A Mendelian Interpretation of Jacob’s Sheep

Jacob answered, “I don’t want any wages. I will continue to take care of your flocks if you agree to this suggestion: Let me go through all your flocks today and take every black lamb and every spotted or speckled young goat. That is all the wages I want. In the future you can easily find out if I have been honest. When you come to check up on my wages, if I have any goat that isn’t speckled or spotted or any sheep that isn’t black, you will know that it has been stolen.”

(Genesis 30:31b-33) Good news Translation

The story of Jacob producing flocks of striped goats and black sheep starting from flocks in which these characteristics had been removed is considered from a Mendelian genetic viewpoint.

Read more: A Mendelian Interpretation of Jacob’s Sheep

Previous commentators have implied that the placing of branches in front of the animals arose from the belief that vivid sights during pregnancy would leave a mark on the offspring. However, the fact that Laban removed all the colored animals from the flock he entrusted to Jacob, shows that the herdsmen knew that the color of the offspring was influenced in some way by the color of the parents. It was not necessary for the herdsmen to understand the exact rules of inheritance, only sufficient that, wherever possible, female animals were served by colored males. It is proposed that the use of the branches referred to in the story was not an attempt to generate visual impressions influencing the females during pregnancy or conception, but instead the branches were used to build a fence to ensure that only colored male animals could serve the females.


  1. Call upon the name of Jesus Christ,
    • believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
  2. confess your sin.

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