Trekking Genesis

pinacled

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Gen 28:8 . . Esau realized that the Canaanite women displeased his father Isaac.

Now that Esau no longer enjoyed the status of a pampered athlete, he's a little
more attuned to the opinions of others around him; most especially to the dad who
at one time gave the impression his eldest was so wonderful.


Gen 28:9a . . So Esau went to Ishmael and took to wife, in addition to the wives
he had,

Some feel that Esau did that to create an alliance with Ishmael; since he too was a
disfavored son. But Ishmael was already deceased by this time. He was at least
fourteen years older than Isaac, who was by this time around 135. Ishmael died at
137; twelve years prior to this chapter. It is much more likely that Esau betrothed a
woman from Ishmael's family in an attempt to redeem his marriages to the Hittite
girls. Ishmael's girls, at least, were kin.


Gen 28:9b . . Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, sister of
Nebaioth.

Ishmael being long dead; his son Nebaioth made the arrangements for marriage.

You know, life sometimes dealt cruelly with girls in that day. Romance was out of
the question. Even if there was a boy in the neighborhood that took their breath
away, the girls weren't allowed to even date, let alone marry him. They had to
marry a man their dads or their brothers selected-- oftentimes a total stranger and
often someone quite a bit older than themselves. You'll often see it said in the Bible
that so and so loved a particular girl; but hardly ever will you see where she loved
him back.

I believe that Abraham was a conscientious parent and made certain Ishmael
received religious training. By the time Ishmael was evicted at fifteen or so, he had
a pretty good basic knowledge regarding Abraham's god. And his mom Hagar was
familiar with Him too. So it would not surprise me if Mahalath was pretty sound in
the correct beliefs. She was a much better choice than the Hittite girls, and she is
never once said to be a heartbreak to either Isaac or Rebecca. I would like to think
Mahalath was very good company for Rebecca; which would have been a real
comfort to her now that Jacob was gone.

Unfortunately, Mahalath was too little too late. It was like closing the gate after the
horses have run out of the corral. I'm sure Mahalath was okay; but Esau's new wife
could never change God's decree concerning Jacob. Esau lost out: and he lost out
big.


Gen 28:10 . . Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran.

It's difficult for me to believe that Jacob made the 450 miles trip to Haran all by
himself. He may have, I don't know. I'm not saying he didn't. After all, Hagar was
apparently traveling alone when she ran away from Sarah back in chapter 16. But
that was a very dangerous, foolish thing to do. A lone person in wild country is just
asking for trouble. What if they were to fall and break a leg? Or were attacked by
brigands and/or wild animals?

The route to Haran was used by caravans so Jacob may have traveled along with
one for safety's sake; and if not, then maybe with travelers on foot like himself sort
of like the pilgrims who trek the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.


Gen 28:11a . . He came upon a certain place

According to Gen 28:19, the "certain place" was Bethel. The site started out as Luz;
but later came to be known by the name Jacob gave it. Today it's commonly
believed Bethel was somewhere around Beitin, about twelve miles north of
Jerusalem and maybe two and a half miles northeast of Ramallah. At this point,
Jacob was maybe sixty miles from Beer-sheba-- probably the second or third day of
his journey.


Gen 28:11b . . and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set.

Travel at night without a car with good electric headlights was not a good idea in
those days. Palestine was once the habitat of bears and lions; and the odds were
against you of getting lost and losing your way in the dark.


Gen 28:11c . .Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and
lay down in that place.

I doubt the stone was very large. Probably just enough to elevate his head a little
so he wouldn't lie with his cheek right down on flat dirt. That is so uncomfortable.
Try it. Put a towel or something down on the floor and lie down on the side of your
head. It's much more comfortable to stack a few books first and then put the towel
down. He probably did it like that and cushioned the stone with a bag or a coat.


Gen 28:12a . . He had a dream;

In the book of Genesis, dreams are a common means of communication between
God and humans. Is that still going on? I really don't know. But if it ever happened
to me, I would consider it a nightmare.
_
Considering the whole context of family.
Its very likely that Jacob and Rachael met at a younger age and Rebekah saw their connection.

And then there are many blessings given Jacob in his travels to find and ask his soul mate to journey with him further into the blessings of HaShem.
 

pinacled

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Considering the whole context of family.
Its very likely that Jacob and Rachael met at a younger age and Rebekah saw their connection.

And then there are many blessings given Jacob in his travels to find and ask his soul mate to journey with him further into the blessings of HaShem.
Remember also that a messenger is sent ahead with the dowry gift before the groom sets out before hearing a response.
The groom only journeys if the bride accepts.
 

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Gen 28:12b . . a ladder was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and
angels of God were going up and down on it.

The word for "ladder" is from cullam (sool-lawm') which is actually a staircase. This
is the one and only place in the entire Old Testament where that specific word is
located so we can't compare it's application in other contexts.

One of the problems with Old Testament Hebrew is that scholars are not quite sure
what some of the ancient words really mean. Cullam could just as easily mean an
elevator or an escalator.

