Study Of Jacob #2 Friday, August 18, 2017
Learning From The Life Of Jacob
The experiences of the Saints and Bible Characters, both Godly, and ungodly, are useful guide-posts on the Heavenly Road. They help by counsel, caution, inspiration, comfort, and warning. A wise traveler will not despise any of them, but will listen, and watch, and learn from them.
A Study Of The Life Of Jacob (KJV)
If a traveler is about to cross South America from West to East, he will not fail to ask what were the fortunes and experiences of those who have already made that perilous journey.
He would avail himself of maps they composed, learn what streams to expect, what was the climate, how difficult the mountains, the jungle, the reptiles, the animals and people, he will come across. He would ask, are there any roads or trails to follow?
He will learn from their mistakes and their sufferings what to avoid. He will learn from their successes how far he should tread in their footsteps. The journey is not as difficult now as it was to the First Adventurer.
A similar thing is this of our Heavenly Journey. Others have passed this way before us, and now we are indebted to them for the record of their different and numerous experiences.
They tell us how they climbed The Hill Of Difficulty.
They tell us how they were overtaken by the foe unwarily.
They tell us how they fought, and by what method they conquered.
They tell us how at times Spiritual Drowsiness crept over them.
They tell us how they bemoaned their folly;
They tell us how they aroused themselves afresh and journeyed on.
Through their experiences we discover that these imperfections are not peculiar to ourselves.
We see also the ones who went astray.
We see those who gave up in time of difficulty.
We see those who fought against God and against His People.
But above all, those who won the victory over all odds and are enrolled in Heaven’s Hall Of Fame, mentioned in Hebrews Chapter 11.
In this lesson we want to discuss one of my favorite Bible Characters, Jacob. I have heard Jacob maligned, yea assassinated, by so many preachers and teachers that I thought it good to bring something good about Him to our attention.
After all, Jesus said that one day we would get to sit down with Him in the Kingdom Of Heaven (Matthew 8:11). I want to speak well of Him so that I will not be embarrassed when that great day comes. There are those who have spoken so harsh and unsympathetic of Him that they may need to apologize to Him. After all, the whole Bible story turns round him and his family (the Children of Israel) after Genesis 28. Everything after this point is about Jacob’s family.
This is a continuation of the Study of the life of Jacob
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1. Esau sells his birthright.
2. Isaac prepares to give out the blessing.
3. The deception of Isaac.
4. What the blessing contains.
5. Esaau weeps then plans revenge.
6. Jacob's night at Bethel.
7. God's unexpected presence.
8. Jacob arrives at Haran.
9. Jacob meets Rachel.
10. The deceiver deceived.
11. The power of love.
The tired Hunter sells his birthright for a bowl of bean soup.
Genesis 25:29. And Jacob sod (cooked) pottage (bean soup): and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
30. And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. (red)
31. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
32. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
33. And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
34. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised (thought little of) his birthright.
This instance takes place when Jacob and Esau were approximately 40 years old. Esau came from a grueling outdoor expedition, and was totally exhausted. He came upon Jacob who was cooking soup of lentils, which is a small red bean. Esau asked Jacob to feed him with that “same red pottage.”When Jacob offered some soup in exchange for Esau’s birthright, Esau foolishly agreed. No food except the forbidden fruit was as dearly bought as this broth, the price, Esau’s birthright. One thing is apparent—Jacob valued the birthright and a place in the Godly line, while Esau preferred the gratification of his physical appetite to Spiritual Blessings. Thus we see that Esau was spiritually indifferent.
“Nothing will ever come of it.”
“No one will ever believe him.”
“These thing are of little weight or importance.”
So Esau thought.
So frivolous, so irresponsible, so lacking in seriousness.
But the day would come when Esau would weep bitterly over this day. (Genesis 27:38; Hebrews 12:17) The chapter closes by emphasizing Esau’s treatment of his birthright rather than Jacob’s treatment of his brother. “Thus Esau despised his birthright.” This he would try to regain by begging and weeping bitterly (Genesis 27:38; Hebrews 12:17).
