Thru The Word Ministries

Genesis 27-29



1 - And it came to be, when Isaac had become old and his eyes grew dim so that he could not see, then he called Esau, his oldest son, and said to him, “My son!” And he said to him, “Behold, [here] I [am].”

2 - And he said, “Behold, I am old; I know not the day of my death.

In preparation for the eldest son to receive the blessing of his father, there had to be a face-to-face meeting between the two. In other words, it couldn’t just happen. The formal ceremony was highly revered, even though it was between just the two. In this gathering, Isaac acknowledges his advanced age but does this mean his death is imminent? No, in fact Isaac lives on another forty-plus years from this point. When we figure his age at this time to be 137, we know the age of his death to be 180 (35:28). Hence, he lives another 41-42 years from this point. There’s nothing like being prepared, I guess, for one never knows the day of their departure from this earth.

3 - “Now then, please take your hunting equipment, your quiver and your bow, and go out into the field and hunt game for me,

4 - “And make for me tasty food, like that [which] I love, and bring [it] to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”

Isaac clearly is living for himself at this point. His instructions to Esau concern doing something that will benefit himself. He uses Esau’s background and expertise as an outdoorsman to make sure he is as comfortable as possible in what he believes to be his last days on earth. Do you hear how conditional this is? It’s as if Isaac is saying he won’t bless Esau unless he brings him some of that “tasty food.” I’m sure that’s not the case and I’m reading more into that passage than need be, but it sure does strike me funny.

5 - Now Rebecca was listening when Isaac was speaking to Esau, his son. So Esau went to the field to hunt for game to bring [back].

Things are about to start getting rather convoluted. This is the Old Testament forerunner of the TV game show ‘Family Feud’ … except this is no game.

6 - And Rebecca spoke to her son Jacob, in saying, “Behold, I heard your father speaking to Esau your brother, saying,

7 - ‘Bring game to me and make for me tasty food, that I may eat and bless you before Yahweh before my death.’

8 - “Now therefore, my son, hear my voice according to that [which] I command you.

9 - “Go now to the flock and take for me from there two good kids of the goats; and I will make of them tasty food for your father, like that [which] he loves.

10 - “Then you shall bring [it] to him so that he may eat; that he may bless you before his death.”

First, we find Rebecca eavesdropping on the conversation between father and son. There is a fine line to be drawn between helping and hindering. In my estimation the mom has gone over the line and is now potentially hindering the cause in favor of what suits her fancy. We shouldn’t blame Rebecca for wanting to set up her favorite son for success, but it was her choice to apply her methodology to what God had already said would happen: “…the elder shall serve the younger” (25:23). To the Lord it was already a foregone conclusion that it would happen, but obviously Rebecca thought He needed her help to bring it about.

11 - And Jacob said to Rebecca his mother, “Behold, Esau my brother [is] a hairy man, and I [am] a smooth man.

12 - “Perhaps my father will feel of me and I will be making a mockery in his eyes, and I will bring a curse on myself, and not a blessing.”

Jacob himself is worried that her plan might be foiled. Not only would he be on the outs with his father, but he would consider himself as having been cursed. He knew he and his twin brother were very much unalike physically, so in his mind the plan could never come off successfully.

13 - And his mother said to him, “Upon me [be] your curse, my son; only listen to my voice and go get [them] for me.”

“Forget him,” Rebecca seems to be saying. Only what mom wants to come to pass is what should happen at this juncture. Those of you who have the experience of living in a house divided can begin to relate to this scenario as it plays out. What mom wants and what dad desires is all that’s important, and in many cases the poor children don’t stand a chance. In our day, we could say this has all the trappings of a divorce in the making.

14 - So he went and got [them] and brought [them] to his mother; and his mother made tasty food, like that [which] his father loved.

Rebecca knew how to appeal to her husband’s fleshly desires, so she went right to work in order to appease him and ram through her agenda.

15 - Then Rebecca took the best raiment of Esau her oldest son, which [was] with her in the house, and clothed Jacob her younger son with them.

16 - And she clothed his hands with the skins of the kids of the goats, and upon the smooth portion of his neck.

