Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29) Commentary

Then Jacob went on his journey peacefully, knowing God was with him and came to the land of the people of the east.  As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it,  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, He makes me lie down in green pastures (Psalm 23:1-2)  for out of that well the flocks were watered. He leads me beside the quiet waters (Psalm 23:2)  The stone on the well’s mouth was large, in the dry climate, the stone was in pace to prevent evaporation of scarce water  and when all the flocks were gathered there, that no sheep should go without,  the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, Feed my sheep, The Lord says  and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well.  and the resource was protected, with minimum exposure

Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?”  As he was close to the land of his mother, and familiar with their occupation, he addressed them as “brothers.”   They said, “We are from Haran.”  Where Jacob was headed  He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” Rebekah’s brother  He said to them, “Is it well with him?” Is he prosperous, peaceful, well in health, content; they answer that he is;   and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” Rachel meaning “ewe” , brought the last of the flock He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Jacob’s experience led him to this conclusion, and was curious at the idleness;  Water the sheep and go, pasture them.”   For this is the way he would do it, under his circumstance But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”  It is not the appointed time.  For purpose of saving the water the Shepherds had come to a neighborly agreement, and waited for the last flock before they opened the well. The day will come when Christ gathers his flock together, and opens the well of living water.

Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. God has always honored industrious women, and those in service. This was a relative of Rebekah, who herself watered the camels of  Isaac’s servant. Jacob likely admires this trait. Women too can guard the flock of Jesus  Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Being drawn to Rachel, and looking to introduce himself, and demonstrate his worth  Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. As a greeting, weeping out of  joy;  And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.  She knew the news would please Laban, who many years ago had seen his sister leave to be the wife of Isaac.

As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house.  Welcomed him as his family  Jacob told Laban all these things, of his journey  and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!”  As Laban recognized the familial traits in Jacob, in appearance and behavior

 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Laban would not take advantage of Jacob just because he is family; Jacob had already been serving for a month at no cost   Tell me, what shall your wages be?”  If  you would stay, what would it take? Jacob was of great use.  Jacob was advised by Isaac to take a wife from this country. Laban’s daughters were both attractive.  Leah’s eyes were weak,  meaning soft, tender  Rachel was beautiful in all ways, and whom Jacob loved. “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Seven years of labor!  Jacob had no possessions to his name, so he offers his service. We must offer to serve God with our hearts,  and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.  All that is done in love in not a burden.

 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” As was agreed upon. Men are weak in their promises, God is solid in His.    And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! Jacob, deceived, in the same way he himself had disguised his identity from  Isaac!  How our sins come back to haunt us.  And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”  Was there not an agreement made?  Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Laban would have done well to explain this before the marriage, not after. Is the deceit of Laban not similar to that arranged by his sister Rebekah?  Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.”    Laban is able to impose both his daughters onto Jacob, and secure Jacob as his servant.  So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and by doing so brews the very contempt he experienced with Esau.  served Laban for another seven years.

When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. This was compassion for Leah from the Lord, who was loved less then Rachel, not “hated” in the sense of extreme dislike. This was also a lesson for Jacob, and humility for Rachel.  Leah was given  the honor of bearing the first of the 12 tribes of Israel, naming him Reuben, meaning “Behold, a son”, a son given from God;    “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” God loves the outcast, the exile, when they feel unloved. The Lord secured Leah’s position in the family of Jacob, that she would not be overlooked. She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” When we give glory to God for what He has given us, He will only give us more.  And she called his name Simeon. Meaning “to hear”  Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Leah would not be cast out as Hagar was.  Therefore his name was called Levi.  Meaning “joined”    And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.”  Naming him Judah, meaning “praised”.  Then she ceased bearing. Not completely, but for a time.

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