���� The Pastor's Class


Love at First Sight


Genesis 29:1 - 30:24



If you love a love story you will enjoy today's lesson. This real life drama that is played out in these next few chapters will rival any plot in any romance novel in print.


We are skipping ahead from chapter 27 to 29. However, there are some very important things that happen in 28. Let me just give you a brief outline.


1. Isaac gives his son Jacob another blessing and commands him not to marry a Canaanite woman. (Rebekah found Esau's Canaanite wives very troublesome.)

2. It is necessary for Jacob to leave because of the death threats that Esau made so he goes to Rebekah's family in Paddan Aram.

3. During the journey he pitched camp at Luz and there in a dream God passed on to him the covenant promise that was originally given to Abraham. He renamed that place Bethel; meaning House of God.

4. After the dream Jacob made a vow saying that if God would protect him during this journey he would give a a tenth of all that the Lord gave him.



As we read through this section of scripture you may wonder how God can use such people to accomplish His will. Yet we must remember that "we all like sheep have gone astray." "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." If God had to wait for the perfect man or woman then His will would never be accomplished. Throughout the bible you will see God bring good out of bad situations. He will use ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.


You should not be surprised to discover that God wants to work through your life. Maybe you think that your past, or even your present circumstances are such that God cannot use you. Just remember, God is more concerned with your availability than your ability. If God can use Isaac and Jacob then He can use you.




Genesis 29: 1-4


29 Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples.2 There he saw a well in the field, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large.3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well�s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.





The literal meaning of "Jacob continued on his journey" is that "he lifted up his feet." His experience at Bethel (28:10-20) was a life changing experience. He left his family primarily because he was running away from his brother Esau. However, now he is running toward something. He has received the covenant promise that was originally given to Abraham, then Issac and now passed on to him. God has a plan and purpose for his life. God will succeed in that plan. Jacob's primary task now becomes that of obtaining a wife.




Pastor's Notes


Jacob's encounter with God at Bethel was an uplifting, affirming and even life changing experience. Experiences such as this are rare; maybe even a once in a lifetime experience. Jacob's experience might be roughly compared to the experience that Paul had on the road to Damascus or to the vision of Peter in the book of Acts.


Many have attempted to explain the spiritual using psychological jargon. Freud introduced the idea of Catharsis ( a cleansing of the emotions). In a sense this is what happened with Jacob. It is what happens with us when we surrender to the will of God. God is uniquely qualified to deal with the human emotion. He can release us from the fear and the hurts of our past.






Genesis 29: 4-6


4 Jacob asked the shepherds, �My brothers, where are you from?�

�We�re from Haran,� they replied.

5 He said to them, �Do you know Laban, Nahor�s grandson?�

�Yes, we know him,� they answered.

6 Then Jacob asked them, �Is he well?�

�Yes, he is,� they said, �and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.




As Jacob approached his destination he came upon a well where there were three herds of sheep. He inquired of his relatives and they indicated that they knew them. By today's standards they were separated by a short distance however, it was a distance that was seldom if ever traveled. Wives who left their families to be married would possibly never see them again.


Upon Jacob's inquiry he was informed that Laban's daughter Rachel was approaching the well with the sheep. It would not be unusual for a girl to be a shepherdess,. especially if there were no Sons in the family.


Pastor's Notes


Jacob was forced to leave his own family and he now seems genuinely interested in reconnecting with family. It was God who created the family structure. Therefore it is important. We need family. The time you spend in nurturing the relationship with family members is time well spent.





Genesis 29: 7-12


7 �Look,� he said, �the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.�

8 �We can�t,� they replied, �until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.�

9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father�s sheep, for she was a shepherdess.10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother�s brother, and Laban�s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle�s sheep.11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud.12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.




Verse seven seems somewhat strange. Even though Jacob addresses the shepherds as "my brothers", he would not have been kin to them. Why then did he speak to them in such a manner? Possibly he felt comfortable in doing so because of the age difference. Jacob was more than likely considerably older than the shepherds.


