Genesis 29

1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the children of the east. 2 He looked, and behold, a well in the field, and, behold, three flocks of sheep lying there by it. For out of that well they watered the flocks. The stone on the well’s mouth was large. 3 There all the flocks were gathered. They rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again on the well’s mouth in its place. 4 Jacob said to them, “My relatives, where are you from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” 5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban, the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” 6 He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well. See, Rachel, his daughter, is coming with the sheep.” 7 He said, “Behold, it is still the middle of the day, not time to gather the livestock together. Water the sheep, and go and feed them.” 8 They said, “We can’t, until all the flocks are gathered together, and they roll the stone from the well’s mouth. Then we water the sheep.” 9 While he was yet speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she kept them. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban, his mother’s brother, Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son. She ran and told her father. 13 When Laban heard the news of Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet Jacob, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things. 14 Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” He lived with him for a month. 15 Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what will your wages be?” 16 Laban had two daughters. The name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and attractive. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. He said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you, than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me.” 20 Jacob served seven years for Rachel. They seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had for her. 21 Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.” 22 Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 23 In the evening, he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him. He went in to her. 24 Laban gave Zilpah his servant to his daughter Leah for a servant. 25 In the morning, behold, it was Leah. He said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Didn’t I serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 Laban said, “It is not done so in our place, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Fulfill the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you will serve with me yet seven other years.” 28 Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week. He gave him Rachel his daughter as wife. 29 Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah, his servant, to be her servant. 30 He went in also to Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. 31 The LORD saw that Leah was hated, and he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 Leah conceived, and bore a son, and she named him Reuben. For she said, “Because the LORD has looked at my affliction. For now my husband will love me.” 33 She conceived again, and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has therefore given me this son also.” She named him Simeon. 34 She conceived again, and bore a son. Said, “Now this time will my husband be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. 35 She conceived again, and bore a son. She said, “This time will I praise the LORD.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–8

Jacob proceeded cheerfully in his journey, after the sweet communion he had with God at Beth-el. Providence brought him to the field where his uncle’s flocks were to be watered. What is said of the care of the shepherds for their sheep, may remind us of the tender concern which our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, has for his flock the church; for he is the good Shepherd, that knows his sheep, and is known of them. The stone at the well’s mouth was to secure it; water was scarce, it was not there for every one’s use: but separate interests should not take us from helping one another. When all the shepherds came together with their flocks, then, like loving neighbours, they watered their flocks together. The law of kindness in the tongue has a commanding power, Pr 31:26. Jacob was civil to these strangers, and he found them civil to him.

Verses 9–14

See Rachel’s humility and industry. Nobody needs to be ashamed of honest, useful labour, nor ought it to hinder any one’s preferment. When Jacob understood that this was his kinswoman, he was very ready to serve her. Laban, though not the best humoured, bade him welcome, and was satisfied with the account Jacob gave of himself. While we avoid being foolishly ready to believe every thing which is told us, we must take heed of being uncharitably suspicious.

Verses 15–30

During the month that Jacob spent as a guest, he was not idle. Wherever we are, it is good to employ ourselves in some useful business. Laban was desirous that Jacob should continue with him. Inferior relations must not be imposed upon; it is our duty to reward them. Jacob made known to Laban the affection he had for his daughter Rachel. And having no wordly goods with which to endow her, he promises seven years’ service Love makes long and hard services short and easy; hence we read of the labour of love, Heb 6:10. If we know how to value the happiness of heaven, the sufferings of this present time will be as nothing to us. An age of work will be but as a few days to those that love God, and long for Christ’s appearing. Jacob, who had imposed upon his father, is imposed upon by Laban, his father-in-law, by a like deception. Herein, how unrighteous soever Laban was, the Lord was righteous: see Jud 1:7. Even the righteous, if they take a false step, are sometimes thus recompensed in the earth. And many who are not, like Jacob, in their marriage, disappointed in person, soon find themselves, as much to their grief, disappointed in the character. The choice of that relation ought to be made with good advice and thought on both sides. There is reason to believe that Laban’s excuse was not true. His way of settling the matter made bad worse. Jacob was drawn into the disquiet of multiplying wives. He could not refuse Rachel, for he had espoused her; still less could he refuse Leah. As yet there was no express command against marrying more than one wife. It was in the patriarchs a sin of ignorance; but it will not justify the like practice now, when God’s will is plainly made known by the Divine law, Le 18:18, and more fully since, by our Saviour, that one man and woman only must be joined together, 1Co 7:2.

Verses 31–35

The names Leah gave her children, expressed her respect and regard, both to God and to her husband. Reuben, or See a son, with this thought, Now will my husband love me; Levi, or joined, expecting, Now will my husband be joined unto me. Mutual affection is both the duty and comfort of the married relation; and yoke-fellows should study to recommend themselves to each other, 1Co 7:33, 34. She thankfully acknowledges the kind providence of God in hearing her. Whatever supports and comforts us under afflictions, or tends to our deliverance from them, God must be owned in it. Her fourth son she called Judah, or praise, saying, Now will I praise the Lord. This was he, of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came. Whatever is the matter of our rejoicing, ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. Fresh favours should quicken us to praise God for former favours; Now will I praise the Lord more and better than I have done. All our praises must centre in Christ, both as the matter of them, and as the Mediator of them. He descended after the flesh from him whose name was “Praise,” and He is our praise. Is Christ formed in my heart? Now will I praise the Lord.

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