Design By Humans

Genesis 29. The Price of Two Wives.

Genesis 29.

1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.

    OK, How far east?

2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth.

    Jacob observes a covered well that appears to be used for watering three flocks of sheep.

3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place.

    I'm guessing there are shepherds present as otherwise the suggestion is that the sheep are removing and replacing the stone.

4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we.

    The herdsmen are from Abraham's tribe, this should be beneficial to Jacob, he may find a wife among their people.

5 And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him.

    They also know of his uncle...

6 And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.

    ...who has a daughter, that they introduce to him. I see a wedding on the horizon!

7 And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them.

    He asks them to go about their business...

8 And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep.

    ...but alas they can not for they have to wait for the stone to be rolled aside. Who rolls the stone aside if not the herdsmen? Who are the 'they' that they speak of? Can it be the sheep?

9 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them.

    Rachel is a shepherd.

10 And it came to pass, 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.

    Hmm. shouldn't Jacob have waited for the 'they' to roll back the stone?

11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.

    He's a bit forward isn't he? Did she invite him to kiss her? does it matter to him what she thinks? Why does he weep?

12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father.

    So he kissed her before introducing himself? Where I come from that's considered a little impolite but alright, let's go with it and see where it leads us.

13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things.

    Oh, perhaps the kiss that Jacob gave to Rachel was not a romantic kiss. It may be that my stuffy British approach didn't allow me to entertain the possibility that this kiss was but a mere greeting in the European style. In this style then Laban greets and kisses Jacob, I guess at least he knew who he was before kissing him.

14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.

    As is the way with house guests, a planned stay of a few days has turned into a month.

15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?
    During his stay it appears that Jacob helped out with the day-to-day work as is reasonable for a guest. Laban offers him pay. Will he take it, let's see.

16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.

    Oh. I see where this is going.

17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.


18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.

    Jacob plans to buy Rachel for seven years work. He seems to have missed a trick here, since Esau is Jacob's servant, as decreed by his blessing, could he not have has Esau work off the seven years and gain Rachel as a bride for zero effort?

19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.

    That's right Laban. Keep her in the family, you don't want someone you are not related to defiling your daughter. It's a bit of an odd attitude but it seems to work for this in-bred tribe.

20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

    Isn't that romantic, the price he paid for his wife seemed very little to him compared for the love he had for her.

21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.

    Having finished seven years of pastoral work, Jacob is eager to do some hard ploughing, if you know what I mean.

22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

    So Laban prepares a wedding feast.

23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.

    I smell a deception. Is Jacob so blinded by lust that he doesn't notice that he's hit the wrong target?

24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.

    Nice gesture I guess.

25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?

    Jacob is rightly upset that he has been given the wrong wife, although how he hadn't noticed the night before is a bit of a mystery.

26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.

    Jacob has been had. Laban made an agreement for Rachel but failed to tell Jacob that unless Leah was married off first that the bargain could not be completed according to the local customs.

27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.

    Laban is a reasonable man. If Jacob stays with Leah for the week long honeymoon period then in return for a further seven years work, Jacob can have Rachel too. Laban drives a hard bargain.

28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.

    Now Jacob has two wives, who are sisters. Is this normal among this tribe?

29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.

    So Laban has lightened his household by four women in return for fourteen years of labour.

30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.

    Oh dear, favouritism between your wives can not be the foundation of a happy home.

31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

    The LORD has a funny sense of humour, or does he? why is the LORD credited for making Rachel barren and Leah fertile? Did he appear and announce the action or was his hand in the matter just assumed?

32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.

    I'm guessing that in order to conceive a son Jacob must have at least been having sex with his hated wife. She can't have been all that hated.

33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.

    And another son? It seems to me that Jacob must have been loving Leah quite regularly.

34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.

    I'm starting to doubt the reasons given for Rachel's lack of children, Jacob is clearly having sex with Leah. I don't doubt that he is also having sex with Rachel, however if he really hated Leah as stated above, the conception of three sons seems a bit of a stretch.

35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.

    My mistake. Make that four sons. My objection still stands.

What have we learned from this.


  • If you work hard for fourteen years you get to marry a pair of sisters, beware however for they will also be your first cousins. To a certain degree that last statement is merely a joke however what this story demonstrates is that women among the tribe of Abraham are still being traded as commodities.
  • We seem to have lost any good dating information, I am unable to reliably say which years Jacob's children were born in.
  • God is credited with both negative and positive action that no-one has any evidence has occurred. The LORD didn't turn up in this chapter in person, extending a trend of him being altogether absent from the narrative. Why are people ascribing every-day, natural and even expected events or circumstances to the LORD, especially when he doesn't turn up to say hello every now and then like he used to?

I wonder if God will make an actual appearance in Genesis 30.

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