Imagine a plant being a key player in a Bible story! And a plant with a root that looks human! What next!
The New Testament describes people who “will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim 4:4). When people reject God’s truth, they don’t live in a mental vacuum; they end up believing fairy tales. Reject God’s creation story, and you soon accept the evolutionary hypothesis that frogs eventually turn into princes! Because if you refuse the light, the only alternative is darkness. Atheists laugh at Christians for their belief in heaven. But when an atheist’s loved one dies, they make up fables like: “I saw a butterfly land on my mother’s favorite rosebush. I think it’s my mother letting me know she’s watching over me.” So Jacob’s wives in Genesis 30, unwilling to accept God’s way of asking Him to open their wombs, turn to “old wives’ fables” (1 Tim 4:7). They think the human-like poisonous root of the mandrake plants that Reuben found will give them an advantage in their war for the affections of Jacob. Rachel asks for some of the mandrakes, and Leah sees her opportunity. “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband?” she asks. “Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” (Gen 30:15). You can see the hurt is just below the surface. Thus Rachel and Leah make a deal as at the beginning, but instead of Laban’s daughters, now Jacob is the commodity to be traded. So sad, isn’t it? Leah intercepts Jacob even before he gets home and says, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes” (v 16). Love is a gift, not something to be traded for advantage. “Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own” (1 Cor 13:4-5). Yet for all this, God still shows Himself gracious, and Leah conceives again.