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Genesis 29

29
1And Jacob lifteth up his feet, and goeth towards the land of the sons of the east;
2and he looketh, and lo, a well in the field, and lo, there three droves of a flock crouching by it, for from that well they water the droves, and the great stone [is] on the mouth of the well.
3(When thither have all the droves been gathered, and they have rolled the stone from off the mouth of the well, and have watered the flock, then they have turned back the stone on the mouth of the well to its place.)
4And Jacob saith to them, ‘My brethren, from whence [are] ye?’ and they say, ‘We [are] from Haran.’
5And he saith to them, ‘Have ye known Laban, son of Nahor?’ and they say, ‘We have known.’
6And he saith to them, ‘Hath he peace?’ and they say, ‘Peace; and lo, Rachel his daughter is coming with the flock.’
7And he saith, ‘Lo, the day [is] still great, [it is] not time for the cattle to be gathered; water ye the flock, and go, delight yourselves.’
8And they say, ‘We are not able, till that all the droves be gathered together, and they have rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, and we have watered the flock.’
9He is yet speaking with them, and Rachel hath come with the flock which her father hath, for she [is] shepherdess;
10and it cometh to pass when Jacob hath seen Rachel, daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the flock of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob cometh nigh and rolleth the stone from off the mouth of the well, and watereth the flock of Laban his mother's brother.
11And Jacob kisseth Rachel, and lifteth up his voice, and weepeth,
12and Jacob declareth to Rachel that he [is] her father's brother, and that he [is] Rebekah's son, and she runneth and declareth to her father.
13And it cometh to pass, when Laban heareth the report of Jacob his sister's son, that he runneth to meet him, and embraceth him, and kisseth him, and bringeth him in unto his house; and he recounteth to Laban all these things,
14and Laban saith to him, ‘Only my bone and my flesh [art] thou;’ and he dwelleth with him a month of days.
15And Laban saith to Jacob, ‘Is it because thou [art] my brother that thou hast served me for nought? declare to me what [is] thy hire.’
16And Laban hath two daughters, the name of the elder [is] Leah, and the name of the younger Rachel,
17and the eyes of Leah [are] tender, and Rachel hath been fair of form and fair of appearance.
18And Jacob loveth Rachel, and saith, ‘I serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter:’
19and Laban saith, ‘It is better for me to give her to thee than to give her to another man; dwell with me;’
20and Jacob serveth for Rachel seven years; and they are in his eyes as some days, because of his loving her.
21And Jacob saith unto Laban, ‘Give up my wife, for my days have been fulfilled, and I go in unto her;’
22and Laban gathereth all the men of the place, and maketh a banquet.
23And it cometh to pass in the evening, that he taketh Leah, his daughter, and bringeth her in unto him, and he goeth in unto her;
24and Laban giveth to her Zilpah, his maid-servant, to Leah his daughter, a maidservant.
25And it cometh to pass in the morning, that lo, it [is] Leah; and he saith unto Laban, ‘What [is] this thou hast done to me? for Rachel have I not served with thee? and why hast thou deceived me?’
26And Laban saith, ‘It is not done so in our place, to give the younger before the firstborn;
27fulfil the week of this one, and we give to thee also this one, for the service which thou dost serve with me yet seven other years.’
28And Jacob doth so, and fulfilleth the week of this one, and he giveth to him Rachel his daughter, to him for a wife;
29and Laban giveth to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his maid-servant, for a maid-servant to her.
30And he goeth in also unto Rachel, and he also loveth Rachel more than Leah; and he serveth with him yet seven other years.
31And Jehovah seeth that Leah [is] the hated one, and He openeth her womb, and Rachel [is] barren;
32and Leah conceiveth, and beareth a son, and calleth his name Reuben, for she said, ‘Because Jehovah hath looked on mine affliction; because now doth my husband love me.’
33And she conceiveth again, and beareth a son, and saith, ‘Because Jehovah hath heard that I [am] the hated one, He also giveth to me even this [one];’ and she calleth his name Simeon.
34And she conceiveth again, and beareth a son, and saith, ‘Now [is] the time, my husband is joined unto me, because I have born to him three sons,’ therefore hath [one] called his name Levi.
35And she conceiveth again, and beareth a son, and saith this time, ‘I praise Jehovah;’ therefore hath she called his name Judah; and she ceaseth from bearing.
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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.