This is a mystery related to how we must continually struggle to produce an increase of fruitfulness in our spiritual lives. Our wrestling is with our flesh, our natural selves—our rationalistic minds and our physical instincts. These continually strive for the ascendency. They seek to reduce our relationship with the LORD to mere habit and ritual performance. We must continually put them under the control of the Spirit. We must maintain our intimate freshness with Jesus.


The story here is paradigmatic: it contains a mystery for us in that there are periods of waning and waxing of affection that result in an increase of fruitfulness later in life after the early fruitfulness that we bear when we first come to know the LORD. We condition our lives for “later fruitfulness” when we draw near to the LORD by intentional consecration.


In connection with this, we should remember the letter to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2. We must renew our “first love” so that we not become spiritually barren after having produced good fruit in the initial stages of our walk with our Beloved.



Keeping in mind the themes outlined above, let us think on the passage in Genesis 30:14-21 which relates the story of the Dudaiim, the “mandrakes” that Reuben was bringing to his mother Leah, “the unloved wife” of Jacob whom his father-in-law Laban had tricked him into marrying instead of her younger sister.


Leah had left childbearing. Jacob habitually slept with Rachel, the wife of his love. Reuben, Leah’s son and Jacob’s firstborn,* found some mandrakes (Heb., DUDAIM)—a fruit that was reputed to be an aphrodisiac—and Rachel wanted some of them. She bargained with Leah to forfeit her nightly relations with Jacob in exchange for some of the mysterious fruit. That night Jacob lay with Leah and she conceived Issachar, saying “God has granted me my reward….” Soon thereafter, she conceived again and bore Zebulun, saying, “God has endowed me with a good endowment.” Again thereafter, she bore to Jacob his only daughter, “Dinah.” Her name is the feminine form of “Judge.”


What about these mysterious “dudaim?” The STONE Tanakh seems indeterminate about what they were. That commentary notes various possible meanings for the word: “jasmine, violets, mandrakes, and baskets of figs.” Again, some commentaries say they were an aphrodisiac. Did Rachel need them to initiate connubial intimacy with her husband? Or did she simply want them for their beauty, fragrance or taste?


The building of a house (a lineage of sons and daughters for continuance into the future through reproductive generations and for assistance in the daily life of a family surviving the harsh conditions of life in the wild world) was vital to wives. Therefore, whatever promoted childbearing was of utmost importance. Leah bargained with Rachel in order to obtain the right to have relations with Jacob. It worked. She bore her last three children—they became for her a reward, an endowment and a justification in the eyes of God.


In the letter of Messiah through John to the Ephesians in Revelation 2 (the church which Paul is said to have left to Timothy as Pastoral Overseer and where John is said to have concluded his life on earth)—that glorious congregation of Messiah to which the exalted letter of Paul to the Ephesians was written, Messiah exhorts the believers to return to their “first love.” Their spiritual devotion had waned; they were in danger of becoming barren altogether.


We must stir up love. As it says in the Song of Solomon, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that you stir not up, nor awake love, until he please.”


It is the dudaim that awakens the love of the Groom toward his Bride, that stirs up in him his desire for her marital communion. This is a mystery. This is the beauty of Esther that displaced the complacency and haughty formalism of Vashti.


May the Church renew her first love for the LORD—the love that draws him intimately toward her day by day. May our individual prayer lives maintain in us the fragrance of the dudaim, both now and always. And may we continue to be fruitful, even into advanced age throughout all the days of our journey on earth.


*[“Jacob’s firstborn”: the legal heir to the leadership of the family when Jacob died—though this privilege was later transferred to Rachel’s firstborn son Joseph through the youngest of her two grandsons by him, Ephraim. The transfer was due to Reuben’s sin against his father when Reuben lay with one of Jacob’s wives.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *