Genesis Chapter Twenty-nine
Jacob comes to the well of Haran. (1-8) His interview with Rachel, Laban entertains him. (9-14) Jacob's covenant for Rachel, Laban's deceit. (15-30) Leah's sons. (31-35)
Commentary on Genesis 29:1-8
Jacob proceeded cheerfully in his journey, after the sweet communion he had with God at Beth-el. Providence brought him to the field where his uncle's flocks were to be watered. What is said of the care of the shepherds for their sheep, may remind us of the tender concern which our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, has for his flock the church; for he is the good Shepherd, that knows his sheep, and is known of them. The stone at the well's mouth was to secure it; water was scarce, it was not there for every one's use: but separate interests should not take us from helping one another. When all the shepherds came together with their flocks, then, like loving neighbours, they watered their flocks together. The law of kindness in the tongue has a commanding power, Proverbs 31:26. Jacob was civil to these strangers, and he found them civil to him.
Commentary on Genesis 29:9-14
See Rachel's humility and industry. Nobody needs to be ashamed of honest, useful labour, nor ought it to hinder any one's preferment. When Jacob understood that this was his kinswoman, he was very ready to serve her. Laban, though not the best humoured, bade him welcome, and was satisfied with the account Jacob gave of himself. While we avoid being foolishly ready to believe every thing which is told us, we must take heed of being uncharitably suspicious.
Commentary on Genesis 29:15-30
During the month that Jacob spent as a guest, he was not idle. Wherever we are, it is good to employ ourselves in some useful business. Laban was desirous that Jacob should continue with him. Inferior relations must not be imposed upon; it is our duty to reward them. Jacob made known to Laban the affection he had for his daughter Rachel. And having no wordly goods with which to endow her, he promises seven years' service Love makes long and hard services short and easy; hence we read of the labour of love, Hebrews 6:10. If we know how to value the happiness of heaven, the sufferings of this present time will be as nothing to us. An age of work will be but as a few days to those that love God, and long for Christ's appearing. Jacob, who had imposed upon his father, is imposed upon by Laban, his father-in-law, by a like deception. Herein, how unrighteous soever Laban was, the Lord was righteous: see Judges 1:7. Even the righteous, if they take a false step, are sometimes thus recompensed in the earth. And many who are not, like Jacob, in their marriage, disappointed in person, soon find themselves, as much to their grief, disappointed in the character. The choice of that relation ought to be made with good advice and thought on both sides. There is reason to believe that Laban's excuse was not true. His way of settling the matter made bad worse. Jacob was drawn into the disquiet of multiplying wives. He could not refuse Rachel, for he had espoused her; still less could he refuse Leah. As yet there was no express command against marrying more than one wife. It was in the patriarchs a sin of ignorance; but it will not justify the like practice now, when God's will is plainly made known by the Divine law, Leviticus 18:18, and more fully since, by our Saviour, that one man and woman only must be joined together, 1 Corinthians 7:2.
Commentary on Genesis 29:31-35
The names Leah gave her children, expressed her respect and regard, both to God and to her husband. Reuben, or See a son, with this thought, Now will my husband love me; Levi, or joined, expecting, Now will my husband be joined unto me. Mutual affection is both the duty and comfort of the married relation; and yoke-fellows should study to recommend themselves to each other, 1 Corinthians 7:33,34. She thankfully acknowledges the kind providence of God in hearing her. Whatever supports and comforts us under afflictions, or tends to our deliverance from them, God must be owned in it. Her fourth son she called Judah, or praise, saying, Now will I praise the Lord. This was he, of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came. Whatever is the matter of our rejoicing, ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. Fresh favours should quicken us to praise God for former favours; Now will I praise the Lord more and better than I have done. All our praises must centre in Christ, both as the matter of them, and as the Mediator of them. He descended after the flesh from him whose name was "Praise," and He is our praise. Is Christ formed in my heart? Now will I praise the Lord.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Genesis》
 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.
