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Genesis 30: 25-43 is the story about Jacob's flock increasing by making streaks on Laban's goats using wood branches, so that

"they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted." Genesis 30: 39

This just doesn't make sense. It doesn't even come close to the Lamarck's Evolution Theory. How is this possible?

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Jacob thought this by itself would do something, which it won't. But God made Jacob's hair-brained plan work miraculously because he was with Jacob, blessing him. –  david brainerd Mar 26 '14 at 3:47
I sort of always thought it was a miracle,not something to expect to be scientifically possible. –  David Stratton Mar 26 '14 at 11:54

2 Answers 2

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It is possible that the genetic engineering techniques practiced were part useless and part real. The attempt to imprint color on the hide of sheep by seeing stripes during intercourse is folklore. However, by coincidence/destiny the majority of sheep who underwent this silly attempt may have had recessive genes that produced color in subsequent generations without any other divine influence. Also more believable is that possibly some of the stronger animals that Jacob segregated for procreation may have had recessive genes of color. The result is that with Jacobs meddling he may have artificially increased the procreation of animals with colored recessive genes, effectively increasing his wealth by his efforts as foolish as they may have been in part. His ability to perform this genetic engineering may be in part with what he subconsciously recognized in breeding history, partly shaped by folklore and substantially blessed by God.

For a more technical analysis you might be interested in this A Mendelian Interpretation of Jacob's Sheep

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This is a really good explanation. I never considered the possibility of having a recessive gene for the color. I do believe God works miracles, but I was really hoping for a scientific explanation, since God's involvement wasn't explicitly mentioned unlike other passages. It was possible to have segregated those that possess the gene. But of course God would have blessed the event, though not directly. Thank you! –  muffin Mar 26 '14 at 12:06
"Selective breeding" isn't really the same as "genetic engineering", as the term is used today. –  Flimzy Mar 26 '14 at 16:53

Atheists routinely ridicule the Bible on this one. But nowhere does the Bible say that putting striped sticks in the water physically caused the animals to have striped and spotted off-spring.

In many miracles in the Bible, God required people to go through some token action. Moses was instructed to hold his staff over the Red Sea before God parted the waters. Naaman had to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River before God would cure his leprosy. Joshua and the Israeli army had to walk in circles around Jericho and blow on trumpets before God destroyed the walls of the city. Etc. I have never heard anyone saying that they suppose that this means that taking a bath cures leprosy or that walking in circles makes buildings collapse. Rather, the principle is that God does not allow people to just sit back and sip on champagne while God performs miracles to pull their feet out of the fire. When there is something people can do to help themselves, he expects them to do it. And when there is nothing that people can do to help themselves, he still requires them to perform some token, symbolic action.

I presume that Jacob's putting the striped sticks in the water was in the same category. It did not cause the animals to be born spotted. It was just a token action that God required of Jacob before God would perform a miracle for him.

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