Genesis 29



1 “Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.”

Then Jacob went on his journey (literally, lifted up his feet - a graphic description of

traveling. Inspired by new hopes, and conscious of loftier aims than when he fled from

Beersheba, the lonely furtive departed from Bethel), and came into the land of the

people of the east - literally, the land of the sons of the east, i.e. Mesopotamia,

about 450 miles distant from Beersheba.


2 “And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three

flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and

a great stone was upon the well's mouth.”  And he looked (either to discover

where he was, or in search of water), and behold a well in the field, - not the

well at which Eliezer's caravan halted, which was a well for the village maidens,

situated in front of the town, and approached by steps (see ch.14), but a well in

the open field for the use of flocks, and covered at the time of Jacob's arrival

with a huge stone - and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it. A frequent

Oriental scene (compare ibid. v. 11; Exodus 2:16). "Who that has traveled much

in this country has not often arrived at a well in the heat of the day which was

surrounded with numerous flocks of sheep waiting to be watered? I once saw

such a scene in the burning plains of Northern Syria. Half-naked, fierce-looking

men were drawing up water in leather buckets; flock after flock was brought up,

watered, and sent away; and after all the men had ended their work, then several

women and girls brought up their flocks, and drew water for them. Thus it was with

Jethro's daughters; and thus, no doubt, it would have been with Rachel if Jacob had

not rolled away the stone and watered her sheep" ('Land and Book,' p. 589). For out

of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth.

"Most of the cisterns are covered with a large thick, flat stone, in the center of which

a hole is cut, which forms the mouth of the cistern. This hole, in many instances, we

found covered with a heavy stone, to the removal of which two or three men were

requisite" (Robinson,

2. p. 180).


3 “And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the

well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's

mouth in his place.”  And thither were all the flecks gathered. "Fifteen minutes

later we came to a large well in a valley among the swells, fitted up with troughs

and reservoirs, with flocks waiting around" (Robinson, 3. p. 21). And they rolled

the stone from the well's mouth, find watered the sheep, and put the stone again

upon the well's mouth in his place. From the middle of v. 2 the words are

parenthetical, the watering of the flocks not having taken place till Rachel had

arrived (v. 9) and Jacob had uncovered the well (v. 10).


4 “And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said,

Of Haran are we.”  And Jacob said unto them (the shepherds of the three

flocks), My brethren (a friendly salutation from one who was himself a shepherd),

whence be ye? Anticipating that their reply would reveal his whereabouts. And

they said, Of Haran are we. This could scarcely fail to remind Jacob of God's

promise to guide him in his journey.


5 “And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said,

We know him.”  And he said unto them (with the view of discovering his

kinsmen), Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? - i.e. the grandson, Laban's father

having been Bethuel, who, however, here, as in ch. 14, retires into the background.

And they said, We know him. The language of the shepherds being Chaldaean

(see ch. 31:47), Jacob, who spoke Hebrew, was able to converse with them either

because he had learned Chaldee from his mother (Clericus), or, as is more probable,

because the dialects were not then greatly dissimilar (Gosman in Lange).


6 “And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold,

Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.”  And he said unto them, Is he well?

Literally, is there peace to him? meaning not simply bodily health, but all manner

of felicity; ὑγιαίνειhugiainei -  (Septuagint); sanusne est? (Vulgate). Compare

the Christian salutation, tax vobiscum And they said, He is well (literally, peace):

and, behold, Rachel - "Ewe" (Gesenius) - his daughter cometh with the sheep.


7 “And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should

be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them.”  And he said,

Lo, it is yet high day (literally, the day is yet great, i.e. much of it still remains),

neither is it time that the cattle should he gathered together (i.e. to shut them up

for the night): water ye the sheep, and go and feed them - being desirous to get

the shepherds away from the well that he might meet Rachel alone (Keil, Lange,

Murphy), though perhaps his words with as much correctness may be traced to

that prudent and industrious habit of mind which afterwards shone forth so

conspicuously in himself, and which instinctively caused him to frown upon

laziness and inactivity (Starke, Kalisch, Bush).


8 “And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and

till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep.”

And they said, We cannot, - not because of any physical difficulty (Kalisch),

since three men could easily have accomplished what Jacob by himself did,

but because they had agreed not to do so (Rosenmüller, Murphy), but to wait –

until all the flocks be gathered together (when the watering was done at once,

instead of at so many different times), and till they roll the stone from the well's

mouth; - more correctly rendered, and (sc. then, i.e. when the flocks are assembled)

they (i.e. the shepherds) roll away the stone - then (or, and) we water the sheep.