There's something very conspicuous about the staircase in Jacob's dream: there
were no humans on it. So what does that mean? Well . . the staircase was, after all,
merely a figment rather than a physical object. But it has to signify something real
in order to be useful. I would say the dream indicates, at the very least, that
there's an avenue-- a connection --between Heaven and Earth so that mankind
isn't totally isolated from God.

But why show Jacob a stairway to heaven if human beings weren't using it in his
day? I think that the very existence of a pathway to God meant that one day not
only angels, but human beings too would be using it-- because, in reality, that
stairway represents Christ; Jacob's great, great, great grandson. (cf. John 1:45-51)


Gen 28:13a . . And behold, Yhvh stood above it and said: I am Yhvh; god of
Abraham your father, and the god of Isaac;

On the page of Scripture, this is Jacob's very first close encounter with his father's
god. Till now, Yhvh had been merely data in Jacob's head; something he picked up
in home-school yeshiva.

Exactly why God chose to become personal with Jacob at just that moment in his
life is a mystery. But the moment came not around the dinner table at home with
family; but actually when Jacob stepped away from his family.

It was as if Jacob's own family-- the holiest family on earth at the time; the
keepers of the knowledge of the one true god --was actually hindering Jacob's
spiritual progress; and if anything is to be learned at all from his experience, it's
that his own father, the spiritual head of the house, was the one to blame for it. It
certainly wasn't Rebecca; no, not when it was to her that God revealed the eldest of
the two lads would serve the younger: and I'm really curious why God didn't repeat
His edict to Isaac.


Gen 28:13b-14 . . the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to
your offspring. Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread
out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the
earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants.

Those are essentially the very same promises that God originally made to Abraham.
The most important one, that of blessing to all nations, has been passed on down,
not to all the descendants of Abraham, but only to special ones; beginning with
Isaac, then Jacob, and eventually to Christ. (Gal 3:16)

Not all Hebrews are a blessing to all the families of the earth. Only those Hebrews
who inherited the patriarchy are a blessing because it is through them that
Messiah's line has existed. The other Hebrews really don't count for much in that
respect except that the nation, as a whole, is credited with safe-keeping the Old
Testament. (Rom 3:1-2)
_
 

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Gen 28:15 . . Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and
will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have
promised you.

Hardly any of those promises were fulfilled in Jacob's lifetime-- his offspring didn't
become as populous as the dust of the earth, nor did they spread out to the east
and the west and to the north and to the south. Nor did all the nations of the earth
bless themselves by Jacob and his descendants. So what gives? How could God
say: "I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you"

I believe God has continually associated with Jacob to this very day, ever since the
day of their first close encounter at Bethel. That didn't stop with Jacob's demise.
No, their association goes on.

"Now even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised,
when he called the Lord "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob." For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him." (Luke
20:37-38)

In order to live "to" God (viz: live unto God) it is necessary to be in existence. God
has always been with Jacob, and never left him even once-- all these many years;
better than three-thousand of them by now. And all this whole time Jacob has lived
under God's protection because God promised He would protect Jacob wherever he
went; and in order for that promise to be meaningful, it has to include the afterlife.
(cf. Ps 139:7-10, Matt 16:18)


Gen 28:16-17a . . Jacob awoke from his sleep and said: Surely the Lord is
present in this place, and I did not know it! Shaken, he said: How awesome is this
place!

Actually Jacob was very frightened. I believe that place gave him the creeps. It isn't
unusual for an encounter with God to unnerve people. Even the very best saints get
shook up by it. Daniel just about fainted when God talked with him (Dan 10:17.
And Moses was very frightened when God descended upon Mt. Sinai. (Heb 12:18
21)


Gen 28:17b . .This is none other than the house of God, and that is the gateway
to heaven.

The Hebrew word for "house" is somewhat ambiguous. It can indicate one's
dwelling, and it can indicate one's entire estate. For example; Pharaoh's house at
Gen 12:15 consisted of a palace while Abraham's house at Gen 14:14 consisted of
all that he owned and possessed. Jacob apparently assumed (probably correctly)
that the real estate where he met with God was a favorite of His in Canaan; i.e. He
had it staked out for Himself: and who's to argue with that?
_
 

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Gen 28:18a . . Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone that he had put under
his head and set it up as a pillar

The word for "pillar" is from matstsebah (mats-tsay-baw') which is something
stationed; viz: a column or (memorial stone)by analogy, an idol. All over the
Mojave Desert in California are man-made stone monuments that mark the location
of historical events and/or sites. One of my favorites is the Foot And Walker pass
where Butterfield stagecoach passengers had to disembark and walk because the
slope was too steep for horses to pull the coach with them inside it.

Jacob's pillow stone became a souvenir of his very first close encounter with the
Bible's God. To set it up, he would need something to elevate it and make it
prominent. So he probably gathered more stones into a pile, like a cairn, and then
put his pillow block on the very top as the cap stone.


Gen 28:18b . . and poured oil on the top of it.