Providence brought him to the very field where his uncle's flock's were to be watered, and there he met with Rachel that was to be his wife. The Divine Providence is to be acknowledged in all the little circumstances which concur to make a journey or other undertaking comfortable and successful. If, when we are at a loss, we meet with those seasonably that can direct us; if we meet with a disaster, and those are at hand that will help us; we must not say it was by chance, but it was by providence: our ways are ways of pleasantness, if we continually acknowledge God in them. The stone on the well's mouth was either to secure their property in it, for water was scarce, to save the well from receiving damage from the heat of the sun, or to prevent the lambs of the flock from being drowned in it.
 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them.
She kept her father's sheep — She took the care of them, having servants under her that were employed about them when he understood that this was his kinswoman (probably he had heard of her name before) knowing what his errand was into that country, we may suppose it struck into his mind immediately, that this must be his wife, as one already smitten with an honest comely face (though it is likely, sun-burnt, and she in the homely dress of a shepherdess) he is wonderfully officious, and ready to serve her, verse 10, and addresses himself to her with tears of joy, and kisses of love, verse 11, she runs with all haste to tell her father, for she will by no means entertain her kinsman's address without her father's knowledge and approbation, verse 12. These mutual respects at their first interview were good presages of their being a happy couple. Providence made that which seemed contingent and fortuitous to give a speedy satisfaction to Jacob's mind as soon as ever he came to the place he was bound for. Abraham's servant, when he came upon a like errand, met with the like encouragement. Thus God guides his people with his eye, Psalms 32:8. It is a groundless conceit which some of the Jewish writers have, that Jacob when he kissed Rachel wept, because he had been set upon his journey by Eliphaz the eldest son of Esau, at the command of his father, and robbed him of all his money and jewels, which his mother had given him when she sent him away: it is plain it was his passion for Rachel, and the surprise of this happy meeting that drew these tears from his eyes. Laban, though none of the best humoured men, bid him welcome, was satisfied in the account he gave of himself, and of the reason of his coming in such poor circumstances. While we avoid the extreme on the one hand of being foolishly credulous, we must take heed of falling into the other extreme of being uncharitably jealous and suspicious. Laban owned him for his kinsman, verse 14. Thou art my bone and my flesh. Note, Those are hard-hearted indeed that are unkind to their relations, and that hide themselves from their own flesh, Isaiah 58:7.
 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?
Because thou art my brother — That is, kinsman.
Should thou therefore serve me for nought? — No, what reason for that? If Jacob be so respectful as to give him his service without demanding any consideration for it, yet Laban will not be so unjust as to take advantage either of his necessity, or of his good nature. It appears by computation that Jacob was now seventy years old when he bound himself apprentice for a wife; probably Rachel was young and scarce marriageable when Jacob came first, which made him the more willing to stay for her till his seven years were expired.
 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.
They seemed to him but a few days for the love he had to her — An age of work will be but as a few days to those that love God, and long for Christ's appearing.
 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?
Behold it was Leah — Jacob had cheated his own father when he pretended to be Esau, and now his father-in-law cheated him. Herein, how unrighteous soever Laban was, the Lord was righteous.
 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.
It must be so done in our country — We have reason to think there was no such custom in his country; but if there was, and that he resolved to observe it, he should have told Jacob so, when he undertook to serve him for his younger daughter.
 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
We will give thee this also — Hereby he drew Jacob into the sin and snare, and disquiet of multiplying wives. Jacob did not design it, but to have kept as true to Rachel as his father had done to Rebekah; he that had lived without a wife to the eighty fourth year of his age could then have been very well content with one: but Laban to dispose of his two daughters without portions, and to get seven years service more out of Jacob, thus imposeth upon him, and draws him into such a strait, that he had some colourable reason for marrying them both.
 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 — That is, loved less than Rachel, in which sense it is required that we hate father and mother, in comparison with Christ, Luke 14:26, then the Lord granted her a child, which was a rebuke to Jacob for making so great a difference between those he was equally related to; a check to Rachel, who, perhaps insulted over her sister upon that account; and a comfort to Leah, that she might not be overwhelmed with the contempt put upon her.