The object of watering the flocks collectively may have been, as above stated,

for convenience, or to prevent the well from being opened too frequently, in

which case dust might rapidly accumulate within it (Kalisch), or perhaps to

secure an equal distribution of the water (Murphy).


9 “And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep:

for she kept them.”  And while he yet spake with them (literally, he yet speaking

with them), Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them - or, she was

a shepherdess, the participle רֹעָה being used as a substantive (Gesenius, 'Lex.,'

sub. nom.).


10 “And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban

his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that

Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered

the flock of Laban his mother's brother.”  And it came to pass, when Jacob

saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, - "the term mother's

brother is not unintentionally repeated three times in this verse to describe with

the greatest possible stress that Jacob had met with his own relations, with

"his bone and his flesh" (Kalisch) - and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother

(Jacob from the first takes particular notice of Laban's flock, perhaps regarding

them as a sign of Laban s wealth. If Laban s daughter had her attractions for the

son of Isaac, so also had Laban s sheep), that Jacob went near, and rolled the

stone from the well's mouth (probably disregarding the shepherds' rule to wait

for the gathering of all the flocks, unless, indeed, Rachel s was the last), and

watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. The threefold repetition of

this phrase does not prove that Jacob acted in all this purely as a cousin (Lange).

The phrase is the historian's, and Jacob had not yet informed Rachel of his name.


11 “And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.”

And Jacob kissed Rachel, - in demonstration of his cousinly affection. If Jacob

had not yet discovered who he was to the fair shepherdess, his behavior must

have filled her with surprise, even allowing for the unaffected simplicity of the

times; but the fact that she does not resent his conduct as an undue liberty perhaps

suggests that he had first informed her of his relationship to the inmates of Laban s

house (Calvin). On kissing see ch. 27:26 - and lifted up his voice, and wept - partly

for joy in finding his relatives (compare ch. 43:30; ch. 45:2, 14-15); partly in

grateful acknowledgment of God's kindness in conducting him to his mother’s

brother's house.


12 “And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was

Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father.”  And Jacob told (or, had told,

ut supra) Rachel that he was her father’s brother, — as Lot is called Abraham’s

brother, though in reality his nephew (ch. 13:8; 14:14, 16) — and that he was

Rebekah’s son (this clause would explain the meaning of the term

“brother in the former): and she ran and told her father. Like Rebekah,

believing the stranger’s words and running to report them, though, unlike

Rebekah, first relating them to her father (compare ch. 24:28).


13 “And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister's son,

that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him

to his house. And he told Laban all these things.”  And it came to pass, when

Laban heard the tidings (literally, heard the hearing, or thing heard, i.e. the

report of the arrival) of Jacob his sister’s son, — he acted very much as he did

ninety-seven years before, when Abraham’s servant came to woo his sister

(ch. 24:20, 30) — that (literally, and) he ran to meet him, and embraced him,

so afterwards Esau did Jacob (ch. 33:4), and Jacob the two sons of

Joseph (ch. 48:10) — and kissed him, and brought him to his

house — thus evincing the same kindness and hospitality that had

characterized him on the previous occasion. And he (Jacob) told Laban

all these things — what his mother had instructed him to say to attest his

kinship (Calvin); the things related in the immediate context (Keil); more

likely the entire story of his life, and in particular of his exile from home,

with its cause and object (Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Lange).


14 “And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he

abode with him the space of a month.”  And Laban said unto him (giving

utterance to the impression Jacob s recital had produced upon his mind),

Surely thou art my bone and my flesh — i.e. my blood relation (compare

Judges 9:2; II Samuel 5:1). Laban meant that Jacob had satisfactorily proved

himself Rebekah’s son. And he abode with him the space of a month — literally,

a month of days (compare ch. 41:1; Numbers 11:20), or a month as regards

time, “the second substantive describing the general notion of which the

first is a specification” (Kalisch).



                 Jacob at the Well of Haran: A Romantic Adventure

                                                  (vs. 1-14)




Ø      The providential discovery. The well in the field with the three flocks of

sheep lying by it enabled Jacob to ascertain his whereabouts, and ultimately

led to his finding Rachel. God guides the steps of His people without

interfering with the ordinary course of nature, simply directing them in the

exercise of sense and intelligence; and doubtless Jacob recognized in his,

lighting on the Haran well a first installment of that celestial guidance he

had been lately promised. Saints should practice the art of discerning the

movement of God’s finger in the minutest and commonest events of life.


Ø      The friendly conversation. Saluting the shepherds as his brethren, i.e. as

masters of a common craft, Jacob gathers from their frank communications

that he was on the outskirts of Haran, in which his uncle Laban was a

prosperous and wealthy citizen, and that his cousin Rachel was on the road

to that very well beside which he stood with a flock of her father’s sheep.

