Genesis 29-32

So Abraham has died, Isaac and Rebekah have had Esau and Jacob, Isaac deceived Abimelech, Jacob got Esau’s birthright and blessing, and Jacob has moved to Haran where Laban is.  What’s next for our fleeing hero?

Genesis 29

  • Jacob comes to a well with a stone over it.  It is custom to wait for all the shepherds and their flocks to arrive before rolling back the stone to water the flocks.
  • Jacob asks some of the shepherds at this well if they know Laban.  They say they do and that Laban is doing well.
  • Jacob sees Rachel coming to water her flocks.  He rolls away the stone and introduces himself as her cousin (after kissing her).  Laban comes out and warmly greets Jacob.
  • After a month, Jacob and Laban agreed that after Jacob worked for seven years, he could marry Rachel.
  • After the seven years, Laban gave Leah (the oldest daughter) to Jacob instead of Rachel (it is custom for the oldest daughter to marry first).  Jacob slept with her and noticed in the morning that she was not Rachel (I’m guessing because of the veil).  The deceiver is deceived!
  • Although Jacob got Rachel soon after, he still had to work another seven years for her.
  • Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah.  So God made Rachel childless and gave Leah four sons (for now): Reuben (meaning “Look, a son!” and also sounding like “He has seen my misery”), Simeon (meaning “one who hears”), Levi (meaning “being attached” or “feeling affection for”), and Judah (probably meaning “praise”).

Genesis 30

  • Rachel was jealous of Leah having all the children.  She gave Jacob her servant Bilhah so he could have children through her servant.  (Good grief, is it just me or does this family repeat the same things OVER and OVER?  Abraham and Isaac both deceived two different King Abimelechs, Abraham and Isaac both slept with their wives maids for a child, Laban and Jacob both deceived family members…)
  • Bilhah bore Dan (meaning “to vindicate” or “to judge”) and Naphtali (meaning “my struggle”).
  • Leah, realizing she was no longer bearing children, gave Jacob her servant, Zilpah, in order to bear more children through her.  Zilpah bore Jacob Gad (meaning “good fortune”) and Asher (meaning “happy”).
  • One day Reuben brought Leah some mandrakes.  Rachel exchanged letting Leah sleep with Jacob for the mandrake roots.
  • Leah bore Issachar (meaning “reward”) as a result of that night, and Zebulun (meaning “honor”) later on.  She also had a daughter named Dinah.
  • Rachel finally has a child and names him Joseph (meaning “may he add”).
  • Jacob tells Laban he wants to go home (after twenty years of work… seven for Leah, seven for Rachel, and six for wages — the livestock).  Laban knows that Jacob’s hard work has made him much richer and does not want Jacob to go.
  • Jacob says he will take all the spotted sheep and goats as his wages to take care of his family.  Laban removes them and gives them to his sons, who took them three days’ distance away.
  • Jacob uses some fancy method for mating that made all the strong livestock spotted (belonging to him) and all the livestock without spots weak (belonging to Laban).

Genesis 31

  • Jacob realizes that Laban and his sons are not liking him very much anymore.  They see that all the good livestock belong to Jacob… even after Laban changed the agreement for which ones were Jacob’s quite a few times.  God is taking care of Jacob.
  • Jacob tells Rachel and Leah that it is time to go.  They are fine with this, as Laban has not been treating them very well either.
  • They all leave privately, along with Jacob’s livestock.  Rachel steals Laban’s household gods, hides them, and takes them with her (not telling anyone about it).
  • Laban did not know they had left for three days.  However, he took off after them when he figured it out and caught up with them in Gilead after seven days.
  • Laban said he would have parted with them with a party.  But he also wanted his household gods.  Jacob swore to kill the person who had them.
  • Rachel took them and put them under her camel’s saddle.  Then she sat on her camel.  Laban searched everywhere and could not find the gods.  Rachel told Laban that she was on her period, so she could not get up (my own side-note: wow, she used that excuse?  LOL).
  • Jacob became very angry and told Laban a lot of the bad things he had done to him.
  • So Laban and Jacob made a treaty to not hurt each other.  They shared a meal and setup a monument.  The name of that place is called Mizpah (meaning “watchtower”).
  • The next morning Laban kissed his daughters and grandchildren, blessed them, then went back home.

Genesis 32

  • Going to his homeland, Jacob sent messengers to Esau with news of his coming (in peace, hopefully).  The messengers returned saying Esau was headed their way with an army of four hundred men!
  • Jacob divided everything he had into two groups (so the other could escape if one was killed).
  • Faced with this difficult situation, Jacob prayed.
  • Jacob sent a huge number of animals to Esau through his servants as appeasement.
  • Jacob sent his wives, concubines, sons, and possessions across the Jabbok river and stayed alone in his camp.
  • A man came and wrestled with Jacob.  When the man saw he could not win, he knocked Jacob’s hip out of socket and asked to be let go.  Jacob refused unless he blessed him.  The man changed Jacob’s name to Israel (meaning “one who struggles with God”).
  • Jacob named the place Peniel (meaning “face of God”).  To this day, Israelites don’t eat meat near the hip (in memory of this event).
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