I discovered the most amazing fact reading my Bible this morning! At first, it didn’t make sense. Normally, I would just skip over it and keep reading, but today I didn’t. After rereading it several times, I searched Google.
I didn’t expect anything useful to turn up, but I gave it a try anyway. But alas, I’m putting the cart before the horse, so let’s start at the beginning. (Genesis 30, paraphrased)
Jacob worked diligently for Laban for 14 years in order to marry Rachel whom he dearly loved. For many years after that, he continued to toil for Laban with all his strength. Laban cheated Jacob many times. After twenty years, Jacob asked Laban to allow him to return to his homeland with his wives and children.
Laban pleaded with Jacob to stay because he had prospered while Jacob tended his flocks. Laban said, “Name your wages and I will pay them.”
So Jacob said, “I will go on tending your flocks if you let me remove from your flocks every speckled or spotted sheep and goat and every dark colored lamb. They will be my wages. Then we will know which are mine and which are yours.”
Laban agreed, but that same day, Laban removed all the spotted sheep and goats and dark colored lambs from his flock. He put them in the care of his sons and separated them from the herds under Jacob’s care.
That was shifty. Now how will Jacob obtain his wages? The spotted goats and sheep have all been removed from the herd.
Obviously, Laban didn’t understand genetics because animals born with a dominant trait (pure white) can still have alleles for the recessive trait, in this case spotted or speckled.
In other words, Jacob didn’t have any spotted animals, but the solid animals could still reproduce a spotted baby. This is where the phenomenon comes in!
“37 Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38 Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39 they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.” Genesis 30:37-39 NIV
Much like my (almost) 3-year old granddaughter, I kept asking, “Why? Why? Why would he do that?” How could the peeled branches affect the color of the offspring?
I asked Google and the answer astounded me.
Recent scientific discoveries reveal that what a parent eats can also affect their genes, and therefore will affect their offspring’s characteristics. It’s not up to genes alone, like we once thought.
For example, “a study published in August (2003) in Molecular and Cellular Biology by Dr. Waterland and Duke’s Randy Jirtle showed that in a particular strain of mice, fortifying the pregnant and nursing mother’s diet with four nutrients shifted babies’ coat color from yellow to brown.”¹
These baby mice were genetically identical, yet a change in the diet of the pregnant and nursing mothers is the reason for the color change in the offspring. Incredible!
One of the nutrients fed to the mice was vitamin B12 found in (you guessed it) almonds!
Jacob placed the almond and other branches in the water whenever the strongest animals were there. That way the strongest animals gave birth to spotted babies. In this way, Jacob grew wealthy and owned large flocks.
Bible scholars believe the book of Genesis was written by Moses between 1446 and 1406 B.C. Today, scientists are starting to understand how diet can affect the color of an animal’s offspring. That’s incredible!
This is My Journey Unscripted.
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¹Epigenetics may have many roles, BY SUE GOETNICK AMBROSE, Dallas Morning News 2 NOVEMBER 2003, Dallasnews.com
Genesis 29 and 30