29:1-14 – Family Reunion
Jacob, fresh from having the blessing at Bethel, reunites at the old family well. Lest you think that Esau was the strong one (and Jacob the citified weakling), he moves the stone on the well. In Hebrew, there is a play on words. When Jacob kisses Rachel, he literally in Hebrew, “watered her lips.” It is love at first sight. It is a bold move, perhaps in our age of “me too,” more than bold. We are once again dealing with Laban as we were in Chapter 24.
29:15-30 – The Trickster is Tricked
Leah means “cow.” Rachel means “lamb of God.” Leah has nice eyes. Rachel is easy on the eyes. I believe this is called, “Lookism.”
Jacob and Laban make a deal that Jacob will work for seven years and marry Rachel. It must have been quite a wedding party, and I guess, with veils and considerable wine. Perhaps sharp-eyed Jacob is blinded by lust, by having wanted someone for so long, and by expectation. The upshot is that Jacob doesn’t figure out that Laban has switched brides until day-break. Jacob works another seven years –a considerable engagement. One only wonders what Leah thought about all this.
29:31-30:24 – Children and Family Drama
The double marriage has rocky points. Jacob plays favorites. Rachael is jealous. In some ways the sisters wrestle as much as Jacob and Esau. God has pity on Leah, giving her so many children. Finally, Rachel has Joseph. The competition between the sisters foreshadows some rocky sibling interactions in the future.
30:25-43 – Jacob Gets His Comeuppance
Jacob engages in some genetic engineering to relieve Laban of his flocks. Jacob is still looking out for himself.
31:1-21 – Jacob Flees Again
Laban’s sons aren’t happy with Jacob’s breeding program, as they’ve been materially hurt by it. Fortunately, for the first time in a while, God speaks and tells Jacob to head home.
It is interesting that Rachel steals the household gods. In scripture we see two approaches to God and the gods. One view is monotheism: there is one God, and all others are fake and weak. See Isaiah 46.
The other is henotheism: there are lots of gods. These gods symbolize or personify the powers of life on which we depend; such as fertility, conquest in battle, weather, etc. Think Mars, Mammon, Eros, Dionysus, etc. According to henotheism, the gods are real, but the living God must come first, as in the first of the 10 commandments, “You shall have no other gods before me.” See Exodus 20:3.
I’m not commending Rachel, but giving some perspective. It is not unusual for Christian monotheism to move into a culture and co-exist with native religions for several generations.
31:22-55 – Caught
Laban and his sons don’t take Jacob’s sharp dealing lying down. They hunt him down. Perhaps the lesson is that a good leaving is worth something.
Laban and Jacob reconcile by “cutting” a covenant. They set up a pillar and pile rocks in a heap. This pile of rocks will serve as a witness that ensures that they keep the covenant.
32:1-31 - Nerves
Jacob is nervous as he prepares to meet Esau. He can imagine this going badly and divides the flocks lest Esau go on the warpath.
Alone, in the middle of the night, Jacob wrestles the stranger. Although they wrestle to a standstill, the stranger touches his hip and cripples him – as if the power was always overwhelming. As if Jacob’s wrestling through life was in some ways a wrestling with God. Jacob can’t overpower the stranger and won’t let go until he gets the blessing of new name.
33 – Jacob and Esau Meet
Despite Jacob’s severe trepidation and plans for worst-case scenarios, Esau welcomes Jacob and weeps. In his face, Jacob sees God’s face and favor. It is a truly touching scene.
March 26 - April 1: Genesis 34 – 37
April 2 – 8: Genesis 38 – 41
April 9 – 15: Genesis 42 – 45
April 16 – 22: Genesis 46 – 47
April 23 – 29: Genesis 48 – 50