Genesis  29:1-35




I.    Notice the providence of God in directing Jacob on his destination.

A.  Jacob's life up to this point shows the wanderings of the natural man.

1.   He was living just like everybody else, doing what everybody else was doing, and thinking what everybody else was thinking.

2.   It is by the intervention of God that he is in the place he is in.

3.   So it is with us.

B.   This chapter shows us how God directs Jacob on his journey, taking him to the very well where he will meet his mother's family.

1.      This is no accident.

2.      Things that happen in our lives are no accident, but God arranges the circumstances of our lives to direct our thoughts to Him and His will for us.


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

I.    Jacob went on his journey.

A.  The blessings of God at Bethel are not doubt on his mind.

1.   It is good to take our journey with the blessings of God upon us.

2.   It makes us see every event as God blessed, and predetermined.

3.   Our step will be light because we know God is watching out for our best interest.

B.   Jacob would have continued his journey if God hadn't come to him at Bethel.

1.   He could not go back home because of Esau.

2.   He could have gone somewhere else, but there is no other place to go where he can find refuge.


II.   The land of the people of the east.

A.  Some commentaries state this people live between Bethel and Haran.

1.   It is at least 360 miles between Haran and Bethel, so somebody must live in this space.

2.   If it is true that the "east" refers to the land east of the Euphrates River, Jacob is almost at Haran.

3.   I believe this means Jacob came to the place where God's people were living in the midst of those that were not God's people.

B.   Zech 8:7 - God said concerning the remnant of Israel that He would save them from the people of the east and the people of the west.

1.      Zech 8:7 is talking about a time in the future when God will restore Jerusalem, and re-populate it with Israelites that He has saved from the influence of foreigners.

2.      Compare Zech 8:7 and Gen. 29:1 to discover that God has kept Rebekah's family pure from pagan influences for the very purpose of using them in the "Christ line".

a.   It is true that Rachel steals her fathers gods when they leave Haran to return to Canaan.

b.   It is also true that God blesses Leah more than He blessed Rachel, or Laban.


Verse 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.



Verse 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.



Verse 4  And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence [be] ye? And they said, Of Haran [are] we.

It must be remarked that the providence of God has directed Jacob to the very spot where he can meet the people God wants him to meet.


Verse 5  And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know [him].

Laban is Rebekah's brother, Gen. 24:29.


Verse 6  And he said unto them, [Is] he well? And they said, [He is] well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.



Verse 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].



Verse 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.



Verse 9  And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them.



Verse 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.



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



Verse 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.



Verse 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.



Verse 14  And Laban said to him, Surely thou [art] my bone and my flesh  And he abode with him the space of a month.

Jacob had time during this month to prove himself to Laban, and to discover a great love for Rachel.


Verse 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]?



Verse 16  And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder [was] Leah, and the name of the younger [was] Rachel.



Verse 17  Leah [was] tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.

Leah is tender eyed, that is she was "plain Jane" as far as her figure was concerned.  I picture Leah as tall and straight with plain straight hair and a look in her eyes that revealed her soul.  Leah had "depth of personality" and a perception of the world that was both real and practical.  She was the kind of person who made work fun, and was constantly busy about necessary things, not spending too much time in frivolous activities.  She liked to have fun, but only after work was done. 

Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.  Rachel had a beautiful body and a pretty face.  She was a hard worker, but these were not the qualities that Jacob admired in her. 


Verse 18  And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.

Did Jacob buy Rachel?  Did he purchase himself a wife?  No, the custom was for the groom to give a dowry to the father to show his good fortune and ability to care for his daughter.  Jacob, having no money for a dowry, would give seven years of his life to Laban.



Verse 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.



Verse 20  And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him [but] a few days, for the love he had to her.



Verse 21  And Jacob said unto Laban, Give [me] my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.



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



Verse 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.

I.    Laban is a deceptive liar to Jacob.

A.  The feeble excuse given to Jacob in verse 26.


II.   Leah is also a part of this deception.

A.  She might have been an unwilling participant, but she was a participant.

1.   She might have been forced to go along with the charade because she was to give honor to her father.

2.   It appears to me that she was so afraid she wouldn't get a husband, especially Jacob, that she deceived the man she loved to get him.

3.   She will spend many years continuing to want Jacob to love her.

4.   Her dream will finally come true.

a.   As Jacob matures in Christ, he comes to realize that physical beauty is not nearly so important as he once thought.

b.   Jacob is buried with Leah in the field Abraham bought.  Gen. Gen. 49:28-32.