The word “best” may be better rendered “appropriate.” The interpretation would lend itself to “the most appropriate raiment” Esau had that was available to Rebecca at that moment. Being the outdoorsman that Esau was, can you imagine how odiferous the clothing was that Rebecca was instructing Jacob to put on? He was a homebody, so the thought of putting on such apparel probably wasn’t appealing to him at all. He sure must have loved his mom a lot to consent to such a wish.

17 - And she gave the tasty food, and the bread which she had made, into the hand of her son Jacob.

Armed and ready, Jacob is ready to execute his mother’s plan to insure her favorite son has the blessing. Do you honestly believe Jacob is ready (i.e., mature enough) to act on his mother’s behalf and have it come off without a hitch? Let’s see…

18 - So he went in to his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Behold, who [are] you, my son?”

19 - And Jacob said to his father, “I [am] Esau your firstborn; I have done according to that [which] you spoke to me. Please arise, sit, and eat of my game, so that your soul will bless me.”

20 - Then Isaac said to his son, “How did you find [it] this quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because Yahweh your Elohim ordained it for me.”

How about that! He lies about who he is, about his involvement, then, if that’s not enough, lies about God’s involvement. This at least borders on blasphemy, and I believe many Old Testament scholars and commentators would agree with me on that.

21 - Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near so I may feel you, my son, whether this [is] you, my son Esau, or not.”

22 - So Jacob drew near to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, “The voice [is] the voice of Jacob, but the hands [are] the hands of Esau.”

23 - And he did not recognize him because his hands were hairy, like the hands of Esau his brother; so he blessed him.

In terms of scent and feel Rebecca had done just enough to throw off Isaac, yet there was one more thing he had to do that would make his investigation complete.

24 - And he said, “[Are] you [actually] my son Esau?” And he said, “I [am].”

It’s amazing how one lie produces another. Jacob had to tell lie on top of lie in order to cover up the lie that came before that, and the one before that, etc. It may sound like a cliché but “oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” It turns out that Charlotte’s web had nothing on Jacob’s!

25 - Then he said, “Bring [it] near to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, in order that my soul may bless you.” So he brought [it] near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.

Isaac’s main priority was to satisfy his carnal desires, it would seem. Dinner first, followed by the blessing. Does that not seem strange to anyone else? This appears to further illustrate how important (or not) this matter of the blessing actually was to Isaac. A man who once appeared to be in such close communion with his Lord, yet he had come such a long way from that. What he wanted was obviously much more important that what the Lord had already said would happen. His job as spiritual head of his household was to bring to pass the Lord’s will in the life of his household. Such is the job of the spiritual head of the household in this day as well. But one will never know what that is if they are not spending precious time getting to know the Lord through the reading and studying of His Word and prayer.

26 - Then his father Isaac said to him, “Please come near and kiss me, my son.”

27 - And he came near and kissed him, and he smelled the odor of his clothing, then he blessed him, and said, “See, the scent of my son [is] as the scent of the field that Yahweh has blessed.

28 - “So may God give to you the dew of heaven, and the most fertile land of the earth, and the abundance of grain and new wine.

29 - “May people serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brethren, and [may] the sons of your mother bow down to you. Cursed [is] everyone [that] curses you, and blessed [is] everyone [that] blesses you.”

Ultimately the portion of the blessing pertaining to becoming lord over his brethren was not fulfilled by Jacob, and it certainly would never be fulfilled in Esau. Rather he would be a progenitor of the One in whom it would be fulfilled: Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1). There had to be one that was worthy of such a blessing and that one at this juncture was in fact Jacob. There will be more exposition on this matter later in our commentary on this chapter.

30 - And it came to be that as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and it came to be that Jacob had just gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother had come in from his hunting.

This is where it all comes out in the wash, as they say. We don’t know how much of a time lapse there was in between Jacob’s departure and Esau’s arrival, but the text lends itself to the interpretation that the brothers just missed each other by minutes if not seconds.

31 - And he also made tasty food and brought it in to his father, and said to his father, “May my father arise, and eat from the venison of his son, so that your soul may bless me.”

