Bilah and Zilpah are referred to as the נְשֵׁי of Yaakov (Bereshis 37:2). Did he ever technically, formally marry them?

2 Answers 2


Ramban, Yayeishev posuk 2, says he married them after the deaths of Rochel and Leah

  • thank you, is there a source that he married them before that? Otherwise how does the Ramban explain the word n'shei (referenced in the question)? Dec 3, 2012 at 17:25
  • Ramban explains that whilst Rochel and Leah were alive, they were maid servants to them and are referred to as shvochos (37:2)and pilagshim (concubines) (35:22) and only after their deaths did he take them as proper wives. Dec 4, 2012 at 10:45
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    perhaps this answer is dependent on the answer to this question judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/22576/when-did-leah-die Dec 4, 2012 at 11:01
  • per this answer judaism.stackexchange.com/a/22578/2110 it would appear that Leah was alive because Yosef wasn't yet sold. And the pasuk still calls the shefachos "wives".
    – user2110
    Dec 4, 2012 at 14:48
  • Is it that he married each of them after the deaths of Rachel and Leah, respectively, or only after they both died? And if either is true, that goes against the notion of the avot only having one wife in Eretz Israel, doesn't it? Nov 7, 2013 at 15:24

Rav Menachem Mendel Kasher in Toras Shleimah (bereshis 30:9) cites a medrash that Yakov married them when they were first given over to him by Rochel/Leah.

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