15 Then Laban said to him, “You are one of my relatives. But is that any reason for you to work for me for nothing? Tell me what your pay should be.” 16 Laban had two daughters. The name of the older one was Leah. And the name of the younger one was Rachel. 17 Leah was plain, but Rachel was beautiful. She had a nice figure. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel. He said to Laban, “I’ll work for you for seven years so I can marry your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It’s better for me to give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob worked for seven years so he could marry Rachel. But they seemed like only a few days to him because he loved her so much. 21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. I’ve completed my time. I want to sleep with her.” 22 So Laban brought all the people of the place together and had a feast prepared. 23 But when evening came, he gave his daughter Leah to Jacob. And Jacob slept with her. 24 Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter as her servant. 25 When Jacob woke up the next morning, there was Leah next to him! So he said to Laban, “What have you done to me? I worked for you so I could marry Rachel, didn’t I? Why did you trick me?” 26 Laban replied, “It isn’t our practice here to give the younger daughter to be married before the older one. 27 Complete this daughter’s wedding week. Then we’ll give you the younger one also. But you will have to work for another seven years.” 28 So Jacob completed the week with Leah. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her servant. 30 Jacob slept with Rachel also. He loved Rachel more than he loved Leah. And he worked for Laban for another seven years.
It’s ironic isn’t it? Jacob, the deceiver, is deceived. Jacob’s name means “grasper” and that’s been his character (not just his birth): the one who took what was not his is now cheated of what he is owed.
This is the second time Laban has given wives to Abraham’s family. He was straight forward in his dealings with Abraham and readily gave his sister Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife. But now he’s entirely different. I expect Laban knew of the goings on in his sister’s family and why Jacob had run away. I wonder if he is teaching his nephew a lesson about the effects his deception had on those around him.
It can be hard to see the consequence sin in my life has on others, but the effect of others sin on me is easy to see, and feel. Being hurt can be a blessing if it helps me see how I hurt others. And a yard stick for my actions “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (Matthew 7:12)
It may be significant that Laban trusts Jacob, the one who runs away, to stay for the second 7 years after he gives him Rachel. And it’s certainly significant that he does. Being Jacob was not his destiny. He is becoming Israel, the faithful, who holds onto God and refuses to let go.
Written by David Cornell