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A Prevailing Theme

A Prevailing Theme

Genesis 30:7-8

Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.

I only took one semester of Hebrew in college, but it was enough to give me a glimpse into the pictorial power of the ancient language. We studied Jonah in class, and I’ll never forget our professor pointing out how the inspired author paints a stormy hue to the narrative by repeatedly using the imagery of something being hurled across the landscape (God hurls a storm at Jonah; the sailors hurl Jonah into the sea; the fish hurls Jonah onto the shore, etc.), the way a watercolor artist paints a brown wash over a blank canvas to darken the ‘tone’ of the whole composition. So this word Naphtali here in Genesis 30 isn’t just a name for one of Jacob’s sons; it’s the color of the entire family drama: the watercolor wash that bleeds through the threads of Jacob’s home-life. Sister vs sister, brother vs brother, husband vs wife, father vs son—it’s one sparring match after another.      

But friend, remember: a canvas bleeding in conflict can still be bathed in the grace of God. And thanks be to Christ, this portrait won’t end in wrestling. It ends in prevailing.