 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.
She appears very ambitious of her husband's love; she reckoned the want of it her affliction, not upbraiding him with it as his fault, nor reproaching him for it; but laying it to heart as her grief, which she had reason to bear, because she was consenting to the fraud by which she became his wife. She called her first-born Reuben, see a son|, with this pleasant thought, Now will my husband love me. And her third son Levi, joined, with this expectation, Now will my husband be joined unto me. The Lord hath heard, that is, taken notice of it, that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son. Her fourth she called Judah, praise, saying, Now will I praise the Lord. And this was he, of whom, as concerning the flesh Christ came. Whatever is the matter of our rejoicing, ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. And all our praises must center in Christ, both as the matter of them, and as the Mediator of them. He descended from him whose name was praise, for he is our praise. Is Christ formed in my heart? Now will I praise the Lord.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Genesis》
29 Chapter 29
Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east
Jacob’s experience on his journey
THAT GOD’S PRESENCE WITH HIM MADE HIS DUTIES AND HIS TROUBLES LIGHT. He who casts his burden upon the Lord ceases to weary himself, and finds that even labour is rest and pain is sweet.
II. THAT PROVIDENCE WAS STILL HIS GUIDE. All his life through Providence had guided him, but he knew it not as he ought to know. Now, even in the most ordinary and likely events of life he learns to trace the hand of Providence. Providence brings to this spot the very woman who is designed to be the wife of Jacob. Surely he could not fail to see that even through all the strange trials of his journey, and through the most untoward events, the will of God was being accomplished.
III. THAT GOD’S GRACIOUS DEALINGS WITH HIM CALLED FOR GRATITUDE. Jacob was deeply touched by the kindness of God; and while he embraced Rachel, he “ lifted up his voice and wept.” They were tears started by the remembrance of his faithless misgivings, but they were also tears of joy at the thought that his difficulties were at an end, and that the great object of his mission had been gained. (T. H. Leale.)
1. God’s gracious appearances to a soul may encourage it to go any whither where God would have them.
2. Encouragements from God and engagements to Him will make a man speed in the way where God calleth.
3. Providence bringeth an obedient soul safely to the place appointed for him.
4. Providence sendeth to every part His servants to raise His Church. The East is not exempted, Abraham from hence, Job in this place were eminent, and now Jacob is sent to it (verse 2). (G. Hughes, B. D.)
Jacob, the pilgrim
Rich in distant hopes, but cheerless in his immediate prospects, Jacob left the land of promise. He was a true pilgrim; and his whole life was a wearisome and changeful pilgrimage. The gold of his capacious and lofty mind was to be purified from its strong alloy of dishonesty and cunning in the furnace of misery and toil; his moral education commenced at his departure from the parental house, and after many tribulations only, resulted in that peace of mind which is at once the surest symptom and the choicest reward of true virtue. Jacob’s life has always been considered as a type; we see in it, indeed, the eternal image of man’s protracted contests, both against the foe in his heart and with his destinies, till at last the internal enemy is either wearied out by his resistance, or expelled by his energy, or reconciled by his sufferings (see on Genesis 34:1-4). Among the earliest seeds sowed by Jacob were deceit and craft; and flight and exile were the first fruits of his harvest. While his grandfather’s servants had undertaken the journey to the town of Nahor with ten camels laden with all the most precious treasures (Genesis 24:10); the offspring of the alliance concluded in consequence of that journey, left his father’s roof, as a poor wanderer, without an friend or an attendant, and without an animal to lighten the fatigues of the way. (M. M.Kalisch, Ph. D.)
1. Providence maketh God’s servants to see in due time some characters of their being near their journey’s end, and accomplishment of His promise.
2. Things of usual account by some may be made by Providence of special use to comfort others. So the welt, &c., here spoken of Jacob (Genesis 29:2).
