Yesterday, Jacob had an encounter with God who reaffirmed His covenant with him, like He did with his father, Isaac and his grandfather, Abraham. Jacob arrives at Abraham’s homeland and meets his cousin Rachel. Yes, they were first cousins, but remember, back then, the human race was pure. However, Rachel’s father, his Uncle Laban (his mom’s brother) had other plans.
All this plays out like a mess, but like we’re reminded in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Three chapters are covered here, so I’ll share the important parts and summarize others. I encourage you to read Genesis chapters 29-31 for yourself. Let’s dig in…
Then Jacob hurried on, finally arriving in the land of the east. 2 He saw a well in the distance. Three flocks of sheep and goats lay in an open field beside it, waiting to be watered. But a heavy stone covered the mouth of the well.
3 It was the custom there to wait for all the flocks to arrive before removing the stone and watering the animals. Afterward the stone would be placed back over the mouth of the well. 4 Jacob went over to the shepherds and asked, “Where are you from, my friends?”
“We are from Haran,” they answered.
5 “Do you know a man there named Laban, the grandson of Nahor?” he asked.
“Yes, we do,” they replied.
6 “Is he doing well?” Jacob asked.
“Yes, he’s well,” they answered. “Look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the flock now.”
7 Jacob said, “Look, it’s still broad daylight—too early to round up the animals. Why don’t you water the sheep and goats so they can get back out to pasture?”
8 “We can’t water the animals until all the flocks have arrived,” they replied. “Then the shepherds move the stone from the mouth of the well, and we water all the sheep and goats.”
9 Jacob was still talking with them when Rachel arrived with her father’s flock, for she was a shepherd. 10 And because Rachel was his cousin—the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother—and because the sheep and goats belonged to his uncle Laban, Jacob went over to the well and moved the stone from its mouth and watered his uncle’s flock. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and he wept aloud. 12 He explained to Rachel that he was her cousin on her father’s side—the son of her aunt Rebekah. So Rachel quickly ran and told her father, Laban.
13 As soon as Laban heard that his nephew Jacob had arrived, he ran out to meet him. He embraced and kissed him and brought him home. When Jacob had told him his story, 14 Laban exclaimed, “You really are my own flesh and blood!”Genesis 29:1-14 NLT
After a month of Jacob’s working for Laban, Jacob makes a deal with Laban that he’ll work for him for 7 years and at the end of the 7 years, he can marry Rachel. Now, Rachel was the younger of two sisters and the prettier one. She’s whom Jacob loved. He didn’t really care for the older sister, Leah. However, local custom says that the first born daughter must marry first.
After the 7 years, during the wedding night, Laban tells Leah to go into the marriage tent instead of Rachel. Yes, Laban deceived Jacob. Some might see this as payback for Jacob deceiving his brother Esau of his rightful blessing. In any rate, Jacob makes a deal with Laban that he can marry Rachel after the honeymoon week, but he has to work for him for another 7 years.
Here come the kids…
11 Sons for Jacob
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive. 32 So Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “The Lord has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.”
33 She soon became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon, for she said, “The Lord heard that I was unloved and has given me another son.”
34 Then she became pregnant a third time and gave birth to another son. He was named Levi, for she said, “Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!”
35 Once again Leah became pregnant and gave birth to another son. She named him Judah, for she said, “Now I will praise the Lord!” And then she stopped having children.Genesis 29:31-35 NLT
Here is the start of the 12 tribes of Israel. The descendants of Levi will be the priests and one of Judah’s offspring will be Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
Now, the sibling rivalry starts…
When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. She pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
2 Then Jacob became furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!”
3 Then Rachel told him, “Take my maid, Bilhah, and sleep with her. She will bear children for me, and through her I can have a family, too.” 4 So Rachel gave her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife, and he slept with her. 5 Bilhah became pregnant and presented him with a son. 6 Rachel named him Dan, for she said, “God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son.” 7 Then Bilhah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a second son. 8 Rachel named him Naphtali,for she said, “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!”
9 Meanwhile, Leah realized that she wasn’t getting pregnant anymore, so she took her servant, Zilpah, and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Soon Zilpah presented him with a son. 11 Leah named him Gad, for she said, “How fortunate I am!” 12 Then Zilpah gave Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah named him Asher, for she said, “What joy is mine! Now the other women will celebrate with me.”
14 One day during the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakes growing in a field and brought them to his mother, Leah. Rachel begged Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15 But Leah angrily replied, “Wasn’t it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son’s mandrakes, too?”
Rachel answered, “I will let Jacob sleep with you tonight if you give me some of the mandrakes.”
