Whether this was a local custom or Jacob’s innovation, it is not a scientifically proven method that works. But that’s not the point of the text. Jacob understood that God was the one working behind the scenes to make this happen (Gen. 31:9-12), so the sticks, perhaps a diversionary ploy to confound Laban, merely complemented what the Lord was doing rather than causing it to happen.
God had already promised to bless, protect, and prosper Jacob and his family (Gen. 28:13-15). Sometimes miraculously, sometimes providentially, the Lord kept his word. In spite of our sometimes ridiculous schemes, that’s the kind of God we serve.
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