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Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 29

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-12

Jacob Meets Rachel

There is a big difference between the search for a bride for Isaac and the way Jacob does it. In the search for Rebekah (Genesis 24:12-2 Chronicles :; Genesis 24:21Genesis 24:26; Genesis 24:27Genesis 24:42-Galatians :; Genesis 24:52Genesis 24:63) prayer takes a large place. We don’t read anything about that here. The servant in Genesis 24 has all the treasures of his lord with him. Jacob has nothing. But just like the servant, the meeting takes place at a well. However, the well is closed here and in Genesis 24 it is not. And while the servant goes directly back with Rebekah, Jacob abides in the foreign land for a total of twenty years.

Jacob comes to a well on his journey to his mother’s land. Three herds are stationed there. On the well is a large stone. It is difficult to dilate it alone, therefore several shepherds are needed. That’s why the shepherds wait with their flocks at the well until they’re all there and then take the stone from the well together. When the cattle have drunk, the stone is put back.

Jacob asks the shepherds if they know Laban. Through the affirmative answer Jacob knows that he is on the right way. Then he asks if Laban is doing well. The answer is also affirmative. At the same time, the shepherds add that they see Rachel, Laban’s daughter, coming with her flock. Rachel is a shepherdess. Then Jacob proposes that they water their cattle and that they can go. Then, as the background to his proposal seems to be, he can stay with Rachel alone. The agreement between the shepherds, however, is that they wait for each other to remove the stone together, after which they can water the sheep.

Meanwhile, Rachel has come to the well. When Jacob sees her, it gives him so much power that he takes away the stone on his own. He also makes sure that the sheep of Laban are watered. In Jacob the shepherd reveals himself. This is a sign that he is the man with whom God is going to get His way.

God goes with him, although he is not yet going with God. The school he has to go through is a school that we also have to go through. God is the God of Jacob for a very good reason. God is busy forming this Jacob. Jacob is a picture of a believer who, through the discipline of God, will increasingly respond to God’s intention with him.

Verses 13-20

Jacob Serves Seven Years for Rachel

When Laban hears that Jacob is there, he runs to meet him, greets him warmly and takes him home. It does not seem that this is done out of love for a member of the family, but more out of the self-interest he already showed in Genesis 24 (Genesis 24:29-Obadiah :). Jacob’s stay at Laban confirms this. In Laban’s house Jacob tells him “all these things”, which most likely means that he tells what happened at the well. By this Laban acknowledges him as his family, “my bone and my flesh”.

The way Jacob is treated by Laban says a lot about Laban. When Jacob has served with him for a month and he has seen what a valuable force Jacob is, he proposes to Jacob, under the guise of justice and fairness, to work for him in return for payment. He also appeals to the family feeling. He may know what Jacob’s heart is all about, and may skillfully respond to it.

Jacob’s love for Rachel makes sure that he likes to work for her for seven years. The prophet Hosea reminds God’s people of this service (Hosea 12:12). First Hosea says that Jacob, because he acted like Jacob, had to flee like Jacob. But then Hosea talks about Israel and does so in connection with his serving for a wife. There we see Jacob’s faith and faithfulness come to the fore and then he is called ‘Israel’. Israel means ‘prince of God’ or ‘warrior of God’ (Genesis 32:28).

The way Jacob serves to marry Rachel has been a faithful service. Later, when he fled from Laban and was overtaken by him, he can testify of it. In so doing he gives God the honor (Genesis 31:41-Luke :). There he acts and speaks like Israel. Hosea wants to speak to the people of God with this example, that they may repent and serve the LORD faithfully again. In this respect the faithful service of Jacob is also an example for us.

In this he is a weak picture of the Lord Jesus, Who also worked for the acquisition of His bride. If our love for the Lord Jesus is as great as Jacob’s love for Rachel, it will not be difficult for us to serve Him.

Verses 21-26

Jacob Cheated

After Jacob has served for seven years, he asks for the wife for whom he has worked all this time. Laban makes it an official affair. He invites guests and prepares a meal. The wedding is a public affair (Genesis 29:22). That’s how it should be. Only then does Jacob go in to his bride. That is the right order.

But Laban cheats Jacob. Instead of Rachel he brings Leah to Jacob. The next morning Jacob notices the deceit. Laban’s deception takes place in the darkness, just as Jacob deceived his father in the darkness of the tent (Genesis 27:19-Jeremiah :). Here we see Jacob reaping on his way what he sowed (Galatians 6:7). Jacob also took the birthright from Esau with tricks. Here he is cheated in connection with the firstborn Leah.

Laban’s defense against what is customary in Haran is insincere. If it were so, he would have had to make Jacob familiar with it before. Laban is also prepared to use both his daughters in the pursuit of his own interests. He takes no account at all of the fact that he also incites a violation of God’s decree that a man may have only one wife.

Jacob does not take this into account either. He goes to work for a second wife. The resulting misery in his family is clearly evident from the description of his future life. The transgression of God’s statutes always brings misery. The fact that God uses all this to carry out His plan proves that His plan is based on grace and therefore is fulfilled.

Verses 27-30

Seven Years Extra Service for Rachel

Laban is willing to give Rachel to Jacob as well, but then he has to serve him for another seven years. Jacob agrees. As far as Jacob’s own responsibility is concerned, it has not been good to work for Rachel. His father’s command is to take a wife (Genesis 28:2) and not several wives. That is not God’s will either. It is of a different order that God’s counsel is fulfilled in this.

This convergence of man’s actions and the fulfilment of God’s counsel we often see in Scripture. The fact that the Lord Jesus has been delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23) does not reduce man’s guilt. So it is in the case of Judas, who has betrayed the Lord. It is the same with the fall into sin.

Verses 31-35

The First Children of Leah

The LORD compensates Leah for Jacob’s lack of love for her. God is also the God of compensation. Leah is the first one to have children. The names of the children tell about her experiences.

The first she calls “Reuben”, which means ‘see, a son’. She is full of joy and thankfulness to the LORD. She sees in this boy a proof of the care of the LORD for her. That is good. She now also expects the love of Jacob. She is mistaken in this.

The second child she has, she calls “Simeon”, which means ‘heard’. With this she expresses that she has gone to the LORD with her need and that He has heard her.

The third son she calls “Levi”, which means ‘united’, ‘added’. This expresses her hope that she will now have won Jacob’s affection and that he will unite with her. She desires, as many women also desire, that the union should not be limited to a physical one, but that Jacob will now really attach himself to her, that he will show her that she really belongs to him.

In the name of the fourth son which she conceives, whom she calls “Judah”, she turns only to the LORD. Disappointed in men, in her husband, she knows that her strength is in the LORD. She will praise Him. That is what ‘Judah’ means: ‘He will be praised.’

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 29". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/genesis-29.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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