Home > Bible Journal > January 24th, Genesis 28:10 to 30:43, Jacob marries Leah and Rachel

January 24th, Genesis 28:10 to 30:43, Jacob marries Leah and Rachel

February 12, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” ~Albert Einstein

We return to the account of Jacob, where he is fleeing from Esau’s wrath. On his trip, he used a stone for a pillow and had a dream that God confirmed the covenant he had made with his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac. Jacob awoke from this dream and thought surely the Lord was with him. So he named that place Bethel, which means “house of God”.

Jacob makes a vow, saying that if if the Lord watches over him and returns him safely to his father’s house, then he will give back to the Lord one-tenth of everything the Lord gives him. So we see the foundation for tithing in the church.

In Genesis 29 Jacob continues on his journey, where he comes to the land of the eastern peoples. He saw a well in the field, with three flocks of sheep near it because they drank the water from that well. The stone over that well was large. When all the flocks were gathered, the shepherds would roll away the stone and water the flocks, then roll the stone back after they were finished.

Jacob asked the shepherds where they were from, and they answered they were from Haran. Jacob then asked if they knew Laban, Nahor’s grandson. The shepherds did indeed know him. Jacob asked if he was well. Yes, he is, and the shepherds informed him that his Laban’s daughter Rachel was coming with the sheep.

Look, Jacob said, the sun is still high, it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture. But the shepherds replied that they could not until all the flocks were gathered and the stone rolled away.

While Jacob was still talking with them, Rachel the shepherdess came with her father’s sheep. When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled away the stone and watered his uncle’s sheep. Then he kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. He told her that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah, so she ran and told her father. [Ed note: Perhaps this was one of those proverbial “love at first” sight meetings. Well, Jacob the momma’s boy certainly got an infusion of testosterone in any case.]

As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house, calling Jacob his own flesh and blood.

After Jacob stayed there for a whole month, Laban took him aside and said that just because Jacob was a relative didn’t mean he had to work for free. He asked Jacob what his wages should be.

We then learn Laban had two daughters, Leah the elder and Rachel the younger. Leah had weak or delicate eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel, so he said that he would work seven years for her hand.

Laban said that it would be better to give Rachel to Jacob than some other man and accepted Jacob’s offer. So Jacob served seven years, which seemed like only a few days because of his love for Rachel.

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.” (Genesis 29:21)

So Laban gathered all the people of the place and held a wedding feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and Jacob lay with her. And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.

Genesis 29:25 says:
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”

[Ed note: Admit it, it sounds like something straight out of a cheesy romance novel or soap opera.]

Laban then informed Jacob that it was not the custom to give the younger daughter before the older one. Finish Leah’s bridal week, and he would give Rachel in exchange for another seven years of work.

And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel. Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maidservant. Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved her more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb but Rachel was barren. [Ed. note: I can’t help but notice that Abraham’s line sure seems to have a thing for barren women.] She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who she named Reuben sounds like Hebrew for “he has seen my misery” and means “see, a son”.

Leah conceived again, and she had another son. She named him Simeon which mean “one who hears”, for the Lord heard her.

Again Leah conceived, and she gave birth to a third son. She named him Levi, which means “attached”, because she hoped that her husband would become attached to her.

Leah conceived yet again, and another son was born. She named him Judah, which means “praise”, for she praised the LORD.

Genesis 30 tells us that when Rachel saw she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she told Jacob to give her children or she would die. But Jacob became angry with her, asking her if he was in the palce of God, who kept her from having children.

So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob slept with her. Bilhah became pregnant and bore him a son who Rachel named Dan, which means “he has vindicated”, for God had vindicated her and heard her plea for a child.

Bilhah conceived a second time, and another son was born. Rachel named him Napthali, which means “my struggle”, for she had a great struggle with her sister and won.

When Leah saw that she stopped having children, she took her maidservant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Leah named him Gad, which means “good fortune”, for she saw it as fortuitous that Jacob had another son.

Zilpah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Leah named him Asher, which means “happy”, for she felt confident that the women would call her happy.

During the wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel asked Leah for some of the mandrakes.

Genesis 30:15-16 says:
15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”

“Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”

16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.

[Ed. note: It’s hard to think about in a world of supermarkets, but some plants and herbs were hard to find back then. We may find it cheap that Rachel sold a night with Jacob away for some mandrakes, but their value was much greater back then. Or at least worth a night with the husband, if you know what I mean.]

God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant for a fifth time and bore Jacob a son. Leah named him Issachar, which sounds like the Hebrew word for “reward”, for the LORD had rewarded her for giving her maidservant to her husband.

Leah conceived for a sixth time and bore Jacob a son. Leah named him Zebulun, which means “honor”, because she said the precious gift from God of six sons would lead her husband to treat her with honor.

Some time later Leah gave birth to a daughter named Dinah.

Then God remembered Rachel, who became pregnant and gave birth a son. She named him Joseph, which means “may he add”, for she thanked God for removing her disgrace and hoped that the LORD would add to her another son.

After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob asked Laban to send him back to his homeland, along with his wives and children. But Laban wanted him to stay, because he learned by divination that the Lord has blessed him because of Jacob. Laban added, “Name your wages and I will pay them.” (Genesis 30:28)

Jacob said that Laban didn’t have to give him anything, but if he did, the one thing he would like would be all the speckled, spotted or dark colored sheep or goats of Laban’s flock. That would be proof of Jacob’s honesty, because any sheep or goat in his possession that was not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark colored, would be considered stolen.

Laban readily agreed to this, as the fleece from purely white lambs was worth way more and the speckled or spotted lambs and goats few. Then Laban put a three day’s journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.

Jacob had a plan, however. He took fresh cut branches from trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in a all the watering troughs, so they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink they mated in front of the branches. And so they bore young that were streaked or specked or spotted.

Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but he made the rest face the streaked or dark colored animals. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs so they would mate near the branches. But if the animals were weak, he would not place the branches. So the weak animals went to Laban and strong ones to Jacob. In this way, Jacob grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, maidservants, menservants, camels, and donkeys.

Question: Does time move faster when you’re with the one you love? Have you ever pulled off a magnificent scheme like Jacob’s?

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