Exit Parallel Mode
 

Genesis 29

29
Arrival in Haran.#Jacob’s arrival in Haran. The sight of Rachel inspires Jacob to the superhuman feat of rolling back the enormous stone by himself. The scene evokes the meeting of Abraham’s steward and Jacob’s mother Rebekah at a well (24:11–27).The verse begins the story of Jacob’s time in Mesopotamia (29:1–31:54), which is framed on either side by Jacob’s time in Canaan, 25:19–28:22 and 32:1–36:43. In these chapters, Jacob suffers Laban’s duplicity as Esau had to suffer his, though eventually Jacob outwits Laban and leaves Mesopotamia a wealthy man. An elaborate chiastic (or envelope) structure shapes the diverse material: (A) Jacob’s arrival in Haran in 29:1–4; (B) contract with Laban in 29:15–20; (C) Laban’s deception of Jacob in 29:21–30; (D) the center, the birth of Jacob’s children in 29:31–30:24; (C′) Jacob’s deception of Laban in 30:25–43; (B′) dispute with Laban in 31:17–42; (A′) departure from Laban in 31:43–54. As the chiasm reverses, so do the fortunes of Laban and Jacob. Kedemites: see note on 25:6. 1#Wis 10:10. After Jacob resumed his journey, he came to the land of the Kedemites. 2Looking about, he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep huddled near it, for flocks were watered from that well. A large stone covered the mouth of the well.#Gn 24:11–12. 3When all the shepherds were assembled there they would roll the stone away from the mouth of the well and water the sheep. Then they would put the stone back again in its place over the mouth of the well.
4Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We are from Haran,” they replied. 5Then he asked them, “Do you know Laban, son of Nahor?” “We do,” they answered.#Tb 7:4. 6He inquired further, “Is he well?” “He is,” they answered; “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” 7Then he said: “There is still much daylight left; it is hardly the time to bring the animals home. Water the sheep, and then continue pasturing them.” 8They replied, “We cannot until all the shepherds are here to roll the stone away from the mouth of the well; then can we water the flocks.”
9While he was still talking with them, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep, for she was the one who tended them. 10As soon as Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of Laban, he went up, rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well, and watered Laban’s sheep. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. 12Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s relative, Rebekah’s son. So she ran to tell her father. 13When Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him. After embracing and kissing him, he brought him to his house. Jacob then repeated to Laban all these things, 14and Laban said to him, “You are indeed my bone and my flesh.”#Bone and…flesh: the Hebrew idiom for English “flesh and blood” (cf. 2:23; Jgs 9:2; 2 Sm 5:1 = 1 Chr 11:1).
Marriage to Leah and Rachel. After Jacob had stayed with him a full month, 15#Laban’s deception and Jacob’s marriages. There are many ironies in the passage. Jacob’s protest to Laban, “How could you do this to me?” echoes the question put to Abraham (20:9) and Isaac (26:10) when their deceptions about their wives were discovered. The major irony is that Jacob, the deceiver of his father and brother about the blessing (chap. 27), is deceived by his uncle (standing in for the father) about his wife. Laban said to him: “Should you serve me for nothing just because you are a relative of mine? Tell me what your wages should be.” 16Now Laban had two daughters; the older was called Leah, the younger Rachel. 17Leah had dull eyes,#Dull eyes: in the language of beauty used here, “dull” probably means lacking in the luster that was the sign of beautiful eyes, as in 1 Sm 16:12 and Sg 4:1. but Rachel was shapely and beautiful. 18Because Jacob loved Rachel, he answered, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”#Jacob offers to render service (Jos 15:16–17; 1 Sm 17:25; 18:17) to pay off the customary bridal price (Ex 22:15–16; Dt 22:29). 19Laban replied, “It is better to give her to you than to another man. Stay with me.” 20So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, yet they seemed to him like a few days because of his love for her.#Hos 12:13.
21Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, that I may consummate my marriage with her, for my term is now completed.” 22So Laban invited all the local inhabitants and gave a banquet. 23At nightfall he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he consummated the marriage with her. 24Laban assigned his maidservant Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her maidservant. 25In the morning, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban: “How could you do this to me! Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why did you deceive me?” 26Laban replied, “It is not the custom in our country to give the younger daughter before the firstborn. 27Finish the bridal week#The bridal week: an ancient wedding lasted for seven days; cf. Jgs 14:12, 17. for this one, and then the other will also be given to you in return for another seven years of service with me.”#Hos 12:13.
28Jacob did so. He finished the bridal week for the one, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. 29Laban assigned his maidservant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. 30Jacob then consummated his marriage with Rachel also, and he loved her more than Leah. Thus he served Laban another seven years.#Dt 21:15–17.