3. To seek community of good in neighbourhood is the very law of nature. Not each to prevent other.
4. Preservation of public commodities for life and comfort, is that which nature will teach men. It is unnatural to destroy (verse 3-5). (G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. Providence maketh questions means to the satisfaction of His.
2. Sons are best known by the most eminent of their ancestors.
3. Nahor and his descent, with their way and religion, were known in Syria (Genesis 29:5).
4. It is but Nature’s dictate to inquire of the welfare of related friends.
5. Providence orders peace to others, that with them His servants may have peace.
6. Providence orders meeting of friends and comforts which man cannot project, and doth little think of, Here Jacob meets Rachel (Genesis 29:6). (G. Hughes, B. D.)
Rachel his daughter cometh
1. Providential meetings may justly occasion providential advice from strangers to others.
2. Time and business should be rationally managed to the improvement of both (Genesis 29:7).
3. Ingenuity taketh not amiss occasional advice from strangers.
4. Ingenuous men, if they follow not counsel, will give their reason.
5. Impotency to duty justly may excuse it.
6. Iniquity must not be done to others for private advantage (Genesis 29:8). (G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. God’s good hand sendeth the mercy sometimes to His servants while they inquire about it.
2. The eminent in His church God hath called from the lowest condition in the world.
3. It is not unbeseeming the greatest ladies to be found in honest labour. It was not to Rachel. It suits the mother of the Church to be a shepherdess (Genesis 29:9). (G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. Discoveries of such as are near in the flesh is enough in nature to move for doing them good.
2. Readiness and pains to show kindness unto friends in the flesh becometh both grace and nature (Genesis 29:10). (G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. Self-discovery is proper, when God sends friends to meet at unawares.
2. Ingenuity gladly receiveth the manifestation of near friends in the flesh. (G. Hughes, B. D.)
The meeting of Jacob with Rachel and Laban -
I. THE STRANGER AT THE WELL Jacob.
1. The journey ended. Canaan, Bethel, and his father’s house behind him. Mountains, deserts, rivers, and rocky wildernesses between. God had kept Genesis 28:20), so far, from wild beasts and robbers, and all “ perils of the wilderness.”
2. He arrives on the confines of civilized life once more; yet knows not how near the end of his journey he is. Finds flocks, and pasturage, and the dwellings of men.
3. Rests by the well side. Knows that it will soon be the meeting-place of men, from the flocks that are gathering round the spot.
4. The shepherds arrive. He converses with them. Finds they are of Haran, the place he is journeying to. Inquires concerning his kindred. Discovers that they are well, and that Rachel, the daughter of Laban, is on the way to water the flock.
II. THE SHEPHERDESS. Rachel.
1. Primitive habits, and pastoral life in the East. The daughters of large land owners, and men of substance, tending sheep.
2. Rachel approaches the well. Finds a stranger sitting near. Knows him not. He has been told who she is.
3. Though weary with his journey, Jacob rises, and rolls the stone away, and waters Rachel’s flock for her. Rachel doubtless wondering at this unexpected kindness.
4. Jacob, having watered the flock, salutes the shepherdess after the common fashion of the country. A courteous and customary greeting.
5. Jacob weeps tears of joy that he has found the kindred of whom he is in search; and of thankfulness that God has so far guided and blessed him. Rachel wondering.
6. Jacob tells his story. Mentions the name of that Rebekah of whom she had heard, and who years before had gone across the great desert to her distant home.
III. THE WELCOME HOME. The home of Laban.
1. Rachel, full of joyful surprise, hastens forward, and tells the story of the strange traveller to her father.
2. Laban, also surprised, quickly goes to the well to meet him. Salutes him, as Jacob had saluted Rachel, and brings him home. Eastern hospitality.
3. Jacob repeats his story to Laban. Doubtless, while silent about many things, related that the birthright and the blessing were his; and described the vision he had by the way.
