The plan was simple. Jacob would stay in Haran a few months, find a wife, and then return home to Beersheba. But unbeknownst to him, his stay would encompass 14 long years of labor after being fooled by uncle Laban. (This would not be a funny April Fool’s joke!) 🙂
You may read Genesis 29:1-30 here: Gateway Bible.
Now that Jacob has God’s promised blessing—which he previously strived to gain by his own efforts—Jacob is infused with purpose. After days of travel from Bethel, Jacob finally arrives in Haran. He stumbles across a field where three flocks of sheep lie near a well. He learns from the shepherds that they won’t remove the large stone from the well’s mouth to water their flocks until all the sheep have arrived.
But when Rachel draws near with her father’s flock, Jacob springs to action. Smitten by her beauty, he not only removes the big stone from the well’s mouth, but also plants a kiss on—or near—Rachel’s mouth.
Layman’s Bible Commentary notes: “Most likely, he [Jacob] kisses her on both cheeks, a traditional greeting. However, it is worth adding that this appears to be the only case in the Bible of a man kissing a woman who is not his mother or wife. So it is possible that this was more than just a ‘holy’ kiss.”
Laban Negotiates Wages with Jacob
Jacob is welcomed into the family. Even though Laban owns many sheep, he doesn’t negotiate payment for Jacob’s labor until Jacob has toiled a month for him. But Jacob is quick to respond to his wage inquiry: “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
Verse 17 says, “Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.” Rachel in Hebrew means “ewe lamb,” while Leah (the oldest daughter) means “cow”.
Layman’s Bible Commentary suggests that verse 20 is often misunderstood to mean that time passed quickly for Jacob. “More likely it means that the price seems insignificant when compared to what he is getting in return.”
The Deceiver is Deceived
Finally! Seven years of toil have passed for Jacob. The wedding ceremony has arrived. But when Jacob opens his eyelids the next morning, he is astonished to find Leah next to him.
Jacob is enraged. “Why have you deceived me?”
“It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one.”
How could Laban fool Jacob? Layman’s Commentary notes: “The most likely explanation is that when Laban brings his daughter Leah to Jacob, it is late and dark, and she is veiled from head to toe. It seems that the wedding feast hosted by Laban is an intentional ploy to dull Jacob’s senses with wine (29:22).”
After Jacob’s marriage consummation to Leah, Jacob receives his true love, Rachel, in just eight short days. However, Laban has also conned Jacob into working another seven years as an exchange.
Ironically, Jacob meets his own sin of deception in uncle Laban. Jacob’s previous scam and dishonor of the firstborn’s birthright and blessing principle is now honored through the union of Laban’s firstborn daughter—Leah—to Jacob.
Although tricked by Laban, Jacob keeps his part of the bargain. Patient and diligent, he works another seven years without plotting revenge.
When we nurse a grudge and/or plot revenge, we are not only blind to God’s perspective, but also become imprisoned to bitterness. Offering forgiveness is never easy when offended or hurt. But God expects it, especially since He forgave us.