The Bible doesn't say where Jacob got the idea to pour oil on his historical marker;
so we'll just have to take an educated guess at it. It's very likely, considering the
situation, that anointing the pillow stone with oil (probably either an edible, or
medicinal oil rather than a petroleum based lubricant) dedicated it as a memorial to
Jacob's contractual bond between himself and God.

There's reported to be widespread evidence (I haven't seen it for myself) from the
ancient Near East, for the use of oil in international treaty relationships, and in
effectuating business contracts. The practice seems to have been a token of peace,
friendship, and assumed obligation. In Jacob's case, the anointing is connected with
the making of a vow that bound him to specific commitments.


Gen 28:19 . . He named that site Bethel; but previously the name of the city had
been Luz.

Luz retained it's original name for a long time afterwards. On his way back home
after twenty years with Laban, the name hadn't yet been changed to Bethel (Gen
36:6). Precisely when the site's name was officially changed to Bethel is difficult to
ascertain.

The word for "Bethel" is from Beyth-' El (bayth-ale') which means (what else?)
house of God.

According to Jewish folklore, the stone Jacob chose for his pillow was actually one
of the stones Abraham used to construct the altar where he bound Isaac. Jewish
folklore also believes the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to be the site where Abraham
offered his son. Those lore imply that Bethel and the Temple Mount are
geographically the same. But it's highly unlikely. The Temple Mount is in Jerusalem;
and Bethel was about 12 miles to the north. The exact geographic location of the
offering of Isaac is totally unknown at this time.

In the days of Solomon's rule, Israel became divided into a north and a south, sort
of like America's fracture during the Civil War. A king named Jeroboam ruled the
northern part and another king named Rehoboam ruled the southern part. The
northern part was called Israel, and the southern part was called Judah. Jeroboam
became concerned that his subjects in the north might change sides due to the
Temple being located in the south. (1Kgs 12:26-29)

Point being, the Temple Mount was at Jerusalem in Rehoboam's realm; and Bethel
was on Jeroboam's turf in the north; and if the people really wanted to get on God's
bad side, they worshipped in the north.

"Come to Bethel, and transgress" (Amos 4:4)
_
 

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Gen 28:20-21 . . Jacob then made a vow, saying: If God remains with me, if He
protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and
clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my father's house-- Yhvh shall be my God.

What's he saying? That the Lord has not been his god up to this point? Not
necessarily. It wasn't uncommon in those days for people to worship other gods
right along with Yhvh. This practice was later strictly forbidden by the first of the
Ten Commandments. (Ex 20:1-3)

Jacob's uncle Laban (the very father of his beloved Rachel) was notorious for
polytheism. On the one hand, he recognized Yhvh's divinity (Gen 24:50 and 31:29)
while on the other hand he harbored a collection of patron gods in his home (Gen
31:19 and 31:30). In the ancient Semitic world; patron gods were equivalent to
Catholicism's patron saints-- objects of devotion venerated as special guardians,
protectors, and/or supporters; viz: alternative sources of providence.

Jacob knew about Abraham's god and believed that He existed (Gen 27:20). But
that's merely an educated consent, and nothing personal. It's like knowing and
believing that Mr. Barak Hussein Obama is the President of the United States. But
so what? Has the President ever come to your home for coffee or dinner? Have the
two of you been to a movie together or to a picnic? Where was he when you were
sick, down and out, and/or feeling helpless, hopeless, despondent and depressed?
See what I'm saying?

Lots of people glibly venerate the Bible's God. But very, very few can honestly say:
The Lord is my friend, He cares about me, He cares about my life, He protects me
and provides for me wherever I go. I am His, and He is mine. We are one; we are
together.

Jacob's vow reflects a personal decision of his own volition to make Yhvh the sole
object of his religious devotion to the exclusion of all the other gods that people
commonly venerated in his day. So we could paraphrase Gen 28:20-21 to read like
this:

"If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and
gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my father's
house-- then Yhvh shall be my only patron."
_
 

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Gen 28:22a . . And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, shall be God's
abode;

Jacob's pillow stone wasn't really meant to be a dwelling or a container as we
typically think of human habitat or animal cages. It was meant to be a sort of
monitoring device. An 8th century BC Aramaic treaty inscription from Sfire, in
Syria, terms each upright stone on which the treaty is inscribed as an abode of the
gods.

The Hebrew word for "God" is 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which is a plural word meaning
gods of all descriptions; both the good and the bad; and the true and the false. So
that we could translate Gen 28:22a-- "shall be the abode of the gods."

The stone(s) symbolize a divine presence monitoring fulfillment and/or infractions
of the terms of a treaty or a vow. So Jacob's pillar was not only the custodian of his
vow, but was also its regulatory agency taking note whether Jacob and Yhvh keep
their promises to each other. The very same thing turns up again in Gen 31:44-52.


Gen 28:22b . . and of all that You give me, I will set aside a tithe for You.

This is probably the very first Biblical instance of the so-called "faith promise".
Though coming from a wealthy family; and heir apparent to his father Isaac's
personal fortune, the fulfillment of this particular vow was contingent, not upon
what Jacob possessed already; but upon God's future providence.

