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons.
36 And he set three days' journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks.
37 And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chesnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.
38 And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.
39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.
40 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.
41 And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.
42 But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.
43 And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.
Ch. 31: 7 - 12.
7 And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.
8 If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked.
9 Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.
10 And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled.
11 And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.
*Laban, Jacob's uncle
Here is an interesting story about Jacob, a man soon to become faithful but a pretty crafty fellow. In contrast with his other dealings, however, he is the victim here, for in staying with his uncle Laban, marrying his daughters and working for wages, Laban has been dishonest by changing his wages (Jacob's being paid with flocks of sheep in this case) every time it seems that Jacob is getting richer!
So, some interesting things happen:
Jacob seems to be able to produce anomalies with the sheep by setting striped rods or sticks in front of them while they mate, and as a result, speckled, striped, or spotted sheep are born. On the other hand, it seems that God is helping and working in Jacob's life because of Laban's dishonesty; after all, every time Laban changes the deal, and Jacob receives a type of sheep as his pay, that type of sheep is suddenly the majority born! How can we reconcile the fact that Jacob is a man whom God is with, yet he's a tricky kind of guy?
Well, God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and He did choose Jacob. At the same time, Jacob was undoubtedly and thoroughly taken advantage of by Laban, and God saw it. And this period of time is before Moses, before the Law, and the commandments thereof, so at this story's time, there aren't really laws to follow. (So the time before and after the law can't be compared exactly.)
It seems that one of the points in this story (and I'm sure there's many more) is to show that God blesses whom he wants to bless. Romans 9:15 says that God will have mercy on whom he wants to have mercy on. Another point of this story can be that God calls people who are not necessarily the most righteous. If you want to take a further step, you may say that Jacob taking the sheep that were not completely white symbolizes how Jesus Christ called us, the sinful, to turn to Him as our Savior, our Good Shepherd!
Now, I just want to know one thing: Could we create speckled sheep by setting striped rods in front of them today? Has that been attempted? Any curious shepherds out there that can tell me that?
Did you know what I meant by turning to the Good Shepherd? If not, begin here!