The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Genesis 29

Gen 29:1

Gen 29: Jacob now begins to be victim of many troubles -- caused by lies and deceits of others -- as a reward for his own former practices: ie, Leah for Rachel, Laban changing wages, death of Shechemites -- due to lies of Simeon and Levi, supposed death of Joseph. "The years of my pilgrimage are 130. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers" (Gen 47:9).

Gen 29:5

NAHOR'S GRANDSON: AV has "son of Nahor", incorrectly.

Gen 29:8

WE CAN'T... UNTIL ALL THE FLOCKS ARE GATHERED: Typ: "Israel has experienced hardness of heart until the full number of the Gentiles has come in" (Rom 11:25).

AND THE STONE HAS BEEN ROLLED AWAY: Typ: the great stone rolled away from the mouth of the sepulchre, and then...

THEN WE WILL WATER THE SHEEP: Typ: ...then the "sheep" will receive the water of life!

Gen 29:10

Jacob, in haste again, rolled away a stone which two or three men usually moved (Eder 124).

Gen 29:12

RELATIVE: "Brother" in AV, but correctly "nephew".

Gen 29:13

HE HURRIED TO MEET HIM: Laban's eagerness is explained by the fact that he remembered the wealth of Jacob's grandfather Abraham (Gen 24:30).

Gen 29:14

"In order to show Jacob just exactly what his character was like, God took him and placed him under the servitude of the one man who was most like himself: Laban! In Laban, Jacob found everything that he hated in himself -- and the express character of his own person. God used Laban as the mirror for Jacob's soul, and showed Jacob what was within him. Jacob had to learn what it was like to live under the bondage of sin and deceit, for in yielding his members servants to unrighteousness, and to iniquity unto iniquity, Jacob made himself a servant of unrighteousness, a servant of sin. [Rom 6]

"The only wage which Jacob was earning from Laban was death -- it took him years to learn that in order to live (and partake of the promises made to his fathers), he would have to leave Laban, and turn from his previous way of life. The Jacob of those bad old days became an absolute proverb to the children of Israel, and once a year at the festival of the firstfruits they had to come before their God and refer to themselves, NOT as sons of Abraham, but as sons of Jacob -- 'a Syrian, ready to perish' [or 'a wandering Aramean': Deu 26:5]. By being tried in the fiery furnace of Syria, Jacob lived with Laban until he 'hated' him. That moment at which Jacob hated Laban was the moment at which he no longer identified with him, for it was the moment when Jacob himself had changed.

"The main problem with Jacob's life is that we condemn all his tricks and deceptions, even while we defend them in our own lives. Perhaps we need to be put into bondage to a Laban" (JB).

Gen 29:15

Laban, after one month (v 14), realizes that Jacob has no wealth, and so he moves to put him on a wage-earner's status.

Gen 29:17

LEAH HAD WEAK EYES: "Leah was tender eyed" (AV). Gentle, amiable, patient. She is the more righteous wife. Notice that finally Jacob asks to be buried at Machpelah, with Leah (Gen 49:31), while Rachel was buried "in the way" (Gen 35:19). From Leah comes Judah (the kings) and Levi (the priests). Leah's naming of sons shows her reverence for God (GVG, Ber 43:57).

Gen 29:23

"If I had a little sister,
Rachel with sparkling eyes,
wooed for seven years and loved by him,
I'd swathe myself in her mantle,
enwrap myself in her night...

One single night! Rachel,
to taste his tender touch till day unmasks.
One single night, till dawn.
You will be loved another seven years and more.

Red are my eyes and filled with tears, Rachel.
His glances never follow me.
But I shall bear his sons,
Oh, yes, Rachel!

and bear the harrowing memory of one night.
One night when I was you, Rachel,
and Leah sat inside her tent and wept"
(Eva Avi-Yonah) (BR 2:1:59).

Gen 29:25

By outward appearance, this is only due to the deception practiced by Laban. But God's providence is the real force, to provide Jacob with the godly wife Leah. Cp also similar deceptions by Jacob himself upon Isaac. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Heb 12:11).

IN THE MORNING, THERE WAS LEAH!: "Many men are afterward surprised by the women they married!"

Gen 29:26

Rachel = natural Israel, first loved, but only espoused to her "husband" after her less-favored sister.

IT IS NOT OUR CUSTOM TO GIVE THE YOUNGER... BEFORE THE OLDER: A reference to Jacob's claim to birthright: 'It may be all very well in your country for the younger to supplant the older, but HERE we do things differently!' (Xd 103:502).

Gen 29:31

God's lesson for Jacob was: 'Leah is your wife, Jacob, and as such deserves at least as much love, attention, and respect as you are giving to Rachel.' Cp Deu 21:15-17. Also, although Jacob's attitude toward Leah sounds severe in v 31 because of the word "hated", v 30 clarifies this by stating that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. So apparently "hate" sometimes in Scripture does not have the terribly harsh meaning of today, but instead, in cases like this, means "to love less". Cp Luk 14:26.

Gen 29:35

THIS TIME I WILL PRAISE THE LORD: Leah seems to give up hoping to please Jacob; now she turns her heart toward God. Poss she had finally learned to be content in whatever state she finds herself. Perh now it is high time to thank God for what He has given her; thus the naming of the fourth son Judah ("praise"). If this were her attitude, it doesn't last long, though, for soon she is giving her own handmaid to Jacob in response to Rachel's giving of hers, and even going so far as to hire him to lie with her (Gen 30:16).
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