The Scripture calls him a “profane (marked by contempt or irreverence for what is sacred) person” (Hebrews 12:16), yet no crime or great fault is laid to his charge, only the neglect of eternal things. Against how many others will the same charges be laid? A time is sure to come when the good we undervalued becomes of greatest worth, and when it may be beyond our reach.
The Blessing By Isaac:
Approximately thirty-seven years have passed since the events of chapter 25. Isaac is now 137, Esau and Jacob are 77. Isaac’s eye-sight has failed, and he thinks he is about to die, perhaps because his brother Ishmael had died at that age (Genesis 25:17). But he will live forty-three more years.
Genesis 27:1. And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.
2. And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:
3. Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;
4. And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.
In spite of the command, or revelation from God uttered so many (seventy-seven) years ago, Isaac appears to have clung to the belief that Esau was the destined heir of the covenant blessing. The heavenly oracle having, with no uncertain sound, proclaimed Jacob the Theocratic heir, the bestowment of the patriarchal benediction on Esau was clearly of an unholy design.
That Isaac should, in his old age, from partiality towards his favorite firstborn son, or forgetfulness of Jehovah’s declaration, secretly endeavor to thwart the Divine purpose according to election, offers us a somber illustration of the deep-seated antagonism between the instincts of nature and the design of grace. There is an old proverb which says, “If you fix a fix that God has fixed for you, God will fix another fix for you.”
The Strategy Of Rebekah:
Genesis 27:5. And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.
6. And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying,
7. Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death.
8. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.
9. Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth:
10. And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.
11. And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:
12. My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.
13. And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.
14. And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved.
15. And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son
16. And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:
17. And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
First Rebekah’s design was legitimate. Instead of her behavior being represented as an attempt to outwit her aged, blind, and bed-ridden husband, and to stealthily secure the blessing for her favorite son, regard for truth demands that it should rather be characterized as an endeavor to prevent its private bestowal to Esau.
Was her inspiration from God? For without His approval it could never have come to pass. She knew that within a few hours, at the most, the blessing would be given to Esau. She also knew that it was irreversible, so she acted in haste.
However it was formed by a lack of faith. And this lack of faith brought sin into the act. Good as were its end and motive, the stratagem of Rebekah was wrong. It was an act of cruel fraud on a husband who had loved her (Genesis 24:67) for well-nigh a century. Viewed in its relations to Jacob—the prompting of a son to sin against a Father.
It was an offence against God in many ways, but chiefly in the sinful impatience it displayed, and in the foolish supposition that His sovereign designs needed the assistance of, or could be helped by, human craft in the shape of female cunning. I feel that if Rebekah had only approached Isaac with wifely appeal on the behalf of Jacob, with the reminder of God’s declaration concerning him, that Isaac would have yielded through his love for Rebekah, as he did in sending Jacob to Pa-dan-a-ram (Genesis 27:46; 28-2).
On the other hand seeing that in just a few hours the blessing would have been given to Esau, God may have let him get killed on the hunting trip. God has his ways of bringing his will to pass.
Had Rebekah and Jacob not interposed with their trick, there is reason to suppose that God would have used other means of defeating the misguided Patriarch’s plan. Perhaps by laying a restraint on his lips, as He did on Balaam (Numbers 22:38), perhaps by miraculously guiding his speech, as afterwards He guided Jacob’s hands on the heads of Joseph’s sons (Genesis 48:14).
But none the less is not the Divine Finger discernable in carrying the Heavenly blessing to its predestined recipient? God does not interfere with Rebekah’s craft, but allows it, beneath the guidance of His ordinary providence, to work out its appropriate result.
In other words, God honored, and blessed the result. God chose Jacob before he was born, and apart from any possible human merit, to demonstrate that election is the prerogative of God. Another thing there is never any indication in all the narrative concerning Jacob that God disapproved of it. There is never a reprimand of Rebekah or Jacob by Isaac or by God recorded.
Genesis 27:23–29. Isaac blessed Jacob with prosperity, dominion, and protection. It is interesting that the blessings spoken by the Patriarchs were prophetic; and came to pass literally because, in a real sense, these men spoke by inspiration.