Thinking he had the blessing in the palm of his hand, as it were, Esau presumed too much as he prepared his father’s meal in advance of his blessing. Here is Esau thinking the way to his father’s heart (or blessing in this case) is through his stomach, yet the Lord’s prophecy had already come to pass and he didn’t even know it. He was clueless to the ways of Yahweh because he had never spent any time with Him to know His ways.

32 - Then Isaac his father said to him, “Who [are] you?” And he said, “I [am] your son; your first-born, Esau.”

33 - And Isaac trembled very greatly and said, “Who, then, [was] he [that was] hunting game and brought it to me, and I ate of [it] all before you came in, and I have blessed him? [And] he shall certainly be blessed!”

Isaac knew good and well who it was and what had transpired in the meantime. He still knew enough about the Lord’s ways to know that what had been done could not be undone. The phrase “trembled very greatly” communicates to us through the Hebrew phrase that says it affected him physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually all at the same time. This is the moment he realized God’s will superseded his own. One day sinful mankind will come to the same realization when the Lord God Almighty brings to an end this world as we know it. That’s what Revelation 16 is about. A great many may be living out their will right now, but a Christ-rejecting world can only reject Him so long until he has to endure the judgment of God. Man will have all kinds of excuses for not knowing or following the will of God, but God will know their hearts on the Day they stand before Him at The Great White Throne (Revelation 20). For them there will be no way out. Read the book of Revelation with a futurist view and see if you don’t come to the same conclusion.

34 - When Esau heard the words of his father, then he cried out with a great and very bitter outcry, and said to his father, “Bless me - me also, my father!”

Esau’s bitter cry has as its parallel the cry of agony that will proceed from those on the verge of being forever separated from the God Who created them for His glory. Sinful man had ample opportunity to receive the blessing of the only God and Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, yet chose to reject. Someone will say, “But Esau didn’t reject the blessing! He wasn’t in a position to have it offered to him. If it weren’t for his conniving, deceiving brother, the blessing would be his. How dare you say such a thing about Esau!” Yet the Bible gives us a much different perspective on the man Esau. Hebrews 12:16 refers to him as a fornicator and profane. With no heart for the things of God, Esau had no perception of the magnitude of the blessing. To him it only entailed military might to where he could command legions of soldiers to do his bidding for him, which would ultimately lead to his control of the world around him. While that is all true, there was also the obligation to be able to lead one’s subjects spiritually. This is where Esau failed horribly. When it came to the things of God and the knowledge thereof, Esau was in fact a failure.

35 - But he said, “Your brother came in by fraud and took away your blessing.”

Here is where the father is abdicating responsibility for wrongdoing in an attempt to justify himself before his son. If only Isaac would have realized the good and godly thing to do was to realize he failed his older son by not being obedient to the Lord’s will which He had already stated concerning how the youngest was to receive the blessing. Instead the father tried to impose his own will upon his favorite son.

36 - And he said, “Is he not properly named ‘Jacob‘? For he has betrayed me [on] these two occasions. He has taken my birthright, and behold, now he has taken my blessing!” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”

“He” in this verse refers of course to Esau. There are two problems with Esau’s view on things. First is that Jacob did not take the birthright, but rather was given to him by Esau. A meal was more important to ol’ Red than the birthright. Like father, like son. Second, he did not take the blessing, but rather was pre-ordained by God Himself. He is the One who said, “The elder shall serve the younger” (25:23). Here we have prophesy fulfilled, yet Esau chose to invest his life in being an outdoorsman and a womanizer over knowing the Lord and His ways to be able to discern that (Isaiah 55:8-9).

37 - But Isaac answered Esau and said, “Behold, I have installed him as your lord, and all his brethren I have given to him for servants; and [with] grain and new wine I have sustained him. And what then shall I do for you, my son?”

38 - And Esau said to his father, “Do you only have one blessing, my father? Bless me also - [bless] me, my father!” And Esau raised his voice and wept.

39 - Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, “Behold, the fertile places of the earth will be your dwelling place, and of the dew of heaven from above.

40 - “And by your sword you will live, and you will serve your brother. And it will come to be that when you become powerful, you will tear away his yoke from off of your neck.”

41 - So Esau was at enmity with Jacob on account of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning approach for my father; then I will kill Jacob my brother.”

