1. Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.
1. Et levavit Iahacob pedes suos, et perrexit ad terram filiorum Orientalium.
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.
2. Et vidit, et ecce puteus erat in agro, ecce quoque ibi tres greges pecudum, qui cubabant juxta illum: qua e puteo ipso potum dabant gregibus, et lapis magnus erat super os putei.
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.
3. Et congregabant se illuc omnes greges, et revolvebant lapidem ab ore putei potumque dabant pecudibus: et restituebant lapidem super os putei in locum suum.
4. And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence (be) ye? And they said, Of Haran (are) we.
4. Dixit ergo ad eos Iahacob, Fratres mei unde estis? Et dixerunt, Novimus.
5. And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know (him).
5. Tunc dixit ad eos, Numquid nostis Laban filium Nachor? Et dixerunt, Novimus.
6. And he said unto them, (Is) he well? And they said, (He is) well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.
6. Et dixit ad eos, Numquid est pax ei? Et dixerunt, Pax: et ecce Rachel filia ejus veniens cum pecudibus.
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).
7. Tunc dixit, Ecce, adhuc dies magnus: non est tempus ut congregetur pecus: potum date pecudibus, et ite, pascite.
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.
8. Qui dixerunt, Non possumus, donec congregentur omnes greges, et revolvant lapidem ab ore putei, et potum demus pecudibus.
9. And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them.
9. Adhuc eo loquente cum eis, Rachel venit cum pecudibus quae erant patris sui: quia ipsa pascebat.
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.
10. Fuit autem quando vidit Iahacob Rachel filiam Laban fratris matris suae, et pecudes Laban fratris matris suae, accessit Iahacob, et revolvit lapidem ab ore putei, et potum dedit pecudibus Laban fratris matris suae.
11. And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.
11. Et osculatus est Iahacob Rachel, qui elevavit vocem suam, et flevit.
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.
12. Et nuntiavit Iahacob ipsi Rachel quod frater patris sui esset, et quod filius Ribcae esset: cucurrit itaque, et nuntiavit patri suo.
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.
13. Et fuit, quum audisset Laban sermonem (vel, nuntium) Iahacob filii sororis suae, cucurrit in occursum ejus, et amplexatus est eum, osculatusque est eum, et deduxit eum ad domum suam, et narravit ipsi Laban omnia haec.
14. And Laban said to him, Surely thou (art) my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.
14. Tunc dixit ei Laban, Profecto os meum et caro mea es. Et habitavit cum eo mensem integrum.
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)?
15. Dixit autem Laban ad Iahacob, Num quoniam frater meus es, servies mihi gratis? indica mihi quae sit merces tua.
16. And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder (was) Leah, and the name of the younger (was) Rachel.
16. Et Laban erant duae filiae: nomen majoris, Leah, et nomen minoris Rachel.
17. Leah (was) tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favored.
17. Oculi autem Leah erant teneri: at Rachel erat pulchra forma, et pulchra aspectu.
18. And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
18. Dilexit itaque Iahacob Rachel: et dixit, Serviam tibi septem annos pro Rachel filia tua minore.
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.
19. Tunc dixit Laban, Melius est ut dem eam tibi, quam dem eam viro alteri: mane mecum.
20. And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him (but) a few days, for the love he had to her.
20. Servivit itaque Iahacob pro Rachel septem annos; et fuerunt in oculis ejus sicut dies pauci, eo quod diligeret eam.
21. And Jacob said unto Laban, Give (me) my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.
21. Postea dixit Iahacob ad Laban, Da uxorem meam: quia completi sunt dies mei, ut ingrediar ad eam.
22. And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
22. Et congregavit Laban omnes viros loci, et fecit convivium.
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.
23. Fuit autem vesperi, in vespera accepit Leah filiam suam, et adduxit eam ad illum, et ingressus est ad eam.
24. And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid (for) an handmaid.
24. Et dedit Laban ei Zilpah ancillam suam, Leah filiae suae ancillam.
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?
25. Et fuit mane, et ecce erat Leah, et dixit ad Laban, Quid hoc fecisti mihi? numquid non pro Rachel servivi tibi? et utquid decepisti me?
26. And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.
26. Tunc dixit Laban, Non fit ita in loco nostro, ut detur minor ante primogenitam.
27. Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
27. Comple hebdomadem hujus, et dabimus tibi etiam hanc pro servitute, quam servies mihi adhuc septem annos alios.
28. And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
28. Fecit ergo Iahacob sic, et complevit hebdomadem illius, et dedit ei Rachel filiam suam in uxorem.
29. And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.
29. Et dedit Laban Rachel filiae suae Bilhah ancillam suam in ancillam.
30. And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
30. Et ingressus est etiam ad Rachel: et dilexit etiam Rachel magis quam Leah: servivitque ei adhuc septem annos alios.
31. And when the LORD saw that Leah (was) hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel (was) barren.
31. Vidit autem Iehova quod exosa esset Leah, et aperuit vulvam ejus, et Rachel erat sterilis.
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.
32. Et concepit Leah, et peperit filium, vocavitque nomen ejus Reuben: quia dixit, Nempe vidit Iehova afflictionem meam: nunc enim diliget me vir meus.
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.
33. Et concepit adhuc, et peperit filium, et dixit, Quia audivit Iehova quod exosa essem, dedit mihi etiam hunc. Et vocavit nomen ejus Simeon.
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.
34. Et concepit adhuc, et peperit filium, et dixit, Nunc vice hac copulabitur vir meus mihi, quia peperi ei tres filios. Idcirco vocavit nomen ejus Levi.
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.
35. Et concepit adhuc, et peperit filium, et dixit, Vice hac confitebor Iehovae. Idcirco vocavit nomen ejus Iehudah: et destitit a pariendo.
1. Then Jacob went on his journey. 1 Moses now relates the arrival of Jacob in Mesopotamia, and the manner in which he was received by his uncle; and although the narration may seem superfluous, it yet contains nothing but what is useful to be known; for he commends the extraordinary strength of Jacob's faith, when he says, that he lifted up his feet to come into an unknown land. Again, he would have us to consider the providence of God, which caused Jacob to fall in with the shepherds, by whom he was conducted to the home he sought; for this did not happen accidentally, but he was guided by the hidden hand of God to that place; and the shepherds, who were to instruct and confirm him respecting all things, were brought thither at the same time. Therefore, whenever we may wander in uncertainty through intricate windings, we must contemplate, with eyes of faith, the secret providence of God which governs us and our affairs, and leads us to unexpected results.
4. My brethren, whence be ye? The great frankness of that age appears in this manner of meeting together; for, though the fraternal name is often abused by dishonest and wicked men, it is yet not to be doubted that friendly intercourse was then more faithfully cultivated than it is now. This was the reason why Jacob salutes unknown men as brethren, undoubtedly according to received custom. Frugality also is apparent, in that Rachel sometimes pays attention to the flock; for, since Laban abounds with servants, how does it happen that he employs his own daughter in a vile and sordid service, except that it was deemed disgraceful to educate children in idleness, softness, and indulgence? Whereas, on the contrary, at this day, since ambition, pride, and refinement, have rendered manners effeminate, the care of domestic concerns is held in such contempt, that women, for the most part, are ashamed of their proper office. It followed, from the same purity of manners which has been mentioned, that Jacob ventured so unceremoniously to kiss his cousin; for much greater liberty was allowed in their chaste and modest mode of living. 2 In our times, impurity and ungovernable lusts are the cause why not only kisses are suspected, but even looks are dreaded; and not unjustly, since the world is filled with every kind of corruption, and such perfidy prevails, that the intercourse between men and women is seldom conducted with modesty: 3wherefore, that ancient simplicity ought to cause us deeply to mourn; so that this vile corruption into which the world has fallen may be distasteful to us, and that the contagion of it may not affect us and our families. The order of events, however, is inverted in the narration of Moses; for Jacob did not kiss Rachel till he had informed her that he was her relative. Hence also his weeping; for, partly through joy, partly through the memory of his father's house, and through natural affection, he burst into tears.
13. And he told Laban all these things. Since Laban had previously seen one of Abraham's servants replenished with great wealth, an unfavourable opinion of his nephew might instantly enter into his mind: it was therefore necessary for holy Jacob to explain the causes of his own departure, and the reason why he had been sent away so contemptibly clothed. It is also probable that he had been instructed by his mother respecting the signs and marks by which he might convince them of his relationship: therefore Laban exclaims, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh; intimating that he was fully satisfied, and that he was induced by indubitable tokens to acknowledge Jacob as his nephew. This knowledge inclines him to humanity; for the sense of nature dictates that they who are united by ties of blood should endeavor to assist each other; but though the bond between relatives is closer, yet our kindness ought to extend more widely, so that it may diffuse itself through the whole human race. If, however, all the sons of Adam are thus joined together, that spiritual relationship which God produces between the faithful, and than which there is no holier bond of mutual benevolence, ought to be much more effectual.
14. And he abode with him the space of a month. Though Laban did not doubt that Jacob was his nephew by his sister, he nevertheless puts his character to trial during a month, and then treats with him respecting wages. Hence may be inferred the uprightness of the holy man; because he was not idle while with his uncle, but employed himself in honest labors, that he might not in idleness eat another's bread for nothing; hence Laban is compelled to acknowledge that some reward beyond his mere food was due to him. When he says, "Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought?" his meaning may be twofold; either that it would be excessively absurd and unjust to defraud a relation of his due reward, for whom he ought to have greater consideration than for any stranger; or that he was unwilling to exact gratuitous service under the color of relationship. This second exposition is the more suitable, and is received nearly by the consent of all. For they read in one connected sentence, "Because thou art my brother, shalt thou therefore serve me for nought?" Moreover, we must note the end for which Moses relates these things. In the first place, a great principle of equity is set before us in Laban; inasmuch as this sentiment is inherent in almost all minds, that justice ought to be mutually cultivated, till blind cupidity draws them away in another direction. And God has engraven in man's nature a law of equity; so that whoever declines from that rule, through an immoderate desire of private advantage, is left utterly without excuse. But a little while after, when it came to a matter of practice, Laban, forgetful of this equity, thinks only of what may be profitable to himself. Such an example is certainly worthy of notice, for men seldom err in general principles, and therefore, with one mouth, confess that every man ought to receive what is his due but as soon as they descend to their own affairs, perverse self-love blinds them, or at least envelopes them in such clouds that they are carried in an opposite course. Wherefore, let us learn to restrain ourselves, that a desire of our own advantage may not prevail to the sacrifice of justice. And hence has arisen the proverb, that no one is a fit judge in his own cause, because each, being unduly favorable to himself, becomes forgetful of what is right. Wherefore, we must ask God to govern and restrain our affections by a spirit of sound judgment. Laban, in wishing to enter into a covenant, does what tends to avoid contentions and complaints. The ancient saying is known, "We should deal lawfully with our friends, that we may not afterwards be obliged to go to law with them." For, whence arise so many legal broils, except that every one is more liberal towards himself, and more niggardly towards others than he ought to be? Therefore, for the purpose of cherishing concord, firm compacts are necessary, which may prevent injustice on one side or the other.
18. I will serve thee seven years. The iniquity of Laban betrays itself in a moment; for it is a shameful barbarity to give his daughter, by way of reward, in exchange for Jacob's services, making her the subject of a kind of barter. He ought, on the other hand, not only to have assigned a portion to his daughter, but also to have acted more liberally towards his future son-in-law. But under the pretext of affinity, he defrauds him of the reward of his labor, the very thing which he had before acknowledged to be unjust. 4 We therefore perceive still more clearly what I have previously alluded to, that although from their mother's womb men have a general notion of justice, yet as soon as their own advantage presents itself to view, they become actually unjust, unless the Lord reforms them by his Spirit. Moses does not here relate something rare or unusual, but what is of most common occurrence. For though men do not set their daughters to sale, yet the desire of gain hurries the greater part so far away, that they prostitute their honor and sell their souls. Further, it is not altogether to be deemed a fault that Jacob was rather inclined to love Rachel; whether it was that Leah, on account of her tender eyes, was less beautiful, or that she was pleasing only by the comeliness of her eyes, 5 while Rachel excelled her altogether in elegance of form. For we see how naturally a secret kind of affection produces mutual love. Only excess is to be guarded against, and so much the more diligently, because it is difficult so to restrain affections of this kind, that they do not prevail to the stifling of reason. Therefore he who shall be induced to choose a wife, because of the elegance of her form, will not necessarily sin, provided reason always maintains the ascendancy, and holds the wantonness of passion in subjection. Yet perhaps Jacob sinned in being too self-indulgent, when he desired Rachel the younger sister to be given to him, to the injury of the elder; and also, while yielding to the desire of his own eyes, he undervalued the virtues of Leah: for this is a very culpable want of self-government, when any one chooses a wife only for the sake of her beauty, whereas excellence of disposition ought to be deemed of the first importance. But the strength and ardor of his attachment manifests itself in this, that he felt no weariness in the labor of seven years: but chastity was also joined with it, so that he persevered, during this long period, with a patient and quiet mind in the midst of so many labors. And here again the integrity and continence of that age is apparent, because, though dwelling under the same roof, and accustomed to familiar intercourse, Jacob yet conducted himself with modesty, and abstained from all impropriety. Therefore, at the close of the appointed time he said, "Give me my wife, that I may go in unto her," by which he implies that she had been hitherto a pure virgin.
22. And Laban gathered together. Moses does not mean that a supper was prepared for the whole people, but that many guests were invited, as is customary in splendid nuptials; and there is no doubt that he applied himself with the greater earnestness to adorn that feast, for the purpose of holding Jacob bound by a sense of shame, so that he should not dare to depreciate the marriage into which he had been deceived. We hence gather what, at that time, was the religious observance connected with the marriage bed. For this was the occasion of Jacob's deception that, out of regard for the modesty of brides, they were led veiled into the chamber; but now, the ancient discipline being rejected, men become almost brutal.
25. And he said to Laban. Jacob rightly expostulates respecting the fraud practiced upon him. And the answer of Laban, though it is not without a pretext, yet forms no excuse for the fraud. It was not the custom to give the younger daughters in marriage before the elder: and injustice would have been done to the firstborn by disturbing this accustomed order. But he ought not, on that account, craftily to have betrothed Rachel to Jacob, and then to have substituted Leah in her place. He should rather have cautioned Jacob himself, in time, to turn his thoughts to Leah, or else to refrain from marriage with either of them. But we may learn from this, that wicked and deceitful men, when once they have turned aside from truth, make no end of transgressing: meanwhile, they always put forward some pretext for the purpose of freeing themselves from blame. He had before acted unjustly toward his nephew in demanding seven years' labor for his daughter; he had also unjustly set his daughter to sale, without dowry, for the sake of gain; but the most unworthy deed of all was perfidiously to deprive his nephew of his betrothed wife, to pervert the sacred laws of marriage, and to leave nothing safe or sound. Yet we see him pretending that he has an honorable defense for his conduct, because it was not the custom of the country to prefer the younger to the elder.
27. Fulfil her week. Laban now is become callous in wickedness, for he extorts other seven years from his nephew to allow him to marry his other daughter. If he had had ten more daughters, he would have been ready thus to dispose of them all: yea, of his own accord, he obtrudes his daughter as an object of merchandise, thinking nothing of the disgrace of this illicit sale, if only he may make it a source of gain. In this truly he grievously sins, that he not only involves his nephew in polygamy, but pollutes both him and his own daughters by incestuous nuptials. If by any means a wife is not loved by her husband, it is better to repudiate her than that she should be retained as a captive, and consumed with grief by the introduction of a second wife. Therefore the Lord, by Malachi, pronounces divorce to be more tolerable than polygamy. (Malachi 2:14.) Laban, blinded by avarice, so sets his daughters together, that they spend their whole lives in mutual hostility. He also perverts all the laws of nature by casting two sisters into one marriage-bed, 6 so that the one is the competitor of the other. Since Moses sets these crimes before the Israelites in the very commencement of their history, it is not for them to be inflated by the sense of their nobility, so that they should boast of their descent from holy fathers. For, however excellent Jacob might be, he had no other offspring than that which sprung from an impure source; since, contrary to nature, two sisters are mixed together in one bed; 7 in the mode of beasts; and two concubines are afterwards added to the mass. We have seen indeed, above, that this license was too common among oriental nations; but it was not allowable for men, at their own pleasure, to subvert, by a depraved custom, the law of marriage divinely sanctioned from the beginning. Therefore, Laban is, in every way, inexcusable. And although necessity may, in some degree, excuse the fault of Jacob, it cannot altogether absolve him from blame. For he might have dismissed Leah, because she had not been his lawful wife: because the mutual consent of the man and the woman, respecting which mistake is impossible, constitutes marriage. But Jacob reluctantly retains her as his wife, from whom he was released and free, and thus doubles his fault by polygamy, and trebles it by an incestuous marriage. Thus we see that the inordinate love of Rachel, which had been once excited in his mind, was inflamed to such a degree, that he possessed neither moderation nor judgment. With respect to the words made use of, interpreters ascribe to them different meanings. Some refer the demonstrative pronoun to the week; 8 others to Leah, as if it had been said, that he should not have Rachel until he had lived with her sister one week. But I rather explain it of Rachel, that he should purchase a marriage with her by another seven years' service; not that Laban deferred the nuptials to the end of that time, but that Jacob was compelled to engage himself in a new servitude.
