GENESIS 29:1-30:24

KEY VERSE 29:35a

** JACOB MARRIES (29:1-30)

a)  Describe Jacob's meeting with Rachel.  

He met her at a well.  Perhaps this was the same site where Jesus met the Samaritan woman many years later.  He was moved by her appearance.  Read verses 10-11.  He showed off and wanted to catch her attention by moving the rock and watering all the sheep.  Then he kissed her and wept aloud.  It was dramatic.  It was love at first sight.  God had finally led Jacob faithfully to the home of his aunt and uncle.  He now found the girl he would love for the rest of his life.

What does this event reveal about Jacob?

He is very romantic and he gets what he wants.  He works hard until he gets what he wants.

a)  What were the wages he asked of Laban when he agreed to work for him?

He was in love with Rachel, verse 18, so he asked to work for seven years for her.

How did he carry out his part of the bargain?

He served seven years to get Rachel, though they only seemed like a few days to him because of his love for her.  Verse 20.

What does this tell us about his character?

He was a hard worker.  He was different from Esau who already had  2 Canaanite wives and 1 Ishmaelite wife.  Esau was a man of flesh.  He couldn't wait for anything.  Wen he was hungry, he had to eat.  When he wanted to marry, he married - it didn't matter to whom.  Jacob, however had not married.  He had sought honor - the birthright - first.  Now he met the woman whom he wanted to marry.  But he did not rush into it or try to live with her before marriage.  He agreed to work.  See verses 17-18.  There are things we like to do and things we ought to do.  A person who only does what he feels like doing (Eph 2:3, Gen 6:6) is a man of the flesh and he can't please God.  Esau looked strong, but he was weak because he couldn't overcome his flesh desires.  Men like this - slaves of their feelings - are useless to God.  A person who rules the desires of his flesh and his feelings doing what he ought to do is a great man.  This is Jacob.  He mastered his emotional feelings and worked hard for seven years for the woman he loved.  Jacob's greatness was that he could give his very life to the one thing he wanted - Rachel.  He had deep commitment and wasn't afraid to risk of to lose something.  He had great courage.

a)  How did Laban trick Jacob on his wedding night?

Read verses 21-25. Jacob had finished his contract to work for seven years for Rachl.  He wanted to marry her.  He did not cheat before marriage.  The day of the big wedding came.  The bride was heavily veiled according to the custom of the times.  Jacob work up the next morning to find that Laban had tricked him and that he had married Leah whose name means "cow."

What excuse did he make?

Read verses 25-27.

What did Jacob do about it?

He decided to finish his bridal week with Leah and then he made a new contract with Laban. This time he got payment in advance - he married Rachel.  He worked 7 more years and God made him fruitful - 11 sons, 1 daughter.  He got a large investment in 14 years.

How did his refusal to give up Rachel, and his love for her affect his life and his family?

Jacob was only doing his business but God was working out his sovereign plan.  God used Jacob's love for Rachel to have 12 sons and lay the foundation of the nation of Israel.  In our own selfish business, God is still with us to exercise his sovereignty according to his own purpose.  God has a good purpose for each person.  He works through each person's life to accomplish that purpose.

** RACHEL AND LEAH (29:31-30:24)

a)  Describe the struggle between Leah and Rachel.  What did each one want that the other had?

Each one wanted Jacob's love.   Each one wanted children to show Jacob that they loved him.  Jacob was a ma of his times.  The spiritual lesson to learn from him is that we should only marry one woman.  Jacob suffered a lot because he was married to more than one wife.  His children and wives suffered also because of this.  God's standard - one man, one woman, one marriage - "till death do us part" is still best.

a)  Why and how did God bless Leah?

God blessed Leah because he saw that she was not loved.  He blessed her by opening her womb so that she could have children for Jacob.

What did she name her first three sons?  What does each name reveal about her inner misery and her deep desire?