4. Laban cordially--because of his relationship especially--invites Jacob to abide with him. Learn:
I. That a good man’s steps are ordered of the Lord, and He delighteth in his way.
II. If we commit our way unto the Lord, He will bring it to pass.
III. As Jacob watered Rachel’s flock, so should we be self-denying and helpful.
IV. Aim, like Rachel, at living a useful life. It was when she was employed in her works of duty that she met with Jacob.
V. Like Jacob, acknowledge God as the giver of all good, and the guide of our life. (Jr. C. Gray.)
We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together
Watering the sheep
A scene in Mesopotamia, beautifully pastoral. A well of water of great value in that region. The fields around about it white with three flocks of sheep lying down waiting for the watering. I hear their bleating coming on the bright air, and the laughter of young men and maidens indulging in rustic repartee. I look off, and I see other flocks of sheep coming, Meanwhile, Jacob, a stranger, on the interesting errand of looking for a wife, comes to the well. A beautiful shepherdess comes to the same well. I see her approaching, followed by her father’s flock of sheep. Jacob accosts the shepherds and asks them why they postpone the slaking of the thirst of these sheep, and why they did not immediately proceed to water them? The shepherds reply to the effect: “We are all good neighbours, and as a matter of courtesy we wait until all the sheep of the neighbourhood come up. Besides that, this stone on the well’s mouth is somewhat heavy, and several of us take hold of it and push it aside, and then the buckets and the troughs are filled, and the sheep are satisfied. 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.” Now a great flock of sheep to-day gather around this Gospel well. There are a great many thirsty souls. I wonder why the flocks of all nations do not gather--why so many stay thirsty; and while I am wondering about if, my text breaks forth in the explanation, saying: “ 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.” This well of the Gospel is deep enough to put out the burning thirst of the twelve hundred million of the race. Do not let the Church by a spirit of exclusiveness keep the world out. Let down all the bars, swing open all the gates, scatter all the invitations: “Whosoever will let him come.”
I. You notice that this well of Mesopotamia had a stone on it, which must be removed before the sheep could be watered; and I find on the well of salvation to-day IMPEDIMENTS AND OBSTACLES, which must be removed in order that you may obtain the refreshment and life of this Gospel.
1. In your case the impediment is pride of heart. You cannot bear to come to so democratic a fountain; you do not want to come with so many others. You will have to remove the obstacle of pride, or never find your way to the well. You will have to come as we came, willing to take the water of eternal life in any way, and at any hand, and in any kind of picture, crying out: “O Lord Jesus, I am dying of thirst. Give me the water of eternal life, whether in trough or goblet; give me the water of life; I care not in what it comes to me.” Away with all your hindrances of pride from the well’s mouth.
2. Here is another man who is kept back from this water of life by the stone of an obdurate heart, which lies over the mouth of the well. You have no more feeling upon this subject than if God had vet to do you the first kindness, or you had to do God the first wrong. Seated on His lap all these years, His everlasting arms sheltering you, where is your gratitude? Where is your morning and evening prayer? Where are your consecrated lives? O man, what dost thou with that hard heart? Canst thou not feel one throb of gratitude towards the God who made you, and the Christ who came to redeem you, and the Holy Ghost who has all these years been importuning you?
II. Jacob with a good deal of tug and push took the stone from the well’s mouth, so that the flocks might be watered. And I would that this morning my word, blessed of God, might remove the hindrances to your getting up to the Gospel well. Yea, I take it for granted that the work is done, and now like Oriental shepherds, I PROCEED TO WATER THE SHEEP.
1. Come, all ye thirsty! You have an undefined longing in your souls. You tried money-making; that did not satisfy you. You tried office under government; that did not satisfy you. You tried pictures and sculptures, but works of art did not satisfy you. You are as much discontented with this life as the celebrated French author who felt that he could not any longer endure the misfortunes of the world, and who said: “At four o’clock this afternoon I shall put an end to my own existence. Meanwhile, I must toil on up to that time for the sustenance of my family.” And he wrote on his book until the clock struck four, when he folded up his manuscript and, by his own hand, concluded his earthly life. There are men in this house who are perfectly discontented. Unhappy in the past, unhappy to-day, to be unhappy for ever, unless you come to this Gospel-well. This satisfies the soul with a high, deep, all-absorbing, and eternal satisfaction.