Great is the virtue of asking questions, especially when they are prefaced

with politeness. Seldom anything is lost, but frequently much is gained, by

courteous inquiries.


Ø      The prudent counsel. Observing his friends disposed to indolence, and

perhaps desirous of meeting Rachel alone, Jacob recommends them to

uncover the well, water their flocks, and drive them off again to pasture,

since much of the day yet remained. If it was their advantage he sought, his

advice was good; if it was his own interest he served, the stratagem was

ingenious. God’s people should be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves.

                   (Matthew 10:16)




Ø      The gallant action. The lovely shepherdess arriving made a deep

impression on her cousin’s heart. Springing to his feet, he rolls the stone

from the well’s mouth, fills the troughs, and waters Laban’s sheep —

impelled thereto, shall we say, as much by consideration for the fair girl

who attended them as for the rich flock-master who possessed them.

Kindly acts proceeding from loving hearts are sometimes largely assisted

by the attractions of their recipients.


Ø      The loving salutation. “And Jacob kissed Rachel.” If before explaining

who he was, it must have taken her by surprise even in those

unconventional times; but it is probable he may have first announced his

name, in which case his behavior was only in accordance with the manners

of the age. Suitable expressions of, affection to friends beseem both grace

and nature.


Ø      The irrepressible emotion. And Jacob lifted up his voice and wept” —

expressive both of:


o        joy at finding his relatives, and

o        gratitude for God’s goodness guiding him to the

o        house of his mother’s brother.


Unexpected good and eminent providences kindle transports of

delight in gracious souls.


Ø      The important communication. “Jacob told Rachel that he was her

father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son: and she ran and

told her father.” Friends, and much more Christians, meeting on life’s

journey, should with frankness discover themselves to each other,

and give each other hearty welcome.




Ø      The uncles reception of his nephew, Laban ran to meet his sister s

son, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his

house.”  Kinship and kindness should ever be allied. Laban’s

hospitality to Jacob was grounded on the fact of their relationship.

So is Christ’s entertainment of His people based upon the

circumstance that they are “members of His body, of His flesh,

and of His bones.”  (Ephesians 5:30)


Ø      The nephews return to his uncle. Ingenuous confidence —

“Jacob told Laban all these things” — and faithful service.

It is implied in v. 15 that during the month Jacob abode with

Laban he served in keeping Laban’s sheep. God’s people

should endeavor as far as in them lies to requite the

kindnesses of relatives and friends.


15 “And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou

therefore serve me for naught? tell me, what shall thy wages be?”

And Laban said unto Jacob (probably at the month's end), Because thou art

literally, is it not that. thou art (cf. Genesis 27:36; 2 Samuel 23:19) - my brother, -

my kinsman (see on v. 12) - shouldest thou therefore serve me for naught?

(literally, and thou server me gratuitously) tell me, what shall thy wages be?

A proof of Laban's generosity and justice (Kalisch); of his selfishness and greed

(Keil); of his prudence and sagacity in opening up the way for a love-suit (Large).


16 “And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name

of the younger was Rachel.”  And Laban had two daughters (the wife of Laban is

not mentioned in the story): the name of the elder was Leah, - "Wearied" (Gesenius);

"Dull," "Stupid" (Furst); "Pining," "Yearning" (Lange) - and the name of the younger

was Rachel - "Ewe" (Gesenius).


17 “Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favored.”

Leah was tender eyed. Literally, the eyes of Leah were tender, i.e. weak, dun;

ἀσθενεῖς astheneis - (Septuagint), lippi (Vulgate); compare I Samuel 16:12.

Leah's face was not ugly (Bohlen), only her eyes were not clear and lustrous, dark

and sparkling, as in all probability Rachel's were (Knobel). But Rachel was beautiful

and well favored. Literally, beautiful in form (i.e. in outline and make of body;

compare ch. 39:6; also 1 Samuel 16:18 - "a man of form," i.e. formosus, well made)

and beautiful in appearance (i.e. of a lovely countenance). "If authentic history was

not in the way, Leah, as the mother of Judah, and of the Davidic Messianic line,

ought to have carried off the prize of beauty after Sarah and Rebakah (Lange).


 18 “And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel

thy younger daughter.”  And Jacob loved Rachel (it is more than probable that

this was an illustration of what is known as "love at first sight" on the part of Rachel

as well as Jacob); and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger

daughter. Having no property, with which to buy his wife, according to Oriental

custom (Kalisch), or to give the usual dowry for her to her father (Keil), - compare

ch. 24:53; 34:12; 1 Samuel 18:25, - Jacob's offer was at once accepted by his

grasping uncle, though he was that uncle's "brother" (v. 15).