30. And he loved also Rachel more than Leah. No doubt Moses intended to exhibit the sins of Jacob, that we might learn to fear, and to conform all our actions to the sole rule of God's word. For if the holy patriarch fell so grievously, who among us is secure from a similar fall, unless kept by the guardian care of God? At the same time, it appears how dangerous it is to imitate the fathers while we neglect the law of the Lord. And yet the foolish Papists so greatly delight themselves in this imitation, that they do not scruple to observe, as a law, whatever they find to have been practiced by the fathers. Besides which, they own as fathers those who are worthy of such sons, so that any raving monk is of more account with them than all the patriarchs. It was not without fault on Leah's part that she was despised by her husband; and the Lord justly chastised her, because she, being aware of her father's fraud, dishonorably obtained possession of her sister's husband; but her fault forms no excuse for Jacob's lust.
31. And when the Lord saw. Moses here shows that Jacob's extravagant love was corrected by the Lord; as the affections of the faithful, when they become inordinate, are wont to be tamed by the rod. Rachel is loved, not without wrong to her sister, to whom due honor is not given. The Lord, therefore, interposes as her vindicator, and, by a suitable remedy, turns the mind of Jacob into that direction, to which it had been most averse. This passage teaches us, that offspring is a special gift of God; since the power of rendering one fertile, and of cursing the womb of the other with barrenness, is expressly ascribed to him. We must observe further, that the bringing forth of offspring tends to conciliate husbands to their wives. Whence also the ancients have called children by the name of pledges; because they avail, in no slight degree, to increase and to cherish mutual love. When Moses asserts that Leah was hated, his meaning is, that she was not loved so much as she ought to have been. For she was not intolerable to Jacob, neither did he pursue her with hatred; but Moses, by the use of this word, amplifies his fault, in not having discharged the duty of a husband, and in not having treated her who was his first wife with adequate kindness and honor. It is of importance carefully to notice this, because many think they fulfill their duty if they do not break out into mortal hatred. But we see that the Holy Spirit pronounces those as hated who are not sufficiently loved; and we know, that men were created for this end, that they should love one another. Therefore, none will be counted guiltless of the crime of hatred before God, but he who embraces his neighbors with love. For not only will a secret displeasure be accounted as hatred, but even that neglect of brethren, and that cold charity which ever reigns in the world. But in proportion as any one is more closely connected with another, must be the endeavor to adhere to each other in a more sacred bond of affection. Moreover, with respect to married persons, though they may not openly disagree, yet if they are cold in their affection towards each other, this disgust is not far removed from hatred.
32. She called his name Reuben. Moses relates that Leah was not ungrateful to God. And truly, I do not doubt, that the benefits of God were then commonly more appreciated than they are now. For a profane stupor so occupies the mind of nearly all men, that, like cattle, they swallow up whatever benefits God, in his kindness, bestows upon them. Further, Leah not only acknowledges God as the author of her fruitfulness; but also assigns as a reason, that her affliction had been looked upon by the Lord, and a son had been given her who should draw the affection of her husband to herself. Whence it appears probable, that when she saw herself despised, she had recourse to prayer, in order that she might receive more succor from heaven. For thanksgiving is a proof that persons have previously exercised themselves in prayer; since they who hope for nothing from God do, by their indolence, bury in oblivion all the favors he has conferred upon them. Therefore, Leah inscribed on the person of her son 9 a memorial whereby she might stir herself up to offer praise to God. This passage also teaches, that they who are unjustly despised by men are regarded by the Lord. Hence it affords a singularly profitable consolation to the faithful; who, as experience shows, are for the most part despised in the world. Whenever, therefore, they are treated harshly and contumeliously by men, let them take refuge in this thought, that God will be the more propitious to them. Leah followed the same course in reference to her second son; for she gave him a name which is derived from "hearing," 10 to recall to her memory that her sighs had been heard by the Lord. Whence we conjecture (as I have just before said) that when affliction was pressing upon her, she cast her griefs into the bosom of God. Her third son she names from "joining;" 11 as if she would say, now a new link is interposed, so that she should be more loved by her husband. In her fourth son, she again declares her piety towards God, for she gives to him the name of "praise," 12 as having been granted to her by the special kindness of God. She had, indeed, previously given thanks to the Lord; but whereas more abundant material for praise is supplied, she acknowledges not once only, nor by one single method, but frequently, that she has been assisted by the favor of God.