Monday, June 13, 2011

Genesis 29:14-30

Before we move forward with this story I’m going to remind you what Laban said to Jacob in verse 14: “You are my own flesh and blood.” Now, while this was certainly true, since Laban was Jacob’s uncle, I think there is more to this statement. I think Laban senses a kinship with Jacob; he sees himself in Jacob - and this could have been a warning for Jacob!

I do believe that Laban was expecting the same gifts from Jacob that his family had received from Isaac, but apparently Jacob came without anything. After staying with his uncle for a month, during which time Jacob had apparently been working for Laban for free, Laban suggests a more equitable arrangement, and allows Jacob to name his wages. It must have been apparent to Laban that Jacob was head over heels for Rachel, and he was determined to get something from Jacob:

Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her. (Gen 29:16-20)

I looked up the meaning of the name Leah, and it can mean weary, grieved, or offended or psychological or physical weariness. The most negative meaning found is cow ! The positive meaning given is delicate. It seems clear that whatever was wrong with Leah’s eyes, whether they just lacked sparkle or life or were truly plain, they were nothing when compared to the beauty of her younger sister. In fairness to Jacob, he was already in love with Rachel before he ever saw Leah, so he had not made that comparison first.

So, Jacob eagerly works his seven years, then rightfully expects his reward. Unfortunately, Laban has another plan. Instead of the lovely Rachel, it turns out that, after his wedding night, Jacob learns he has married the wrong daughter!

So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.

When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”

Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.” (vs. 22-27)

Jacob must have been beside himself! He had to work another seven years for the love of his life! Beth Moore points out that when Laban mentioned the custom of taking care of the firstborn daughter before the younger, it is probable that Jacob was reminded of his own position compared to Esau, and how he had tricked Esau out of his birthright as firstborn. The tables had turned on him! Beth also reminds us that the facts of the polygamy practiced by Jacob does not imply God’s blessing on this practice. God’s Word is very clear that monogamy is His plan (Beth cites Gen. 2:24; Matt 19:4-6; and Eph. 5:31). In fact, we’ll see tomorrow how having four wives is anything but a blessing!

Jacob and Laban were the match made in heaven! God taught Jacob so much about himself by what he observed in Laban! Don’t you find that God often puts us with people who struggle with the same weaknesses we have in order to make a point with us? It’s almost like aversion therapy. Maybe if we see the obnoxious characteristics of ourselves in others, we will be moved to seek change!

Off to work - tomorrow we’ll see the sorrow brought on by these marriages. . .


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