19 “And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give

her to another man: abide with me.”  Orientals commonly prefer alliances within

the circle of their own relatives. Burckhardt, Volney, Layard, and Lane testify that

this is still the case among the Bedouins, the Druses, and other Eastern tribes.

Abide with me - a formal ratification of the compact on the part of Laban.


20 “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him

but a few days, for the love he had to her.”  And Jacob served - hard service

(ch. 31:40-41), in keeping sheep (Hosea 12:12) - seven years for Rachel. The

purity and intensity of Jacob's affection was declared not alone by the proposal

of a seven years' term of servitude, - a long period of waiting for a man of

fifty-seven, if not seventy-seven, years of age, - but also by the spirit in which

he served his avaricious relative. Many as the days were that required to intervene

before he obtained possession of his bride, they were rendered happy by the sweet

society of Rachel. And they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to

her. "Words breathing the purest tenderness, and expressing more emphatically

than the flowery hyperboles of romantic phraseology the deep attachment of an

affectionate heart" (Kalisch); words too which show the lofty appreciation Jacob

had of the personal worth of his future bride.




The Power of True Affection (v. 20)


“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel.”



heart over the will, over the circumstances, over flesh. Time is measured by

the motions of our thought. The world needs to be taught that the material

rests on the immaterial.




HIGHEST OBJECT OF AFFECTION!   Compare the life of a

servant of His with the life of selfish caprice.



Christ; Rachel, of His Church. He served for her. His love made obedience,

even unto death, his delight.



doubly for Rachel; but his service was amply paid afterwards, although for

a time the veil of disappointment hid the purpose of God. While Leah, as

the mother of Judah, was the true ancestress of Messiah, still it was in

Joseph, the son of Rachel, that Jacob’s heart was satisfied, and that the

history of the kingdom of God was most manifestly carried on and its glory

set forth. As in the case of Sarah and Rebekah, so in that of Rachel, the

birth of the representative seed is connected with special bestowments of



            Grace is when God gives us good things that we don’t deserve.

Mercy is when He spares us from bad things that we deserve.

Blessings are when He is generous with both.




Christ’s Love for the Church (v. 20)


“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel.” On the surface this is a step in

Jacob’s training, in the fulfillment of God’s promise at Bethel. It shows a

new feature in his character. We see not the man of cunning devices, but

one full of pure, self-sacrificing love. Fourteen years of service willingly

given to purchase, according to Eastern custom, his bride. But Jacob’s love

suggests the deeper and purer love of Christ for the Church. Rachel is a type

of the Bride:


Ø      a shepherdess and “fairest among women” (Song of Solomon 1:7-8);

Ø      sharer of the sufferings of the Church (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18;

Revelation 12:17).


For the Church’s sake (Ephesians 5:25) Christ:


Ø      served (Philippians 2:7);

Ø      became a Shepherd (John 10:11);

Ø      with His service and life-blood was “obedient unto death,”

(Philippians 2:8),

Ø      He purchased her (Acts 20:28), to unite her to Himself forever.




Ø      In condescending to unite Himself with human nature;

Ø      in bearing the infirmities of childhood and state of subjection;

Ø      in bearing the contradiction of sinners and the wrath of God.


And still:


Ø      in standing and knocking (Revelation 3:20);

Ø      in bearing with half-hearted believers (II Peter 3:9);

Ø      in pleading with and for the wayward (I John 2:1; II Corinthians

5. 20);

Ø      in seeking and following individual sheep.


The love which led to this was free, not deserved or purchased. Rachel

brought no dowry to Jacob. The Church has of its own no spiritual wealth

(Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23). The Bridegroom had to sanctify and cleanse it.

By nature she is unholy and at variance with God’s will; yet, knowing this,

He loved it (compare Romans 8:35). For love to Rachel Jacob gave the

labor of fourteen years. For the Church Christ grudged nothing and GAVE

HIMSELF!   Sacrifice is a mark of true love. How many will not sacrifice

anything — will not leave a gain, a companion, an amusement — to

win Christ.” (Philippians 3:8  In the garden his human nature shrank

from the bitterness of the cup, but He persevered.  Why?



HIMSELF. Marriage, the closest earthly tie, is used as a type. No mere

removal of condemnation satisfied that love, nor even our being made

happy; He became such as we are, that we might become such as He is.


Ø      The Church is his Bride (Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 21:9),

sharer of His kingdom (Revelation 3:21; 20:4), of His blessedness

and glory (John 17:22-24).

Ø      This blessing belongs to its humblest and weakest member.


o       It is a union in this life (Song of Solomon 2:16; John 15:4);

there is peace in committing all our cares to Him, even our

own steadfastness (John 10:28; Romans 8:35; Hebrews 13:6).

o       It is a union after our departure more close (Philippians 1:23).


