Genesis 29

Family Reunion

Jacob is on a journey. He believes that he is merely following the wishes of his parents to go to the house of Bethuel and find a wife. Jacob was to search for Laban, Rebekah's brother, and seek a wife from his daughters. He arrives to find three flocks of sheep near a well. Apparently, the shepherds had an arrangement in which they would wait until all the flocks were gathered and then they would move the large stone which covered the mouth of the well. Jacob joins the shepherds and discovers that they were from Haran and they knew Laban. As providence guides the story, Jacob learns that Laban is well and Rachel is approaching. Jacob encourages these shepherds to water their sheep and then pasture them immediately. Perhaps, Jacob was trying to speak with Rachel in private. Rachel is a shepherdess, and when she arrives, Jacob removes the large stone and waters his uncle's sheep. It may be that Jacob was quite strong despite being a quiet man that stayed among tents. Jacob kissed Rachel as a kinsman and wept for joy over finding her. Rachel ran to tell her father this exciting news. Laban hurries to meet his nephew. He runs to Jacob, embraces him, kissed him, and escorted him to his home where Jacob recounted his journey and convinced Laban that he was indeed his relative. 

The Deceiver Is Deceived

After Jacob had stayed for a month, Laban suggested that they reach some sort of formal agreement. Laban asked Jacob to tell him what he believed his wages should be since he was going to be there for a while and had intentions for one of Laban's daughters. Laban had two daughters and Jacob was smitten with the younger daughter Rachel. Jacob did not bring any dowry so he proposed that he should work for seven years to have the hand of his youngest daughter in marriage. Laban thought that this was a fabulous idea and that it would be better for her to marry family. Jacob was so in love that seven years seemed as if it were only a few days. He was content to serve her father and be patient because he believed that this was but a small price for such love. At the end of the seven years, Jacob is eager to marry Rachel, and he reminds Laban of their agreement. Laban ordered that a marriage feast was to be prepared and at the end of the feast Jacob would receive his bride. Laban deceived his nephew and substituted Leah for Rachel. Thick veils were worn by the bride and when you combine that with the poor light in the tent, Jacob did not discover the deception until morning. Leah was certainly complicit in the scheme, and this would change the sisters' relationship forever. Jacob had been wronged by a 'brother' in the same way he wronged his own brother. Jacob substituted the younger for, the older and Laban substituted the older for, the younger. Isaac did not realize it when blessed Jacob and Jacob did not realize it when he married Leah. Jacob acted at the behest of his mother and Leah acts at the behest of her father. The irony is undeniable. Jacob is incensed, and he asks Laban why he would do such a thing. Laban insists that it was necessary because of their local custom. He tells Jacob that he must complete the week of celebration and then he would receive Rachel's hand in marriage. In exchange, he would work for another seven years. Laban kept his word this time and Jacob, and Rachel were married at last. 

Marriage Trouble

Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, and although Jacob had been deceived, he does the honorable thing and works for another seven years. God showed compassion to Leah because she was not loved and he opened her womb while Rachel remained childless. Leah named her firstborn Reuben because she knew the Lord had seen her affliction but this would change everything. Leah regarded the birth of her second son as a divine response to her misery and she named this son Simeon. When her third son was born, again Leah thought that Jacob would be attached to her. She named this son Levi, but by the time her fourth son was born, Leah apparently faced reality and could see that Jacob's heart was not changing. This time, Leah only praised the Lord for the successful delivery and named this son Judah. After that, she ceased bearing children. 

Things To Consider:

  • How has God guided you in relationships?
  • Why do you think Jacob was so excited to be reunited with his mother's side of the family?
  • Why do you think it is important to know that Rachel is a shepherdess?
  • How much do you think Jacob loved Rachel for time to pass so quickly?
  • What role do you think Rachel played in the deception if any?
  • Why do you think God placed so much irony in Jacob's circumstances?
  • Do you think Jacob sees what God is teaching him? Why or why not?
  • How do you think this affected the sisters' relationship?
  • What should we understand about life?
  • Leah sees God at work through her children. How does God use children in your life?