This brings us to one of the main teaching points on this chapter. If you’ll recall the reference to Hebrews 12:16 earlier in our chapter commentary which stated Esau was a profane fornicator, we can go all the way through Scripture and see there’s no such pronouncement on Jacob. Many commentators/scholars will go to great lengths to cast Jacob as a lying scoundrel whom God took to the woodshed, so to speak. On the other hand we find no such pronouncement from the Lord; only from man. We do see where Jacob was blessed of God at a later time which we will examine later in our survey of Genesis. In our present verse we are forced to contrast Jacob with his brother who, on top of everything else, shows himself to be a potential murderer. His character is showing and the news is not all good. I guess what I’m trying to share is that as time goes on, I’m learning to be silent where the Bible is silent. If the Lord doesn’t have a word of condemnation for Jacob or anyone else, I’m not to have one either. May we heed the voice of the Lord as He continues to speak to our hearts.

42 - Now these words of Esau, her older son, were told to Rebecca; so she sent and called for Jacob, her younger son, and she said to him, “Behold, Esau your brother is plotting revenge against you, in order to kill you.

43 - “Now then, my son, obey my voice and arise; flee to Laban my brother in Haran,

44 - “And dwell with him a few days, until the rage of your brother abates,

45 - “Until the [anger] of your brother subsides from you and he forgets that which you have done to him; then I will send and I will retrieve you from there. Moreover, why should I be bereaved of you both in one day?”

This has been a rather eventful time in this household to say the least. To avoid further disruption, Rebecca believes it wise to send Jacob away so he won’t be murdered in cold blood by his brother. To say Esau is fit to be tied is a mild understatement. He is out for revenge at this point in the worst way … and I do mean the worst. Let’s just say Esau is not willing to allow this to be a character-building moment in his life and leave it at that, shall we?

46 - And Rebecca said to Isaac, “I loathe my life on account of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, such as these of the daughters of the land, what [is] my life to me?”

Rebecca’s consternation over Jacob’s potential choice of a marriage partner is prompting her to prompt Isaac to have a talk with his son. It sounds as if she is despondent to the point of wanting to take her own life. Perhaps she says that to get her husband to see the seriousness of what is at stake. This would stand to reason as the events of the next chapter begin to unfold.


1 - Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and instructed him, and said to him, “You are not to take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.

Serving as a continuation of the end of the last chapter, reality has now set in with Isaac. He sees that his way of doing things has failed and that God in His sovereignty has enabled Jacob to obtain the blessing. Combined with pressure from the wife, he instructs his son to marry from among his mother’s family. He is expressly forbidden from marrying a Canaanite (notice the imperative mood in the translation, “You are not to…”).

2 - “Arise, go to Padan-Aram, dwelling-place of Bethuel, father of your mother, and take for you from there a wife from the daughters of Laban, brother of your mother.

3 - “And God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful, and make you numerous, so you shall become a great multitude of people;

4 - “And give to you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your offspring with you, in regard to you possessing the land [where] you are sojourning, which God has given to Abraham.”

God’s promise of the land is reiterated by Isaac, but before this chapter is out it will be reiterated by God Himself. By the way, this is in addition to what blessing has already been bestowed upon him by his father. Before this takes place, however, young Jacob will have become quite a bit older and more than a little wiser as a result of his own unique adventure. This will unfold as he arrives at his destination in the chapters to come.

5 - So Isaac sent away Jacob, and he went to Padan-Aram, to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, brother of Rebecca, mother of Jacob and Esau.

6 - When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him away to Padan-Aram, to take for him a wife from there, [and] in blessing him, then he charged him in saying, “You are not to take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,”

7 - Then Jacob gave obedience to his father and mother, and went to Padan-Aram.

8 - When Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan were unacceptable in the eyes of Isaac his father,

9 - Then Esau went to Ishmael and took Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael, son of Abraham, sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife, beside the wives he had.

Why would Esau do such a thing? Probably because he was seeking a blessing of his own, seeming as to how Ishmael was also one of Abraham’s offspring. Deep down every child wants to please their parents, so upon the knowledge that his two wives were not pleasing to his parents he seeks to ‘jerry-rig’ some process by which he may obtain a blessing of some sort.

10 - And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba and went toward Haran.

