Genesis 29:1−30

May 3rd, 2016| Topic: aBeLOG, Genesis | 0

Genesis 29:1−30

God’s blessings do not preclude the possibility of appropriate discipline for misdeeds.

Jacob is fleeing from his brother, Esau, whom he had deceived. We find him here in Haran, the land of his uncle. He happens to arrive at the well where shepherds from Haran congregate. Which also happens to be the place where Rachel, Laban’s daughter, waters her flock. And it also happens that she arrives at that opportune moment. And it happens that Jacob finds the strength to move the stone from the mouth of the well to water her flock. Everything is going well for our man. God’s promise to be with him wherever he went (28:15)—given at a place where stones played significant role (28:11, 18, 22)—is coming to pass. Life is good when you’re being blessed!

Jacob kisses Rachel, lifts his voice, weeps, explains the situation (28:11–12). Rachel runs and tells her father (28:12). Laban runs, embraces, kisses Jacob, and brings him home (28:13–14). All’s well that begins well, one might think, for Jacob has only had good “luck” so far.

Jacob must have been thinking:

This is terrific. God’s a great butler for me. I can cheat my brother, do all kinds of mischief, and look … everything’s still going well. Praise the Lord! In fact, I’m gonna keep at my deceptions and manipulations and connivings, and God can keep at his promises and benevolences and blessings. We’ve got a deal going here.”

Or so he thought.

There are hints of danger, though. Jacob was bound eastward in 29:1, and that direction has usually never boded well thus far in Genesis. East was where Cain settled when driven out of God’s presence (4:16); Lot went eastward to Sodom and Gomorrah (13:11); the Babelites went eastward and engaged in a disastrous building enterprise (11:2); and Abraham’s non-elect children were dispatched thereto (25:6). Thus, right at the start, there is a portent of a negative outcome. Then the description “Laban, his mother’s brother” occurs three times in 29:10, making the point rather redundantly, that Laban was the brother of Rebekah, the mastermind behind the deception of Isaac. Uh, oh, what’s “his mother’s brother” going to do?

To cut a long story short: Jacob works for seven years to win the hand of the one he had fallen for, Rachel, the younger of Laban’s two daughters. Wedding night arrives. “And it came about in the evening” that Laban substituted his older daughter, Leah, for Jacob’s bride-to-be, Rachel (29:23). And Jacob had relations with her (29:23). “And it came about in the morning”—behold! it was Leah, not Rachel, as Jacob thought it was (29:25). Tricked! The older substituted for the younger! (Where have we heard that before?)

Jacob’s accusation of Laban the next day is pungent with irony: “You deceived me” (29:25). The last time we heard the related noun, deceit, was when Isaac accused his son, Jacob, in his cry to the deceived older son, Esau: “Your brother came with deceit” (27:35). The younger had cheated the older then. But now …

Oh, and did you get the pointed time-stamps the narrator gave us: “evening” (29:23), and “morning” (29:25). There may have been other reasons for Jacob’s non-recognition of the woman in his tent, but the narrator is hinting that one reason was because it was dark and Jacob couldn’t see. Well, guess how Jacob managed to deceive his father into thinking he was not Jacob, but Esau—Isaac was blind and couldn’t see.

In other words, the chickens had come home to roost. You cheat, you pay. You chase, you crash. You sow, you reap.

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