1-12 Jacob Meets Rachel 13-20 Jacob Serves Seven Years for Rachel 21-26 Jacob Cheated 27-30 Seven Years Extra Service for Rachel 31-35 The First Children of Leah
Jacob Meets Rachel

1Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the sons of the east. 2He looked, and saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it, for from that well they watered the flocks. Now the stone on the mouth of the well was large. 3When all the flocks were gathered there, they would then roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well. 4Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where are you from?” And they said, “We are from Haran.” 5He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” And they said, “We know [him].” 6And he said to them, “Is it well with him?” And they said, “It is well, and here is Rachel his daughter coming with the sheep.” 7He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.” 8But they said, “We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered, and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.” 9While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept. 12Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.

There is a big difference between the search for a bride for Isaac and the way Jacob does it. In the search for Rebekah (Gen 24:12-14,21,26,27,42-48,52,6312He said, “O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham.13Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water;14now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’—[may] she [be the one] whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.”21Meanwhile, the man was gazing at her in silence, to know whether the LORD had made his journey successful or not.26Then the man bowed low and worshiped the LORD.27He said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.”42“So I came today to the spring, and said, ‘O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, if now You will make my journey on which I go successful;43behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar”;44and she will say to me, “You drink, and I will draw for your camels also”; let her be the woman whom the LORD has appointed for my master’s son.’45“Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder, and went down to the spring and drew, and I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’46She quickly lowered her jar from her [shoulder], and said, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’; so I drank, and she watered the camels also.47Then I asked her, and said, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ And she said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him’; and I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists.48And I bowed low and worshiped the LORD, and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had guided me in the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son.52When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the LORD.63Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming.) prayer takes a large place. We don’t read anything about that here. The servant in Genesis 24 has all the treasures of his lord with him. Jacob has nothing. But just like the servant, the meeting takes place at a well. However, the well is closed here and in Genesis 24 it is not. And while the servant goes directly back with Rebekah, Jacob abides in the foreign land for a total of twenty years.

Jacob comes to a well on his journey to his mother’s land. Three herds are stationed there. On the well is a large stone. It is difficult to dilate it alone, therefore several shepherds are needed. That’s why the shepherds wait with their flocks at the well until they’re all there and then take the stone from the well together. When the cattle have drunk, the stone is put back.

Jacob asks the shepherds if they know Laban. Through the affirmative answer Jacob knows that he is on the right way. Then he asks if Laban is doing well. The answer is also affirmative. At the same time, the shepherds add that they see Rachel, Laban’s daughter, coming with her flock. Rachel is a shepherdess. Then Jacob proposes that they water their cattle and that they can go. Then, as the background to his proposal seems to be, he can stay with Rachel alone. The agreement between the shepherds, however, is that they wait for each other to remove the stone together, after which they can water the sheep.

Meanwhile, Rachel has come to the well. When Jacob sees her, it gives him so much power that he takes away the stone on his own. He also makes sure that the sheep of Laban are watered. In Jacob the shepherd reveals himself. This is a sign that he is the man with whom God is going to get His way.

God goes with him, although he is not yet going with God. The school he has to go through is a school that we also have to go through. God is the God of Jacob for a very good reason. God is busy forming this Jacob. Jacob is a picture of a believer who, through the discipline of God, will increasingly respond to God’s intention with him.

Jacob Serves Seven Years for Rachel

13So when Laban heard the news of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Then he related to Laban all these things. 14Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him a month. 15Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. 18Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.” 20So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.

When Laban hears that Jacob is there, he runs to meet him, greets him warmly and takes him home. It does not seem that this is done out of love for a member of the family, but more out of the self-interest he already showed in Genesis 24 (Gen 24:29-3129Now Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban; and Laban ran outside to the man at the spring.30When he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, “This is what the man said to me,” he went to the man; and behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring.31And he said, “Come in, blessed of the LORD! Why do you stand outside since I have prepared the house, and a place for the camels?”). Jacob’s stay at Laban confirms this. In Laban’s house Jacob tells him “all these things”, which most likely means that he tells what happened at the well. By this Laban acknowledges him as his family, “my bone and my flesh”.

The way Jacob is treated by Laban says a lot about Laban. When Jacob has served with him for a month and he has seen what a valuable force Jacob is, he proposes to Jacob, under the guise of justice and fairness, to work for him in return for payment. He also appeals to the family feeling. He may know what Jacob’s heart is all about, and may skillfully respond to it.