2. Come, also, to this Gospel-well, all ye troubled. I do not suppose you have escaped. Compare your view of this life at fifteen years of age with what your view of it is at forty, sixty, or seventy. What a great contrast of opinion! Were you right, then, or are you right now? Two cups placed in your hands, the one a sweet cup, the other a sour cup. A cup of joy and a cup of grief. Which has been the nearest to being full, and out of which have you the more frequently partaken? Oh, you have had trouble, trouble, trouble. God only knows how much you have had. It is a wonder you have been able to live through it. It is a wonder your nervous system has not been shattered, and your brain has not reeled. Trouble, trouble, If I could gather all the griefs, of all sorts, from this great audience, and could put them in one scroll, neither man nor angel could endure the recitation. Well what do you want? Would you like to have your property back again? “No,” you say, as a Christian man: “I was becoming arrogant, and I think that is why the Lord took it away. I don’t want to have my property back.” Well, would you have your departed friends back again? “No,” you say: “I couldn’t take the responsibility of bringing them from a tearless realm to one of tears. I couldn’t do it.” Well, then, what do you want? A thousand voices in the audience cry out: “Comfort, give us comfort.” For that reason I have rolled away the stone from the well’s mouth. Come, all ye wounded of the flock, pursued of the wolves, come to the fountain where the Lord’s sick and bereft ones have come. I gather all the promises to-day in a group, and I ask the shepherds to drive their flocks of lambs and sheep up to the sparkling supply. “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth.”, “Though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion.” “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Oh, what a great flock of sheep God will gather around the celestial well. No stone on the well’s mouth, while the Shepherd waters the sheep. (Dr. Talmage.)
Jacob served seven years for Rachel
Jacob’s lowly estate
1. He is obliged to accept a position of servitude.
2. He is obliged to prostitute the most sacred affections by consenting to a mercenary bargain.
II. ITS CONSOLATION (Genesis 29:20). Love lightens and cheers every task of labour and endurance. A week of years was like a week of days to him. Coleridge says, “No man could be a bad man who loved as Jacob loved Rachel.”
III. ITS LESSONS FOR HIS POSTERITY. Israel was destined to rise to eminence and power amongst the family of nations. But it was necessary for that people to be reminded of the lowly estate of their forefather. When the Israelite presented his basket of first fruits before the Lord, he was instructed to confess, “A Syrian ready to perish was my father” Deuteronomy 26:5). The nation was thus taught that all its greatness and prosperity were not due to natural endowments and industry, but to the electing love of God. The strength of His grace was made perfect in weakness. (T. H. Leale.)
1. His agreement with Laban.
(2) Laban’s dishonesty in the non-fulfilment of his agreement.
2. In this servitude of Jacob, we find the principle of inevitable retribution. He had deceived his father, and here in his turn he was overreached. Leah deceived her husband, and in consequence lost his affection. Here both deceivers were justly punished. O my beloved brethren, be sure, be sure, be sure, your sin will find you out.
3. We have here, lastly, the principle of compensation; Leah lost her husband’s affections, but she was blessed in her family (Genesis 29:31). Here we have punishment tempered with mercy. This is what the Cross has done for us; it prevents penalty from being simply penalty; it leaves us not alone to punishment, but mingles all with blessing and forgiveness. Through it life has its bright as well as its dark side. (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
The education of home
I. THE FOUR CONDITIONS OF A TRUE HOME.
1. There must be a supreme affection (Genesis 29:18). No two should marry unless each feels that life without the other would be incomplete.
2. Corinthians 6:14, 15). A mixed marriage is a prolific source of misery. The ungodly partner despises the Christian for marrying in the teeth of principle. The Christian is disappointed because the apparent influence gained before marriage is dissipated soon after the knot is irrevocably tied.