Jacob didn't promise a set dollar figure, but promised a "tithe" which in English
Bibles is commonly translated a tenth; but in reality the Hebrew word 'asar (aw
sar') just means to apportion; which Webster's defines as: to divide and share out
according to a plan; especially to make a proportionate division or distribution of.

The value of a nondescript tithe therefore is left up to individual discretion.

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or
under compulsion, for God prefers a whole-hearted giver." (2Cor 9:7)

"And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you
were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the
work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of
it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable
according to what one has, not according to what he does not have." (2Cor 8:10
12)

Jacob was under no obligation to reciprocate and compensate God for the promises.
Their fulfillment was dependent neither upon Jacob's generosity nor his piety.
Fulfillment was dependent solely upon God's own personal integrity.

So why should Jacob dedicate a tithe? Well; like I said, he didn't have to. Jacob's
response was totally spontaneous and voluntary. His tithe was motivated from a
sense of fair play-- reciprocation --rather than a response to Holy mandates. In
other words: Jacob reciprocated God's kindness with kindness of his own.

A faith that gives out of friendship, rather than obligation, is much better than a
religion that mandates a tithe. And the gift should be given where the giver feels
whole-hearted about it; viz: they should have some say in where their offering
goes, and they should be able to feel quite satisfied about it rather than feel as
though their pockets were picked.

So; how was Jacob going to transfer some of his assets into God's account? There
was neither Temple nor synagogue in his day, and certainly no Aaronic priesthood.
Abraham did his business with Melchizedek but there is no record of either Isaac or
Jacob doing business with one of Mel's successors.

When all else fails, a very, very good way to give to God is by helping people less
fortunate than yourself; in other words: pay it forward.

"He who is generous to the poor makes a loan to Yhvh: He will repay him his due."
(Prv 19:17)

There are lots of charities benefiting disadvantaged people. United Way lists quite
few to pick from; and just about every city has at least one gospel-oriented rescue
mission. For sure; those causes are a whole lot more satisfying than just mindlessly
tossing money into a basket passed around on a Sunday morning.
_
 

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Gen 29:1 . . Jacob resumed his journey and came to the land of the Easterners.

The geographic region in Turkey where Jacob went wasn't actually east by his
reckoning. It was just about dead north. But the people who populated that region
had roots in the east. Here's another version.

"Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the sons of the east."

Many of the peoples in and around Haran, although they lived northward from
Canaan, were actually descendants of early pioneers who migrated out west from
the world of Babylon; just as Abraham and his dad Terah had done many years
prior to Jacob's birth. (cf. Gen 11:1-2)


Gen 29:2a . .There before his eyes was a well in the open.

The balance of Jacob's trip, from Luz to this well, is passed over in silence.
Apparently nothing of significance occurred along the way. If Jacob traveled at, say,
25 miles per day, it would have taken him about eighteen days to reach Haran.

If he stuck to the trade route, he could have stopped in Damascus and took in
some of the local sights and maybe stayed at a "motel" before pushing on. Food
wouldn't really be a problem because there surely were plenty of settlements
and/or vendors along the trade route.

Major highways, like the old US routes 66, and 101, always had lots of merchants
offering overnight accommodations, plus all the goods and services a traveler would
likely need to see them through. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there existed in that
day food cart equivalents of McDonalds and Burger King.


Gen 29:2b-3 . .Three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it, for the flocks
were watered from that well. The stone on the mouth of the well was large. When
all the flocks were gathered there, the stone would be rolled from the mouth of the
well and the sheep watered; then the stone would be put back in its place on the
mouth of the well.

Apparently this well wasn't fed by an artesian source but was a variety that kept
itself filled by seepage out of a substrate aquifer. A well like that-- which is more
like a cistern --can become rancid very quickly by bird droppings, dead critters, and
debris if it's not kept covered. Although structuring the watering time created a
rush hour, it was sensible. That way the well wasn't left open for too long a time
and there was less chance of polluting it.


Gen 29:4a . . Jacob said to them: My friends, where are you from?

Exactly what language Jacob spoke in his greeting isn't said; but during his era;
Akkadian was a common language in Mesopotamia where Laban lived.

I don't think this well is the very same one where Abraham's servant met Rebecca.
For one thing, it's out in the open, not actually connected with any specific town. If
it had been, then Jacob could have assumed the shepherds lived nearby and not
asked them where they were from.

This particular well was within walking distance of pasture land. Any grasses close
in to the towns were likely over-grazed. That's just one of the natural results of
progress and urban sprawl.


Gen 29:4b-6a . . And they said: We are from Haran. He said to them: Do you
know Laban the son of Nahor? And they said: Yes, we do. He continued: Is he well?

Laban's location, and his state of affairs, would of course be Jacob's primary
concern. After all, he just traveled nearly 500 miles to find him. If the man was
dead or moved away, then the trip was all for nothing; and in those days, there
was no way to call ahead.


Gen 29:6b . .They answered: Yes, he is; and there is his daughter Rachel, coming
with the flock.