The normal routine would be for the shepherds to keep their flocks in the pasture until late afternoon and then they would to to the well for water. Jacob said; "the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.


The shepherds indicated that they had to wait until all the flocks arrived. Water was scarce in the land. One well would be shared by many flocks. These wells were of course hand dug and therefore shallow. It is very possible that the water had to be rationed. They could not water the flocks until they all arrived. Otherwise, the last to arrive might not have any water at all.


When Rachel arrived with her father's sheep Jacob made sure that she went to the head of the line. Jacob must have had a commanding presence among the shepherds because they do not seem to mind.


Even though Jacob had never seen Rachel before he knew that they were kin and therefore it would be appropriate for him to greet her with a kiss. However, not only did he kiss her but he began to weep aloud. Was this love at first sight? Was he just a kind and sensitive guy or was he just glad to be reunited with family?


Rachel was so excited to learn that Jacob was a relative that she ran to tell her father. Evidently, she was grazing the sheep close to home. Presumably, Jacob tended the sheep until someone returned.


Pastor's Notes


You will remember that Abraham married his half sister. Isaac married Rebekah who was Abraham's grand neice which would make Isaac and Rebekah second cousins. Now Jacob sees and falls in love with his first cousin Rachel.




There was no stigma against such close marriages in that day. It was important that Jacob not marry any of the women of the pagan cultures that surrounded him. Therefore, there was little choice but to marry a family member.






Genesis 29: 13 - 14


13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister�s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things.14 Then Laban said to him, �You are my own flesh and blood.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.




Jacob's arrival would be a total surprise to Laban. There would be no way for him to have known that Jacob was on the way. Jacob was a welcome sight. He brought with him years worth of news from the family. Then Laban said to him, "You are my own flesh and blood." In other words I am going to treat you as if you were my own son. We know that Laban had two daughters however, I can find no reference to whether or not Laban had a son. Maybe Jacob would the the son he never had.


Pastor's Notes


Again we see evidence of the strong bonds among family. Even though they had been separated by time and distance they were eager to unite and share their stories.


In that time and culture it was customary to draw people in. Even complete strangers, travelers, were given lodging for a night and a meal.




Before modern transportation and communication people seemed starved for fellowship. I remember even as a child that vacation meant going to visit a relative that lived out of state. Several of the old folk tunes speak of the delight of having visitors stop by.


"Ya'll come to see us when you can."

"See will be coming around the mountain when she comes."






Genesis 29: 15 - 18



After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month,15 Laban said to him, �Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.�

16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, �I�ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.� 19 Laban said, �It�s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.�20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.




Jacob was welcomed into the family and became a working member. After a month Laban approached Jacob concerning wages. He indicated that Jacob should not have to work for nothing and asked Jacob what a fair wage would be.


You can almost hear the wheels of deceit turning in Labon's hand. Jacob came with nothing to offer and Laban took him in. Under those circumstances one would expect little more than food shelter and clothing which were being provided to him. One might expect that during this month Jacob had become conspicuously smitten with Rachel. Laban used this as an opportunity to barter a deal.


Laban had two daughters Leah was the oldest and had "weak eyes". We are not sure exactly what that means. It may mean that she was nearly blind or maybe there was some feature about her eyes that made her unattractive. In contrast to Leah the bible states that Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.


Rachel's beauty was more than he could resist. Jacob did all the talking. He offered to work for seven years for Rachel, the women he loved.


Pastor's Notes


Men can you imagine working for your future father-in-law for seven years just for the privilege of marrying his daughter? During that seven years there would be no hanky panky or funny business.


Ladies can you imagine a man who loved you so much and held you in such high esteem that he would enter into a seven year contract just for the privilege of your hand in marriage?


The seven years flew by and seemed as only a few days.

Ladies wouldn't that just make your heart flutter to know that a man was so deeply in love with you that seven years of work just flew by.


