Jacob’s Spotted And Speckled Cattle

Genesis 30:31 – And he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock:

Genesis 30:32 – I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire.

Genesis 30:33 – So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me.

Hello readers, thanks for reading today. In this blog I’m just going to be going through the famous Jacob’s cattle story. Read it for yourself, it’s all in Genesis 30. Jacob made a deal with Laban in exchange for him staying on. He’d worked for Laban for many years, and Laban wasn’t a great boss let’s be honest. God’s a better boss and his work is a better business. How long will it take you until you realize that in life. Pour your life into God’s word and God’s business, put him first, he’ll take care of you. And God doesn’t change his word, or promises, or the deal… unlike Laban, who changed Jacob’s wages ten times. Laban kept Jacob poor, who and what is keeping you spiritually poor?

But anyway. Jacob had had enough. He said, I’m leaving! I’m out, see you later Laban. But Laban wanted him to stay. Why? Because Jacob was the best herdman he’d ever had. And he asked Jacob, what can I give you to keep you on? Name your price Jacob. And Jacob said, ok, I’ll keep your flock again, but the spotted, speckled and ringstraked sheep of your flock will be mine. That’s my price. I’ll take the junk cattle. It wasn’t the worst deal was it? After all, the cattle increased under Jacob’s watchful husbandry. Fair enough. Instead of paying him money, he’d be paying Jacob in sheep.

Note, for the purpose of this blog I’ll just refer to Jacob’s flock as cattle primarily, but we know that his flock consisted of cattle, sheep and goats. Jacob was pretty good in the livestock business. And this story is relevant to us, because you see a shepherd and a flock. In this story you’ll see Jacob earn his own flock which he separated out from Laban and which he would leave for home with. Kinda reminds me of Jesus Christ, and all through this story, wonderful truths of the gospel are laid out. It’s a gold mine just waiting to be mined. Are you of Jesus’ flock?

It’s interesting that Jacob chose the motley crew as the price of his hire. He doesn’t ask for the perfect cattle, you keep the good stuff, and I’ll take the rejects Laban. Laban lept at the offer. See, Laban was happy to keep the good cattle, after all, they were more beautiful, fetch a higher price, and represent greater quality. So often we make judgments based on looks, not on substance. Because the greater substance would be Jacob’s flock.

And no doubt Laban thought aha, got you again Jacob! Because Laban was always looking to cheat Jacob out of what he was worth. Sure Jacob, we’ll agree on that deal, you take the duds, and I’m not going to let you even get them. We know that Satan and his angels, and the religious and societal and political elite of Jesus’ day also thought, aha, finally we got him, as those nails were driven into Christ’s hands.

But Laban would be disappointed when he saw Jacob departing with a great flock. One day that little babe that was born in a manger one time way back then will return as King of kings and Lord of lords. Enjoy your time, because your time is now, the future belongs to Christ. When Jesus came to earth, he became a man and a servant, but he’ll eventually be the boss of everything, because he’s earned it with his righteous life and perfect sacrifice. It’s interesting that Jacob mentioned righteousness in this story. That’s a trigger word in scripture, and you know God is teaching some crucial truths in this story as he is in every chapter of the Bible. Christ’s righteousness has answered for him, his flock was earned with his own blood, the price paid in full. Satan, hell, death and this world, none of it could cheat him out of his flock.

So Jacob and Laban agreed to the deal, but then Laban pulled a fast one on Jacob. After he made the deal, he got his sons to go through his flock and remove the type of animals that Jacob had dealt for. That would mean Jacob would be working for nothing, seeing as none of his flock had any of those type sheep in it. Jacob would be starting with nothing.

But the problem with Laban’s theory is that he made one massive mistake. Probably because he wasn’t as familiar with animals as Jacob was. You see, Jacob was the one out there keeping the flock. He knew just a little bit about how things work. And he had God’s wisdom in the deal he made. God’s word is always going to be the basis for any successful decision in life. This world has a lot of problems in the way they think and the route they are going to take to get ahead, and Laban thought he had it all worked out like usual, but this time he hadn’t.

Laban didn’t realize a truth that we also seem to struggle to grasp today. It doesn’t matter how well you hide your sin, it doesn’t matter how clean and good you try and make it all look, that sin is inside you. Laban got his sons to remove all the junk out his flock, but the junk was still there. It was inside those cattle’s dna. It was in their genetics to produce spotted and speckled. Inside us we have a problem, a crucial problem. And it’s called sin. And it needs to be dragged out into the open and gotten honest with before you will ever get saved.