According to Gen 31:1 Laban had sons too, not just daughters. But the boys may
have been too young at the time to go out in the fields alone. So big sister had to
do all the ropin' and brandin' till her little brothers grew a few more hat sizes.

Does that maybe indicate Rachel was a bit of a tomboy? Maybe. Personally; I think
she was. But I don't think she was one of those hard, masculine kinds of tomboys,
like some tough she-male working shoulder to shoulder with roughneck oil drillers,
or packing a 9mm Glock, a nightstick, and a can of pepper spray as a cop, or
putting out fires with a hook and ladder company, or dressed full-out for combat in
Afghanistan.

I think Rachel was one of those women who can survive in a man's world if need
be; yet retain their feminine side too. They still like cosmetics, dinner out,
husbands, family and children, pampering themselves with a trip to the beauty
parlor, and shopping for new shoes and a purse-- but don't mind running a lawn
mower, trimming the hedges, or firing up a leaf blower when they have to.

There's a lot of single moms out there nowadays who haven't much choice but to
wear a man's hat now and again-- not to prove a point, but just to get by.

Herding sheep out in the open is risky for a lone woman. But apparently Rachel
wasn't afraid of any of the local men; who no doubt were motivated by male
chivalry to look out for her; and besides, we're going to see just up ahead that her
dad was not a man to trifle with. Anybody who messed with Rachel would have to
answer to Laban; and he was a man who took nothing lying down.

Jacob is going to fall for this tomboy-ish angel in a very short time; and no
surprise. Men often hook up with women that resemble their moms. That is so
weird because some of those very same guys were brought up by moms from hell.
But that's what they're used to. So, without even thinking about it, they often
gravitate to those very same attributes in a girl.

Well, Rachel and Rebecca were like peas in a pod. They were both confident,
fearless, and decisive: not to mention tens to boot. I think Jacob felt very secure
with women like that.
_
 

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Gen 29:7 . . He said: It is still broad daylight, too early to round up the animals;
water the flock and take them to pasture.

The Hebrew word for "broad" is gadowl (gaw-dole') which means great (in any
sense). Gadowl is variously translated as high day, the sun is high, early in the day,
and much daylight.

Apparently the usual time for watering flocks was later in the afternoon just prior to
bedding them down for the night.

Jacob just blew into the neighborhood and he's already telling strangers what to do!
No doubt an attitude he brought with him from Isaac's ranch. Down there the
servants jumped when Jacob said something. Up here in Haran though, things were
just a wee bit different.


Gen 29:8 . . But they said: We cannot, until all the flocks are rounded up; then
the stone is rolled off the mouth of the well and we water the sheep.

Actually, someone may have owned that well; and set the rules for it's use. In
those days, whoever dug for water usually had the rights to it; somewhat like a
prospector's claim in the gold fields out in 1850s California. Apparently the owner
didn't mind people using the water as long as they respected his feelings about it.
But Jacob had a mind of his own, and seemed to care very little for the property
rights of others.

There's a clash of cultures going on in this scene. Jacob was from the frontier lands
of Canaan where men of mettle did pretty much as they wished. I'm guessing that
Haran was a bit more sophisticated.

And then too; Jacob was a privileged kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth. I've
seen the kind of superiority complex that kind of upbringing sometimes instills
within children. Well; that's going to change. Jacob is entering the school of hard
knocks, and he's going to learn a thing or two from professor Laban. But when it's
all over, Jacob will be a better man for it.


Gen 29:9-10 . .While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her
father's flock; for she was a shepherdess. And when Jacob saw Rachel, the
daughter of his uncle Laban, and the flock of his uncle Laban, Jacob went up and
rolled the stone off the mouth of the well, and watered the flock of his uncle Laban.

Violating local customs is an insolent thing to do; and almost certainly guaranteed
to get you off on the wrong foot. And besides: fair is fair. The other shepherds were
there ahead of Rachel, and no telling how long they'd been waiting. Word of Jacob's
favoritism, and his disdain for fair play, would surely spread.

Coming from a privileged family; Jacob was accustomed to doing pretty much as he
pleased and answering to no one for it. But arriving in Haran, he was a nobody: a
homeless drifter. Now he's going to learn what it's like to be just another face in the
crowd; and he is also going to learn what it's like to do as you're told. Unkie Laban
is just the bull o' the woods for some long overdue rich-kid attitude adjustment.


Gen 29:11 . .Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and broke into tears.

Poor Jacob. He'd been under a lot of stress lately; and probably feeling very alone
in the world. His cousin must have seemed to him like an angel of mercy come to
rescue his soul from the abyss. First he helped water her flock; for no apparent
reason to Rachel other than courtesy; which she seemed to accept without any
fuss. But then he impulsively kissed her (on the cheek I hope) and started sobbing.
Rachel must have stared at Jacob like a man gone mad from a brain tumor.


Gen 29:12 . . Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's kinsman, that he was
Rebecca's son; and she ran and told her father.

Zoom! Out of there like a bottle rocket (so to speak). Boy that girl sure takes after
auntie Becky. Rachel lit out of there like the critters sent from Jessie the Cowgirl to
fetch Sheriff Woody in Toy Story2.