Jacob’s Children.#29:31–30:24] The note of strife, first sounded between Jacob and Esau in chaps. 25–27, continues between the two wives, since Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah (29:30). Jacob’s neglect of Leah moves God to make her fruitful (29:31). Leah’s fertility provokes Rachel. Leah bears Jacob four sons (Reuben, Levi, Simeon, and Judah) and her maidservant Zilpah, two (Gad and Asher). Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah bears two (Dan and Naphtali). After the mandrakes (30:14–17), Leah bears Issachar and Zebulun and a daughter Dinah. Rachel then bears Joseph and, later in the land of Canaan, Benjamin (35:18). 31When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he made her fruitful, while Rachel was barren. 32Leah conceived and bore a son, and she named him Reuben;#Reuben: the literal meaning of the Hebrew name is disputed. One interpretation is re’u ben, “look, a son!”, but here in Genesis (as also with the names of all the other sons of Jacob), it is given a symbolic rather than an etymological interpretation. Name and person were regarded as closely interrelated. The symbolic interpretation of Reuben’s name, according to the Yahwist source, is based on the similar-sounding ra’a be‘onyi, “he saw my misery.” In the Elohist source, the name is explained by the similar-sounding ye’ehabani, “he will love me.” for she said, “It means, ‘The Lord saw my misery; surely now my husband will love me.’”#Gn 49:3. 33She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “It means, ‘The Lord heard that I was unloved,’ and therefore he has given me this one also”; so she named him Simeon.#Simeon: in popular etymology, related to shama‘, “he heard.” 34Again she conceived and bore a son, and she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, since I have now borne him three sons”; that is why she named him Levi.#Levi: related to yillaweh, “he will become attached.” 35Once more she conceived and bore a son, and she said, “This time I will give thanks to the Lord”; therefore she named him Judah.#Judah: related to ’odeh, “I will give thanks, praise.” Then she stopped bearing children.#Mt 1:2; Lk 3:33.
29
Jacob Arrives in Northwest Mesopotamia
1Then Jacob continued his journey. He came to the land of the people of the East. 2He looked and saw a well in the field. Three flocks of sheep were lying nearby, because they drank water from this well. A large stone covered the mouth of the well. 3All the flocks would gather there. The shepherds would roll the stone away from the well and water the sheep. Then they would put the stone back in its place.
4Jacob said to the shepherds there, “My brothers, where are you from?”
They answered, “We are from Haran.”
5Then Jacob asked, “Do you know Laban grandson of Nahor?”
They answered, “We know him.”
6Then Jacob asked, “How is he?”
They answered, “He is well. Look, his daughter Rachel is coming now with his sheep.”
7Jacob said, “But look, it is still the middle part of the day. It is not time for the sheep to be gathered for the night. So give them water and let them go back into the pasture.”
8But they said, “We cannot do that until all the flocks are gathered. Then we will roll away the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep.”
9While Jacob was talking with the shepherds, Rachel came with her father’s sheep. It was her job to take care of the sheep. 10Then Jacob saw Laban’s daughter Rachel and Laban’s sheep. So he went to the well and rolled the stone from its mouth. Then he watered Laban’s sheep. Now Laban was the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s mother. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel and cried. 12He told her that he was from her father’s family. He said that he was the son of Rebekah. So Rachel ran home and told her father.
13When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, Laban ran to meet him. Laban hugged him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban everything that had happened.
14Then Laban said, “You are my own flesh and blood.”
Jacob Is Tricked
So Jacob stayed there a month. 15Then Laban said to Jacob, “You are my relative. But it is not right for you to keep on working for me without pay. What would you like me to pay you?”
16Now Laban had two daughters. The older was Leah, and the younger was Rachel. 17Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was very beautiful. 18Jacob loved Rachel. So he said to Laban, “Let me marry your younger daughter Rachel. If you will, I will work seven years for you.”
19Laban said, “It would be better for her to marry you than someone else. So stay here with me.” 20So Jacob worked for Laban seven years so he could marry Rachel. But they seemed to him like just a few days. This was because he loved Rachel very much.
21After seven years Jacob said to Laban, “Give me Rachel so that I may marry her. The time I promised to work for you is over.”
22So Laban gave a feast for all the people there. 23That evening Laban brought his daughter Leah to Jacob. Jacob and Leah had intimate relations together. 24(Laban gave his slave girl Zilpah to his daughter to be her servant.) 25In the morning Jacob saw that he had had intimate relations with Leah! He said to Laban, “What have you done to me? I worked hard for you so that I could marry Rachel! Why did you trick me?”
26Laban said, “In our country we do not allow the younger daughter to marry before the older daughter. 27But complete the full week of the marriage ceremony with Leah. I will give you Rachel to marry also. But you must serve me another seven years.”
28So Jacob did this and completed the week with Leah. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. 29(Laban gave his slave girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 30So Jacob had intimate relations with Rachel also. And Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Jacob worked for Laban for another seven years.
Jacob’s Family Grows
31The Lord saw that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. So the Lord made it possible for Leah to have children. But Rachel did not have any children. 32Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,# This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “he has seen my troubles.” because she said, “The Lord has seen my troubles. Surely now my husband will love me.”
33Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon.# This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “has heard.” She said, “The Lord has heard that I am not loved. So he gave me this son.”
34Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Levi.# This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “be close to.” Leah said, “Now, surely my husband will be close to me. I have given him three sons.”
35Then Leah gave birth to another son. She named him Judah.# This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “praise.” Leah named him this because she said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Then Leah stopped having children.