WHY DID JACOB PUT PEELED BRANCHES IN FRONT OF THE GOATS?
Contrary to the common myth that somehow these branches directly influenced the genetics of the onlooking goats, this practice was simple and clever animal husbandry.
Goats like to chew on and eat young branches and twigs, which are a great source of starch and nutrients. A freshly peeled branch, revealing its savory and aromatic sapwood, would be a tasty and enticing treat… similar to peeling open a candy bar and holding it in front of a child!
(See the article posted below for more scientific information on why this is the case.)
Jacob observed that the goats were likely to mate when they had fresh treats waiting for them at the watering troughs. He also wanted the best and strongest animals for himself, so he placed the treats there when they were in heat, but took them away when the weaker ones were in heat, thus ensuring that the stronger ones were likely to reproduce more.
We all know that the junkyard dog would outlive and outfight the pedigreed pet any day. The speckled, spotted, and dark-colored sheep / goats are like the junkyard dog… mixed, strong, and populous. The pedigreed, light-colored, pure-colored sheep / goats were the rarity as far as breeding is concerned. Jacob already had a GREAT deal as his flocks would have naturally bore many more mixed sheep than pure, but Jacob took his strategy even further by ensuring that the mixed breed (strong) bred much more often than the pure breed (weak).
This, ironically and providentially, would strengthen and prepare his herd for the rigors of Egyptian life. It also provided a very large herd, making him a wealthy man. It’s no wonder that Laban, who had resorted to trickery and falsehood before, was very upset by Jacob’s master strategy.
Laban held tightly to his possessions and ended up losing out in the end, while Jacob, who came to Laban with nothing but his faith in YHWH, became the patriarch of Israel.
Another tidbit here is that we can trust the amazing wisdom of the Bible. God laid out restrictions on what animals we are and are not to eat in Leviticus 11. It’s interesting that He accurately subdivides herbivorous land animals into what we know as monogastric and digastric (modern classification based on stomach function and anatomy) by those that “chew the cud”. He then also makes the distinction that they must have split hooves as well. Every land animal that fits within these stipulations is herbivorous, and NOT carnivorous.
How did the priestly source (P, the writers of this portion of Leviticus) know this without modern science?