The blessing was richly laden as to its contents, it contained,
1. Material Enrichment, represented by the dew, corn, and wine, which may also be regarded as symbolic of Spiritual treasures.
2. Personal Advancement in the world and the Church, foreshadowing both the political supremacy and religious importance to which Israel should afterwards attain.
3. Spiritual Influence, emblematic of the Religious Priesthood and enjoyed first by the Hebrew people as a nation, and later by Christ and His Church, the true seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
It Was Absolutely Permanent As To Its Duration:
Genesis 27:32. And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau.
33. And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed.
34. And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.
35. And he said, Thy brother came with subtlety, and hath taken away thy blessing.
36. And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?
37. And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?
38. And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.
When Esau returned and learned of the deception, he sought the blessing tearfully, but the blessing had been granted to Jacob and it could not be retracted (Hebrews 12:16-17).
We are told that “Isaac trembled exceedingly” (Genesis 27:33), when he realized that he had blessed Jacob instead of Esau. Even though Isaac later learned of the deception which had been practiced towards him, he felt that the words he had spoken were beyond recall. This was proof decisive that Isaac spoke, not of himself, but as he was moved by the Holy Ghost.
If it were his own benediction, uttered purely by and from himself, he might, and, in the circumstances, probably would have, revoked it. As the blessing of Jehovah was transmitted through His (Jehovah’s) Devine will he (Isaac) had no power to cancel it. This lets us know that, “the gifts and callings of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29).
Esau Planned Revenge:
Genesis 27:41. And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.
Genesis 27:41–46. Esau planned to kill his brother Jacob as soon as his father died and the period of mourning would end. When Rebekah learned of this, she told Isaac to send Jacob to her brother Laban’s home in Haran. Isaac called Jacob to send him to Haran, and also gave to him the Heavenly blessing.
Jacob Receives The Blessing Of Almighty God, And Of Abraham:
Genesis 28:3. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
4. And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.
When approached by Rebekah, Isaac called Jacob and blessed him with the blessing of Almighty God, and of Abraham. Many feel that this second blessing was when Isaac bestowed the blessings of the Covenant upon Jacob.
“The blessings Of “El-Shadai,” “God Almighty” be upon thee.” (Genesis 28:3)
Then Isaac bestowed upon Jacob the inheritance of the land. (Genesis 28:4)
Jacob then sent him to Paddan-Aram, a district of Mesopotamia, so that he would find a wife among his mother’s people rather than among the Canaanites. The people of the East were not Canaanites, this is the reason that Isaac sent Jacob down there. Abraham had made it plain in the choosing of a wife for Isaac that she would not be a Canaanite (Genesis 24:3-8). God intended, and through divine intervention, to keep the seed pure.
Jacob’s Night At Bethel: (Genesis 28:10-22)
So Jacob left the security of his father’s house to go to Haran.
It would take a man at his age (now 77 years old) 30 to 40 days to travel so far (500 miles) on foot alone, in a strange country—no roads, only caravan trails, few landmarks, no food but what he could gather along the way, no houses of rest on the way, with “nothing but a staff in his hand” (Genesis 32:10).
His heart was heavy as he walked—his thoughts only on his troubles which he had brought upon himself. He had lied to his father; he had deceived him and obtained his brother’s blessing. His mother had told him to, “go for a few days and I will send for you” (Genesis 27: 44-45). But Jacob realized it would be much longer, in fact he may never see them again, he thought. Actually he never saw his mother again.
This blessing he had been so anxious to receive had only made him an outcast, a wanderer, a stranger in a strange land. Many times we feel as Jacob felt, our new found faith separates us from old friends, making us an outcast from their society.
It had been a long weary journey that first day when Jacob left the shelter of his home at Beersheba. More than forty miles he had traveled over the mountains and through desert-like country, when at last the sun had set and the last glow faded out from the hills of Ephraim.
