Click on this link for translations of today’s devotion.
(Additional languages available upon request by emailing HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com.)
Scripture reading – Genesis 29
Fleeing from his brother, who had vowed revenge (27:41-43), Jacob arrived at Bethel (28:17-19), and there the LORD appeared to him in a vision. Facing an uncertain future and far from home, the LORD affirmed to Jacob that he was chosen to be heir of the Abrahamic covenant (28:12-15; 12:1-3).
Genesis 29:1-14 – Jacob is United with His Mother’s Family
Jacob continued his journey eastward and “came into the land of the people of the east” (29:1). Having traveled four to five hundred miles, “he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well’s mouth” (29:2).
Considering the precious nature of water, there was a policy that the stone over the well’s mouth would not be removed until all the shepherds gathered with their flocks (29:3). Far from home, Jacob asked the local shepherds, “Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. 6And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep” (29:5-6).
Breaking the rule to keep the mouth of the well-sealed until all the flocks were present, Jacob “rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother” (29:10) which Rachel, the daughter of Laban, tended.
Unable to contain his joy, Jacob “kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice, and wept…[and] told [her] that he was her father’s brother [relative], and that he was Rebekah’s son [Rebekah and Laban were siblings]: and she ran and told her father” (29:11-12). When Laban received news that his nephew, the son of his sister Rebekah had come, “he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house” (29:13).
Jacob remained in his uncle’s home for “the space of a month” (29:14) when Laban proposed to his nephew that he should not continue serving him “for nought [and requested] tell me, what shall thy wages be?” (29:15).
The Scriptures reveal a detail that will become the basis of an unfolding drama in the following chapters: “Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17Leah was tender eyed [weak; unattractive]; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured” (29:16-17). Laban, as we will see, was a sly businessman and reasoned, “It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man,” Laban agreed that Jacob would labor seven years for the hand of his younger daughter. (29:19).
Jacob was smitten with Rachel’s beauty, and the seven years he labored for her to be his wife “seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (29:20). When his seven years ended, Jacob demanded that Laban give him Rachel to be his wife (29:21).
Genesis 29:22-30 – Be sure your sin will find you out!
Understanding the pains of deception, Jacob, soon learned he had met his match through dealings with his Uncle Laban, a master of trickery and chicanery. Because the bride’s face was veiled in modesty for the wedding feast, Jacob did not discover he had married Leah, Laban’s older daughter (29:23-25), until the morning after the wedding. Though the marriage had been consummated, Jacob confronted Laban the following morning. His marriage to Leah, though made under fraudulent circumstances, was nevertheless binding (29:25).
Laban excused his deceit, supposedly citing a local tradition that a younger sister was forbidden to marry before the older sister (29:26). Laban slyly suggested an arrangement for Jacob to labor for another seven years. If he agreed, he would give him his beloved Rachel as his second wife (29:27). Jacob consented to the arrangement and took Rachel as his wife one week later.
Warning: Making agreements with men like Laban, a man void of integrity, is risky business!
Laban kept his agreement, but Jacob now found himself the husband of two wives and entangled in the sin of bigamy. We read that Jacob “loved also Rachel more than Leah… 31And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated [despised], he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren” (29:30a-31).
Closing thoughts – One passing phrase in this narrative forewarns us of the troubles that will follow Jacob’s household: Jacob “loved also Rachel more than Leah” (29:30).
An old idiom reads, “Chickens come home to roost!” In other words, it is the nature of chickens to come home to their roosting place at night. So, it is also true that the consequences of sinful choices invariably come home and catch up with us all.
While Jacob’s journey took him hundreds of miles from home, his sins against his father and brother had come to be mirrored in the schemes of his father-in-law to which he fell, victim.
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
* You can subscribe to the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone). You may also email your request to HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com
The Internal Revenue Service recognizes Heart of A Shepherd Inc as a 501c3 public charitable organization.
Heart of A Shepherd Inc
7853 Gunn Hwy
Tampa, FL 33626-1611
You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.