3. A true home should be based on the good will of parents and friends Genesis 28:1-5).
4. There should be some prospect of suitable livelihood.
II. THE EXPULSIVE POWER OF SUPREME AFFECTION (Genesis 28:20). Love’s labour is always light. (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
1. No sin against our bodies, or against the trust which man should repose in man or God, goes altogether unpunished.
2. Changes in life are steps in our education by God.
3. God deals with all parts of human dispositions.
4. Yield yourselves unto God.
5. Expect difficulties in your way to do right. (D. G. Watt, M. A.)
The years of exile and servitude
I. THE ERRORS OF THE YEARS OF SERVITUDE.
II. ITS TRIALS.
III. ITS BLESSINGS. (T. S. Dickson.)
1. Honest, gracious souls dare not be idle when they do but visit friends. Jacob.
2. Laborious men in God’s fear will want no hirers; Laban looks after such a servant.
3. Labans are first motioners for Jacobs; the covetous masters for honest servants.
4. The most unrighteous men may grant principles of equity which they never mean to practice. So Laban.
5. The faithful servant and labourer is worthy of his due reward. A brother servant that is faithful is worthy of any wages reasonably to be expected (Genesis 29:15). (G. Hughes, B. D.)
The purchase of a wife
As Jacob possessed no property, and could not, therefore, buy his wife, he paid for her by seven years of service. But was this indeed so degrading as it has, by almost general consent, been denounced to be? It is alleged that, as the wife is, in the East, regarded only as a kind of slave, first subordinate to the father, and then to the husband, she was, like the slave, acquired by purchase, and for almost exactly the same price. Such certainly was and is the case among many uncivilized tribes. But does the purchase not admit of another construction? Among some nations, the marriage-price is distinctly regarded as a compensation due to the parents for the trouble and expense incurred by the education of the daughter. From this view there is but one step to the notion that the parents deserve the gratitude of the man to whom they give their child; and the Hebrews, who assigned to the women a position eminently high and honourable, who regarded the wife as an integral part of the husband, and as the indispensable condition of his happiness, and among whom it was a proverbial adage, that “an excellent wife is far more precious than riches”--the Hebrews bought their wives as a treasure and the most valuable possession. It may be seriously asked whether such a purchase was, in principle, not more dignified than the custom according to which the wife buys, as it were, a husband by her dowry, and in consequence of which the daughters of poor parents are in a very precarious position, while, in the East, daughters are at least no burden on their fathers. In practice, that custom is certainly liable to considerable abuses; heartless or avaricious parents, without consulting the inclination of their daughters, may sell them to those who bid the highest price; but scarcely any principle, however lofty, is safe against abuse; besides, it was a law among most tribes, that the daughter’s consent must first be obtained; and it was a custom among some, that the money received by the parents should be applied for the benefit of the bride or the young couple. But suppose even that the manner of courting and acquiring the wife was not in every respect noble and delicate among the Hebrews, it certainly did not affect the relative position of husband and wife; the one was no master, the other no slave; the usual customs could, therefore, safely be retained, as long as they did not endanger the beautiful principles which guaranteed the dignity of the other sex. (M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
Serving for a bride
It is related that a rich saddler, whose daughter was afterwards married to Dunk, the celebrated Earl of Halifax, ordered in his will that she should lose the whole of her fortune if she did not marry a saddler. The young Earl of Halifax, in order to win the bride, served an apprenticeship of seven years to a saddler, and afterwards bound himself to the rich saddler’s daughter for life.
He took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him
Laban’s fraud on Jacob
THE CHARACTER OF THE FRAUD.
II. THE FRAUD CONSIDERED AS A RETRIBUTION. There are sins which in this world are often punished in kind. (T. H. Leale.)
1. The day revealeth that evil usually which the night covereth, sin may hide itself a little while till the morning.
2. Seeming Rachel over night is found Leah in the morning. Fair offers to be deceits.
3. Honest souls, though drawn into error, are full of indignation against it, and the cursors of it when discovered.
4. Plain covenant work is sufficient to convince deceivers that forsake 2:5. Service for Rachel should have Rachel for its reward.
