“A pilgrims process”
II. Vs. 1-20 Romantic comedy
III. Vs. 21-35 One for the price of two
Over the next three chapters 40 years of the life of Jacob will be looked at what we will see is a “pilgrims process” as the Lord works on his heart, the tool God uses is a man like himself, Laban. What interests me is the timing in which this chapter happens. Last week we saw that Jacob had a personal encounter with the Lord this encounter with the Lord is so powerful upon his death bed in chapter 48:3 he refers to it saying, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me”. Then we come to this chapter and we see that it is the beginning of God taking Jacob to school.
II. Vs. 1-20 Romantic comedy
Vs. 1-2 The words “Jacob went on his journey” speak to the fact that the course of life is our Journey in which we shall find more of the Lord and less of us. Disobedience will not thwart God’s plan for your life but it will greatly affect how you will much you will enjoy it! These words can also be rendered “lifted up his feet” which suggests a lightness in a person’s step. Jacob had spent the night upon the rock and now he has a new direction and hope. He was no longer walking alone he had a constant companion who had just told him that “I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” (28:15) The 450 mile 15 day journey made for a light step because he had a light heart. The well here was not a “living well” with fresh water but rather a cistern from which only livestock drank.
Vs. 3-6 There were no road signs saying “325 miles to Laban’s house” so Jacob has to ask if he is in the right place. It seems as though this well was for restricted use only and only used when all other livestock were present so as none could get the upper hand and over water their herds.
Now wouldn’t you like to hear the way these shepherds answered Jacob’s question of “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” “We know him!” Soon enough Jacob would know him as well. Jacob’s interest was in order to find a bride from among his own relatives.
Vs. 7-8 Jacob is 77 years old and Rachael is most likely quite a bit younger. It appears that Jacob sought to get rid of these other shepherds so he could spend some time with Rachael. The logic for Jacob is that it didn’t make much since for these guys to sit around doing nothing when the flock could be out feeding. The only response is that what they were doing was not based upon logic but custom.
Vs. 9-12 As Rachel arrives he could care less about custom and wants to show her his kindness and strength by removing the stone over the well. A few days earlier Jacob had received the greatest gift any person can receive intimate knowledge of the living God now he seeks a companion. There are far too many that have this in reverse order and only find misery.
Now we know where the term “kissing cousins” came from! The order in which this takes places seems a bit odd as you would think that he would first introduce himself to her then kiss her and finally water the herd. Based upon her reaction you might say that Jacob “swept her off her feet”.
Vs. 13-15 Here we are told that Laban “heard the report about Jacob” and it appears that he does a very good job of sizing up his nephew based upon what he heard. Laban’s idea is for Jacob to stay there a month to further size him up. The results of this month were twofold:
It revealed Jacob’s heart towards Rachel and gave him every reason to stay and no reason to leave.
It showed what kind of worker Jacob was to Laban.
The outcome was that both men saw the mutual advantage of staying together, so Laban seeks to formalize this. The words, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what should your wages be?” Laban lets Jacob know that if he hangs around there will be not freeloading he will be an employee. The truth is this is all part of God’s plan for Jacob to make him a servant. You will never know what type of servant you are until you are treated like one, so God is going to show Jacob what kind of servant he really is!
Vs. 16-17 The commentary here on Laban’s older daughter Leah has left many to think that she was a homely thing. Several things have played into this perception:
Her name “Leah” means wild cow, which describes a person that is thin and tired. Now it is interesting that thinness is relative a modern perception of health and beauty. You only need go back a few 100 years and see pictures of what constituted health and beauty was plumpness. So perhaps Leah would today be on magazine covers and Rachael in “before” photographs.
Secondly we are told that her eyes were “delicate” or week so we get this picture of this woman with Coke bottle glasses that hurts your eyes to look at her. But when you do a study of the word in Hebrew it appears 17 times and of those 17 times only three of them is the word translated “week or delicate” the other times it is rendered “tender, great, inexperienced, gentle, soft, and sensitive or faint”. My point is that based upon this phrase it is obvious only that Jacob was attracted to his perception of beauty and not that Leah was some ugly cow. It is my opinion that Leah had soft, tender or gentle eyes which conveys that she was not of a fiery personality as was Rachael. Leah was a tender woman whereas Rachel was an aggressive lady and Jacob was more attracted to the outgoing personality of Rachael and not the laid back personality of Leah.
Now that I have defended the honor of Leah it matters not in as much that Jacob considered Rachael not hard to look at. What a contrast she was to that of his mother who though was beautiful she is described more in her inward beauty then her outward appearance. As far as Jacob was concerned Rachael was a babe and who cares about her personality.
Vs. 18-20 Jacob is willing to work for seven years for the dowry to have Rachael as his wife. Now as romantic and faltering, as this is I again remind you that Jacob is making this choice based upon outward attraction only. It is a foolish thing to be willing to spend the rest of your life with someone based upon something that will not last as you see it now! We are told in 1 Peter 3:3-4 that “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
Jacob’s offer comes from his heart and not his head as he cares not to know the customs of the land or the cost of the dowry being far more than normal. He is not after a bargain he wants Rachael. All of this does not go unnoticed by Uncle Laban. Let me paint a different portrait of romance then what is normal by looking at this picture. We would all think that Jacob is acting very romantically but think of this another way and you will see that he is acting impulsively and showing that he is governed by what he sees without any thought of the consequences. As wonderful as this is when Rachael is the object of actions ask yourself if you want that same behavior later on when it comes to running a household? Before I get myself into trouble let me say that all of us guys have said that “serving seven years for our wives seemed but a few days because of the love we have for them.” By the way make sure that you don’t reverse this phrase and say the a few days seemed like seven years! As seven years was a bargain for Jacob if that meant that he would have Rachael as his wife so too is serving the Lord for the rest of my life a bargain when I consider having eternity with Him.