"Reuben" means "It is because the Lord has seen my misery.  Surely my husband will love me now."  (He has seen my misery.)  She thought that Jacob would love her now.  But nothing changed.  "Simeon" mean "Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one, too."  (One who hears.)  He brought hope that Jacob would love her.  "Levi" means "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have born him three sons."  (Attached.)   He brought her hope that her husband would love her more and be attached to her.  But Jacob's heart wasn't moved.  Leah was sorrowful, felt unloved.  She was jealous of her beautiful sister who totally captured her husband's heart.  She thought that if she bore him many sons, her husband would love her, but it didn’t' work.  It never works.  She cried a lot, struggled with hate and jealousy.

a)  What was her 4th son's name, and what did this name mean?

Judah means "This time I will praise the Lord."  It means "Praise."

What change does this name reflect in Leah's thinking and life?

Through this name she made a decision to no longer beg love from her husband.  She turned her heart away from her husband and away from her rival, to God.  She "praised God."  Leah opened her cold and wounded heart and let the love of God come in.  She solved her deep inner problem - her thirst for her husband's love - by accepting God's love.  God's love is greater than the measure of man's love.  It is truly the love that satisfies.  It is eternal and life-giving.

a)  In the meantime, what was Rachel's problem?

It was jealousy of her sister because her womb was barren and she couldn't bear children for Jacob like Leah could.  Her harsh demand.  30:1.

Why and how did Jacob rebuke her?

Jacob felt pressured and perplexed and said, "Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?"  He was angry with her. (30:2)

What does this show about her? (30:1,2)

Rachel was beautiful and spoiled.  She had a monopoly on Jacob's love but wasn't satisfied.  Human love can't satisfy a person's heart.  She didn't pray about her barren problem but only complained and became jealous of her sister.  See 30:1,2.

a)  What did Rachel do to solve her problem?

She gave Jacob her maidservant Bilhah to sleep with so that she could bear children for her.

What do the names of the sons born by her maidservant show about her human struggle with her sister?

"Dan" means "God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son."  (He has vindicated.  This means revenge or payback.)  "Naphtali" means "I have had a great struggle with my sister and I have won."  (My struggle)  These names reflect the inner bitterness in her heart.  She was full of competition and revenge.

a)  What did Leah name the two sons born to her by her maidservant?  What do these names show about her human struggle with her sister?

"Gad" means "What good fortune!"  (Good fortune or troop).  "Asher" means "How happy I am!  The women will call me happy."  (Happy)  Leah became a happy woman.

How did she come to have two more sons?

Read verses 14-15.

What were their names?

"Isachar" means "God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband."  (Reward).  "Zebulun" means "God has presented me with a precious gift.  This time my husband will treat me with honor because I have born him six sons." (Honor).

In what way had her desires changed?

They became more God-centered.

How was she honored?

Her husband and future generations honored her.  She was buried in the tomb of the Patriachs besides Jacob and her son Judah, became the covenant son.

a)  When Rachel finally had a son, what did she name him?

She named him "Joseph."  It means " May he add."  She said, "God has taken away my disgrace…  May the Lord add to me another son."

What does this show about her?

She felt relieved that she was personally able to bear Jacob a son, but at the same time, she was not satisfied.  She was not thankful or happy.  Her heart was full of anger and jealousy.  Rachel was not a spiritual woman.  She worshiped idols. (31:34).

When did she have another son?

Not until 35:17 and she was dying in childbirth.  His name was Benjamin.

What was the consequence? (35:16-18)  Her death as she delivered him.  She named him "Ben-Oni" which means "Son of my trouble."  She died still thinking about herself and very fatalistic.

a)  What can you learn from the human and spiritual struggle of Leah and Rachel?

God was using them to work out his sovereign purpose.

How did God use these struggles to accomplish his own purpose?

To build a nation.  The Sovereign God was working out his own purpose in the midst of an imperfect human family.  He blessed Jacob and protected him and trained him.  Many years later Jacob could say, "My life is a pilgrimage" and "God has been my shepherd all my life." 9Gen 47:9, 48:15)  God used Jacob's love for Rachel and through the struggles of his family gave him 12 sons and made him into a great nation, the nation of Israel.

Describe the atmosphere in Jacob's home.  

It was like a battlefield and many kids.

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