I almost forgot to play catch-up today. I’m going to knock this one out. Here we go:
Jacob makes his way to Haran and meets Rachel, a shepherdess, outside the city. After having spoken to the local shepherds, he knows her to be Laban’s daughter. He moves the stone from the nearby well, helps her get water for her flock, and then kisses her. Man, Jacob is a smooth operator.
Rachel goes and tells her father, who invites Jacob into the house. Jacob stays with Laban for a month before Laban finally asks how he should pay Jacob for his service. Jacob wants to take Rachel as his wife, and in an absolutely terrible display of negotiating skills, volunteers to work seven years in order to wed Rachel.
Two verses later, Jacob’s labors are completed, and in a shocking display of audacity that I hope was somehow phrased more delicately in the original Hebrew, Jacob asks that he may have Rachel as his wife so that he “may go in to her” (Genesis 29:21). And he says this to her dad.
Maybe this was some kind of consummation thing? Because Laban tricks Jacob, and gives him Leah to sleep with instead. Jacob doesn’t realize this until the morning and he is understandably upset. Laban explains that it is not customary to give away the younger daughter before the older, and so Jacob has to deal with both. Since Laban couldn’t marry off Leah in seven years, Jacob gets a package deal. Although, it’s not really a deal, since things work out weird, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Laban tells Jacob to “[fulfill] her week,” and then he would be allowed to also take Rachel as his wife. This confused me a bit, but I looked up Adam Clarke’s commentary on the matter, and he explains that this is a reference to a “bridal week” which consists of long celebrations following a marriage.¹ In other words, once all the guests leave and this deception is finished, you can also have Rachel. But… you have to work seven more years afterwards!
“What a man soweth, that shall he reap. Jacob had before practiced deceit, and is now deceived.”
— Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible
Jacob works a total of fourteen years for his two wives, one of whom he never asked for, and Leah bore him four children at some point, while Rachel, whom he loved most dearly, bore him none. Matthew Henry’s commentary does not say much about this point except to dissect the names of Leah’s sons.
The most obvious information I gleaned from this chapter is in regards to Jacob’s labor. He works for such a long time to realize his dream, to manifest his life with Rachel. Sometimes, this is what we must do. Ask and ye shall receive, but remember that God works within the language of the world… asking God with words is only so helpful. God gave us bodies and minds that we may “ask” with those; our actions are like words, but much, much louder. Jacob does not pray for a “miracle,” but one can imagine him praying for strength and willpower that he may complete his task. I wonder if the reversal of roles was lost on him or not; perhaps he prayed for forgiveness now that he knows the feeling of being deceived.
Either way, I have a feeling we will revisit Jacob and his business tomorrow. I’m going to stay up and watch the eclipse.
Farewell, all. Peace be upon you.
¹ Clarke, Adam. http://biblehub.com/commentaries/genesis/29-27.htm