11 - And he lighted upon a certain place and lodged there because the sun had gone down. And he took of the stones of that place and set them as head support, and he lay himself down in that place.

I tend to agree with Wiersbe in that his stones were more for protection than for comfort. You don’t actually believe he laid his head on a bunch of rocks and slept all night long, do you? I didn’t think so.

12 - Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder placed upon the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, angels of Elohim going up and coming down on it.

One of the great Old Testament theological discussions centers around this particular verse. Speculation runs somewhat rampant as you can probably imagine, but the Hebrew word sulam carries with it the connotation of a rising row of steps/stones or a flight of steps. You might hear something else somewhere else, so I’ll give you the straight skinny: it’s not a ladder in the traditional sense. Not that angels need a device to help them get up and down, but it has more to do with the fact that angels were encamped in an orderly manner around Jacob as he slept. Whatever the word means, it doesn’t change the actual meaning of the passage, being Jacob was protected all through the night by an angel band.

13 - And behold, Yahweh [was] standing above it and said, “I [am] Yahweh Elohim of Abraham your father, and God of Isaac. The land on which you are lying, I will give it to you and your offspring.

14 - “And your offspring shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out [to the] west, and east, and north, and south; and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

15 - “And behold, I [am] with you, and I will keep you everywhere that you will go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken to you.”

Yahweh is depicted as being above the angels. The New Testament echoes this in the first chapter of the book of Hebrews.

God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds;…Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-2, 4

How fitting and proper that the heavenly hosts bow to the Host of heaven. Especially considering the pronouncement made to Jacob. This is a reiteration of the promise made to his father Isaac and his father Abraham. As if he had not had enough blessing pronounced upon him already, he is told firsthand how the land will be his and those residing in it will be blessed.

16 - Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely Yahweh is in this place, and I did not know [it].”

This speaks volumes considering how far from home he was at the time. We can believe we are running from a situation, yet wherever we go we are forced to deal with the fact that God is right there. The Psalmist had the same dilemma when he wrote,

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:7-10

It’s verse ten of that passage that to me is the focal point of our study in this chapter. Jacob could run away from home, but not from God. He could escape from big brother, but not from Yahweh. Remember, Yahweh is the personal name of God. Even as he was far away from all that was familiar to him, God came to him in a very personal way at a time when he possibly needed Him the most. It was “even there” that Jacob knew he was being led and held by His “right hand.” In our greatest hour of distress each of us need only look to the God of the universe. It is at that point we will see with spiritual eyes, as did Jacob, what only He is able to show us on our behalf.

17 - And he was afraid and said, “How awesome this place [is]! This [is] none other than the dwelling-place of Elohim, and this [is] the gate of heaven.”

He is so busy wrapped up in the physical surroundings that he’s forgetting what the Lord is sharing with him. But let’s focus on what exactly is going on at the moment. You see, this young man had just met God in what to him was a most unlikely place. Yet we know that this is the same place where Abraham had worshipped God many years before. Whether he realized that or not could be insignificant. What really matters to him is the impact it is having on him at the moment. Forgetting history, laying aside tradition, he is prompted to worship Elohim…and he does!

18 - So Jacob rose early in the morning and took the stones that he had set up as head support, and set it up as a pillar, and poured out oil upon its top.

19 - And he called the name of that place ‘Bethel’; but the name of that city [was] Luz at first.

Beth-el means “house of God.” After setting up a memorial made from the stones he used to protect him the night before, Jacob anoints it with oil and pronounces it as the house of God. What he may not realize is that wherever he is, there will God be. If nothing else, Jacob will always have this tangible reminder of the place where God met personally with and spoke to him at a time when he needed it most. If those of us who are honestly and diligently seeking the Lord are honest with ourselves, we have to admit there is at least one such place we can go back to and know the Lord showed Himself to us at that time and in that place. Thank the Lord for that time and place today, would you? 

20 - And Jacob vowed a vow, in saying, “If Elohim will be with me, and He will keep me in this way that I am going, and will give to me food to eat and clothing to put on, 


21 - “So I may return to the house of my father safely, then Yahweh shall be my God.

22 - “And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be the house of God. And all that You give to me, I will absolutely give a tenth to you.”