According to Jerry Lee Lewis, Love will make you act so funny, make you spend your money, make you feel real loose like a long necked goose.


However, most of us realize that feelings like that fall more into the category of lust than love. Most Psychologists today will be very quick to separate the "in love" experience from the "true love" experience. The in love experience is something we fall into. The true love experience is something that we dedicate our life to.






Genesis 29: 21 - 27


21 Then Jacob said to Laban, �Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to lie with her.�

22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast.23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her.24 And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant.

25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, �What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn�t I? Why have you deceived me?�

26 Laban replied, �It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one.27 Finish this daughter�s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



At the end of the contract Jacob said; "Give me my wife.... I want to lie with her." Whereas it is probably true that after seven years Jacob had some raging hormones, his desire to lie with her meant that he wanted to consummate the marriage which was the final and binding act.


According to tradition Laban planned a seven day feast to celebrate the marrying of his daughter. At the end of the first day of the feast the groom was allowed to go in to his bride and often the wedding party would surround the tent or stand at the door and listen for signs that the wedding had indeed been consummated which would give them yet another reason to celebrate.


Upon the dawning of the second day as the sunrays washed across the face of his new bride he realized that it was not Rachel rather, it was her older sister Leah.


Some might question how such a switch would be possible. It would have been well after sunset before the celebration of that first day wound down and by that time Jacob would have consumed a liberal amount of wine. The girls may not have known of Labon's scheme until the last minute and even then they would have had no choice in the matter.


It is only now that Jacob is able to feel the pain of the deceit that he inflicted upon his own Father. The tables are turned. In this situation he is not the victor but the victim.


Laban used the excuse that it was ot the custom to marry off the younger before the older. Even though Jacob was outraged by the deceit,. Laban agreed that after the bridal week was finished he would be allowed to marry Rachel in exchange for an additional seven years work.



Pastor's Notes


Was this indeed the custom to marry the older before the younger. It sounds plausible however, it was not mentioned seven years earlier when the deal was struck.


Laban realized that under normal circumstances his oldest daughter would never marry. Whatever the condition with her eyes and possibly other features she would not make a desirable wife. If left unmarried she would be in his care for as long as he lived and after that her future would be uncertain.


Was God pleased with the way this situation turned out, of course not? It would later be revealed in the Levitical law that it was wrong for a man to marry sisters. (Lev. 18:18) However, Leah would give Jacob six sons. Five of these sons would become tribes of Israel.






Genesis 29: 28 - 30


28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.29 Laban gave his servant girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant.30 Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.




Labon gave to each of his girls maidservants. To Leah he gave Zilpah and to Rachel he gave Bilhah. Jacob would eventually have children not only by Leah and Rachel but also by Zilpah and Bilhah.



The Sons of Jacob

Genesis 29:31 through 30:24 names the sons of Jacob.


Born to Leah were; Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun.


Born to Zilpah Leah's maidservant were; Gad, Asher


Born to Rachel were: Joseph, Benjamin (Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin)


Born to Bilhah Rachel's maidservant were; Dan, Naphtali


Descendants of 10 of these sons would eventually inherit land in the Israel.


Reuben would be excluded from an inheritance because he slept with his fathers concubine Bilhah. (35:22)


The descendants of Levi would become the priestly tribe and not inherit land.


The two children of Joseph would be added to the 10 remaining sons to make the 12 tribes of Israel.




Pastor's Notes


The Story of Jacob and Rachel is one of the true love stories in the bible. Even though life and customs then were considerably different from today, Jacob loved Rachel from the moment he saw her to the moment she died giving birth to Benjamin.


Rachel, in her dying breath named her son Ben Oni which means "Son of my sorrow." However, Jacob changed his name to Benjamin which means "Son of my right hand."


Remember it is from the lineage of Jacob that Jesus will eventually be born. One might expect that Jesus would be born from an offspring of Rachel however; his lineage is traced back through Judah who was born to Leah. Jesus would be know as the lion of the tribe of Judah.



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