6. It is gross falsehood and deceit to deny covenant reward, and adulterate it with worse (Genesis 2:25). (G. Hughes, B. D.)
This discloses a baseness in Laban’s character, arousing contempt and aversion; but it ought not to blind us against the redeeming qualities of his heart. In the human mind, fragrant flowers often blossom surprisingly by the side of noxious weeds. The deceit of Laban was practicable, on account of the custom by which the bride is, on the day of marriage, conducted veiled to her future husband. (M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
Evil result of Laban’s fraud
But the fraud of Laban was not only a moral offence in itself; it was the more deplorable, as it destroyed the principle of monogamy to which the patriarchs on the whole adhered. Jacob had intended to marry Rachel alone; and when he found himself, against his will, allied with Leah, his heart could not renounce her from whom he expected the best part of his happiness; he took her to wife besides Leah; nor was he permitted to dismiss the latter after the solemnization of the marriage. (M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
He loved also Rachel more than Leah
Leah and Rachel: their trims and compensations
THEIR TRIALS. Leah was “hated “ (Genesis 29:31), i.e., she was loved less than Rachel By becoming a party to a heartless fraud she lost her husband’s affections. And Rachel, the beloved wife, was denied the blessing of children, so coveted by the ancient Hebrew mothers (Genesis 29:31). Both had trials, though of a different kind.
II. THEIR COMPENSATIONS. Leah was blessed with children, which compensated her for the loss of her husband’s love. The names of the four sons successively born to her were all significant, and betoken that pious habit of mind which recognized the hand of God in all that befel her. She called the first-born, Reuben (Hebrews) “see ye a son.” The second, Simeon (Hebrews) “hearing,” for God had heard her prayer and seen her affliction. The third was named Levi (Hebrews) “joined.” Now, surely, would the breach be healed and the husband and wife joined together by this threefold cord. The fourth she called Judah (Hebrews) “praise,” as if recording her thankfulness that she had won the affections of her husband by bearing to him so many sons. Rachel, on the other hand, continued barren. But she was compensated by her beauty, and by the thought that she was first in her husband’s affections. Thus with the evils which fall to the lot of individuals, there are compensations. (T. H. Leale.)
1. God doth not see as men, not as good men see sometimes in accepting persons.
2. God’s providence may be regardful of them who are neglected by men.
3. Undervalued and hated mercies may, under God’s ordering, prove most fruitful to men.
4. The most regarded by men may be disrespected upon some accounts with God.
5. The most lovely mercies in man’s eye may prove barren and unfruitful to him (Genesis 29:31), (G. Hughes, B. D.)
Worth better than beauty
The cultivation of the beautiful is, indeed, the first step towards civilization; but it is no more than a means of education; it has accomplished its purpose when it has contributed to awaken the interest for thought and truth; the Greeks were an element in the development of mankind; but their mission ceased when they had opened the minds of men for the reception of abstract ideas; and the sentence which a Greek sage wrote over his door: “nothing ugly must enter,” was to be superseded by the Biblical maxim: “deceitful is gracefulness, and vain is beauty; a woman who feareth the Lord, she alone deserveth praise” Proverbs 31:30). While the first woman was merely “ she who gives life” (Eve); the daughter of Lamech, seven generations later, was the “beautiful” (Naamah); this was certainly a progress; but many centuries were required to elapse before men ceased to regard beauty both as the test of worth, and a proof of special Divine favour. To contribute towards this important lesson is the end of this portion; for, “when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren”; by the same act He taught Jacob wisdom, and procured justice to Leah. The latter was clearly aware of this turning-point in her life; for when she gave birth to a son, she exclaimed: “Surely, the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” Nor does she seem to have been unworthy of being blessed with offspring; the love of her husband was the sole object of her thoughts and feelings. (M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
──《The Biblical Illustrator》