The Mandrakes

Following the Story of Jacob’s Ladder we see the realisation of God’s promise that thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth. Hence after the marriage of Jacob to Leah and Rachel we are given the listing of the son’s of Jacob, later to become the twelve tribes of the Children of Israel (Ephraim and Manasseh excluded), (Genesis 30:1-25).

The Mandrake incident

In the process of the births of the sons of Jacob, we come across an interesting interlude in which Reuben brings mandrakes for his mother, Leah, and for which Rachel barters with Leah in exchange for offering her husband for that night (Genesis 30:13-16). The question arises why ‘the mandrake incident’ is mentioned in the middle of the sequence of births formulating the tribes of the Children of Israel. We suspect that with this incident something special is going to happen.

Mandrake, love and uncle

The mandrake is a very powerful plant. It is said that the root has human shape and anyone who uproots the mandrake from the ground will surely die. Ancient lore has it that the mandrake fell into Reuben’s hands through his donkey which was tied to a bush and, when struggling to get free, uprooted the mandrake and consequently died.

The power of the mandrake is to bring male and female together through the aroma it produces. So it is in the love songs of Solomon it reads: The mandrakes give aroma, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved (Songs of Songs 7:14).

The Hebrew word for mandrake is dodeim דודאים spelt: daled-vav-daled-aleph-yod-mem. It is derived from the root word, dod, דודspelt daled-vav-daled, which both means ‘uncle’ and ‘beloved’. As we know, the vav symbolises a hook binding the two daleds on either side. Just as the letter aleph א comprises two yods connected by a vav on either side representing the binding of Heaven and Earth, (See hyperlink the aleph, the Name and 26 generations) so the word dod is also the binding of Heaven and Earth, male and female in the phenomenal world, represented by the number 4, and the force that binds the two together is the force of LOVE. It is for this reason that the Song of Songs is read during the Sabbath Evening Service, and the welcoming of the Sabbath is likened to the welcoming of a bride, or binding Heaven and Earth and male and female forces together.

The relevance of the root word for mandrake, dod, meaning ‘uncle’ and ‘beloved’ in seen in the family tree of the three patriarchs where the kinships of the wives of the three patriarchs was in fact an uncle-cousin relationship. The union of the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to their wives Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah was, neither more nor less, than a union LOVE. The birth of the Hebrew race was founded upon love.

It is for this reason both Abraham and Isaac escape perjury when allowing their wives to become concubines to Abimelech and claiming that they were their sisters (Genesis 20:9; 26:8).

So the purpose of Rachel’s ‘purchasing’ the mandrake, was not to bring her husband to her, (for she was already the favoured wife), but rather as an agent to relieve her barrenness and to utilise the inherent energy of the mandrake combining forces of male and female to bring forth a child.

The word for Childlessness in Hebrew is aririערירי spelt ayin-resh-yod-resh-yod = 70+200+10+200+10 and has a value of 490. This number is just before 500 which, as we know is the gematrical value of the phrase ‘Be fruitful and multiply – pru oo rabu (See hyperlink Be fruitful and multiply) which is the gematrical value of the next world.

Therefore it is not so much that the mother is barren, but rather the need for a preparatory quantum leap of energy provided by the mandrakes in order to allow fertility and conception to take place. We later see that she gives birth to a rather special child which is Joseph and who is the key to the future evolution of the Hebrew race.

Reuben and the thirteen tribes

In the Mandrake Incident we see that Reuben, as the firstborn, is very concerned about the fertility of his parents and the number of his brothers. It is he, seeing that his mother, Leah, has stopped becoming pregnant and knowing that Rachel is barren, tries to induce pregnancy by using mandrakes which he brings to his mother.

In a second incident, Reuben again shows concern about the number of his brother. This incident occurs immediately after the death of Rachel and in which he takes Rachel’s maidservant, Bilhah, and sleeps with her (Genesis: 37:22) – and for which he was blamed by his father at the time of his death. Again he does this, not for reasons of illicit lust, but because he see that his mother has stopped bearing children and he knows that there have to be 13 brothers and not just twelve Moreover, later when his brothers intend to slay Joseph, it is Reuben who tries to save him that he might rid of him out of their hands and deliver him to his father again. The analysis of why Reuben was concerned about the number of brothers and hence the number of tribes of Israel is discussed in(See hyperlink Reuben, Bilhah and the 13th tribe).

Birth of Asher and the 8 and the 50

‘The Mandrake Incident’ occurs immediately after the birth of Asher, who is the 8th son. It also occurs at the time of wheat harvest, later to be called the time of the ‘Counting of the Omer, the festival of Shavuoth or Pentecost which is the counting of the 50 days from the departure from Egypt at the time of the Passover to the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai.

And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah; Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I beg you, of your son's mandrakes: (Genesis 30:14)

As we saw in Section (See hyperlink 8, 800) 8 and 50 are related, where

7+1 = 8


7 * 7 +1 =50

So the mandrake incident is related to the 8 which represents the 8th day, the day of the next world for which we are preparing through the seventh day, the Sabbath. Similarly, the 50 represents the process of return, re-birth and the next world.

Similarly Asher as the 8th son of Jacob in linked to oil (See hyperlink Jacob’s ladder) as this is confirmed in the blessing of Jacob to Asher, he says: his bread shall be fat and he shall yield many royal dainties, (Genesis 49:20). Here the word ‘fat’ is shmenah, שמנה spelt shin-mem-nun-heh and therefore has the same root as shemen שמןmeaning oil. The linked between Asher as the 8th son and oil is reaffirmed in the blessing of the tribe of Asher by Moses, where he says, Let him dip his foot in oil (Deuteronomy 33:24).

Oil is also related to the Messiah, who is also called ‘the anointed one’ for Messiah משיח is spelt mem-sin-yod-chet and anointing oil, Masach, משח is spelt mem-sin-chet. Anointing oil, masach, also has the same letters as the word for happy, sameach, שמח spelt sin-mem-chet. Hence, Messiah, anointing oil and happiness have the same root letters: mem-sin-chet, and is related to the tribe of Asher, meaning happiness, so-named by Leah who says at Asher’s birth: Happy am I for the daughters will call me blessed, (Genesis 30:13).

Further, we see how the names Asher, the 8th son, oil, anointing oil, and mandrakes is linked to name ‘David' {1} which is spelt the same way a dod דוד and where King David’s descendent is to be the Messiah.

So in conclusion to this episode of the mandrakes we see the bonding of the three patriarchs and their wives through LOVE, as is the bonding between Heaven and Earth and God and Man. We see the significance of the Mandrake incident as a parameter associated with the birth of Asher, the 8th son and with the Messiah with issues from the generations of David. We see this being driven by Reuben, as the first born, who is preoccupied in several instances with number of brothers and hence the number of tribes of Israel. He therefore ensures and guides the continued propagation of his parents, ultimately, albeit inadvertently, leading to the ability of Rachel to give birth to Joseph, who becomes the key figure leading to the propagation of the tribes of Israel in Egypt.

{1} In Hebrew the vav can either be pronounced as an ‘o’ or ‘oo’ sound or as a ‘v’ sound 


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