There were strict guidelines that kept unmarried men and women apart from each other and even from seeing each other. Which speaks of the truth that “true love” waits! Jacob was willing to wait seven years before he would be intimate with her and he considered it worth the wait! Sex is something that God has given us to say “I love YOU and not something that we say I love everyone or I love you and you and you!”
III. Vs. 21-35 One for the price of two
Vs. 21 In one verse the seven years are up and Jacob wants his Rachael now! Jacob is now 84 years old and still appears to be more guided by his hormones then his head. There is no mention of his praying over this instead all that is said is that she was a hottie. Far too much of Jacob’s responses are based upon what they had nothing to do with but were rather created by God to look like. Prov. 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” What is romantic is not what is always that which is best. It is Jacob’s romance that enables Laban to switch gals at his wedding night! Though seven years may have seemed as only a few days old Jacob was counting them none the less! As soon as they were up he goes to Laban and says, “Give me my wife!”
Vs. 22-24 This answers how this could possible happen as three factors played into this:
Vs. 22 The wedding was a big production. It is what those who use “slight-of-hand” count on “distraction”. Seven days of celebration was what was customary and with everyone around he was not expecting anything.
Vs. 23 It was at night and she would have been veiled with dim light he would not of know unless they spoke which it seems that there was no talking in the tent that night.
Vs. 24 Leah must have loved Jacob as well as being subjection to her father Laban. She is given Zilpah as a maid whose name means “nearness or intimacy” how fitting is this, as she would desire intimacy with Jacob and never receive it. Jacob too would desire intimacy with Rachael but instead in the morning find Leah.
Do you notice something familiar about this story? Is this not the same sort of thing that Jacob has done to his father? He pretended to be the older when he was in fact the younger, now he wants the younger and he gets the older. It was Isaac’s appetite that led to his being deceived and now it is Jacob’s appetite that is causing him to be blind to which sister he is sleeping with. For seven years he had dreamed of this night and he has in one week become over whelmed by his own passions and is unaware that Leah is not Rachael.
Vs. 25 The bridal night is over and the sun not quite up perhaps as Jacob lay next to this woman whom he had waited seven years to marry thinking no doubt it was all worth it and what a glorious future they would have together as they could now move back home to his mother. The sun pears in the room and he leans over to give her a good morning kiss and BAM! Now again in the Irony of the moment look at the words, “What is this you have done to me?” Jacob blames Laban for everything and use the same words that Pharaoh and Abimelech had said to Abraham. He had served in good faith expecting what they agreed to but Laban had never said that he would do what Jacob had requested only that “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man.” Laban must have been a lawyer, as he never said “when” Rachael could be his only that she “would” be his.
Vs. 26-27 Strange that Laban forgot to tell Jacob of this custom until now! Laban proposes another plan to “help” Jacob get Rachael as his wife. “Tell you what I’m going to do, seven more years and she yours.” “Why you can even have her on credit!” According to the custom one week was Leah’s as Jacob would be her man for only a week but it was a week more than Rachael would ever get. Jacob would receive two when all he want was one, one for the price of two! Funny thing here no mention of the next seven years seeming as only a few days!
Vs. 28-30 We must not assume that God was for this even though it is mentioned in the Bible. God’s plan was from the beginning “one man, one woman for life!” Now in most of our country we don’t practice “mass marriage” better known as “polygamy” instead people today practice “serial marriage” which is marrying more than one person only doing so one person at a time.
Rachael is given Bilhah as her maid; her name means “terror” again how fitting it is that this fits Jacob’s feelings at the discovery of Laban’s deception. The phrase “he also loved Rachel more than Leah” speaks to the fact that like his mother and father he too had a favorite. The words literally means “loved less” so it means that he loved her but not as much as Rachael.
Vs. 31-35 What a great God who looks upon the hearts of people and gives special grace to those rejected. Those picked upon and unloved He gives special love towards. She may have been neglected as far as her husband’s love was concerned but not God’s love as He opens her womb and closes Rachael’s. Interesting for a guy who does not love her very much he sure doesn’t have a hard time going into her bedroom. The only affection Leah will receive is in giving children! As Leah names her sons you can see the move of her heart:
Ruben: “See a son” which suggests that she hoped that the birth of a boy would bring Jacob to love her. But it is never a son that can mend a heart only the Son of God can do that.
Simeon: Which means, “He hears”. In her explanation for the name she uses the covenant name for God which tells us that she recognizes that God hears her even if her husband doesn’t.
Levi: “Attachment” which tells us that she is no longer seeking love from Jacob just attachment or security.
Move forward 1,000’s of years to two kings, which come from these two sisters.
1 Sam. 9:1-2 says, “There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.” Saul a handsome tall man, a mighty man of power, he was like his great great grandmother Rachael outwardly the perfect choice.
1 Sam. 16:12 says of David, “Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” So? Well David came from Leah through Judah. Thus that Lord told Samuel “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)