Kraig Josiah Rice
Genesis- The Way I See It

Genesis Chapter Twenty Nine

Written by
Kraig J. Rice

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Genesis chapter twenty nine
 Chapter 29- Jacob's wives and children
 Genesis 29:1 - 14 Jacob visits his Uncle Laban
 Genesis 29:15 - 30 Jacob married two sisters
 Marriage problems
 A dysfunctional family?
 Jacob reaped what he had sowed
 Genesis 29:31 - 35 Leah wanted Jacob to love her
 Children were valued
 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah

Genesis Chapter 29
Jacob gets married and has many children

Jacob visits his Uncle Laban:
"Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east. 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 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 Jacob said unto them: my brethren, whence be ye? And they said, of Haran are we. And he said unto them, know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, we know him. 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, 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 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 while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them. 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 Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. 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 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 Laban said to him: surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month"
(Genesis 29:1-14).

Why did Jacob have to go to Paddan-Aram to get a wife? Jacob's parents knew that Laban and his family loved the Lord and were of the godly seed from Shem. They did not worship Satan nor idols. Jacob had a good chance of finding a godly mate there. In a similar way, if you or I want to seek out a mate who loves the Lord, we have to look in the appropriate place(s). The best place to find a true Christian mate is in church- possibly a singles group. Or, possibly on a Christian dating site on the computer. You do not go to a night club or strip club or such like to find a true holiness Christian mate there.

In this passage of scripture, I see Jacob's faith and God's timing. Jacob exercised his faith in God. How? His faith began to blossom when he took his first step in the direction toward's God's will. The Chinese have an expression: "a long journey cannot begin until one takes the first step". There is another Christian expression: "you take one step towards God and He will take two steps towards you". So, Jacob's journey brought him to his destination. In a similar manner, let you and I take the first step towards doing God's will for our life. Let us exercise our spiritual muscles by stepping out on faith.

Jacob desired to do God's will by marrying a godly woman. God ordered the circumstances. As soon as he got to his uncle's area and started to work (in watering his uncle's sheep), Rachel came to the well. It was perfect timing, as God's timing is always perfect. Jacob remembered that his mother, Rebekah, came to the well many years earlier. It was perfect timing for her also as she met the servant of Abraham there and eventually became the bride of Isaac. Now, Jacob met his future bride in nearly the same way. God honored his faith. Jacob wanted to do God's will and God rewarded his faith and obedience.

The name Laban means "white" or "gentle". The name Rachel means "ewe" or "sheep". I imagine that Laban was named after his father's sheep- white or gentle sheep. Laban followed this tradition by naming his youngest daughter ewe or sheep. One time there was a man with the last name of Rose. He had a daughter who he named Wild- so her name was Wild Rose. She grew up and married a man with the last name of Bull- so her name was Wild Bull:-)

Jacob married two sisters:
"And Laban said unto Jacob: because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be? And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. And Jacob loved Rachel; and said: I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. And Laban said: it is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. 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 said unto Laban: give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her. And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 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. And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid. 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 Laban said: it must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also. And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid. And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years"
(Genesis 29:15-30).

In the oriental culture of that time, one had to pay a dowry price for a wife
(Genesis 24:53). The money and gifts were usually paid to the girl's father or brother(s). Since Jacob had no money he had to offer his work services instead.

Marriage Problems- Jacob received a double blessing?
I imagine that it was a big wedding- a joyous occasion- with a lot of feasting. Jacob's wife wore a veil over her face as was the custom in those days. Then it got dark and it was time for the couple to consummate their union. It was dark in their dwelling with no verbal communication taking place between husband and wife. A communication problem is a red flag in any intimate relationship. If you and your mate have such a problem, you might consider getting some professional help.

In the morning light, Jacob saw that his new wife was not Rachel but Leah. Leah was the older sister of Rachel. What a surprise he got! The name Leah means "weary" or "tired". She was tender eyed. That is a physical description meaning that her eyes were physically weak- she probably needed to wear a pair of glasses to see better but they did not have glasses in those days. Was it God's will for Leah to be married? Yes. It was important for Leah to be married to Jacob because she became the mother of Judah, the ancestor of the Messiah.

