101-129-Genesis Part 3 Chapter 29
Jacob traveled on in earnest encouraged by the promises that the Lord had made with him. Jacob finally reached the land to the east which was Mesopotamia or present day Syria. In a field Jacob came to a well which he probably knew the location of, as his grandfather’s servant had met Rebekah, his mother, there many years before. Three flocks of sheep laid about waiting to be watered when the stone on the well was removed. Water was in small supply and wells were protected so that there would be water for all the neighbors.
Jacob called out to the shepherds and asked from where they had come and they answered Haran. It is probable that Jacob was aware of where he was but needed to start a conversation in order to gain intelligence of his surroundings. Jacob inquired of Laban his mother’s brother whom had come to see. The Shepherds knew him and noted that his daughter was now coming with the sheep. Once all the shepherds had gathered the stone would be removed and sheep would be watered.
As Jacob was having his discussion with the shepherds Rachael came up with the sheep that she was in charge of. Once Rachael had arrived it is most likely that she was the one the rest of the shepherds were waiting for. Jacob either to show great favor to a relation of his or by being taken in by Rachael and wanting to impress her removed the Stone, either by himself or with the help of the other shepherds, and cared for Rachael’s flock as they watered.
Jacob, after identifying himself as Rachael’s relation kissed her as was customary and wept tears of joy that God had led him there safely to his relations in Haran. Perhaps too Jacob was in great hope that it was Rachael that God had appointed him to marry. Rachael ran, leaving the flock in the care of Jacob, and told her father Laban of the news that his sisters son, Jacob, was at the well.
Laban came to meet Jacob at the well and embraced him the son of his sister. Jacob told him all things. Jacob probably told him of the birthright that he had stolen from his brother Esau. Jacob probably told Laban of his dream and vision from God, and of the promises that God had given him. Jacob also told of his flight from his home to find a wife of his mother’s relations. Of how he met Rachael at the well and his hope that she might be his wife. Laban accepted Jacob’s account of himself and let him stay there for a month.
Jacob was good help to Laban and he desired Jacob to remain. Laban inquired what Jacob would want for a wage for his labors from Laban. Now Jacob desired Rachael for a wife and agreed to work seven years in exchange for Laban’s younger daughter. Leah was the older daughter and was weak in the eyes as they were blurred. Rachael’s was more desirable to look and it was Rachael that had caught Jacobs’s heart. It was a custom in that day to give a dowry for the hand of a daughter which Jacob did not have. The offer of his servitude to Laban for seven was agreeable as the dowry that Laban would receive for his daughter Rachael.
With all things seeming acceptable between Laban and Jacob, Jacob worked seven years in order to receive Rachael for his wife. The time past quickly for Jacob as his love for Rachael was strong. The Lord blesses those who work diligently in our service and not forget our service in ministering to one another. (Hebrews 6:10) It is good for us in the long time of our labors to focus on the reward for our efforts. Keeping our eyes on the vision will make the trials of our journey all the less of importance.
Once Jacob had completed his obligation to Laban for his daughter he went to Laban and asked for Rachael. It was of time for Jacob as he now was 84 years of age and the twelve princes that God had promised to be born of him had yet to be fulfilled. Laban gathered the men of Haran and made a feast for the marriage so that all could witness his daughter’s wedding. This compares in similarity to the wedding fest that some day we shall enjoy at the wedding banquet of our Lord as the bridegroom when he calls His bride the church. (Matthew 22:2)
The feast now over for the day and the guest all departed it was customary of that time for the groom to retire to the bed first and then the bride to come to him. Laban without the witness of others then set his daughter Leah in to Jacob instead of Rachael. Jacob now being caught in the same deceit that he had shown to his father Isaac was unsuspecting that Laban his uncle would do this. Jacob then lay with Leah unknowing of the trick that had been made against him. Laban also gave his maid Zilpah, as concubines were called in that day, to Jacob also.
In the morning light with her veil off Jacob realized that it was Leah that he had slept with and not Rachael. It is thought that Laban had convinced her that it was she that Jacob had bargained for, or that it was her right as the elder to be married first, or that she herself had desired the blessings of God that Rachael would have received through the promises God had made with Jacob. Either way both Leah and Rachael would have to have been in on the deceit of Laban towards Jacob. Jacob arose and immediately went to Laban.
Jacob asked Laban what was the reason for this treachery against him. Jacob knew what Laban had done so the question was why had he done this sin against him and God? Jacob confirmed that he had kept his agreement with Laban and had served him for seven years as promised. Laban does not deny the deceit he had led Jacob into but said that is was the custom in his county not to marry the younger before the older. Laban requested that Jacob fulfill Leah’s week. It was also the custom for the marriage feast to last a full seven days. (Judges 14:17) If Jacob did so and served another 7 years, he would also give him his daughter Rachael as his wife. At this time it was alright for a man to have more than one wife, as the law had not yet been given in Leviticus. (Leviticus 18:18 1 Corinthians 7:2) There also seems to be an act of Divine Providence in that the Messiah came from Leah and not Jacob’s choice Rachael. After the seventh day Laban gave Rachael to Jacob as a wife and Jacob served Laban another seven years.
Rachael was barren but the Lord seeing that Leah was unloved opened her up and she had four sons. Leah named her son with respect to God and her husband Jacob. The first son she named Rueben, “See a Son”, the second Simeon, the third son she named Levi, “Joined”, and the forth, Judah, “Praise”. Affection towards each other is both the duty and responsibility of married couples. (1 Corinthians 7:33-34)