People have often got lost in all the genetics of this story, and how this breeding program worked that Jacob set up to make the cattle bring forth the type of cattle he’d dealt for. However it worked, the information was in those cattle to produce what Jacob bargained on. See, we all contain a lot of genetic information waiting to be expressed. The reason we all look different is because of the expression of certain genes. But I don’t really want to sidetrack this blog into all of that to be honest. This whole saga shows the stupidity of evolution. Spotted, speckled, brown… whatever… they were all cattle. You can breed all sorts of looks and shapes and sizes, and that’s whats happens with humans all around the world, they come in all colours and sizes and looks, but they’re all equally human. Jacob understood that you put this with that and you get that. Why don’t we? You put a rooster with a chicken, and you get more chickens. And in that clutch, you’re liable to get ones that look slightly different to each other.

I really wanted to think of Jacob’s flock as a picture of us. If I said to you, instead of looking at my speckles, how about look at your spots? We are all a pretty sorry bunch. We are an odd little flock. And they’re the people Jesus died for, and they’re the people Jesus has named his price for. He came to save sinners from their sins. Sin will put more than just a spot and speckle on your life. But they’re the people Jesus came to lead out of this world into his own flock.

Get honest about who you are and what’s really in you. No matter how much you try fixing how you look on the outside, what’s important is what’s on the inside. Because what was on the inside really is what produced what was on the outside. Laban tried removing the dregs from his flock, but he didn’t realize under Jacob’s care, those spots and speckles would soon reappear. What was in them would be brought out, and by quite an unusual method.

Jacob would cut down some rods of three different kinds of trees, and peel them and put them in the water before the cattle when they came to drink. What’s significant is that he peeled those rods back to show the white that was inside them. Because underneath that exterior, those trees are white inside. And here’s the truth. When you see Christ’s righteousness, you won’t see yourself as so righteous anymore. There is no salvation without peeling back the truth of who Christ is and who you are in relation to the holiness of God. And the reality is we are all in trouble. You’ll lose that veneer of self righteousness when you see a standard of moral perfection that Christ had but which you cannot attain to no matter how hard you try.

Jacob picked the sorry bunch of the flock. He didn’t pick the choice of the flock, he picked the motley crew. But they’re the kind of people Jesus saves. But Jacob started with a perfect flock, but with his breeding, he ended up with spotted and speckled and all sorts. Salvation begins with you thinking you’re pretty good, and after you’re saved all you can see is how spotted and speckled you are. The more you go along as a Christian, you won’t see how good you are, but how good God is, and just thank him that he loved you and redeemed you no matter how rank you and your life looked.

You’re not going to be part of Jesus’ flock until you stop pretending you’re not a sinner. Get honest about who you are and what’s really in you. Stop trying to cover it up with a clean outside. Laban had tried removing the speckled and spotted, but he couldn’t remove what was inherently inside his flock. You can try removing all the spots and speckles from your life, but it’s to no avail. And those kind of people are Laban’s flock, not Jesus flock.

Jesus flock is an odd ball sort of flock. There’s plenty of people in there who the world despises, who aren’t the best of pretty much anything. Jesus’ flock is despised and rejected by this world and of no value. But we have a value to Jesus Christ. I’m sure Jacob’s flock looked like it had little value, but over time it gained in significance. But the thing is, it had plenty of health. They were spotted and speckled and brown… but they were strong. Things are not always how they look. The problem with us humans is, we gauge quality based on what we see. We judge according to what we see. And we judge wrong. We are so shallow and veneer, we can’t see quality, we often put a weight on what doesn’t really matter… like how it looks. It’s amazing how often we based things on how they look, not on substance at all.

The amazing part of this story is really how tight the gospel picture is in here the more you think about it. There is a conception before rods in here. Jacob’s breeding program started at the watering hole. When they came for water. Until you come for water, there will be no salvation. Until you dry up out there in this world you aren’t ready to be saved. It was those new birth cattle that got added to Jacob’s flock. They were born into Jacob’s flock. They belonged to Jacob by legal right. Jesus has  got a contract for a certain type of person. Did you know your salvation was purchased by the righteousness of Christ? You were bought with a price the Bible says. You are not your own. You’re just like those cattle in the field, we are often compared to dumb animals, because we are pretty dumb most of the time. We need to be guided and led.

But they came for water, and until you come for water, there will be no salvation. But then there was a conception and a birth. Did you know that salvation involves a conception and a birth? There is no birth before conception, and that conception starts with the working of the Holy Spirit in your life upon the hearing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke of a new birth. The rods were in the water. And they drank out of them. They’re gulping down water. And you’ve gotta lay to heart and take hold on what  Jesus Christ has done for you by faith. You’ve seen the truth, you’ve heard the truth, but you’ve gotta believe the truth and make it part of your life.

The rods that Jacob cut down and used in the whole process are interesting. A rod speaks of authority. Until you come under the authority of the word of God, you can’t be saved. Until you stop disputing, debating, justifying, rationalizing and excusing, there will be no salvation. Repentance is an acceptance and acknowledgement of truth. I have sinned. I am a sinner. No more excuses. A shepherds rod meant something. It was a correction tool. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me David wrote in wonderful Psalm 23. We need to be corrected from our lies and sin. Until you can take the correction of the word of God, there will be no salvation.

