Jacob’s eldest son Reuben, was out harvesting in the field one day, when his beast got tethered to some mandrakes and they became uprooted from the ground. It was common knowledge that this love plant could be used to help barren women conceive a child, so he brought them to his mother Leah, who had stopped bearing children. Rachel saw that her sister had mandrakes, and she knew that this medicinal herb, which looked similar to the body of a baby had reproductive power, which could lead to conception in barren women, if it was consumed in very small amounts, or cut into an amulet to wear on the body, or put beneath the bed, or under a pillow. Rachel begged her older sister Leah, ‘Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.’ Leah replied, ‘You have taken away my husband and now you want to take away my son’s mandrakes also.’ Rachel was desperate, she needed a child to validate herself as a woman, so she was willing to do just about anything, to get possession of the mandrakes. Rachel replied, ‘I will have Jacob lie with you tonight, if you give me some of your son’s mandrakes.’ Leah was overjoyed and she ran out to the field to meet Jacob and said, ‘You must come into me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ Leah placed a mandrake under her pillow that night in hope that the magic root would bring her more success in conceiving again.
All parts of the mandrake plant are poisonous. The plant grows natively in southern and central Europe and in lands around the Mediterranean Sea, as well as on Corsica. By pinching and tying Mandrake roots as they grow, they can grow to look like human forms.