I noticed three inconsistencies between how the Torah describes the conception and delivery of the children of Bilhah and Zilpha, only 5 verses apart.

The conception/birth of Bilhah's son Dan is described (Genesis 30:5):

וַתַּ֣הַר בִּלְהָ֔ה וַתֵּ֥לֶד לְיַעֲקֹ֖ב בֵּֽן׃

Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son.

The conception/birth of Bilhah's son Naftali is described (Genesis 30:7):

וַתַּ֣הַר ע֔וֹד וַתֵּ֕לֶד בִּלְהָ֖ה שִׁפְחַ֣ת רָחֵ֑ל בֵּ֥ן שֵׁנִ֖י לְיַעֲקֹֽב׃

Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.

The birth of Zilpah's son Gad is described (Genesis 30:10):

וַתֵּ֗לֶד זִלְפָּ֛ה שִׁפְחַ֥ת לֵאָ֖ה לְיַעֲקֹ֥ב בֵּֽן׃

And when Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son,

The birth of Zilpah's son Asher is described (Genesis 30:12):

וַתֵּ֗לֶד זִלְפָּה֙ שִׁפְחַ֣ת לֵאָ֔ה בֵּ֥ן שֵׁנִ֖י לְיַעֲקֹֽב׃

When Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son,

As we can see, with Bilhah the Torah

  1. Says ותהר, she conceived, and ותלד, birthing
  2. Only mentions that she's שפחת רחל the second time, not the first
  3. Adds the word עוד the second time

Whereas, with Zilpah the Torah

  1. Only says ותלד, birthing, and no mention of conceiving
  2. Calls her שפחת לאה both times
  3. Doesn't say the word עוד

Does anyone explain this phenomenon?


The Midrash in Bereishis Rabbah 71:9 writes as follows:

וַתֵּלֶד זִלְפָּה שִׁפְחַת לֵאָה (בראשית ל, י), בְּכֻלָּם כְּתִיב וַתַּהַר, וְכָאן וַתֵּלֶד, אֶלָּא בַּחוּרָה הָיְתָה וְלֹא הָיְתָה נִכֶּרֶת בְּעִבּוּרָהּ

"And when Zilpah, the maidservant of Leah bore" (Bereishis 30:10) - with all of them (i.e. the other three wives) it writes "And she conceived", and here (by Zilpah) it only writes "And she bore", because she was so young that her pregnancy was not noticeable.

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