Genesis 28:10. And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
11. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
How many of you have slept (or laid) on a bed which seemed to have rocks in it? I’ve slept on lumpy feather beds. I’ve also slept on straw ticks which gouged me every time I moved. There is an old saying, “If you make your bed hard, you will have to lay on it.” Jacob had made his bed hard—he would have to lay on it.
Never a man has lain down, on any bed, more troubled than Jacob was that night. He was a fugitive, and he was afraid.
This was probably the first night in Jacob’s life that he had to sleep outside. Jacob had been a mama’s boy, nourished from his earliest Youth with all the tenderness and care of a mother’s love. His brother Esau could be close behind, wild beasts were lurking on every side; roving bands of men were always waiting to way-lay some lone traveler coming by.
As the sun set Jacob piled stones around him for protection, he laid his head down on a stone for his pillow. But when men lose all confidence in himself, it is time for God to help. To such a man, unworthy, remembering all the things he had done, sleep doesn’t come easy. Finally in the solitude of the darkness Jacob fell asleep.
God’s Unexpected Presence:
Genesis 28:12. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14. And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
Few passages in the entire Bible have equaled these verses (Genesis 28:10-22) in their influence upon religious thought. The story of Jacob’s dream about the ladder set upon earth and reaching up to heaven, and the angels ascending and descending on it.
No man could number the souls who have taken heart at the thought of it. “It could happen to me,” is our thought. This story is told and retold in prayers, and hymns, and sermons every Lord’s Day, artists have portrayed it, yet the vision remains undimmed.
In this vision Jacob received divine assurance that the God of Abraham and Isaac was with him in his wanderings, and would bring him back again into this land and give it to him and to his seed as an inheritance forever.
Jacob was a fugitive and he was afraid—he, in our estimation, had not deserved a vision of God—but he needed it. All his life in his groping and unworthy way he had desired it. He had never been content with the things of the flesh, as Esau was.
Even guilty of all his many sins he knew that there was a higher righteousness to which he was accountable. No doubt that this was the first of Jacob’s many encounters with God. It would be remembered all the rest of his life. The same is true of ourselves the first encounter we have with God is never forgotten. Neglected, misplaced, but never forgotten.
Genesis 28:16. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.
17. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
18. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put [for] his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
19. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
20. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
21. So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
22. And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
Our lesson from this is that even in our unworthiness, in our fears, in our unexpectedness of any favor, God appears, sometimes in our darkest night. Many are quick to point out doubt in Jacob’s prayer (vs. 20-22), but after all it was only a dream, and it took all the rest of his life to make it a reality (Genesis 48:3-4).
Jacob’s night at Bethel was a great turning-point in his life. This night vision reassured him of the reality of his mother’s conversation with God (Genesis 25:22-23), one of the very few conversations recorded that God had with a woman) that he would be the one that God would call to be the father of a great nation.
Jacob was seventy-seven when he left Beersheba for Haran. He would spend twenty years serving his uncle Laban, thirty-three years back in Canaan, and the last seventeen years of his life in Egypt. We would like to take note of the absence of worldly goods, we could say poverty, of Jacob when he arrived in Haran. He reminds God of this in his prayer 20 years later, when he was on his way back to Canaan.
Genesis 32:10. I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
When Jacob left home he did not take part of the flocks he had cared for so many years. Only the clothes on his back and a few provisions to sustain him in his journey were all he took.
He mentions his staff in his prayer. This staff was a life-long companion. He, no doubt, had chosen a long straight sapling in his early days, spending much time whittling and seasoning it until the finished product was about 8 feet long, and very sturdy to lean on and fend off any wild beasts which attacked him or the flocks.
This staff was made for a life-time of service and was never out of reach at any time. It is also interesting that it was this same staff that Jacob leaned on the top of, and worshiped God, in his final hour (Hebrews 11:21).
To be able to lean on the top of it means that he had worn about 3 feet off the bottom of it. Just think every step Jacob took in his long life of wandering over Canaan, down into Haran, back into Canaan, finally down into Egypt, his trusting staff also took a step, until it too was old and worn. Probably 130 years of service.