Jacob and his vow-making needs a little closer examination before we get too carried away as the result of what we see here before us. You see, Jacob has been unmercifully ridiculed as the result of most translator’s labors. You’ll notice my translation is no exception to this, but allow me to explain. The Hebrew particle im is rendered “if” in this passage, but the more appropriate rendering would probably be “since.” This is because im is used in the subjunctive mood. Jacob’s use of the particle does not make his devotion to God conditional, as in “If you will do such-and-such, I will do thus-and-so.” More than a few well-meaning commentators have ripped Jacob to shreds as the result of falling back on the traditional rendering without further examination. You can see where it would make Jacob appear as if he is trying to strike a bargain with God. Yet such a response would be uncharacteristic given the context. That’s why we need to go deeper into the text for the purpose of discovering what’s actually there. Not to vault ourselves over others who may disagree, but to know more of who God is, how He should be worshiped, and in this case how others have worshiped Him. Considering what is about to happen to Jacob in our study, he’s going to need some point of reference that he can hearken back to as a reminder that God is still with him. More on that to come.


1 - Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the descendants of the east.

Crossing who knows what kind of terrain on the way to his destination, Jacob finally reaches the place where he will spend roughly the next twenty years of his life. Remember, his mom told him it would only be a few days he would spend there. His adventurous journey no doubt prepared him for the adventures that would lay ahead of him in his new home.

2 - And he looked, and behold, a well in the field; and behold there, three flocks of sheep lying by it, for from that well the flocks were given drink. And [there was] a great stone on the mouth of the well.

3 - And all the flocks had gathered there, and they had rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, and had given drink to the sheep, and put back the stone over the mouth of the well in its place.

The “they” in verse three refers to the shepherds who had charge of the flocks. There had to be more than one of them in attendance at the well because “the stone over the mouth of the well” was quite large and very heavy. Therefore it took all of them to move it back and forth for the sheep to be watered.

4 - And Jacob said to them, “My brothers! From where are you?” And they said, “We [are] from Haran.”

Jacob floats a trial balloon, if you will, in their direction. He had to know if he was where he needed to be. His use of the word “brothers” is not in the paternal sense, of course, but inferring that they had a great deal in common with each other. We might say today he’s the ‘brother from another mother’.

Once he had seen that the Lord was guiding him on his journey, he further proceeds with his line of questioning.

5 - And he said to them, “Do you know Laban, the son of Nahor?” And they said, “We know [him].”

6 - And he said to them, “[Is] he well?” And they said, “[He is] well; and behold, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep.”

7 - And he said, “Behold, [it is] still mostly day; [it is] not time to assemble the cattle. Give drink to the sheep, and go tend them.”

He’s found the one he’s in search of, but only one thing stands in his way at this point: those pesky guys hanging around and looking on while he’s trying to make time with his new ‘honey’. So he decides to attempt to run them off in his own unique way. He tells them that they have a job to do and to please go and do it so that he can become better acquainted with Rachel.

8 - And they said, “We are not able, until when the flocks [are] all assembled, and they have rolled away the stone from over the mouth of the well; then we shall give drink to the sheep.”

Jacob’s plan is foiled but he knows it’s time to go for it all, because…

9 - While he was still speaking with them, then Rachel came with the sheep that [were] belonging to her father, because she [was] a shepherdess.

It may be that Rachel joined these others at the same time each day so they could assist in making sure her camels got water. That way she didn’t have to shoulder the load all by herself.

10 - And it came to be that when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of Laban, the brother of his mother, and the sheep of Laban, the brother of his mother, that Jacob drew near and rolled away the stone from over the mouth of the well, and gave drink to the flock of Laban, the brother of his mother.

Apparently Jacob had acquired some sort of supernatural strength because the stone that took two or three to remove from the mouth of the well each day was a one-man job at that moment. We’ve all heard of an adrenaline rush before, but this beats everything.

11 - Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept.

Imagine Rachel’s surprise upon realizing she had just been kissed by a stranger! Not to mention how he started bawling like a baby before her and witnesses. She doesn’t understand at the moment this is all occurring, but she soon will.

