Archive for July 2nd, 2011

Genesis 29

Genesis 29 is the familiar story of Jacob and Laban.  Jacob has been sent away to be kept safe from his brother Esau’s wrath.  He heads to “the land of the people of the east” and comes to the well where the flocks are watered.  As he does, there are shepherds there waiting to water their sheep before taking them out to pasture.  And here comes Rachel, the shepardess of Laban’s sheep.  Jacob sees her and tells her that he is her cousin.  She runs home to tell Laban who comes running to greet Jacob and bring him to his home.

Jacob stays and works for Laban who decides he needs to compensate him somehow.  “Jacob loved Rachel” and asks Laban for her hand.  Laban agrees and they come to terms – 7 years of labor in exchange for Rachel to become Jacob’s wife.  “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her”. Time flies for Jacob since he has such a prize at the end of the path.  He works and completes his time and comes to Laban asking him to “give me my wife that I may go to her, for my time is completed”.  Jacob has worked for seven years and now wants his reward.

So Laban gets everyone together and they celebrate the feast.  Jacob is given Leah, the older sister as his wife.  In the morning when he figures it out he is a bit miffed and confronts Laban.  He is basically told that in their culture – the oldest daughter gets married first so that is who you got.  Now if you want to marry Rachel – we can work out a deal for that too – another seven years.  Jacob agrees and completes the marriage to Leah as part of the process to be able to once again work for Rachel’s hand.  One might see this as a bait and switch – which it does seem to be – but Jacob honors his uncle and begins to work for Rachel again.

In the meantime Leah is the one who becomes a child bearer.  “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren”.  She brings four sons into their lives – Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah.  She is still not the focus of Jacob’s love and affection – he is definitely in love with Rachel.  But Rachel is barren – God only opened the womb of Leah.  Hard to figure out how this all works with multiple wives and the undoubted emotional and personal struggles that would be involved.  But Jacob earns Rachel a second time by working seven more years for Laban.  Persistence is a very good thing and Jacob demonstrates it here.

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