Jacob’s Arrival In Haran:
Genesis 29:1. Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.
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.
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.
Shepherds would naturally gather at a well. As in the case of Abraham’s servant (Genesis 24:10, 11), Jacob arrived in Haran and met Rachel at a well, perhaps even at the same well. Because God allowed a number of significant events to occur at wells, they become a symbol of God’s blessing and care (Genesis 16:14; 21:19, 30; 26:32; Isaiah 12:3; John 4:1–26).
Jacob Meets Rachel:
Genesis 29:4. And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we.
5. And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him.
6. And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel 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.
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.
9. And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them.
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.
11. And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.
So perfect was God’s timing that Rachel, his mother’s niece, was just arriving with her flock while Jacob was talking with the shepherds. Being a good shepherd, Jacob wondered why they were all waiting at the well when there was still daylight for feeding the sheep. They explained that they did not remove the stone cover from the well until all the herds had arrived.
It was an emotion-packed moment for Jacob when he met his cousin Rachel, and for Laban a short while later when he met his nephew Jacob.
Three Things We Note In This Reading:
1. First we see the providence of God working in this meeting as he did in the meeting of Abraham’s servant with Rebekah at, possibly, this same well many years previous. (Genesis 24:15)
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. No doubt Jacob recognized in his arriving at the well of Haran a first installment of that Celestial guidance he had been lately promised. (Genesis 28:15)
2. Second we see the great physical strength of Jacob in rolling the stone from the well. This great physical strength served Jacob well throughout his long life. Jacob was able, either through cunning and conniving, or through his great physical strength, to win all his battles, save the one at Pe-ni-el, which we will discuss later.
3. The third thing we see the tenderness in Jacob (v. 11), he “kissed Rachel:” Doubtless Jacob had heard the story of his mother’s encounter with the servant of Abraham many times. He knew their meeting was from God. Jacob wept from the emotion of the moment, partly for joy at finding his relatives, and in grateful acknowledgement of God’s kindness in bringing him to his mother’s brother’s house.
There was a slogan that was used to describe a motor oil many years ago, “Tough, but, O, so gentle.” This description fits Jacob more than anything I can think of. He was tough in struggle, yet gentle when need be. We will see this in the way he dealt with Laban who always tried to take advantage of him.
Jacob Is Welcomed In Haran:
Genesis 29:12. 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.
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.
All through this we see the excitement in both Rachel and her father Laban. Like Rebekah, Rachel believing the stranger’s words ran to report them to her father. Laban acted very much as he did ninety-seven years before, when Abraham’s servant came to woo his sister (Genesis 24:29-31), bestowing upon Jacob the same kindness and hospitality that he had to the servant.
“And he told Laban all these things.” Most likely Jacob related to Laban the whole story of his life, of his birth as a twin, and of His mother’s revelation from God concerning him, and in particular of his exile from home, with it’s cause, and the object of him coming to Mesopotamia to seek a wife.
I’m sure he also related his vision of the ladder and of God’s promise to watch over him and bring him back to Canaan some day. Laban, being a religious man would understand all that Jacob was relating to him.
Genesis 29:14. And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.
15. And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?
After hearing the story of Jacob’s life Laban invited him to stay awhile. Jacob did such a good job keeping the flocks that Laban wanted to hire him, so they sit down to discuss his wages.
The Deceiver Deceived:
Genesis 29:16. And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
17. Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.
18. And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
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.
Having met Rachel on his arrival, Jacob was struck by her beauty, and it was love at first sight, and after working for her father thirty days he was ready to ask for her hand in marriage, by expressing his love for Rachel.
Having no property, or jewels (Genesis 24:22), nor money, to buy his wife, according to oriental custom, or to give the usual dowry to her father, Jacob offered his service to Laban for seven years for his youngest daughter Rachel.
Jacob’s offer was at once accepted by his grasping uncle Laban. Laban quickly added, “Abide with me,” which was a formal ratification of the compact on the part of Laban.
Genesis 29:20. And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.
