A Study of Genesis 29-33
After week four, we start this week off with intense love and deception. Jacob travels to Padden-Aram, where Jacob’s uncle, Laban, lives. After arriving sees Laban’s daughter, Rachel, and falls instantly in love. He seeks out Laban and asks if he can marry her. Laban strikes a deal with Jacob, ‘work for me for seven years, and you can marry my daughter.’ Jacob readily agrees.
After working the seven years, Jacob is eager to take Rachel for this wife. Now Laban, having a daughter older than Rachel, wanted to marry her off first, deceived Jacob into marrying Leah.
When this is discovered, Jacob was furious but agreed to keep Leah as a wife; Lavan agreed to give Rachel to him if he worked another seven years. Now, that’s one way to get an employee!
We see a lot of conflict between Rachel and Leah. They both wanted Jacob’s love and to give him the most children. There was great strife between them all because Jacob loved only Rachel. Rachel was unable to conceive and envied Leah, who had already given birth to four sons. Rachel came up with a plan of her own; instead of going to God in prayer, she gave her maid, Bilhah, to have children with Jacob. Rachel knew if Bilhah conceived, she would take the child as her own. Buy this time, Leah had stopped bearing children, so she also gave Jacob her maid, Zilpah, to have more children.
Although she had given her maid to Jacob, Rachel had continued to pray to God, asking that she conceive and give Jacob a child. God heard her prayers and answered them. Rachel conceived and had a son, Joseph.
Because Jacob tended Laban’s animals and had the blessing of the Lord, God also blessed Laban’s belongings through Jacob. They both became very wealthy.
After Rachel gives birth to Joseph, Jacob felt a rift growing between his people and Laban’s people and decided it was time to split from Laban and go this own way. He went to Laban asking for his wages so he could take his family and go.
They divided the animals, but again Laban tries to deceive Jacob keeping the strong and healthy animals, giving Jacob the weaker, more sickly ones. God saw Laban’s deception and favored Jacob with healthy, strong animals.
As soon as Laban saw that Jacob had God’s blessing, he agreed to a covenant to stop any hostility between them. Both promising not to hurt the other, Laban blessed his daughters and sons and returned to his home.
Jacob knew, in his travels, he would have to travel through his brother’s land. Wanting to make amends, he sent Esau a message asking for his mercy. When his servants returned telling him his brother was riding out to meet him, bringing 400 of his soldiers, Jacob was very afraid.
Jacob divided his camp into groups, sending some to meet Esau first. Rachel and Joseph were in the last group, sent across the river. Alone that night, he prayed to God and wrestled with a man; they struggled all night long, Jacob not letting go, wanting God’s blessing. The man (God) asked what his name was and when Jacob told him, God said his name would no longer be Jacob but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed. Genesis 32:2-8
We finally see Jacob and Esau meet after many years. Esau did not want any gifts, but Jacob beefed him to accept, and Esau relented and took his brother’s gifts.
The next morning, they separated and went their own ways; Esau to Seir and Jacob toward Succoth. Jacob and his family arrived in the city of Shechem in Canaan, bought land, and settled there.
Wow, that was a lot of information, and I encourage you to read the entire story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah Genesis 29-30. It is an amazing story, and the amount of children they have is staggering. I would love to hear any of your thoughts on this story, as it completely fascinated me.