What did Rachel mean when she said, "v'Seiled Al Birkai"?
Rashi, Targum Onkelos and Targum Yonasan: It means 'I will bring up the children that Bilhah bears.' 1
Bechor Shor: And they will be attributed to me.
Why did Rachel say, "v'Ibaneh Gam Anochi Mimenah"?
Rashi: When Rachel pointed out that Avraham made efforts to have children from Sarah even though he already had a child from Hagar, Yaakov replied that Sarah first gave her maidservant to Avraham; to which Rachel responded by giving Bilhah to Yaakov 1 (so that, like Sarah, she would subsequently have a child).
Tosfos ha'Shalem (30:2 (6), and 30:3 (6), citing R. Yaakov of Vienna): The letter Hei is needed for children. Bilhah has one for herself, and one for me.
Seforno: She meant that the jealousy that she would inevitably feel of Bilhah would enable nature to take its course and that she too (like her sister), would subsequently give birth.
Sarah had said to Avraham, "Bo Na El Shifchasi, Ulai Ibaneh Mimenah" (16:2). Why, in our verse, a) did Rachel call Bilhah "Amasi," b) she did not say 'perhaps,' c) she added, "v'Seiled Al Birkai"?
Tosfos ha'Shalem (3): a) Amasi is like Umasi (from my nation. Bilhah and Zilpah were Lavan's daughters from Shifchos - Pirkei d'R. Eliezer 36). b) Sarah was unsure if she will give birth. 1 c) Sarah could not say 'I will put the children on my knees,' for she was old. 2
Oznayim la'Torah: Rachel saw the trouble that Hagar and Yishmael caused Avraham and Sarah - after Sarah gave her to Avraham. Therefore, when she gave Bilhah to Yaakov, she took two practcal steps to prevent the same happening to her. a) She referred to Bilhah as 'Amasi' - a term that generaly applies to Jewish maidservants, 3 whom one does not work with rigor, and one does not expel from one's home together with her son. c) She promised to bring him up like her own son, "ve'Seiled al Birkai," which she put into practice the moment Dan was born - by calling him 'my son.'
Why did Sarah mention Bi'ah before 'my Shifchah' (16:2), but Rachel reversed the order?
Ohr ha'Chayim: Hagar remained a Shifchah after the Bi'ah. Rachel freed Bilhah (Targum Yonasan) before the Bi'ah, and Yaakov married her like a wife.
QUESTIONS ON RASHI
Rashi writes: "'I, too, will be built up' - Rachel [replied], 'Your grandfather (Avraham) had children from Hagar, yet he [still] girded his loins (i.e. prayed intensely) for Sarah!" How do we know that Avraham prayed for Sarah (we find no explicit verse that he did so)?
Gur Aryeh #1: Hashem assured Avraham of children; and Avraham's prayers must have been the cause. Hashem does not grant to one who does not pray!
Gur Aryeh #2: If Hashem assured Avraham of children, Avraham must have wanted this very much. Certainly, he must have prayed for this.
Gur Aryeh #3: The desire of a Tzadik is in itself prayer, as the verse says, "He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him" (Tehilim 145:19).
Rashi writes that bringing a Tzarah (rival wife) into the house is a merit to have children. Why is this?
Ohr Yechezkel, Midos p. 231: "V'El Zeh Abit El Ani u'Necheh Ru'ach" (Yeshayah 66:2) - anyone who suffers pain and disgrace for Shamayim's honor will merit successes and Berachos.
Gur Aryeh: Sarah wanted children so much, that she wanted that her maidservant would bear children from Avraham, and she (Sarah) would raise them. Since she went to such pains to raise children, Hashem would have mercy on her as well.