Zilpah

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In the Book of Genesis, Zilpah (זִלְפָּה "drooping", Standard Hebrew Zilpa, Tiberian Hebrew Zilpâ) is Leah's handmaid who becomes a wife of Jacob and bears him two sons Gad and Asher.[1]

Zilpah is given to Leah as a handmaid by Leah's father, Laban, upon Leah's marriage to Jacob (see Genesis 29:24, 46:18). According to some commentators, Zilpah and Bilhah, the handmaids of Leah and Rachel, respectively, were actually younger daughters of Laban {Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, xxxvi.}.

According to Rashi, an 11th-century commentator, Zilpah was younger than Bilhah, and Laban's decision to give her to Leah was part of the deception he used to trick Jacob into marrying Leah, who was older than Rachel. The morning after the wedding, Laban explained to Jacob, "This is not done in our place, to give the younger before the older" (Genesis 29:26). But at night, to mask the deception, Laban gave the veiled bride the younger of the handmaids, so Jacob would think that he was really marrying Rachel, the younger of the sisters.

Zilpah also figures in the competition between Jacob's wives to bear him sons. Leah stops conceiving after the birth of her fourth son, at which point [2] Rachel, who had not yet borne children, offers her handmaid, Bilhah, in marriage to Jacob so that she can have children through her. When Bilhah conceives two sons, Leah takes up the same idea and presents Zilpah as a wife to Jacob. Leah names the two sons of Zilpah and is directly involved in their upbringing.

In Jewish tradition, Zilpah is believed to be buried in the Tomb of the Matriarchs in Tiberias.

Family tree[edit]

 
 
 
 
Jacob
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rachel
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bilhah
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Zilpah
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Leah
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1. Reuben
2. Simeon
3. Levi
4. Judah
9. Issachar
10. Zebulun
11. Dinah
 
7. Gad
8. Asher
 
5. Dan
6. Naphtali
 
12. Joseph
13. Benjamin
 
 
 

In popular culture[edit]

In the novel The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, Zilpah and Bilhah are represented as half-sisters of Leah and Rachel by different mothers.

References[edit]