Gen 29:13a . . On hearing the news of his sister's son Jacob, Laban ran to greet
him;

I seriously doubt that Laban sprinted. The man was over 100 by now and near the
age of Jacob's mom; maybe even older than her. Isaac and Rebecca were married
twenty years before she became pregnant for the very first time, and Jacob is
around 75 at this point. For a man Laban's age "rushed" and/or "hurried" seems
more reasonable than ran.


Gen 29:13b . . he embraced him and kissed him,

Foreign customs often offend Americans. I was visiting the home of a Portuguese
man in San Diego a number of years back when his son and daughter-in-law
showed up unexpectedly. Dad and son greeted each other with a hug; and kissed
full on the lips. I just about died; it was so gross. And then he kissed the daughter
in-law full on the lips too. I think you have to grow up in those kinds of customs to
really be comfortable with them.


Gen 29:13c-14a . . and took him into his house. He told Laban all that had
happened, and Laban said to him; You are truly my bone and flesh.

Adam said pretty much the very same thing about Eve at Gen 2:23 because she
wasn't created from the dust as he had been, but was manufactured from already
existing human tissue amputated from his body. In other words: ol' Laban was
saying "You and I are one and the same" because tricking a father in order to
supplant a brother was just the thing Laban would have thought of himself had he
been in Jacob's shoes.
_
 

Odë:hgöd

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Gen 29:14b-15 . .When he had stayed with him a month's time, Laban said to
Jacob: Just because you are a kinsman, should you serve me for nothing? Tell me,
what shall your wages be?

It's curious that Laban would offer Jacob employment. I'm guessing that Jacob had
offered to help out around Laban's ranch only just long enough for the heat blow
over back home; but Laban became impressed with Jacob's work ethic and wanted
him on permanently. Sometimes good help is very hard to find; and worth paying
for.


Gen 29:16-17a . . Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older one was
Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes;

According to Jewish folklore, Leah had weak eyes from crying all the time at the
prospect of being forced to marrying Esau.

The word for "weak" is from rak (rak) which means, variously: tender, soft, weak,
and/or gentle, and quite possibly young and youthful.

So rak doesn't necessarily mean that something is feeble. It can also mean that
something is kind and/or gentle as opposed to harsh and/or cruel. And in this case,
where the beauty of two girls is being compared, I don't think the author of Genesis
meant to convey that Leah's eyesight was weak; only that she had nice eyes, but
little else to offer.

Pity. Leah was a good girl; but just about bankrupt in what really matters to most
guys; and as any woman with assets can vouch; most men think better with their
eyes than with their brains. In other words: when it comes to women, men's brains
switch off and it's all about the view after that: if you know what I mean.


Gen 29:17b-18a . . Rachel was shapely and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel;

Duh. Why does that not surprise us? You know, Jacob was fortunate about
something. In those days, a man didn't have to win a woman's heart. He had to win
her custodian's heart. So men could pick out a girl like they might pick out a shirt
or a new car. Girls, through no fault of their own, could easily get stuck with a very
disagreeable man.

But there is something very missing in this story-- Rachel's love for Jacob. The man
was ga-ga over her. But how did she really feel about him?


Gen 29:18b-19 . . so he answered; I will serve you seven years for your younger
daughter Rachel. Laban said; Better that I give her to you than that I should give
her to an outsider. Stay with me.

Done! And just like that; a girl became engaged. Jacob traded seven years of his
life for Rachel. But it wasn't really about money, and they actually dickered over
wages later. What Jacob actually proposed was a service commitment; like the
contracts musicians sign with recording companies; and professional athletes sign
with big league teams like the Blazers or the Mets; and like the terms of service to
which young men commit themselves to the armed forces.

So Jacob didn't really buy Rachel with money. She was more like a bonus for
signing up as a full-time employee with Laban. And the seven years weren't Laban's
idea. They were Jacob's; and I think he made it so many years because he wanted
to offer Laban a deal so lucrative that he couldn't possibly refuse it.


Gen 29:20 . . So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him
but a few days because of his love for her.

It's a fact of human experience that men will sell their souls to satisfy their wants.
But I'm guessing there was more to Rachel than just her looks. After seven years
living in such close proximity, Jacob still wanted her. If she had been one of those
tough, thin skinned, defensive, obtuse, chafing and demeaning Tomb Raider kind of
girls, I'm pretty sure Jacob would have lost interest by then. I say "pretty sure"
because there are some men who will live with a witch in spite of the abuse they
endure just so's they can sleep with the woman of their dreams; viz: a trophy wife
rather than a man's best friend forever. In that respect, it turns out that Leah was
the better choice.
_
 

pinacled

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Gen 29:14b-15 . .When he had stayed with him a month's time, Laban said to
Jacob: Just because you are a kinsman, should you serve me for nothing? Tell me,
what shall your wages be?

It's curious that Laban would offer Jacob employment. I'm guessing that Jacob had
offered to help out around Laban's ranch only just long enough for the heat blow
over back home; but Laban became impressed with Jacob's work ethic and wanted
him on permanently. Sometimes good help is very hard to find; and worth paying
for.