The purity and intensity of Jacob’s affection was declared, not alone by the proposal of seven years of service, (A long period of time for a man of seventy-seven years of age) but also by the spirit in which he served his greedy uncle. Many as the days were that intervened before he obtained possession of his bride; they were rendered happy by the sweet society of Rachel.
Genesis 29:21. And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.
22. And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
Though the terms of the servitude had been fulfilled, Laban appeared in no haste to implement his part of the bargain, so Jacob asked him for his wife.
His crafty uncle, unable to evade or delay the fulfillment of his agreement with Jacob, called all the principal men of Haran together for a wedding banquet. These feasts usually lasted, as in this case, seven days, although the groom got his bride after the first day of feasting, drinking, and dancing.
The Substituted Bride:
Genesis 29:23. 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.
24. And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.
The deception practiced on Jacob was rendered possible by the fact that the bride was usually brought into the marriage chamber veiled. The veil being so long and close as to conceal not only the face, but most of the entire person.
It is difficult to understand how that Leah would consent to a proposal so base as to wrong her sister by marrying one who neither sought to marry her, nor loved her. She must herself been attracted to Jacob, and it is probable that her father had explained to her his plan for bringing about a double wedding, She may have also thought Jacob had consented to the arrangement.
Jacob Discovers The Fraud:
Genesis 29: 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?
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. Though indefensible on the part of Laban, the substitution of Leah for Rachel was a deserved punishment of Jacob for his part in the deception of his father.
Having wronged Esau his brother, Jacob is in turn wronged by “a brother,” (Genesis 29:15) Laban, having substituted the younger (himself) for the older (Esau), Jacob is recompensed by having the older (Leah) put in the place of the younger (Rachel). 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.
The Agreeable Settlement:
Genesis 29:26. And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.
27. Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
28. And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
Jacob celebrated the week of festivities for Leah, and then receives Rachel as a Wife, engaging himself to serve another term of seven years for her. Jacob’s conduct demonstrated his sincere love toward Rachel and peaceable disposition towards Laban even though many years later he reminded Laban of the many times he had cheated and defrauded him. (Genesis 31:36-42)
We have noted in another article (The Life Of Abraham) of the beginnings of covetousness in Laban about 100 years previous to this incident, when he saw the jewels that the servant of Abraham had given to Rebekah, his sister. (Genesis 24:29-30) Covetous souls do not shrink from making hard bargains even with relatives and friends.
Avaricious men seldom scruple at deceiving others for the sake of profit. Greed of gain is commonly accompanied by guile of men. The miserly character of Laban is also noted by him giving only one handmaid to each daughter when no doubt he had many at his disposal.
The Power Of True Love:
Genesis 29:30. And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
“And Jacob served seven (more) 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 of pure, self-sacrificing love. Fourteen years of service willing given to purchase, according to Eastern custom, his bride
But Jacob’s love suggests the deeper purer love of Christ for the Church. Rachel as a type of the Bride; A shepherdess and “fairest among women” (Song of Solomon 1:7-8); A sharer of the sufferings of the Church (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:18).
In this we see Jacob as a type of Christ; Rachel as a type of His Church. He served for her. His love made obedience, even unto death, His delight (Psalms 40:8). The love which led to this was free, not deserved or purchased. Rachel brought no dowry or inheritance to Jacob. The Church has of its own no spiritual wealth to bring. In fact it owed a debt it could not pay.
The Bridegroom had to purchase Her at great cost. For love to Rachel Jacob gave the labor of fourteen years. For the Church Christ grudged nothing—gave Himself.
In the Garden His human nature shrank from the bitterness of the cup, but He persevered. Jacob’s love was not shaken by time, or, by the deceit practiced upon him, it was a type of Christ’s love of the Church.
The Birth Of A Nation:
The next fourteen years were possibly the grandest period of time in the history of Israel. It was during that period of time that eleven boys were born who were to become the fathers of the tribes of Israel. Another boy would be added later, but it was during the servitude of Jacob to Laban for Rachel that the nation of Israel was born.
We hope you enjoyed this part of the study of the life of Jacob and will read the other parts of the life of Jacob.
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By James L. Thornton