MORE FAMILY FEUD
As soon as Laban heard that his nephew Jacob had arrived, he ran out to meet him. He embraced and kissed him and brought him home. When Jacob had told him his story, 14 Laban exclaimed, “You really are my own flesh and blood!”
After Jacob had stayed with Laban for about a month, 15 Laban said to him, “You shouldn’t work for me without pay just because we are relatives. Tell me how much your wages should be.”
16 Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. 17 There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. 18 Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.”
19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.
21 Finally, the time came for him to marry her. “I have fulfilled my agreement,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife so I can marry her.”
22 So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a wedding feast. 23 But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24 (Laban had given Leah a servant, Zilpah, to be her maid.)
25 But when Jacob woke up in the morning—it was Leah! “What have you done to me?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?”
26 “It’s not our custom here to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban replied. 27 “But wait until the bridal week is over, then we’ll give you Rachel, too—provided you promise to work another seven years for me.”
28 So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too. 29 (Laban gave Rachel a servant, Bilhah, to be her maid.) 30 So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years.
In this passage, Jacob meets his Uncle Laban, and his daughters Leah and Rachel. He is smitten by Rachel, who is apparently a knockout, and makes a deal with Laban to work for him for 7 years in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Jacob is so in love with Rachel that those 7 years “seemed to him but a few days.”
Then with dramatic irony, Laban deceives Jacob on his wedding night and tricks him into marrying his oldest daughter, Leah. So Jacob works another seven years to be married to Rachel, too.
So Jacob has two wives, and one is loved much more than the other. What begins to develop between these two sisters is a weird baby-making contest, as if having babies will bring significance to their lives and deepen their husband’s love for them…
When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive. 32 So Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “The Lord has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.”
33 She soon became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon, for she said, “The Lord heard that I was unloved and has given me another son.”
34 Then she became pregnant a third time and gave birth to another son. She named him Levi, for she said, “Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!”
35 Once again Leah became pregnant and gave birth to another son. She named him Judah, for she said, “Now I will praise the Lord!” And then she stopped having children.
30:1 When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. She pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
2 Then Jacob became furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!”
3 Then Rachel told him, “Take my maid, Bilhah, and sleep with her. She will bear children for me, and through her I can have a family, too.” 4 So Rachel gave her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife, and he slept with her. 5 Bilhah became pregnant and presented him with a son. 6 Rachel named him Dan, for she said, “God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son.” 7 Then Bilhah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a second son. 8 Rachel named him Naphtali, for she said, “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!”
9 Meanwhile, Leah realized that she wasn’t getting pregnant anymore, so she took her servant, Zilpah, and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Soon Zilpah presented him with a son. 11 Leah named him Gad, for she said, “How fortunate I am!” 12 Then Zilpah gave Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah named him Asher, for she said, “What joy is mine! Now the other women will celebrate with me.”
14 One day during the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakes growing in a field and brought them to his mother, Leah. Rachel begged Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15 But Leah angrily replied, “Wasn’t it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son’s mandrakes, too?”
Rachel answered, “I will let Jacob sleep with you tonight if you give me some of the mandrakes.”
16 So that evening, as Jacob was coming home from the fields, Leah went out to meet him. “You must come and sleep with me tonight!” she said. “I have paid for you with some mandrakes that my son found.” So that night he slept with Leah. 17 And God answered Leah’s prayers. She became pregnant again and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob. 18 She named him Issachar, for she said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife.” 19 Then Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob. 20 She named him Zebulun, for she said, “God has given me a good reward. Now my husband will treat me with respect, for I have given him six sons.” 21 Later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. “God has removed my disgrace,” she said. 24 And she named him Joseph, for she said, “May the Lord add yet another son to my family.”
To Think About…
It seems like so far in Jacob’s story everyone is most concerned with getting what they want, to the point that they’re willing to even hurt family. All this selfishness has caused a lot of heartache, conflict, and dysfunction.
Can you think of situations where selfishness has been the cause of pain in your life, or your selfishness has caused pain in others’ lives?
The amazing thing about Jacob’s story is that despite all this manipulation and deceit, God does not give up on Jacob but continues to be with him and bless him. And God takes the awfulness of these situations and still makes good come out of them, and still makes His plan come about.
There have probably been times in your life where you have felt like you don’t deserve God in your life. That you have messed up too badly or too many times.
But just like God did not leave Jacob, He’s not going to leave you or me. He can make good come out of the worst situations, and He does have a plan for our lives.