Jacob’s love for Rachel makes sure that he likes to work for her for seven years. The prophet Hosea reminds God’s people of this service (Hos 12:1212Now Jacob fled to the land of Aram,
And Israel worked for a wife,
And for a wife he kept [sheep].
). First Hosea says that Jacob, because he acted like Jacob, had to flee like Jacob. But then Hosea talks about Israel and does so in connection with his serving for a wife. There we see Jacob’s faith and faithfulness come to the fore and then he is called ‘Israel’. Israel means ‘prince of God’ or ‘warrior of God’ (Gen 32:2828He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”).

The way Jacob serves to marry Rachel has been a faithful service. Later, when he fled from Laban and was overtaken by him, he can testify of it. In so doing he gives God the honor (Gen 31:41-4241These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock, and you changed my wages ten times.42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night.”). There he acts and speaks like Israel. Hosea wants to speak to the people of God with this example, that they may repent and serve the LORD faithfully again. In this respect the faithful service of Jacob is also an example for us.

In this he is a weak picture of the Lord Jesus, Who also worked for the acquisition of His bride. If our love for the Lord Jesus is as great as Jacob’s love for Rachel, it will not be difficult for us to serve Him.

Jacob Cheated

21Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give [me] my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” 22Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. 23Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and [Jacob] went in to her. 24Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. 25So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” 26But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn.

After Jacob has served for seven years, he asks for the wife for whom he has worked all this time. Laban makes it an official affair. He invites guests and prepares a meal. The wedding is a public affair (verse 2222Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast.). That’s how it should be. Only then does Jacob go in to his bride. That is the right order.

But Laban cheats Jacob. Instead of Rachel he brings Leah to Jacob. The next morning Jacob notices the deceit. Laban’s deception takes place in the darkness, just as Jacob deceived his father in the darkness of the tent (Gen 27:19-2419Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me.”20Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have [it] so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because the LORD your God caused [it] to happen to me.”21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.”22So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”23He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him.24And he said, “Are you really my son Esau?” And he said, “I am.”). Here we see Jacob reaping on his way what he sowed (Gal 6:7b7Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.). Jacob also took the birthright from Esau with tricks. Here he is cheated in connection with the firstborn Leah.

Laban’s defense against what is customary in Haran is insincere. If it were so, he would have had to make Jacob familiar with it before. Laban is also prepared to use both his daughters in the pursuit of his own interests. He takes no account at all of the fact that he also incites a violation of God’s decree that a man may have only one wife.

Jacob does not take this into account either. He goes to work for a second wife. The resulting misery in his family is clearly evident from the description of his future life. The transgression of God’s statutes always brings misery. The fact that God uses all this to carry out His plan proves that His plan is based on grace and therefore is fulfilled.

Seven Years Extra Service for Rachel

27Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” 28Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 29Laban also gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid. 30So [Jacob] went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.

Laban is willing to give Rachel to Jacob as well, but then he has to serve him for another seven years. Jacob agrees. As far as Jacob’s own responsibility is concerned, it has not been good to work for Rachel. His father’s command is to take a wife (Gen 28:22Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and from there take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.) and not several wives. That is not God’s will either. It is of a different order that God’s counsel is fulfilled in this.

This convergence of man’s actions and the fulfilment of God’s counsel we often see in Scripture. The fact that the Lord Jesus has been delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:2323this [Man], delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put [Him] to death.) does not reduce man’s guilt. So it is in the case of Judas, who has betrayed the Lord. It is the same with the fall into sin.

The First Children of Leah

31Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” 33Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this [son] also.” So she named him Simeon. 34She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi. 35And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.

The LORD compensates Leah for Jacob’s lack of love for her. God is also the God of compensation. Leah is the first one to have children. The names of the children tell about her experiences.

The first she calls “Reuben”, which means ‘see, a son’. She is full of joy and thankfulness to the LORD. She sees in this boy a proof of the care of the LORD for her. That is good. She now also expects the love of Jacob. She is mistaken in this.

The second child she has, she calls “Simeon”, which means ‘heard’. With this she expresses that she has gone to the LORD with her need and that He has heard her.

The third son she calls “Levi”, which means ‘united’, ‘added’. This expresses her hope that she will now have won Jacob’s affection and that he will unite with her. She desires, as many women also desire, that the union should not be limited to a physical one, but that Jacob will now really attach himself to her, that he will show her that she really belongs to him.

In the name of the fourth son which she conceives, whom she calls “Judah”, she turns only to the LORD. Disappointed in men, in her husband, she knows that her strength is in the LORD. She will praise Him. That is what ‘Judah’ means: ‘He will be praised.’

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