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What did Jacob use to spot the cows he took from his father-in-law?
Thank you for the question. I suspect that you are very familiar with the story of Jacob, Laban, Rachel, and Leah, in Genesis 28-32. This is a very rich area for in-depth study!
As you know, Jacob took poplar, almond, and chesnut trees, fresh and green, and stripped off part of the bark, so that the white tree trunk and the bark that was left looked "spotted" and "streaked". Then he laid the spotted tree trunks, or "rods" in the watering troughs when the strongest of the female animals were mating. Looking at these "spotted rods" while mating resulted in a strong herd of "spotted" animals for Jacob, and he slowly took the best of Laban's herd's away from him.
We must wonder at this point what effect the experience of parents has on conception and the fetus and birth process. Science has proved that a fetus responds to things like the music the mother is listening to. And we know that drugs, alcohol, smoking, and AIDS etc. affect the fetus. A VERY interesting area of thought. As Christians, we must do our best to know what pleases God, and line up our lives with it, but, we must also receive our life, the good and the bad, from the very hand of God, who has a perfect purpose in ALL things.
The 3 trees used may be significant also. The poplar was known most for it's shade, the almond for bitterness, and the chesnut was known for it's great height, and was used to illustrate greatness and power.
Jacob himself was a mixture of these 3 characteristics, in that he was born "Jacob", meaning "supplanter", or "cheater" and he lived up to his name. But, he himself was "cheated" as often as he cheated others. Laban's trick of making him work 14 years for his 2 daughters illustrates this point. This also reminds us that the only "hell" the child of God will see is here on this earth. As the comic strip character "Pogo" stated so wisely, "We've met the enemy, and it's US"! (Col. 3:25, we shall be receiving for the wrong that we are doing).
But, God took Jacob the "cheater" and turned him into "Israel", the one who wrestled with God and prevailed, in Gen. 32:24 - 32. In the rest of the Scriptures, God quite often calls the Jews "Israel" when they are in fellowship, and "Jacob", when they are out of fellowship. (Examp: last 3 1/2 yr. of the Tribulation is called "Jacob's trouble" in Jer. 30:7).
How did Jacob come up with the "spotted rods" and why did it work?
1. In Gen 31:10-13, Jacob describes a dream that he had, that states that God was behind the "spotted rods" and resultant spotted herd that blessed Jacob. It is clear to me, from a careful study of the Hebrew text, that Jacob had the dream from God about the spotted herd, BEFORE he mentioned the idea to Laban, and that it was God's idea, and not Jacob's.
2. In Gen. 28:20-22 Jacob vows to serve God, and in Gen. 31:7-9 and Gen. 32:9&10, Jacob states that God is the source of his blessings and he gives God thanks.
3. God himself, and He only, is in charge of conception and birth:
a. God is in charge of human conception, examples, Rachel and Leah themselves, in Gen. 30:17 & 22, and David, in Psalm 51, and many others.
b. Exodus 4:11 God is even in charge of birth defects.
c. Psalm 29:9 God is also in charge of animal procreation.
I believe the answer then is that Jacob's stripping of the bark and placing the "spotted" rods in the watering troughs was not his idea, but was an act of obedience to God.
Again, thanks for the question, and by all means, if you have further insight, or questions, let me know.
Yours in Christ,
Eph. 1:15 - 19,