Respect has to come before love. Jacob did not respect or trust Leah as she was part of the plot to deceive him. Trust and respect have to be earned. So Jacob hated her. In this passage of scripture is seen family drama and more family problems. Jacob and Leah had a communication problem and loveless marriage. That was a recipe for unhappiness for all those concerned. Divorce, in those days and in that culture, was considered to be an insult and was not done by Jacob or Leah. If such an insult were given by Jacob to Laban and his household, Leah's brothers would have avenged the wrong. In a similar way, later on, the brothers of Dinah (Dinah was the daughter of Leah) avenged the alleged wrong done to her by Shechem
(Genesis chapter 34).

After Jacob married Leah, he also married Rachel. Was this a double blessing?

Let us always have respect and love in our marriage. Let us not have a communication problem. Let us always get married for the right reason and be a part of the eternal triangle- God, husband, and wife. Let us not make the marriage mistakes that Jacob made.

Was this the beginning of a dysfunctional family?
Jacob agreed to work another seven years to pay Rachel's dowry price. So, Jacob had two wives. It appears that he had two women in love with him at the same time. Was this a double blessing to Jacob or the beginning of a dysfunctional family system?

Let us make good choices in our life. Our choices may very well determine our happiness. I think that God would rather see us happy rather than unhappy. If one is happy then one may feel better and be in better health than a person who is continually unhappy, depressed, or without the will to live.

Jacob reaped what he had sowed:
Jacob had deceived his father, Isaac. Now, sometime later, we observe that Jacob reaped what he had sown. His uncle, Laban, deceived him. Jacob pretended to be the oldest son when he was the youngest son. Now, he gets the oldest wife when he thinks he is getting the youngest wife. What you send out always comes back to you. This is the spiritual law of sowing & reaping and it pertains to the saved and unsaved alike
(Galatians 6:7).

Let us do good and sow seeds of kindness and love. Then we will reap the same.

Leah wanted Jacob to love her:
"And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. 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 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; 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, and bare a son: and she said: now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing"
(Genesis 29:31-35).

Jacob had four sons by Leah and then Leah temporarily stopped having children. It is sad that Leah was hated by Jacob. Leah had his children in the hope that Jacob would come to love her. She used her child bearing as emotional leverage or manipulation. But, Jacob felt like he was forced into this marriage. Love does not come by force. You can never force anyone to love you. But Laban had his reasons why he forced Leah upon Jacob. There is an old saying: "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still". Maybe Laban was hoping that Jacob would eventually love Leah. There was sex without love. Today, some girls today get pregnant with their boy friend's baby as a tool of manipulation to get him to marry her. And there are all kinds of emotional games that folks play with one another in the name of love. Some are deadly. However, the bottom line is that sex is the servant of love, not vice versa. There are many unhappy people today who practice sex without love. Love is a gift from God and sex is another gift from God. Let us not abuse these gifts but operate them in the proper manner. God should be a part of one's marriage, making the eternal triangle. Love and marriage should come first- before people consummate a relationship. Leah was unhappy that her husband and her were having sex when he did not love her. It is not good when a man only loves the sex he gets from a woman without loving the woman.

Children were wanted and valued in those days:
Childbearing was a strong custom in Old Testament days. Why? It was God's will for people to repopulate the world after the great flood of Noah's time- and the prevailing belief was that if you had children, you had favor with God. But, a childless woman was considered as good as dead. We can see this (later on in the bible) as the prophet Samuel's mother prayed for a child:

"...and she (Hannah) was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore..."
(1 Samuel 1:10).

Some name meanings for fun:
So, Leah had four sons- Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Many times, children were named after circumstances in the lives of their parents. The name Reuben means "who sees the son" or "the vision of the son". Some folks simply shorten the name to mean "see, a son!". This firstborn son was to inherit the birthright. His name was used in a hymn song of thanksgiving in the household of Laban. The name Simeon means "God hears" or "he that hears or obeys" or "he that is heard." Some folks simply shorten the name to mean "hearing". The name Levi means "associated with him" or "companion." The name Judah means "confession" or "the praise of the Lord." Some folks simply shorten the name to "praise."

For the fun ot it- if one puts these names together, one could get-
"the vision of the son is a praise companion that is heard." So one could say that our vision of Jesus Christ (God the Son) is that He is a Companion Who praises us so that everyone can hear. As an example, God praised the patriarch, Job, to Satan and to others in Heaven
(Job 1:8, 2:3). He gives out praise for you and I as His redeemed children. What kind of a Companion is He? He is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother
(Proverbs 18:24). What a wonderful Friend and Companion we have!

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