§         Here and now we see dimly (I Corinthians 13:12). The

conditions of mortal life hinder clear visions (Exodus 33:20),

the law of sin in our members hinders perfect union.

§         Then no impediment (Luke 23:43). The union will be

perfected after the resurrection (I Thessalonians 4:7).


The body, which now limits conscious union, shall then minister to its completeness.

Not till then shall we be perfectly like             Him in His human nature.



LOVE. Jacob’s love not shaken by time, or by the deceit practiced upon

him,  is a type of Christ’s. Often forgetful, often faithless, we might well think,

How dare I trust to a love so often neglected? But His love is not wearied

out (Isaiah 49:15). He has graven us with THE NAIL-PRINTS ON HIS

HANDS!  His word is still, “Look unto me” (Isaiah 45:22 – Charles Spurgeon

was converted by this verse – I recommend the following on this website which

may be accessed by control; click:  CY – 2018)


747a. Isaiah 45 – Spurgeon Sermon – The Solar Eclipse

748. Isaiah 45 – Spurgeon Sermon – Life for a Look

749. Isaiah 45 – Spurgeon Sermon – Sovereignty and Salvation


trust my love  (Psalm 37:5).  


21  And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled,

that I may go in unto her.”  (Why was Jacob able to wait seven years before

becoming intimate with Rachel, and many people of today are not waiting?

(CY – 2018)  And Jacob said unto Laban (who, though the term of servitude

had expired, appeared to be in no haste to implement his part of the bargain),

Give me my wife (i.e. my affianced wife, as in Deuteronomy 22:23-24;

Matthew 1:20), for my days are fulfilled (i.e. my term of service is completed),

that I may go in unto her - quo significant intactam adhuc esse virginem (Calvin);

a proof that Jacob's love was pure and true.


22 “And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.”

And Laban (unable to evade or delay the fulfillment of his agreement with Jacob)

gathered together all the men of the place (not the entire population, but the

principal inhabitants), and made a feast - a "mishteh, or drinking (compare

ch. 19:3), i.e. a wedding banquet (compare bride-ale - bridal), which commonly

lasted seven days (Judges 14:10; Tobit 11:18), though it appears to have varied

according to the circumstances of the bridegroom.


23 “And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and

brought her to him; and he went in unto her.”  The deception practiced on Jacob

was rendered possible by the fact that the bride was usually conducted into the

marriage chamber veiled; the veil being so long and close as to conceal not only

the face, but much of the person (see ch. 24:65). And he went in unto her. The

conduct of Laban is perfectly intelligible as the outcome of his sordid avarice; but

it is difficult to understand how Leah could acquiesce in a proposal so base as to

wrong her sister by marrying one who neither sought nor loved her. She must herself

have been attached to Jacob; and it is probable that Laban had explained to her his

plan for bringing about a double wedding.


24 “And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.”

And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah - "the Dropping"? (Gesenius),

"Myrrh-juice" (Furst) - his maid (according to Gesenius the word is closely

connected with an unused root signifying to spread out, hence a maid-servant)

for an handmaid. This was in accordance with Oriental custom (see ch. 24:61 –

why did not Isaac go into Sarah’s handmaids as Jacob did to his wives?  CY –

2018).  That Leah obtained only one damsel need not be ascribed to Laban's

parsimonious character, but to his already-formed intention to bestow a second

on Rachel.


25 “And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said

to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for

Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?”   And it came to pass, that

in the morning, Behold, it was Leah. If Jacob's deception, even with the veiled

bride, may still be difficult to understand, it is easy to perceive in Leah's

substitution for Rachel a clear instance of Divine retribution for the imposition

he had practiced on his father. So the Lord oftentimes rewards evil-doers according

to their wickedness (compare II Samuel 12:10-12). And he said to Laban (who,

Calvin conjectures, had given Jacob a splendid entertainment the night before to

make him say nothing about the fraud), What is this thou hast done unto me?

did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?

It says much for Jacob that he did not seek to repudiate the marriage. Perhaps

he saw the hand of God in what had happened, and probably considered that

though he had chosen Rachel, God had selected Leah as his wife. If so, it must

be set to Jacob's credit that at the call of God, thus providentially addressed to him,

he was prepared to sacrifice his best affections to the claims of religion and duty.

It is not Jacob, but Laban, who proposes that he should also marry Rachel.


26 “And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger

before the firstborn.”  And Laban said, It must not be so done - the future

expresses the thought that the custom has grown into a strong moral obligation

(Kalisch) - in our country (Hebrew, place), to give the younger before the first-born.

