Bible Stories in Genesis - Part 3

"12 Sons for Jacob - Israel"

How the man who loved only one woman, Rachel, ended up with 4 wives and 12 sons!





A Story remembered from hearing it scores of times at his mother's knee and from Sabbath School teachers and Church School teachers

by Dr. Benjamin Carson MD


    Dr. Ben Carson received a lot of unfavorable publicity early in his campaign to become President of the United States because of his stated belief that the Biblical story of Joseph son of Jacob was true, that there was indeed a 7-year famine in Egypt in the days of Joseph, and that one or several pyramids was connected in some way with the storage of grain supervised by Joseph.

Genesis  37:2 "These are the generations of Jacob.

   "Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren, and the lad was with with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph  brought unto his father their evil report."

    4 "And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him."

    Before this story ends, Joseph ends up in Egypt, quite a ways from where Joseph was tending sheep with his jealous troublesome brothers.  But Joseph was not the first in this family that went to Egypt.  Abraham his (supposed) great-grandfather had gone to Egypt with his wife Sarah.

     After the Egyptian Pharaoh discovered that Abraham's beautiful wife Sarai, later renamed Sarah, was not Abraham's sister, as Abraham had let everyone know was the case, but instead Abraham's wife, Pharaoh had insisted that he leave Egypt -- but when he left he was a very rich man.

   Genesis 13:2 "And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold."

    Abraham had two children -- Ishmael with his wife's hand-maid, Hagar,  -- and at 100 years old -- Isaac with his 90 year old wife Sarah.

      Abraham did not wish for Isaac to marry any of the local Canaanite women, so he sent his trusted eldest servant  to invite Rebekah, a relative of his who lived in Padan-aram, to be Isaac's wife.  She accepted, and they had two sons, Jacob and Esau, which were twins.

       Jacob left home after he had cheated his brother out of his birthright, and fled to Padan-Aram, where his mother Rebekah had been raised, and became a shepherd, tending the flocks and herds of his uncle Laban.

       He married his uncle Laban's two daughters, Rachal and Leah, serving 7 years as a dowry for Leah, and another 7 years as a dowry for Rebekah.

      Jacob had children with both of them, and with their two maidservants, who became his concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah.  Whose sons Joseph was tending sheep with as this page began.  Here's the line-up of Jacob's 12 sons, and who their mothers were.


     The story of how Jacob was tricked into having two wives when he was only in love with one of these two girls, Rachel, as well as the story of the circumstances surrounding the births of each of these 12 sons takes up a good part of Genesis 29 and 30.  Each son being named an appropriate name by his mother, except Benjamin, whose mother Rachel died at his birth.  Jacob renamed him Benjamin because he rejected the sorrowful name Benoni that Rachel called him as she was dying.

   Genesis 29:16 "And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel."

    17 "Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured."

    18 "And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter."

     19 "And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man; abide with me."

      20 "And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had for her."

     21 "And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her."

    22 "And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast."

    23 "And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her."

    24 "And Laban gave unto his daughter Zilpah his maid for an handmaid."

    25 "And it csame to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me?  did I not serve with thee for Rachal?  wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?"

    26 "And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn."

    27 "Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me for yet seven other years,"

    28 "And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.":

    29 "And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid."

    30 "And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven years.'

    31 "And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren."

    32 "And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben; for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me."

     33 "And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also; and she called his name Simeon."

     34 "And she conceived again, and bare a son; and she said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi."

     35 "And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah, and left bearing."

    Genesis 30:1 "And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die."

     2 "And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God';s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?"

     3 "And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall near upon my knees, that I may also have children by her."

     4 "And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife; and Jacob went in unto her."

     5 "And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jjoseph a son."

     6 "And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan."

     7 "And Bilhah Rachel's maid conceived again, sand bare Jacob a second son."

     8 "And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali."

     9 "When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah, her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife,"

    10 "And  Zilpah Leah's maid bare Joseph a son."

    11 "And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad."

    12 "And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son."

    13 "And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed; and she called his name Asher."

     14 "And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah.  Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes."

     15 "And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son's mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son's mandrakes."

     16 "And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes.  And he lay with her that night."

     17 "And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Joseph a fitth son."

     18 "And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issacher."

      19 "And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son."

     20 "And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulin."

     21 "And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah."

     22 "And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened unto her, and opened her womb."

     23 "And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach:--"

     24 "And she called his name Joseph; and she said, The Lord shall add to me another son.""

     (After working 14 years for his two wives, Jacob worked 6 more years for Laban, accepting sheep in exchange for his work)

    Genesis 35:16 "And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to

Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour."

     17 "And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also."

     18 "And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni (son of sorrow): but his father called him Benjamin (son of my right hand)..

      9 "And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem."

     20 "And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day."

     21 "And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar."

     22 "And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; and Israel heard it.

     Now the sons of Jacob were twelve."

     23 "The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulin."

     24 "The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamn.

     25 "And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphthali:"

     26 "And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; God, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padan-aram."

    To Move to the story of Joseph "the Dreamer", and Dr. Ben Carson, who believes these stories,-- Click this Line


Who wrote Genesis?


WAbraham and Sarah in Egypt


12 Sons for Jacob-Israel


Joseph the Dreamer


Imhotep 1



Imhotep 2




Grain Storage


Joseph Sold into Slavery


Tempted and in Prison


Pharaoh's Dreams


Joseph Grand Visier


Who Copied Who?


Magdalene 1


 Magdalene 2


NT Joseph Jesus' Father