Genesis 29

Genesis 29

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Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel

29 Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well.

Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.” But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”

While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.

As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.

Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.

Jacob’s Children

When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.


Genesis 29 Commentary

by Hank Workman

God is forging Jacob’s character. Arriving in the land of his relatives, he not only finds them but falls in love. The convoluted story of deception and labor ends with Jacob being deceived into marrying the older sister of the one he loves but also in time having a brood of children. Although his heart goes to Rachel, whom he marries as well, Leah the eldest deceptively becomes his first wife.

The deceiver of Esau now becomes deceived himself. He reaps what he has sown.

Uncle Laban, the father of the two women is the master of deception at the cost of emotional upheaval and downright manipulative tactics. It will be years of Jacob living under this now Father in Law before he is set free. And in the end, working for a dishonest man and of bad character, God teaches him things through the hardship. It’s fascinating to consider Jacob’s disobedience back at the homestead and consequent discipline did not derail God’s plan – it just affected him greatly with difficulty. The correction of God and forging of character is there day in, day out in Jacob’s life.

The take away is simply God’s plans stand – regardless of our own choices. However, the choices we make may indeed bring hardship if we are not in tune with Him. The discipline of God is never easy. Many times the consequences of such disobedience bring heartache to others. Yet, by the grace of God, we stand and move forward despite these.

“We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:3-5

God is at work throughout all our choices, even if we have chosen poorly. He is working in us and molding us to become the people He’s called us to be. Sometimes the chipping away of our bad character comes through hardship and difficulty – but in the end, a deeper trust and pursuit of God happens as we’ve been led down avenues we would have preferred not to go and discovered deeper truths of God Himself.

Genesis 29 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Jacob is here in Genesis 29 doing “Jacob-like stuff.” Like a smooth-talking used car salesman, he approaches these shepherds as if they were his long lost buddies from college. His reference to it being broad daylight seemed like another way of saying, “Why don’t you guys scurry off so I can be alone with Rachel.” When he learns that the stone needs to be rolled away before they can water the sheep, he wastes no time flexing his muscles in front of his future wife. This is what we might call “ancient flirting.”

Joking aside, Jacob is about to get a taste of his own medicine.

The offer to work 7 years for Rachel’s hand in marriage is completely foreign in today’s western culture. Basically, what Jacob is offering is a dowry. This would have been a gift of money or property by a man to or for his bride. In Jacob’s case, he had wandered from home and had no money, so the agreement was based on work. In my understanding, this was an extremely generous offer by Jacob. Rachel was exceedingly desirable and Jacob did not want to risk losing her. Unfortunately, since Jacob played his hand upfront, it opened an opportunity for Laban to manipulate.

Amazingly, in all the deception we have read in the previous and current chapter, God was still working. Although Leah was somewhat rejected and ignored, God would meet her needs.

“The names of Leah’s sons suggest the blessings that accrue through heartbreak. For the Leahs of the world there are great compensations. God remembers and hears them. Brokenhearted and forsaken, they live again in the lives of those whom they have borne either naturally or spiritually.”

-F.B. Meyer
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