As is common with a book, you’ll want to read the previous section before diving into this one.
Genesis 29: Jacob Gets Married
Jacob arrived in “the land of the eastern peoples.” I’m not sure where that is, except that it’s where Rebekah, Jacob’s mother, is from. (The Bible ends sentences in prepositions, so I am too.)
Jacob ran into Rachel, his cousin. Rachel and her family were excited to learn that Jacob is a blood relative because Rachel needed a husband. I plan to research the family aspect of relationships for a future research post because this has come up as a theme several times.
Jacob lived with Rachel’s (and his) family. Rachel’s father, Laban, asked Jacob what wage he desired. They agreed that Jacob would work for Laban for seven years in exchange for Rachel. As is customary, the female is property to be traded and agreed upon by men.
After seven years, Laban gives his daughter to Jacob. But it’s not Rachel! Laban tricked Jacob into lying with Leah, Rachel’s older sister.
Rightfully so, Jacob is mad. Laban explains:
“It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one.”
So Jacob stays married to Leah and a week later, he marries Rachel. Jacob loves Rachel more than he loves Leah.
Genesis 30: Jacob’s Kids
God saw that Rachel was loved more than Leah, so he made Leah fertile and Rachel barren.
Leah bore three sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. No mention of whether there were daughters.
Leah thought that with each son she gave Jacob he would finally love her. But alas, Jacob loved Rachel.
Speaking of Rachel. She was jealous that Leah was having all the children. She got mad at Jacob, saying, “Give me children, or I’ll die.”
I find this quote fascinating because up until this, all references to children have been that the woman has “given” the child to the man…not the other way around.
Jacob told Rachel that her not having kids must be God’s will. Rachel found a loophole and gave her maidservant to Jacob. The maidservant got pregnant by Jacob and gave birth to a son, Dan. And then another son, Naphtali
Then Rachel gave her maidservant to Jacob. Both maidservants had more sons with/for Jacob.
And then Leah had three more kids: two sons and a daughter. (Woo hoo! A mention of a daughter.)
Then God opened Rachel’s womb and she had a son, Joseph.
Jacob moved on to sheep breeding, after having such success with human reproduction.
Jacob and Laban come to an agreement to separate the speckled and spotted sheep to keep. Jacob pulled the wool over Laban’s eyes (pun very much so intended) and drew spots on sheep so he gained ownership of them.
Genesis 31: Jacob Goes Home
Laban’s sons figured out what Jacob was doing. Jacob planned to run, and he wanted Leah and Rachel to go with him. So Jacob told his wives that their father was ripping him off. They all schemed to run away from Laban. On the way out, Rachel took “her father’s household gods,” which I assume are something of value.
Laban eventually found them and accused Jacob of stealing the gods.
Jacob was like, uh, go ahead and search my stuff because I didn’t steal them.
He didn’t know at this point that Rachel had stolen them.
Rachel used her period as an excuse to stay sitting and keep the gods hidden. Classic.
Jacob and Laban fight for a while and eventually agree to part ways, with all of the wives, children, and flock staying with Laban. They create a pillar of rocks to serve as a do-not-cross line. Laban kisses his daughters and grandkids (that’s like 15 people) and leaves.
It doesn’t say where the wives and kids went—with Laban or with Jacob—but I’m guessing they stayed with Jacob because of Laban’s kiss-ad-leave move.
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