The same custom exists among the Indians (Rosenmüller; cf. Roberts, 'Oriental

Illustrations,' p. 34), Egyptians (Lane), and other Oriental countries (Delitzsch).


27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou

shalt serve with me yet seven other years.”  Fulfill her week, - literally, make

full the week of this one, i.e. of Leah, if Leah was given to Jacob on the first night

of the festivities (Calmer, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, Lange, Ainsworth); but if

Leah was married at the close of the seven days, then it must refer to Rachel s week

(Bush, Murphy) - and we (including Laban's wife and eldest son, as in ch. 24:50, 55)

will give thee this also (i.e. Rachel) for the service which thou shalt serve with me

yet seven other years. Almost every motive that is mean, base, and despicable

appears in this behavior of Laban's; if he attached little value to his daughters'

affections, he had a keen appreciation of Jacob's qualities as a shepherd.


28 “And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his

daughter to wife also.”  And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week. Literally, the

week of this one, either of Leah or of Rachel, as above. Rosenmüller, assigning

the first week (v. 27) to Leah, refers this to Rachel; but the expression can scarcely

have two different meanings within the compass of two verses. And he gave him

Rachel his daughter to wife also. The polygamy of Jacob, though contrary to the

law of nature (ch. 2:21-25), admits of some palliation, since Rachel was the choice

of his affections The marriage of sisters was afterwards declared incestuous

(Leviticus 18:18).


29 “And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.

And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah - "Bashful," "Modest" (Gesenius) –

his handmaid to be her maid.


30 “And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah,

and served with him yet seven other years.”  And he went in also unto Rachel,

and he loved also Rachel more than Leah (implying, however, that Leah had a

place in his affections), and served with him yet seven other years. The seven years

cunningly exacted for Leah was thus the second fraud practiced upon Jacob

(ch. 30:26; ch. 31:41; Hosea 12:12).




Jacob and Laban, or the Deceiver Deceived (vs. 15-30)




Ø      The promised service — seven years of pastoral assistance.


o        Freely offered. “I will serve thee seven years.” Contracts are legally and

morally invalid where freedom in the promiser does not exist.

o        Faithfully rendered. Jacob “served seven years,” as he had stipulated.

Voluntary engagements should be deemed sacred.

o        Readily accepted. Laban both appreciated Jacob’s merits as a shepherd

and regarded Jacob’s terms as easy. If Laban’s words in closing with

Jacob’s offer did not indicate his guile, they were at least evidence of his


o        Harshly exacted. Jacob testifies as much on leaving Laban. Covetous

souls do not’ shrink from making hard bargains even with relatives and



Ø      The stipulated wagesRachel in marriage as a wife. This part of the

contract was:


o        Eagerly desired by Jacob. “Jacob loved Rachel,” who was beautiful

both in face and form. It is not sinful either to appreciate or desire

personal symmetry and grace in those to whom we yield our affections.

Female loveliness, though it may enkindle love, need not render the

heart that loves less pure.

o        Patiently waited for by Jacob. This was a testimony to the purity,

tenderness, and strength of Jacob’s affection. Besides transforming

seven years into a few days, and making pleasant and lightsome

labor of what would otherwise have been galling bondage, it enabled

him to wait God’s time for receiving his bride.

o        Cheerfully assented to by Laban. “It is better that I give her to

thee than that I should give her to another man.” Yet:

o        Guilefully withheld by Laban. Avaricious men seldom scruple at

deceiving others for the sake of profit. Greed of gain is commonly

accompanied by guile of men.




Ø      The just request. “Give me my wife.”  “The laborer is worthy of

his hire” (I Timothy 5:18) and the servant is entitled to his wages.


Ø      The marriage festival. Laban made a feast.” Seemingly assenting

to his nephew’s request, the crafty uncle prepares a wedding banquet.

Feasting and rejoicing are both becoming and allowable in connection

with marriage celebrations.


Ø      The substituted bride. Either at the end of the first day or at the

close of the festivities, Laban took Leah and brought her,”

veiled and in silence, to the bridal chamber. For the wickedness

of Laban in breaking his promise, defrauding his nephew, wronging

his younger daughter, and practically prostituting his elder, excuse

is, impossible; for Leah’s acquiescence in her father’s plot explanation,

though not apology, may be found in her manifest love for Jacob, and

perhaps in her belief that Laban had secured Jacob’s consent to the

arrangement. The man who could sell one daughter’s affections and

sacrifice another’s would not stick at deceiving both, if he could.


Ø      The discovered fraud. “In the morning, behold, it was Leah.” The day

manifests what the night hides the sins of men; and the light of the

great day will disclose what the darkness of time conceals.