The word of God is a rod. It’s God’s rod. It’s going to take you to Jesus Christ. All this breeding program Jacob came up started with God, under God’s direction by God’s power. The word of God has life giving power, it is incorruptible seed after all. It is pure and preserved and eternal. Without his word we have nothing. Your salvation is going to start with God and his word. It takes his power to open your eyes, to make you see who and what you really are. It takes his power to bring out what you truly are. This really wasn’t Jacob’s doing, how would you come up with his weird strategy to produce some speckled and spotted cattle? He knew how to breed them together, but he didn’t know how to start it. God’s word started it, just as he revealed in the following chapter. The word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, it still has power. It is what will make the change and make the difference. If you don’t believe his word, you will not be saved, you will not have life, you will not grow strong, and you will never be his sheep. How can you be saved without the truth of God’s word bearing down on your life and shining a bright light on your spiritual state?

In the rod is the picture of Jesus Christ. When Jacob cut that rod off the tree it died. Yet in it’s death it was an instrument of new life. Jacob got his rods from three different trees, and three can point us to so many things. It can point us to the triune Godhead, consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. It can point us to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It can point us to the God who is the God of the past, present and future. God uses many trees in the Bible to illustrate truths about the person and work of Jesus Christ. All those things that you’re looking for in life, peace, joy, happiness, hope, fulfillment, purpose… they’re all found in Christ.  What’s interesting is that those trees are all deciduous. They come to life in spring, and that dead looking tree buds and blossoms. So is a life in Jesus Christ, from death he took life, and he can give you life as well.

If you look at the life of Christ you’ll see the only sinless man to have ever existed. He never sinned once. He wasn’t crucified because he was guilty of anything. And he rose from the dead because he had no sin, and death was for people that sinned. That’s why all die, because in Adam all die. Most people never peel anything back to what’s really there. They don’t want to. They don’t want to be confronted by truth. They’d rather ignorance. They choose delusion. They don’t want to face the facts, because the truth makes demands on their conscience and life and demands accountability.

You may be speckled, and I may be spotted. We all have our own issues. We all have our own imperfections. That’s true. None of us are the complete deal. Only Jesus was. But we are complete in him. The hardest part is getting you speckled and spotted. Bringing out what’s in you from hidden to the light. Jesus’ heart was perfect, but our heart has a serious sin issue. But Jesus came for the people that can see and admit that they’re sinners. He’s not after already perfect cattle. Perfect people don’t need Christ. Jesus didn’t come for them. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Once the cattle brought forth the type of sheep that Jacob had bargained for guess what he did with them? He separated them from Laban’s flock. They became his. Separation is a dirty word in Christianity. Noone wants to be separated from anything. We don’t want to be separated from sin, this world, our lust, our friends, our favourite tv show even. Don’t separate me from anything. But once you’re Christ’s, he will immediately separate you from your old flock, you will have a new identity, you belong to him, not that old master, the world, the flesh and the devil. That newly born lamb was placed in the tender care of Jacob. He was a good herdman, don’t worry about that. You look at his shepherding resume in the following chapter, that’s why Laban didn’t want him to go remember, because he was making Laban rich. This world benefits off the Christians, it benefits from Christ though they despise him and use him up. He shows mercy and grace to us that we do not deserve, it rains on the just and the unjust.

Those cattle had a new identity. They’d gone from Laban’s to Jacob’s. Salvation is a change of master. And you do have a master, just whether it’s God or Satan. You’re not your own master. You can have a new identity in Jesus Christ, you can belong to Jesus. Notice, only those born again belong there. You might be running with Jesus flock so you think and so you say, but he’s gonna separate you out one of these days. A good shepherd knows each of his sheep. And he knows which one ain’t his.

Among the rods is where conception happened, and it’s where the conception of your new man will take place. Get under the authority of his word, get in the Bible, it’ll teach you abundantly how to be saved. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. In case you haven’t noticed, this was a miracle. There’s a case to be made that there was a science to this, but if you read the story Jacob only knew what to do because God had told him what to do. It was because of God that Jacob left with anything from Laban. Salvation is a miracle, it takes God.

Finally, I want you to see that Jacob didn’t take the feeble cattle. They had no life in them. See, Jesus Christ’s flock have life in them. How can you be saved and not have life in you? Salvation is a new birth, and you have the life of Christ in you. Maybe you’re so feeble because you’re not really saved. Maybe you’re feeble because you’ve been completely cut off from God’s word and your life has been made mincemeat of by a life of sin and rebellion. Jacob didn’t mine the spots and speckles, but he wasn’t interested in keeping the feeble. He culled them from his herd. They’d ruin the rest. There are plenty of fakes claiming to be of Jesus’ flock which aren’t his, and they’re feeble without the life of Christ, without faith, without obedience… they’re not saved.

