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Jacob Meets Rachel


Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the people of the east. 2As he looked, he saw a well in the field and three flocks of sheep lying there beside it; for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, 3and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well, and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well.

4 Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” 5He said to them, “Do you know Laban son of Nahor?” They said, “We do.” 6He said to them, “Is it well with him?” “Yes,” they replied, “and here is his daughter Rachel, coming with the sheep.” 7He said, “Look, it is still broad daylight; it is not time for the animals to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.” 8But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”

9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them. 10Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of his mother’s brother Laban. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud. 12And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son; and she ran and told her father.

13 When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.

Jacob Marries Laban’s Daughters

15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful. 18Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” 22So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. 23But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. 24(Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) 25When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. 27Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” 28Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. 29(Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid.) 30So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He served Laban for another seven years.

31 When the L ord saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. 32Leah conceived and bore a son, and she named him Reuben; for she said, “Because the L ord has looked on my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” 33She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the L ord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also”; and she named him Simeon. 34Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons”; therefore he was named Levi. 35She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the L ord”; therefore she named him Judah; then she ceased bearing.

1. Then Jacob went on his journey6262     Et levavit Iahacob pedes suos And Jacob lifted up his feet. See margin of English Bible. This is a correct translation of the Hebrew ישא רגליו, (yissa reglav.) “The phrase is emphatic, and implies that he traveled on briskly and cheerfully, notwithstanding his age, being refreshed in his spirit by the recent manifestation of the Divine favor.” — Bush. — Ed 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.6363     Nam in vita casta et modesta multo major erat libertas. Car la liberte estoit beaucoup plus grande en leur facon de vivre, chaste et modeste. — Fr. Tr. 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:6464     It is scarcely to be doubted that, notwithstanding Calvin’s sweeping charge, there were many exceptions to this general dissoluteness of manners in his days, as we must thankfully acknowledge there are in our own times, however extensively the evil he reprobates may have prevailed. — Ed. wherefore, 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.

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