Jacob had twelve sons

Genesis 29:31-30:24 and 35:16-26. Jacob had only eleven sons born to him before he left Laban in Paddan Aram e.g. Northern Euphrates (now eastern Turkey or northern Syria).

Benjamin was born to his wife Rachel later, Genesis 35:16-26.

These Twelve sons were to become the 12 tribes of Israel.

Leah also bore Jacob a daughter called Dinah. Later we find her involved in an unhappy event with the sons of Jacob. See Genesis 34:1-31.

Background Reading:

Jacob had twelve sons – Leah’s Children

29:31 Later, the LORD noticed that Leah was being neglected, so he made her fertile, while Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah conceived, bore a son, and named him Reuben, because she was saying, “The LORD had looked on my torture, so now my husband will love me.”

33 Later, she conceived again, bore a son, and declared, “Because the LORD heard that I’m neglected, he gave me this one, too.” So she named him Simeon.

34 Later, she conceived again and said, “This time my husband will become attached to me, now that I’ve borne him three sons.” So he named him Levi.

35 Then she conceived yet again, bore a son, and said, “This time I’ll praise the LORD.” So she named him Judah.

Then she stopped bearing children.
Genesis 29:31-35


Rachel’s Children by Bilhah

30:1 Rachel noticed that she was not bearing children for Jacob, so because she envied her sister Leah, she told Jacob, “If you don’t give me sons, I’m going to die!”

2 That made Jacob angry with Rachel, so he asked her, “Can I take God’s place, who has not allowed you to conceive?”

3 Rachel responded, “Here’s my handmaid Bilhah. Go have sex with her. She can bear children on my knees so I can have children through her.”

4 So Rachel gave Jacob her woman servant Bilhah to be his wife, and Jacob had sex with her. 5 Bilhah conceived and bore a son for Jacob. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me! He has heard my voice and has given me a son.” Therefore, she named him Dan.

7 Rachel’s servant conceived again and bore a second son for Jacob, 8 so Rachel said, “I’ve been through a mighty struggle with my sister and won.” She named him Naphtali.

9 When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing children, she took her woman servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore a son to Jacob, 11 and Leah exclaimed, “How fortunate!” So she named him Gad.

12 Later, Leah’s servant Zilpah bore a second son for Jacob. 13 She said, “How happy I am, because women will call me happy!” So she named him Asher.

Outcome of the Mandrakes found by Reuben

14 Some time later, during the wheat harvest season, Reuben went out and found some mandrakes in the field and brought them back for his mother Leah. Then Rachel told Leah, “Please give me your son’s mandrakes.”

15 In response, Leah asked her, “Wasn’t it enough that you’ve taken away my husband? Now you also want to take my son’s mandrakes!”

But Rachel replied, “Okay, let’s let Jacob sleep with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”

16 When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went to meet him and told him, “You’re having sex with me tonight. I traded my son’s mandrakes for you!” So he slept with her that night.

17 God heard what Leah had said, so she conceived and bore a fifth son for Jacob. 18 Then Leah said, “God has paid me for giving my servant to my husband as his wife.” So she named him Issachar.

19 Later, Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son for Jacob. 20 Then Leah said, “God has given me a good gift. This time my husband will exalt me, because I’ve borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.

21 After that, Leah conceived, bore a daughter, and named her Dinah.

Rachel’s Son Joseph is Born

22 Then God remembered Rachel. He listened to her and opened her womb, 23 so she conceived, bore a son, and remarked, “God has removed my shame.” 24 Because she had been asking, “May God give me another son,” she named him Joseph.
Genesis 30:1-24


Rachel Dies in Childbirth

35:16 Later, they set out from Beth-el. While still a long way from Ephrathah, Rachel started to have trouble giving birth. 17 While she was suffering due to her difficult labor, the midwife told her, “Don’t fear! You’re going to have another son.”

18 Just before she died, Rachel called her son’s name Ben-oni, but his father Jacob named him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrathah, also known as Bethlehem. 20 Jacob erected a pillar over her grave, and that pillar stands over Rachel’s grave to this day.

Jacob Settles Near Migdal Eder

21 Jacob continued his travels, and eventually pitched his tent facing Migdal Eder. 22 But while Israel lived in that land, Reuben went inside his father’s tent and had sexual relations with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard about it. Now Jacob had twelve sons. 23 Leah’s sons were Reuben (Jacob’s first-born), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 Rachel’s sons were Joseph and Benjamin. 25 Rachel’s servant Bilhah’s sons were Dan and Naphtali. 26 Leah’s servant Zilpah’s sons were Gad and Asher. These were Jacob’s sons who were born to him while he lived in Paddan-aram.
Genesis 35:16-26

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