We end this chapter with Jacob increasing exceedingly. That’s how this story ends. You’re on the winning side in Christ. Jesus Christ said be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. Jesus Christ came the first time as a servant, but he returns the next time as King of kings and Lord of lords. Will you be with him? You won’t be if you weren’t of his flock. He’ll cull you from his flock if you aren’t his. He will find you out, your sin will find you out.

I hope this blog has been helpful to you and provides something to you if you struggle to access this story in the Bible. The main thing to get out of it is that Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. If you can admit you’re a sinner, if you see you need salvation, if you want a change of master, if you want to belong to Christ… he will save you. If you’re after some water in a dry and thirsty land in your life. God has provided for you. Jesus’ righteousness enabled him to redeem you and purchase you out of the marketplace of sin.

You either belong to Satan or the Lord, there were only two flocks in this story, Laban’s or Jacob’s. Jacob’s increased and Laban’s got weaker. You may think you’re going pretty well now, but Jesus will win in the end, and where will you figure in all that? If you’re not for him, you’re against him. There is no middle ground. Jesus’ flock is a separated flock, and it may be an odd bunch, it may be like Jesus’ disciples, fishermen and tax collectors, just average Joe’s… but  Jesus came for the average Joe, he came for you and for me. And you can leave your Laban and go to the promised land and green pastures with someone who knows you and knows how to take care of you. Grow strong in faith, there is no excuse for you not to be saved and have eternal life.


Joseph View All →

Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 30 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Dear Joseph

    Thank you for this wonderful explanation. I was listening to a sermon where Apostle Joshua Selman spoke briefly about Jacob’s speckled animals. So I tried reading about it in the Bible and I found it a bit confusing. That’s why I searched online to see if anyone has explained this story in a language that I can understand, and lo and behold, I found your blog! Thank you for clarifying many questions that were on my mind, and for teaching me many things including the similarity between Jesus the Shepherd and Jacob.

    What I still have trouble understanding is what happened when Jacob put the three rods in water. May be you’ve addressed it already but somehow I missed it. How did Jacob get the speckled flock? When the flock came to drink the water, how did the rods help him get the kind of flock he wanted? Is this something that you could explain? Or point to the part where you probably already mentioned but I missed??!!

    Thank you once again for your blog. You must’ve taken a whole lot of time to compose it. I praise God for your diligence.

    Do take care and God bless


    • Hello Shanti S, thanks for the comment. If you read chapter 31 of Genesis you will see that ultimately it was God who intervened. Laban had always tricked and outsmarted Jacob, but Laban did not reckon on the God of Jacob. It was God that made sure Jacob left with the cattle that he had dealt for. I don’t think anyone really knows what happened other than what is said and just take it for what it says, but what I know is that the story is loaded with truths that point to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and that’s the most important part to get out of it and what I really get out of it.

      I actually do think it was a miracle. Was there a scientific explanation? Maybe, given what we know now about genetics and so on. But Jacob would’ve left with nothing if not for God. Jacob had his little breeding program, and he was good at what he did, and we know that he did a very good job for Laban. Clearly he had smarts with breeding and caring for animals such as cattle, sheep and goats, smarts and insight which you would get when it’s your fulltime job and your family depends on you being good at it. But God delivered in spite of Laban’s trickery.

      There’s many things I don’t entirely understand in the Bible, and this story is one of them, so sorry if I can’t give you a better answer. A long time ago I gave up on trying to “know everything.” If I was able to jam everything in the book inside my head it wouldn’t be much of a book, but this is God’s word. And I just glean in his field and every now and again he drops me handfuls on purpose. I rest in this verse Colossians 2:3 “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” I rest in the fact that Jesus Christ knows everything when I don’t know or understand or get it all.

      I will also at this time caution you against the man you say you were listening to. You can take or leave my advice, but someone claiming to be an apostle is a red flag immediately. Of what I know of this man, which isn’t much but is probably enough, he is someone that will tease you and fascinate you and allure you and take your money while he’s at it but leave you spiritually impoverished, and who will never provide you with what the truth of God’s word will provide you. Trust in the book, and if you are looking for answers, get in the Bible and call on the name of the Lord, for God said in Isaiah 33:3 “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”


  2. I had heard a version of this story that the reason Jacob put the rods near the cattle’s feeding trough was that the cattle became what they looked upon (they developed/adapted to their surroundings).

    And how does this hold true to us? – Be careful what we look upon. What is on the TV? Who are we looking up to? Men or God? Our phones or YouTube? Let us always turn our eyes upon Jesus. All wisdom, power, and glory go to Him!


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