Tag Archives: Genesis 29-30

January 10, 2018 Bible Study — Jacob and Laban, Two Peas From One Pod

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 29-30.

    When Jacob arrived in the land where his uncle lived he spoke to some shepherds who were waiting by a well. They were waiting for all of the flocks to arrive before opening the well and starting to water the flocks. When Rachel arrived with Laban’s flocks, Jacob opened the well and watered them. The passage seems to imply that there were still more flocks due to arrive and that Jacob did not want Rachel to wait for them, although it is possible that what it is saying is that Jacob jumped the queue for Rachel and she got to water her flocks sooner than she would have otherwise. I doubt that this is important, but it strikes me every time I read the passage that the writer is telling us something beyond what he is explicitly writing. I just am not sure what that something is.

    Another thing which struck me today is that, after Jacob told Laban his story, Laban said that Jacob was really his own flesh and blood. One can argue about what Laban meant by that statement, or what it was in Jacob’s story that led him to say it, but I believe it is a reference to Jacob buying Esau’s birthright with a bowl of stew and tricking Isaac into giving him the blessing intended for Esau. If I am interpreting this correctly, Jacob was duly warned and should have been more alert for Laban substituting Leah for Rachel. However, I do not believe that Jacob was at all surprised by Laban taking all of the spotted and speckled goats and all of the black sheep out of the flocks he tended before beginning the deal whereby such sheep became Jacob’s. By the time Jacob made that deal I am quite confident he already had a plan whereby most of the newborn sheep and goats would be those which counted as his, even if none of the adults in his care were.

January 10, 2017 Bible Study — Deception and Duplicity

I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.

Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 29-30.

    There are two intertwined stories in this passage. There is Jacob’s complicated, and difficult, marriage to Leah and Rachael (and their maids). Then there is the deception and trickery which occurred between Jacob and his father-in-law, Laban (who was also his uncle). The first story I mentioned actually begins with Laban using trickery to get Jacob to marry Leah. I am not quite sure what Laban’s end game was in this maneuver. Did he do this in order to marry off Leah, for whom he apparently had no other offers? Or did he do this to get seven more years of labor out of Jacob? I am not sure that it matters.

    However, the result of Laban’s deception was that Leah entered into a somewhat loveless marriage where she witnessed her husband express his love to her sister, to whom he was also married. This story was always used when I was growing up as an example of why it was best to be monogamous. Leah and Rachael went back and forth in their competition for Jacob’s affection, potentially making matters worse by bringing their maids into the marriage as well (although, there is no record of this causing further complications, except in competition between the various sons). Could Jacob have done more to calm the conflict in his household? Perhaps, but this is one of the few stories of trouble for Jacob where he was relatively innocent.

    As I said, the previous story started with Laban substituting Leah for Rachael on Jacob’s wedding night. Once Jacob had worked off the bride price for both Leah and Rachael, he and Laban negotiated a new deal for Jacob’s labor. While Jacob almost certainly exaggerated the impact he had on Laban’s wealth, even Laban admitted that Jacob had been good for his bottom line. As part of their new deal, Laban agreed that all of the striped and spotted goats and black sheep in his herds would be Jacob’s (although reading between the lines suggests that this was only to apply to the herds which were managed by Jacob himself). Immediately upon concluding this deal, Laban removed all such animals from the flocks to which it applied. Which demonstrates Laban’s deception and trickery once more. Jacob, on the other hand, did not protest such treatment because he had some tricks of his own. I ma not sure how Jacob’s trick would actually work in real life, certainly, it would not effect the genetics of the animals. However, there are a few studies which suggest that the characteristics in question can be influenced by environmental factors. Ultimately, Laban and Jacob deserved each other.

January 10, 2016 Bible Study

This year I switched from using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible reading to the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net”.

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Today, I am reading and commenting on Genesis 29-30.

    Every time I read this story, I am reminded of the complications which arrive from straying from the monogamous marriage model laid out in the Garden of Eden. Despite the love the three apparently had for each other(Leah and Rachel, as sisters, Jacob for Rachel, as indicated, Jacob for Leah, as the mother of his sons), there was still jealousy and conflict. There is plotting and manipulation and even Jacob gets treated like an object (when Rachel and Leah negotiate between them whose bed he will spend the night in).

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    Another thing we learn from this story is that the ancestors of the Israelites, God’s chosen people, were deceivers and cheaters. They kept the letter of their agreement, but not necessarily the spirit. This is not the first time that Laban attempted to cheat Jacob (after all, that is how Jacob ended up married to both Leah and Rachel), but it does show that that was not just a one off. This story, and yesterday’s, suggests that Laban did not value women. Otherwise, why would he be willing to cheat his son-in-law, who was married to both of his daughters, and was his nephew, in favor of his sons? (I will visit this idea again when we get to Jacob leaving Laban). This stands in contrast to the way in which Abraham and Isaac treated their wives and later how Jacob’s sons reacted to the mistreatment of their sister.
    I do not want to move on from this passage without noting that Jacob cheated his father-in-law right back. It seems probably that Jacob would have done something like this even if Laban had treated him fairly.