16 So that evening, as Jacob was coming home from the fields, Leah went out to meet him. “You must come and sleep with me tonight!” she said. “I have paid for you with some mandrakes that my son found.” So that night he slept with Leah. 17 And God answered Leah’s prayers. She became pregnant again and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob. 18 She named him Issachar, for she said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife.” 19 Then Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob. 20 She named him Zebulun, for she said, “God has given me a good reward. Now my husband will treat me with respect, for I have given him six sons.” 21 Later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. “God has removed my disgrace,” she said. 24 And she named him Joseph, for she said, “May the Lord add yet another son to my family.”Genesis 30:1-22 NLT
Yes, I can count: 11 boys and 1 girl. The girl, Dinah, doesn’t get her own tribe. Only the boys do. There’s one more son, yet to be born — Benjamin.
Next, Jacob wants to go home and provide for his own family. He makes a deal with Laban for part of his flock.
31 “What wages do you want?” Laban asked again.
Jacob replied, “Don’t give me anything. Just do this one thing, and I’ll continue to tend and watch over your flocks. 32 Let me inspect your flocks today and remove all the sheep and goats that are speckled or spotted, along with all the black sheep. Give these to me as my wages. 33 In the future, when you check on the animals you have given me as my wages, you’ll see that I have been honest. If you find in my flock any goats without speckles or spots, or any sheep that are not black, you will know that I have stolen them from you.”
34 “All right,” Laban replied. “It will be as you say.” 35 But that very day Laban went out and removed the male goats that were streaked and spotted, all the female goats that were speckled and spotted or had white patches, and all the black sheep. He placed them in the care of his own sons, 36 who took them a three-days’ journey from where Jacob was. Meanwhile, Jacob stayed and cared for the rest of Laban’s flock.
37 Then Jacob took some fresh branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled off strips of bark, making white streaks on them. 38 Then he placed these peeled branches in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, for that was where they mated. 39 And when they mated in front of the white-streaked branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 40 Jacob separated those lambs from Laban’s flock. And at mating time he turned the flock to face Laban’s animals that were streaked or black. This is how he built his own flock instead of increasing Laban’s.
41 Whenever the stronger females were ready to mate, Jacob would place the peeled branches in the watering troughs in front of them. Then they would mate in front of the branches. 42 But he didn’t do this with the weaker ones, so the weaker lambs belonged to Laban, and the stronger ones were Jacob’s. 43 As a result, Jacob became very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, female and male servants, and many camels and donkeys.Genesis 30:31-43 NLT
Laban catches on and God tells Jacob to go back to the Promised Land, that He’ll be with him.
4 So Jacob called Rachel and Leah out to the field where he was watching his flock. 5 He said to them, “I have noticed that your father’s attitude toward me has changed. But the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know how hard I have worked for your father, 7 but he has cheated me, changing my wages ten times. But God has not allowed him to do me any harm. 8 For if he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wages,’ the whole flock began to produce speckled young. And when he changed his mind and said, ‘The striped animals will be your wages,’ then the whole flock produced striped young. 9 In this way, God has taken your father’s animals and given them to me.
10 “One time during the mating season, I had a dream and saw that the male goats mating with the females were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 11 Then in my dream, the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I replied, ‘Yes, here I am.’
12 “The angel said, ‘Look up, and you will see that only the streaked, speckled, and spotted males are mating with the females of your flock. For I have seen how Laban has treated you. 13 I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, the place where you anointed the pillar of stone and made your vow to me. Now get ready and leave this country and return to the land of your birth.’”Genesis 31:4-13 NLT
The sisters were fine with that, since women don’t inherit any of their father’s wealth anyway. So, they sneak off back to Canaan, without telling Laban. But Laban pursues them. See, Rachel stole her father’s household idols and took them with her.
Laban catches up with Jacob in seven days, but God warns him to leave Jacob alone. Nevertheless, Laban wants his household gods back. Jacob doesn’t know what he’s talking about and tells Laban that he could search for them. Rachel hides them in her camel saddle and sits on it. Laban can’t find them.
Jacob then tells him that he’s worked for him for 20 years, but after a discussion, Laban simply asks Jacob to treat his daughters well and Jacob agrees. They make a covenant. The next day, Laban says a proper goodbye to his daughters and grand kids and goes home.
Jesus in Genesis
God keeps His promise and we have the beginnings of a great nation. Deceit continues in the world all the way to the cross where an innocent man who never sinned was betrayed, tried, tortured and killed because of envy and pride. Only God can make a masterpiece from a mess.
Evil (Satan) thought he could win by eliminating Christ, but Jesus defeated death, and by believing in Him, we do, too.
Do you believe?
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)