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Bible: What Does Genesis 28-29 Teach Us About Jacob, Laban, Leah, and Rachel?
The Dream of Jacob
Name of "Worship Center"
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After agreeing with Rebekah that Jacob must go to the house of Bethuel in Padan Aram-- more specifically, Laban’s place in Haran-- to find himself a wife (vv. 1-2), Isaac sends Jacob away with a blessing reminiscent of the Abrahamic promise (vv. 3-5; cf. Gen. 12).
Seeing his brother obey his parents’ command regarding a mate, Esau spitefully marries Mahalath, Ishmael’s daughter (vv. 6-9).
[Did Esau think that by marrying someone “in the family” that Isaac would grant him a better blessing?]
Jacob encounters God (a Christophany) in a dream, featuring a ladder and ministering angels (vv. 10-13a).
[What do “Jacob’s Ladder” and the angels represent?]
Standing at His position above that ladder, the LORD reiterates the promises of the Abrahamic covenant to him (vv. 13b-15), and when Jacob awakens, he remembers his dream.
In awe of his sense of the LORD’s omnipresence, he sets up a “worship center” on that site and calls it Bethel, “the house of God” (vv. 16-19).
Jacob vows to serve and worship the LORD alone (“the LORD shall be my God”) if He protects and provides for him in his present journey and purpose (vv. 20-22).
[Does this promise indicate a greater commitment to Yahweh, or does it record Jacob’s profession of faith (salvation)?]
Jacob Deals With Laban; Rachel and Leah
Jacob arrives in “the East” where he sees a well and three flocks of sheep lying around it (vv. 1-3).
[“The people of the East” are Jacob’s relatives, but Moses makes them sound like foreigners.
He comments about the practice of watering sheep as though it needed a systematic explanation].
He starts a conversation with shepherds from Haran, and learns from them that Uncle Laban’s daughter Rachel is coming with more sheep (vv. 4-6).
[God has led him directly to his destination].
The shepherds have no authority to water the sheep until Rachel brings Laban’s sheep, and “they” remove the stone from the mouth of the well (vv. 7-8).
[Who are “they”? Are they others in Laban’s employ?]
In an apparent case of “love at first sight,” Jacob does “their” job, waters Laban’s flock for Rachel, kisses her with more than a family greeting, and tells her who he is (vv. 9-12).
[Note that Moses repeats “Laban his mother’s brother” three times in verse ten.]
Rachel reports the news to Laban, who welcomes Jacob with typical near-Eastern hospitality, overjoyed at his nephew’s arrival (vv. 13-14).
After benefiting for a month from Jacob’s service free of charge, Laban offers him a blank check, so to speak (v. 15).
Passing over plain Leah, Jacob chooses to serve his uncle seven years for Rachel, a virgin who is beautiful of face and form.
Laban responds positively to his request; however, his words allow for loopholes—at least in his mind (vv. 16-19).
[The patriarchal system considers daughters as property.
In addition, a question arises: Why is there so much fascination with the number seven?]
For love-smitten Jacob, the seven years fly by (v. 20); nevertheless, at their end he is ready to receive his wage in full (v. 21).
Years of Service for Rachel
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After the wedding reception/feast, Laban sends Leah to his unsuspecting nephew in the bridal suite (vv. 22-23).
[He even provides his daughter with a nursemaid! (v. 24)]
When morning comes, Jacob discovers the deception and confronts his uncle, who subsequently reveals the loophole.
To acquire the younger daughter (Rachel) as wife, Jacob must serve Laban seven more years (vv. 25-28).
[These latter two verses contain an expression—“fulfill her week”—that aids in prophetic interpretation.
“Fulfill her week” is equated with seven years; thus, each day is the same as one year.
Compare Daniel 9:24-27 for the prophecy of the “seventy weeks” to see how important this interpretive clue is].
At the end of this “week” Jacob finally joins with his beloved (v. 30a), and then serves Laban seven more years (v. 30b).
In His sovereign plan the LORD allows Leah, the unloved, to conceive and bear Jacob four sons: Reuben (“See, a son”) [v. 32], Simeon (“Heard”) [v. 33], Levi (“Attached”) [v. 34], and Judah (“Praise”) [v. 35].
On the other hand, Jacob’s beloved wife is barren (v. 31).
[This condition, of course, seems to run in the family (cf. Gen. 16:1, 2; 25:21)].
© 2013 glynch1