2 Feb. Genesis 29:31-35,30:1-12,17-24

2 Feb. Jacob has twelve sons – the origin of the twelve tribes of Israel

“When the Lord saw that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, he made it possible for Leah to have children, but not Rachel. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben [meaning ‘he has seen my troubles’] because she said, ‘The LORD has seen my troubles. Surely now my husband will love me.’”

“Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon [meaning ‘he has heard’] and said, ‘The LORD has heard that I am not loved, so he has given me this son.’”

“Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Levi [meaning ‘be close to’] and said, ‘Now, surely my husband will be close to me, because I have given him three sons.’”

“Then Leah gave birth to another son. She named him Judah [meaning ‘praise’], because she said, ‘Now I will praise the LORD.’ Then Leah stopped having children.”

“When Rachel saw that she was not having children for Jacob, she envied her sister Leah. She said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I’ll die!’ Jacob became angry with her and said, ‘Can I do what only God can do? He is the one who has kept you from having children.’”

“Then Rachel said, ‘Here is my slave girl Bilhah. Have sexual relations with her so she can give birth to a child for me. Then I can have my own family through her.’”

“So Rachel gave Bilhah, her slave girl, to Jacob as a wife, and he had sexual relations with her. She became pregnant and gave Jacob a son. Rachel said, ‘God has judged me innocent. He has listened to my prayer and has given me a son.’ So she named him Dan [meaning ‘he has judged’].”

“Bilhah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a second son. Rachel said, ‘I have struggled hard with my sister, and I have won.’ So she named that son Naphtali [meaning ‘my struggle’].”

“Leah saw that she had stopped having children, so she gave her slave girl Zilpah to Jacob as a wife. When Zilpah had a son, Leah said, ‘I am lucky,’ so she named him Gad [meaning ‘lucky’].”

“Zilpah gave birth to another son, and Leah said, ‘I am very happy. Now women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher [meaning ‘happy’]…”

“Then God answered Leah’s prayer, and she became pregnant again. She gave birth to a fifth son and said, ‘God has given me what I paid for, because I gave my slave girl to my husband.’ So Leah named her son Issachar [meaning ‘paid for’].”

“Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to a sixth son. She said, ‘God has given me a fine gift. Now surely Jacob will honour me, because I have given him six sons.’ So she named him Zebulun [meaning ‘honour’]…”

“Then God remembered Rachel and answered her prayer, making it possible for her to have children. When she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, she said, ‘God has taken away my shame,’ and she named him Joseph [meaning ‘he adds’].”

          (Genesis 29:31-35, 30:1-12 & 17-24)


Jacob (later called 'Israel' - see Genesis 32:28) had twelve sons by his wives Leah and Rachel, and their slave girls Zilpah and Bilhah – who became the fathers of the '12 tribes of Israel'.

Jacob’s favourite son was Joseph, the son of Rachel (his favourite wife), born in c.1700BC, and his second favourite was Benjamin, born to Rachel after Jacob and his wives left Mesopotamia and returned to Canaan (see Genesis 35:16-21).

The diagram shows the wives of Jacob and his twelve sons (the ‘twelve tribes of Israel’).

You can read more about Jacob’s family @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/24-the-journeys-of-isaac-jacob-joseph/jacob-cheats-esau-and-flees-to-mesopotamia/

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