Gen 29:16-17a . . Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older one was
Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes;

According to Jewish folklore, Leah had weak eyes from crying all the time at the
prospect of being forced to marrying Esau.

The word for "weak" is from rak (rak) which means, variously: tender, soft, weak,
and/or gentle, and quite possibly young and youthful.

So rak doesn't necessarily mean that something is feeble. It can also mean that
something is kind and/or gentle as opposed to harsh and/or cruel. And in this case,
where the beauty of two girls is being compared, I don't think the author of Genesis
meant to convey that Leah's eyesight was weak; only that she had nice eyes, but
little else to offer.

Pity. Leah was a good girl; but just about bankrupt in what really matters to most
guys; and as any woman with assets can vouch; most men think better with their
eyes than with their brains. In other words: when it comes to women, men's brains
switch off and it's all about the view after that: if you know what I mean.


Gen 29:17b-18a . . Rachel was shapely and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel;

Duh. Why does that not surprise us? You know, Jacob was fortunate about
something. In those days, a man didn't have to win a woman's heart. He had to win
her custodian's heart. So men could pick out a girl like they might pick out a shirt
or a new car. Girls, through no fault of their own, could easily get stuck with a very
disagreeable man.

But there is something very missing in this story-- Rachel's love for Jacob. The man
was ga-ga over her. But how did she really feel about him?


Gen 29:18b-19 . . so he answered; I will serve you seven years for your younger
daughter Rachel. Laban said; Better that I give her to you than that I should give
her to an outsider. Stay with me.

Done! And just like that; a girl became engaged. Jacob traded seven years of his
life for Rachel. But it wasn't really about money, and they actually dickered over
wages later. What Jacob actually proposed was a service commitment; like the
contracts musicians sign with recording companies; and professional athletes sign
with big league teams like the Blazers or the Mets; and like the terms of service to
which young men commit themselves to the armed forces.

So Jacob didn't really buy Rachel with money. She was more like a bonus for
signing up as a full-time employee with Laban. And the seven years weren't Laban's
idea. They were Jacob's; and I think he made it so many years because he wanted
to offer Laban a deal so lucrative that he couldn't possibly refuse it.


Gen 29:20 . . So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him
but a few days because of his love for her.

It's a fact of human experience that men will sell their souls to satisfy their wants.
But I'm guessing there was more to Rachel than just her looks. After seven years
living in such close proximity, Jacob still wanted her. If she had been one of those
tough, thin skinned, defensive, obtuse, chafing and demeaning Tomb Raider kind of
girls, I'm pretty sure Jacob would have lost interest by then. I say "pretty sure"
because there are some men who will live with a witch in spite of the abuse they
endure just so's they can sleep with the woman of their dreams; viz: a trophy wife
rather than a man's best friend forever. In that respect, it turns out that Leah was
the better choice.
_
Leah was pleasant to the eyes which is opposite of what you are prescribing with a perspective dialogue.

And concerning the well its is a reflection of what moshe had done for his future wife.
A symbol of the Holy Kiss known to those who know a day star rising in the heart.

Something that the father of rachael commended jacob for when rushing to greet his kinsmen who abated injustice at the well.

Bless be The Holy One of yisrayl.

Blessings Always
 

pinacled

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Gen 29:14b-15 . .When he had stayed with him a month's time, Laban said to
Jacob: Just because you are a kinsman, should you serve me for nothing? Tell me,
what shall your wages be?

It's curious that Laban would offer Jacob employment. I'm guessing that Jacob had
offered to help out around Laban's ranch only just long enough for the heat blow
over back home; but Laban became impressed with Jacob's work ethic and wanted
him on permanently. Sometimes good help is very hard to find; and worth paying
for.


Gen 29:16-17a . . Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older one was
Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes;

According to Jewish folklore, Leah had weak eyes from crying all the time at the
prospect of being forced to marrying Esau.

The word for "weak" is from rak (rak) which means, variously: tender, soft, weak,
and/or gentle, and quite possibly young and youthful.

So rak doesn't necessarily mean that something is feeble. It can also mean that
something is kind and/or gentle as opposed to harsh and/or cruel. And in this case,
where the beauty of two girls is being compared, I don't think the author of Genesis
meant to convey that Leah's eyesight was weak; only that she had nice eyes, but
little else to offer.

Pity. Leah was a good girl; but just about bankrupt in what really matters to most
guys; and as any woman with assets can vouch; most men think better with their
eyes than with their brains. In other words: when it comes to women, men's brains
switch off and it's all about the view after that: if you know what I mean.


Gen 29:17b-18a . . Rachel was shapely and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel;

Duh. Why does that not surprise us? You know, Jacob was fortunate about
something. In those days, a man didn't have to win a woman's heart. He had to win
her custodian's heart. So men could pick out a girl like they might pick out a shirt
or a new car. Girls, through no fault of their own, could easily get stuck with a very
disagreeable man.

