Reading 8/341, Genesis 28-30

On the way to his uncle's, Jacob sleeps in Bethel and dreams of God repeating the promise of Abraham and Isaac. He promises to serve God, if he will provide. He wants to marry Rachel, so he works for 7 years, but his uncle switches Leah for Rachel. Jacob marries Rachel too a week later, then works 7 more years. Leah bears 4 sons for Jacob; Rachel’s maid, 2 sons; Leah’s maid, 2 sons; Leah, 2 more sons and a daughter; and then Rachel bears a son. After the 14 years, Jacob works to earn a share of the flocks.
[A] Remember Jacob's prayer. He will pray again at the same spot in 20 years and the difference between the two is profound.
[B] Both Sarah and Rebekah were somewhat underdeveloped characters. Surely they lived full lives, but we only get to see glimpses. We know far more about Leah and Rachel, who are introduced today. These stories will continue for the next few days. Pay careful attention to the words that each woman says after a child is born. The quotes include a word in Hebrew that they will name the child, but they are also deeply profound revelations of these women.
[C] The rivalry between the sisters is the fault of everyone. Laban for trying to be tricky. Leah for going along with what she knew was wrong. Rachel for marrying her sister's husband. Jacob for being (too drunk?) to notice the switch and then again for marrying his wife's sister. We saw a little with Sarah and Hagar, but so much more here, that polygamy is not a good idea.
[D] Jacob does a clever little trick at the end to become rich that we know is not real. Genetics does not work that way. It seems that God made him rich in spite of the trick. How often we think that we have done something when really it was pure grace!

...Genesis...

Isaac called Jacob, blessed him, and commanded him, "You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother's father. Take a wife from there, one of the daughters of Laban, your mother's brother. May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, that you may be a company of peoples, and give the blessing of Abraham to you, to you and to your seed with you, that you may inherit the land where you travel, which God gave to Abraham." Isaac sent Jacob away. He went to Paddan-aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, Rebekah's brother, Jacob's and Esau's mother.

Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram, to get himself a wife there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, "You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan," and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Paddan-aram. Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac, his father. Esau went to Ishmael, and took, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife.

Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place, and stayed there all night because the sun had set. He took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. He dreamed. Behold, a stairway set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. Behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. The land whereon you lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed. Your seed will be as the dust of the earth, and you will spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south. In you and in your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you, and will keep you, wherever you go, and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have told you." Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it." He was afraid, and said, "How dreadful is this place! This is none other than God's house, and this is the gate of heaven."

Jacob rose up early in the morning and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Jacob vowed a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and clothing to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, and the Lord will be my God, then this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, will be God's house. Of all that you will give me, I will surely give the tenth to you."

Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the children of the east. He looked, and behold, a well in the field, and, behold, three flocks of sheep lying there by it. For out of that well they watered the flocks. The stone on the well's mouth was large. There all the flocks were gathered. They rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again on the well's mouth in its place. Jacob said to them, "My brothers, where are you from?" They said, "We are from Haran." He said to them, "Do you know Laban, the son of Nahor?" They said, "We know him." He said to them, "Is it well with him?" They said, "It is well. See, Rachel, his daughter, is coming with the sheep." He said, "Behold, it is still the middle of the day, not time to gather the livestock together. Water the sheep, and go and feed them." They said, "We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered together, and they roll the stone from the well's mouth. Then we water the sheep."

While he was yet speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she kept them. It happened, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban, his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son. She ran and told her father. It happened, when Laban heard the news of Jacob, his sister's son, that he ran to meet Jacob, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things. Laban said to him, Surely you are my bone and my flesh.

He lived with him for a month. Then Laban said to Jacob, "Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what will your wages be?" Laban had two daughters. The name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and attractive. Jacob loved Rachel. He said, "I will serve you seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter." Laban said, "It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me." Jacob served seven years for Rachel. They seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her." Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

It happened in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. Laban gave Zilpah his handmaid to his daughter Leah for a handmaid. It happened in the morning that, behold, it was Leah. He said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?" Laban said, "It is not done so in our place, to give the younger before the firstborn. Fulfill the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you will serve with me another seven years." Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week. Then Laban gave him Rachel his daughter as wife. Laban gave to Rachel, his daughter, Bilhah, his handmaid, to be her handmaid. Jacob also went in to Rachel, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban another seven years.

The Lord saw that Leah was hated, and he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah conceived, and bore a son, and she named him Reuben. For she said, "Because the Lord has looked at my affliction. For now my husband will love me." She conceived again, and bore a son, and said, "Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has therefore given me this son also." She named him Simeon. She conceived again, and bore a son. Said, "Now this time will my husband be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons." Therefore was his name called Levi. She conceived again, and bore a son. She said, "This time I will praise the Lord." Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister. She said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I will die." Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in God's place, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?" She said, "Behold, my maid Bilhah. Go in to her, that she may bear on my knees, and I may obtain children by her." She gave him Bilhah her handmaid as wife, and Jacob went in to her. Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Rachel said, "God has judged me, and has also heard my voice, and has given me a son." Therefore called she his name Dan. Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid, conceived again, and bore Jacob a second son. Rachel said, "With mighty wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed." She named him Naphtali.

When Leah saw that she had finished bearing, she took Zilpah, her handmaid, and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Zilpah, Leah's handmaid, bore Jacob a son. Leah said, "How fortunate!" She named him Gad. Zilpah, Leah's handmaid, bore Jacob a second son. Leah said, "Happy am I, for the daughters will call me happy." She named him Asher.

Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother, Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes." She said to her, "Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you also take away my son's mandrakes?" Rachel said, "Therefore Jacob will lie with you tonight for your son's mandrakes." Jacob came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, "You must come in to me; for I have surely hired you with my son's mandrakes." He lay with her that night. God listened to Leah, and she conceived, and bore Jacob a fifth son. Leah said, "God has given me my pay, because I gave my handmaid to my husband." She named him Issachar. Leah conceived again, and bore a sixth son to Jacob. Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good dowry. Now my husband will live with me, because I have borne him six sons." She named him Zebulun. Afterwards, she bore a daughter, and named her Dinah.

God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. She conceived, bore a son, and said, "God has taken away my reproach." She named him Joseph, saying, "May the Lord add another son to me."

It happened, when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, "Send me away, that I may go to my own place, and to my country. Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go; for you know my service with which I have served you." Laban said to him, "If now I have found favor in your eyes, stay here, for I have divined that the Lord has blessed me for your sake." He said, "Appoint me your wages, and I will give it." He said to him, "You know how I have served you, and how your livestock have fared with me. For you had little before I came, and it has increased to a multitude. The Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. Now when will I provide for my own house?" He said, "What shall I give you?" Jacob said, "You shall not give me anything. If you will do this thing for me, I will again feed your flock and keep it. I will pass through all your flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted one, and every black one among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats. This will be my pay. So my righteousness will answer for me hereafter, when you come concerning my pay that is before you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and black among the sheep, that might be with me, will be counted stolen." Laban said, "Behold, I desire it to be according to your word."

That day, he removed the male goats that were streaked and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons. He set three days' journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks. Jacob got for himself rods of fresh poplar, almond, plane tree, and peeled white streaks in them, making the white appear which was in the rods. He set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks at the troughs, the watering place where the flocks came to drink. They bred when they came to drink. The flocks bred before the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted. Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the streaked and all the black in the flock of Laban, and he put his own droves apart, and did not put them into Laban's flock. It happened, whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the rods before the eyes of the flock in the troughs, that they might breed among the rods; but when the flock were feeble, he did not put them in. So the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's. The man increased exceedingly, and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

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