12 - And Jacob told Rachel that he [was] related to her father, and that he [was] the son of Rebecca. So she ran and told [it] to her father.

This news on top of everything else was understandably more than she could handle, don’t you think? I think she did the only thing she knew to do. She ran home and reported this news about her father to her father.

13 - Then it came to be, when Laban heard the report of Jacob, the son of his sister, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Then he recounted to Laban all these things.

Rachel may have been a bit frightened by all this, but Laban sees it as an opportunity. He wants to meet up with a long, lost family member, but it is as likely that he sees a possible son-in-law in his future and wants to check him out to see if he measures up. The phrase “all these things” refers largely to his meeting with Rachel. The text doesn’t talk about how long the conversation took, but I would imagine Jacob went on for a while.

14 - And Laban said to him, “Surely, you are my bone and my flesh.” And he dwelt with him a month.

Apparently Laban saw enough in Jacob to pronounce him as family and afford him a month’s worth of lodging. To refer to Jacob as his “bone and…flesh” could have been a reference to his physical features or his character in general. When someone refers to one of us as being just like our dad or mom or any other family member with which that person is familiar, it could be meant in several different ways, but usually it has something to do with at least one of those two general categories.

15 - And Laban said to Jacob, “Because you [are] my relative, should you then work without compensation? Tell me, what shall [be] your wages?”

We could presume, couldn’t we, that someone with as many possessions as Laban who had someone living under his roof for a month had a potential hired hand living with him. It was a leading question, but one Jacob was eager enough to answer. Want to know why? Read on…

16 - And Laban [had] two daughters: the name of the oldest, Leah; and the name of the younger, Rachel.

17 - And the eyes of Leah were tender, but Rachel was beautiful in form and beautiful in appearance.

18 - So Jacob loved Rachel, and said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.”

His heart was already set on Rachel and Laban knew it. He was getting what he needed but Jacob saw opportunity to obtain what he needed as a direct result. Is this Laban a shrewd operator or what? He knew what he was doing right from the start.

19 - And Laban said, “[It is] a good thing that I give her to you, more than I should give her to another man. Dwell with me.”

20 - So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they were to him as a few days, because he loved her.

21 - Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give [to me] my wife, because my days have been fulfilled, that I may go in to her.”

Seven years transpired between verses 20 and 21, yet Moses tells us the passing of time seemed closer to seven days. Imagine the obstacles in his path that would be discouraging to the rest of us. The weather in which he had to work, the family squabbles you know took place during that time, and so forth. Yet it didn’t seem to phase him, all because of the love he had for his promised one. He was fulfilling the mission for which his mom sent him and in which the Lord guided him. What a sense of accomplishment Jacob had to have known during that time. I like the way Dr. Warren Wiersbe views this portion of our study when he shares with us how, “It’s been well said that happiness consists of having someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to; and Jacob had all three.”1

22 - So Laban assembled all the men of the place, and he made a feast.

23 - And it came to be in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him, and he went in to her.

Jacob here gets a bit of a wake-up call on the morning after his wedding day. He just thought he was getting Rachel as his wife, but instead he winds up with her older sister. Consider the irony of this, if you will. The deceiver (hence his name) had been deceived. We’ll let the text continue, then elaborate more as the events within unfold.

24 - Then Laban gave to her Zilpah his maidservant, to Leah his daughter for a maidservant.

This could be thought of as adding insult to injury. This was customary in the day, for the bridesmaid to be equipped with a maidservant, yet if you consider it further it was as if Laban was using the appointment of a maidservant to seal the deal, if you will. After this there was no way Jacob could have had the marriage revoked or annulled, if there were such a thing in that day. Deserving our further consideration, however, is Wiersbe’s perspective on this surprise marriage:

[I]magine the groom waking up on the first morning of his festive week and discovering that he was married to the wrong woman! Among Semitic peoples, for seven days after their marriage, the bride and groom were treated like a king and queen, but Jacob must have felt more like the court jester. Laban had made a fool of him, but there was nothing Jacob could do about it; for the father in the household was in supreme control. His unscrupulous father-in-law had married off two daughters to a potentially wealthy man and had secured another seven years’ service from his son-in-law as a bonus!2

Leah may have been the wrong woman to Jacob, but to Laban it was absolutely right. Right for he, his daughters, and the affairs of his household. Again I use the term ‘shrewd’ to describe Laban.