Ø      The lame excuse. Interrogated by Jacob, Laban offers in extenuation of

his heartless deception that popular custom demanded the marriage of an

elder sister before a younger. So, public opinion, prevailing habit,

universal practice, are often pled in apology for offences against the

law of God. But the conventional maxims of society are of no weight

when set against Divine commandments.


Ø      The righteous retribution. Though indefensible on the part of Laban,

the substitution of Leah for Rachel was a deserved punishment of Jacob.

Having wronged Esau his brother, he is in turn wronged by “a brother” -

Laban. Having substituted the younger (himself) for the older (Esau), he

is recompensed by having the older put into the place of the younger. As

Isaac knew not when he blessed Jacob, so Jacob knows not when he

marries Leah. As Jacob acted at the instigation of his mother, Leah yields

to the suggestion of her father.


Ø      The amicable settlement. Jacob celebrates the week of festival for Leah,

and then receives Rachel as a wife, engaging to serve another term of

seven years for her who had lightened the labor of the previous seven. If

Jacob’s conduct evinced sincere attachment to Rachel and peaceful

disposition towards Laban, it displayed doubtful regard for the law

of God.

31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb:

but Rachel was barren.”  And when the Lord saw - literally, and Jehovah saw.

As Eve's son was obtained from Jehovah (compare 4:1), and Jehovah visited Sarah

(ch. 21:1), and was entreated for Rebekah (ch. 25:21), so here He again interposes

in connection with the onward development of the holy seed by giving children to

Jacob s wives. The present section (vs. 31-35) is by Davidson, Kalisch, and others

assigned to the Jehovist, by Tuch left undetermined, and by Colenso in several

parts ascribed to the Elohist.  Kalisch thinks the contents of this section must have

found a place in the earlier of the two documents - that Leah was hated, - i.e. less

loved (cf. Malachi 1:3) - He opened her womb (compare I Samuel 1:5-6; Psalm

127:3): but Rachel was barren - as Sarai (ch. 11:30) and Rebekah (ch. 25:21)

had been. The fruitfulness of Leah and the sterility of Rachel were designed not

so much to equalize the conditions of the sisters, the one having beauty and the

other children (Lange), or to punish Jacob for his partiality (Keil), or to discourage

the admiration of mere beauty (Kalisch), but to prove that "the origin of Israel was

to be a work not of nature, but of grace" (Keil).


32 “And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben:

for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore

my husband will love me.”  And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called

his name Reuben (literally, Reu-ben, Behold a Son! an expression of joyful

surprise at the Divine compassion): for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked

upon my affliction. Though not directly contained in the term Reuben, the sense

of these words is implied (Kalisch). As Leah's child was an intimation that she

had been an object of Jehovah's compassion, so did she expect it to be a means

of drawing towards herself Jacob s affection. Now therefore (literally, for now)

my husband will love me. She was confident in the first flush of maternal joy that

Jacob's heart would turn towards her; she believed that God had sent her child to

effect this conversion of her husband's affections; and she regarded the birth of

Reuben as a signal proof of the Divine pity.


33 “And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD

hath heard that I was hated, He hath therefore given me this son also: and

she called his name Simeon.”  And she conceived again, and bare a son

(probably the following year); and said, Because the Lord hath heard that

I was hated (the birth of Reuben had obviously not answered Leah's expectations

in increasing Jacob's love), He hath therefore given me this son also (the faith

and piety of Leah are as conspicuous as her affection for Jacob): and she called

his name Simeon - i.e. Hearing, because God had heard that she was hated.


34 “And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will

my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons:

therefore was his name called Levi.”  And she conceived again (say, in the

third year of her marriage), and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my

husband be joined unto me, - לָוָה, to join, is the root from which comes לֵוִי.

(Levi), her son's name - because I have borne him three sons: therefore was

his name called Levi - Associated, or Joined.


35 “And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise

the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.”

And she conceived again, and bare a son (possibly in the fourth year of marriage,

and in Jacob's eighty-eighth year of age, he having been seventy-seven when he

arrived in Haran, and eighty-four when he was united to Laban's daughters):

and she said, Now will I praise the Lord. Well she might; for this was the

ancestor of the promised seed (Murphy). There cannot be a doubt that her

excellence of character as well as eminence of piety eventually wrought a

change upon her husband (see ch. 31:4, 14; ch. 49:31). Therefore she called

his name Judah (i.e. Praise); and left bearing. Literally, stood still, i.e. ceased,

from bearing. Not altogether (ch. 30:16); only for a time, "that she might not be

unduly lifted up by her good fortune, or attribute to the fruitfulness of her own womb

what the faithfulness of Jehovah, the covenant God, had bestowed upon her" (Keil.).