B.   It is also true that she loved Jacob.

1.   In verse 32, Leah declares that Jacob will love her after she begets Reuben.

2.   In verse 33, Leah remarks that her prayer to God was heard and she bear Simeon

3.   In verse 34, Leah conceives again, bearing Levi, and declares that her husband will be joined unto her

4.   In verse 35, Leah bears Judah, and praises the Lord.

a.   She makes no move to claim Jacob's love, although this is her desire.

b.   See Gen. 30:16-21.


Verse 24  And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid [for] an handmaid.

This verse is entered as a secondary thought, but is very important because this woman will bear some of Jacob's children.


Verse 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?

I.    It must be noticed that the events of the night didn't raise Jacob's suspicions that he had married the wrong woman.

A.  This shows us something about their courting.

1.   It is very likely that the first time Jacob held Leah in his arms was on this night.

2.   It is also very likely that he had never held Rachel in his arms at all.

3.      They would spend their courting days getting to know the person, rather than the person's body.

4.      Their love was not a physical attraction, but something much deeper.

B.   I could say much about the wickedness accompanying today's courting practices.

1.      Courting couples want to be alone, preferably in the dark, rather than in groups.

2.       They want to do things they wouldn't do in front of others, or in the light.


Verse 26  And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.

This is a very flimsy excuse.  If it was really so, I am sure Jacob would have heard about it during his seven years of labor.  If Laban is really telling the truth, perhaps he thought Leah would be married before the seven years passed, and Rachel would be free to marry Jacob.  But if Laban is telling the truth, there was no need for deception.


Verse 27  Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.

Jacob is guilty of bigamy, though unwillingly.


I.    While it is true that God intended for one husband to have one wife, He blessed this "double marriage" to build the nation of Israel.

A.  Rom. 8:28 - God takes that which man intends to be evil, and uses it for His own glory and for our good.


Verse 28  And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.

The order of events seems to be:

1.   Jacob agrees to work seven hears for Rachel.

2.   He worked that seven years.

3.   He was given Leah for a wife.

4.   Jacob was married to Leah for one week, seven days.

5.   Jacob married Rachel.

6.   Jacob works for Laban for another seven years to pay the dowry for Rachel.


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

This verse is entered as a secondary thought, but is very important because this woman will also bear some of Jacob's children.



Verse 30  And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.



Verse 31  And when the LORD saw that Leah [was] hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel [was] barren.

When the Lord saw that Leah was hated - This expression is put in human terms so we can more readily understand the situation.  It is not that God had to wait to see which woman Jacob loved the most, God knows everything long before any of it happens.  Jacob is not forced by God's predestination to love Rachel more than Leah.  God is observing Jacob's free will actions, which is not in agreement with God's will.

Hated - The word hated does refer to hating an enemy, but I doubt this is the reference in this case.  It seems to me that God sees that Jacob's love for Rachel is go great and his love for Leah so small that to compare the two makes Jacob's love for Leah to seem as hate.


Verse 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.

Polygamy might have been accepted in this society, but the fact remains that each of these wives wanted their husbands total devotion.  It should also be remarked that Rachel (Gen. 30:14-16) accepted mandrakes (a drug which allowed her to fulfill her sexual fancies without the benefit of her husband.  It should also be remarked that although it is widely accepted that the mandrakes were an aphrodisiac, it is also a fertility drug.  It may have been that Rachel was more interested in increasing her fertility instead of enjoying sex without her husband.)


Verse 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.

Heard - Leah believes God has overheard some people who have talked about the relationship between her and Jacob.  Leah declares that God has heard the conversation and gives Leah another child.  This shows the mercy of God toward the despised and down trodden.  Leah firmly believes God is on her side even when all the physical evidence points to the opposite.  This must be the "... peace that passes understanding."


Verse 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.

Notice that Leah uses the term "joined" in describing what she desires from her husband.  She already had him physically, but she didn't have him emotionally or spiritually.  She desired something closer than just bearing his children, because propagating children can be accomplished even when the couple is emotionally detached from one another.


Verse 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.

Notice that at the birth of her fourth son, Leah made no effort to bring her husband near.  More than likely, she has given up on this quest.  Jacob will love Rachel more than Leah until Rachel dies.  The truth is that Jacob fails to see that Leah is the one he should have married in the first place.  Jacob sees this fact in old age, therefore, Leah is buried in the same tomb as Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob.

It is amazing that the Bible states that Leah left bearing.  The truth is that she had 7 children in 7 years!  There is only 84 months in 7 years (12 x 7 = 84)  To have 7 children in 6 years there would be only 12 months allowed for each child!  (84 / 7 = 12)  This is the reason some Jewish Historians believe there was only 7 months gestation period for each child.

This is also very important to understand how fierce the competion was between Rachel and Leah for Jacob's affections and attention.