Before returning to his own country, Jacob asked his uncle Laban for his wages as follows:
Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages. (Gen 30:32ESV)
Laban agreed, and then Jacob tried to increase his wages in the following way:
Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks. He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. Gen 30:37-39 ESV)
This method of producing striped, speckled, and spotted offspring seems like superstition. Yet, the author of Genesis, whether Moses or someone else, seems to have believed that when the flocks viewed peeled sticks while mating, they would produce striped, speckled, and spotted offspring. Then he records that this technique actually worked.
If the story is true, here are my questions:
- What was the cause (if any) of the striped, speckled, and spotted offspring?
- Was it only a coincidence that striped, speckled, and spotted offspring were produced?
- Did God indulge Jacob’s seemingly superstitious belief by causing the flocks to produce striped, speckled, and spotted offspring? That seem unlike God.