The question regularly arises on whether or not the Bible should be taken literally. The answer is, "Of course." It is either literal in physical form or it is literal in spiritual form and many many times both. The form that God's Word is addressing is usually very obvious. God's Word is perfect in every way. It is the solid rock that never changes. His Word is totally reliable even in passages where it appears bizarre and far-fetched.
A situation had arisen between Laban the Syrian and Jacob in Genesis Chapter 30. Jacob was the twin brother of Esau. Jacob was also the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. Laban, on the other hand, was Jacob's unscrupulous father-in-law. Jacob worked for Laban who had negatively changed Jacob's wages ten times. After many years of service to Laban, Jacob speaks to his father-in-law and tells him that he is taking his wives (Laban's daughters) and returning to his homeland. Laban knew that God had blessed him for Jacob's sake and he didn't want Jacob to leave his employment. A repentive Laban asked Jacob what wages he would require in order for Jacob to stay with him. The following bizarre contract and happening occurred.
GOD SAID in Genesis Chapter 30, Verses 25-43:
25 And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country.
26 Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee.
27 And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake.
28 And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.
29 And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me.
30 For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude; and the LORD hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also?
31 And he said, What shall I give thee? And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me any thing: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock.
32 I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire.
33 So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me.
34 And Laban said, Behold, I would it might be according to thy word.
35 And he removed that day the he goats that were ringstraked and spotted, and all the she goats that were speckled and spotted, and every one that had some white in it, and all the brown among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons.
36 And he set three days' journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks.
37 And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chestnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.
38 And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink.
39 And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.
40 And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban's cattle.
41 And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods.
42 But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's.
43 And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses.
MAN SAID, "What a ridiculous account of events." Some pretend ministers actually teach that the first five books of the Bible, and therefore this story, are fairy tales.
Now THE RECORD. Franz Delitzsch, who wrote the two volume titled New Commentary of Genesis in the late 1800's, stated that it is an established fact that white lambs can be guaranteed by placing a multitude of white objects about the drinking troughs. Jacob, being instructed by God, did the exact opposite. The prenatal influence of Jacob's green poplar and of hazel and chestnut trees all of which he had peeled (pilled) to reveal white streaks (strakes) set in the gutters of the watering troughs, caused the sheeps' offspring to be ringstraked, speckled and spotted.
The above Biblical episode has given us the concept of "the Jacob Sheep," as well as a charity in England known as The Jacob Sheep Society Limited. In 1969, Lady Araminthia Aldington, daughter of the last high commissioner of Mandatory Palestine, General Sir Alan Cunningham, founded the Jacob Sheep Society. A piece of their research discusses the origin of "Jacob's Sheep." She writes that, "Patriarch Jacob moved his entire household and flocks and herds to Goshen in Egypt. Jacob's sheep thus traveled from Palestine to Egypt, and so perhaps on to Spain via the coast of North Africa and Morocco." A pair of Jacob's Sheep are now residents of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.
According to the Autumn 1984 issue of Vogue Patterns, there is a fabric called "Jacob Wool." Jacob Wool and cloths are separate from other wools not just because of their rarity but also as a result of their unusual quality. England is the home of the majority of the world's Jacob Sheep, mostly as the fruit of Lady Aldington's society.
In conclusion, visual input during conception has a very real effect on sheep and goats.
Your majority text King James Bible is the inerrant word of the living God. It is the solid rock that never changes.
GOD SAID, due to Jacob's actions much of the offspring of Laban's sheep were ringstraked, speckled and spotted.
MAN SAID, "What a ridiculous account of events."
Now you have THE RECORD.
King James Bible
Wyclife Bible Commentary
Kotin, M., "Jacob Sheep," Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 1997.
Delitsch, Franz, A New Commentary on Genesis, 2 Vols., Edinburgh: J. & T. Clark, 1899.
Webster N., American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828