Jacob among His Mother’s Kindred (vs. 1-35)


* Taught by experience to be patient.

* His own craft reflected in Laban.

* Lessons to be learned.




what he needed to learn — dependence and self-humiliation. He saw the

evil of selfishness; understood that the Divine purposes must not be

identified in our thought with our personal feelings and desires.

We must wait on God to know what His will is.


  • THE INDEPENDENCE OF GOD’S GRACE. The chosen instruments

are not chosen for their own sake. Often that which displeases us is our

special help.


Ø      Leah, not chosen by Jacob, bore him sons.

Ø      Rachel, whom he loved, was barren.


Even in such mixed soil as these characters the seed of Divine

life will grow. Leah gave names to her children which betokened an

increasing faith. Jacob’s willingness to serve was a gracious victory over

self, preparing him for higher filings. Thwarted man is taught to WAIT






Ø      The misery of all that interferes with the sanctity of affection

and its supremacy.

Ø      The certainty that lack of candor and truthfulness will be

fruitful in evil results.

Ø      The importance of right feeling in sustaining religious



how difficult, where the relationship is not founded on affection,

to maintain truth, purity, and a lofty standard of life. We must try

to see disappointments from a higher point of view. God may

withhold what we desire, but only to give afterwards a fuller blessing.



Leah and Rachel, or The Two Wives (vs. 31-35)


  • RACHEL THE BELOVED. “Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.”

That Leah was not hated in the sense of being regarded with aversion, the

numerous family she bore to Jacob proves; that she occupied a lower place

than Rachel in her husband’s affections is explicitly declared. This

preference of Rachel to Leah was:


Ø      Natural in Jacob. Rachel had been his heart’s choice from the first,

while Leah had been thrust upon him against his inclination. But even had

this been otherwise, as no man can serve two masters, so can no husband

love two wives equally — an argument against polygamy.


Ø      Painful to Leah. Had Leah loved Jacob less than she manifestly did, it is

doubtful if the undue regard shown to Rachel would not have inflicted a

grievous wound upon her wifely heart; but, entertaining towards him an

affection strong and tender, she yearned for a larger share of his esteem,

and at each successive child’s birth gave utterance to a hope that he would

yet be joined to her. No heavier blow can be dealt by a husband to the

tender heart of a loving wife than to withdraw from her his love, or even to

be cold and indifferent in its expression.


Ø      Sinful in the sight of God. Though not so beautiful as Rachel, Leah was

yet entitled to an equal share with her in Jacob’s affection. Equally with

Rachel she was Jacob’s wife. It was Jacob’s sin that he had married her at

all when he did not either love or desire her. On detecting the fraud he

should have instantly repudiated the engagement. But having publicly

ratified the contract with Leah by fulfilling her week, he owed to Leah a

full share of his affection as a husband. Nay, though not the wife his

inclination had selected, there is reason for believing that Leah, rather than

Rachel, was the bride God had chosen (Leah was the ancestress of the

Savior); hence doubly was Jacob bound to love Leah equally with Rachel.


  • LEAH THE FRUITFUL. While Rachel enjoyed the highest place in

Jacob’s affection, she was “barren” — a grievous affliction to one who

might possibly be the mother of the promised Seed. The fruitfulness of

Leah was:


Ø      Expressly caused by God. The Lord, who had decreed temporary

barrenness for Rachel the fair, opened the womb of Leah the despised;

neither to compensate Leah for the loss of Jacob’s love, nor to punish

Jacob for his sinful partiality; but to manifest His power, to show that

children are the heritage of the Lord (Psalm 127:3) -  to vindicate His

sovereignty, to attest that God giveth families to whomsoever He will,

and to suggest that the line of promise was designed to be not the fruit of

nature, but the gift of grace.


Ø      Thankfully acknowledged by Leah. While cherishing the hope that her

children would eventually unite Jacob’s heart to her own, she delightedly

recognized her exceptional fruitfulness as a special mark of Jehovah’s

favor, and gave expression to her gratitude in the naming of her sons:


o        Reuben, see, a son!

o        Simeon, hearing;

o        Levi, joined;

o        Judah, praise.


Ø      Enviously beheld by Rachel. This appears from the opening statement in

the ensuing chapter; and this, though perhaps as natural as Leah’s sense

of pain at Rachel’s preference by Jacob, was yet as sinful as Jacob’s

excessive partiality towards herself.


  • LEARN:


1. The sinfulness and sorrow of having more wives at once than one.

2. The wickedness of wedding where one does not love.

3. The sovereignty of God in giving and withholding children.

4. The cruelty and criminality of showing partiality towards those who

    possess an equal claim on our affections.

5. The duty and profit of remembering and acknowledging family mercies.


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