25 - And it came to be in the morning that, behold, she [was] Leah. And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? So why have you betrayed me?”

26 - And Laban said, “Such practices [are] not done in our place, to give the younger before the first-born.

27 - “Bring an end to this week, and we will give this to you also for the labor with which you will serve me still another seven years.”

28 - And Jacob did so, and brought to an end her week. Then he gave him Rachel his daughter as his wife.

29 - And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his maidservant to be her maidservant.

Momentary anger on Jacob’s part led him to accept his lot and move on with his life. The bottom line to him is that he will still be married to Rachel. He’ll only have to finish his wedding week (seven days and not seven years according to some commentators) and she will be his. But Jacob will not be all hers. In other words, Jacob is having bigamy forced upon him by his father-in-law. By the way, does this constitute the Bible’s endorsement of bigamy? Far from it! You also find murder in the Bible, yet the text goes on to share the consequences of such sin. That’s why we go through the whole Bible and not just portions of it that go to suit our fancy or promote our agenda. We will see more than one problem with this type of marriage arrangement before our study is done, believe me.

30 - Then he also went in to Rachel, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served with him still another seven years.

Jacob was faithful to uphold his end of the bargain by working seven more years after his marriage to Rachel. That’s a big statement from someone with a reputation as a deceiver. Think about it for a moment, would you? He could have always told Laban he would serve another seven years and then take off in the night with Rachel and her maidservant to start a new life in a new place and forget all this recently-acquired baggage. For all his perceived dishonor, I say give Jacob credit where it is due.

31 - When Yahweh saw that Leah was being rejected, He then opened her womb; but Rachel [was] barren.

Here we have the beginning of the birth of Israel’s twelve patriarchs. Deep within each of us wish it could have been under better circumstances, yet God in His sovereignty is working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). His divine design is for the birth of the Messiah (“anointed one”) to come through the line of Abraham and remain preserved as a fully-Jewish line right on up until His birth. We see this traced through in the first chapter of the New Testament. This was the bottom line in God’s purpose and plan for the ages and, true to form, He brought it about in His way and at His time, in spite of what you or I may think about it.

Also true to His form is the fact that He used the most imperfect of vessels to bring it about. I don’t know about you, but that gives a great deal of hope to me. Knowing the Lord could use a motley crew such as this tells me that He could use a wretch such as I. In spite of all my hang-ups, mess-ups, ups and downs and acting like a clown (to put it mildly), he still wants to use me. Me, of all people! Hopefully that will be an encouragement to your heart and life today as well.

32 - Then Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name ‘Reuben’, because she had said, “Yahweh has indeed seen my affliction; therefore, my husband will now love me.”

‘Reuben’ means “see, a son.” Leah believes she’s worked hard in order to please her husband. So if having a son was what it took to please Jacob, that’s what she was willing to do. “See, a son! Now you will reward my hard work with your love for me.” This seems to be Leah’s state of mind at the time of Reuben’s birth.

33 - Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because Yahweh had heard that I was being rejected, now He has also given me this [son].” So she called his name ‘Simeon’.

Not only is ‘Simeon‘ used as a personal name, but also as the name of a tribe, depending on the context where used. As the personal name in this context, it means “heard.”

34 - Then she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now on this occasion, my husband will be joined to me, because I have bore him three sons”; therefore his name was called ‘Levi’.

This name means “joined to.” This is the portion of Jacob’s offspring that will produce the Levites who, spiritually speaking, will be joined to God as direct participants in His work among the nation of Israel in portions of the Old Testament to come in our study.

35 - And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “On this occasion, I will praise Yahweh.” Therefore she called his name ‘Judah’; then she stopped bearing [children].

It’s as if Leah has given up on using child-bearing to please her husband and now her focus is on the God of her children; their heavenly Father as opposed to their earthly one, if you will. She therefore invokes the name “praise” or “praised” on her latest son at the moment of birth. 


1Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Pentateuch (Colorado Springs, CO:
        Cook Communications Ministries, 2001), 126. 

2Ibid, 126-127.