But there is something very missing in this story-- Rachel's love for Jacob. The man
was ga-ga over her. But how did she really feel about him?


Gen 29:18b-19 . . so he answered; I will serve you seven years for your younger
daughter Rachel. Laban said; Better that I give her to you than that I should give
her to an outsider. Stay with me.

Done! And just like that; a girl became engaged. Jacob traded seven years of his
life for Rachel. But it wasn't really about money, and they actually dickered over
wages later. What Jacob actually proposed was a service commitment; like the
contracts musicians sign with recording companies; and professional athletes sign
with big league teams like the Blazers or the Mets; and like the terms of service to
which young men commit themselves to the armed forces.

So Jacob didn't really buy Rachel with money. She was more like a bonus for
signing up as a full-time employee with Laban. And the seven years weren't Laban's
idea. They were Jacob's; and I think he made it so many years because he wanted
to offer Laban a deal so lucrative that he couldn't possibly refuse it.


Gen 29:20 . . So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him
but a few days because of his love for her.

It's a fact of human experience that men will sell their souls to satisfy their wants.
But I'm guessing there was more to Rachel than just her looks. After seven years
living in such close proximity, Jacob still wanted her. If she had been one of those
tough, thin skinned, defensive, obtuse, chafing and demeaning Tomb Raider kind of
girls, I'm pretty sure Jacob would have lost interest by then. I say "pretty sure"
because there are some men who will live with a witch in spite of the abuse they
endure just so's they can sleep with the woman of their dreams; viz: a trophy wife
rather than a man's best friend forever. In that respect, it turns out that Leah was
the better choice.
_
Jacob's choice is shepherdess
 

Odë:hgöd

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Gen 29:21 . .Then Jacob said to Laban; Give me my wife, for my time is fulfilled,
that I may cohabit with her.

The word "cohabit" is not actually in the Hebrew. It should read "go near". What
Jacob said, in the common colloquialism of our day, is what men sometimes say
when they want to sleep with a particular girl. They sometimes say: Wow! I'd sure
like to get next to that! (chuckle) Very expressive.


Gen 29:22-23 . . And Laban gathered all the people of the place and made a
feast. When evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to him; and
he cohabited with her.

Jacob has got to rank as just about the dumbest groom in history. He knew both of
those girls like the back of his hand. For seven years he lived right next door and
saw them both every day. Leah and Rachel didn't even resemble each other. The
one was shapely and beautiful. The other was not. Even if he couldn't see well
enough in the dark to tell the difference, he certainly should have been able to feel
the difference; and to recognize the difference in their voices.

Was that man so totally plastered with booze from the reception that he couldn't
even tell who, or what, he slept with that night? Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw :)

But the real mystery was Leah. Wouldn't you think that she would have spoken up
and said something before things got out of hand? That sly girl. (chuckle)
Personally I think she had a big crush on Jacob. Later on Leah will try very hard to
get Jacob to transfer his affections to her and forget about Rachel.

This so reminds me of Sadie Hawkins' day in the Little Abner comics of the old
days. In the town of Dog Patch, men didn't grow on trees; there just wasn't enough
to go around; and on top of that, some of the hillbilly girls weren't much to look at
either. Subsequently, some of the local gals had a tough time getting husbands.

So, in memorial of an old spinster lady named Sadie Hawkins, a special day was set
aside each year wherein the bachelorettes had a chance to get hitched. All they had
to do was run down one of the unattached men; and whoever they caught,
absolutely had to marry them; no exchanges and no returns.

But hey! Where was Rachel!?! Was she tied up out in the barn or something? Well;
I hate to say it, but I really don't think she ever did want to marry Mr. Jacob. I
really think she was in on the whole scam all along and I think Rachel was seriously
hoping Jacob would settle for Leah and forget all about herself. But alas; such was
not to happen. Jacob was very determined. He accepted his fate with Leah, but
went after Rachel anyway.


NOTE: The covenant that Moses' people eventually agreed upon with God as per
Lev 18:18 protects sisters like Rachel and Leah so that men are not permitted to
cohabit with both girls at the same time.


Gen 29:24 . . Laban had given his maidservant Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her
maid.

Zilpah didn't say anything either. In fact she very likely assisted Leah to bathe and
prepare for her wedding night. Poor Jacob. He was so defeated. It was like the
whole world, and even the stars above in their courses, were in a grand conspiracy
to dupe the old boy that night.


Gen 29:25 . .When morning came, there was Leah! So he said to Laban: What is
this you have done to me? I was in your service for Rachel! Why did you deceive
me?

There is really no one to blame for this situation but Jacob himself. They say to
never look a gift horse in the mouth. But I think your wedding night has to be the
exception. For crying out loud, you'd think the man would have enough sense to
make sure the woman in his bed was the one who was supposed to be there. Yes,
Laban was a rascal. But then so was Leah, and so was Zilpah; and Rachel too. And
maybe this gave Jacob cause to remember how he tricked his own dad back home
into giving him Esau's blessing. (chuckle) There's an old saying: What goes around,
comes around.
_
 

Odë:hgöd

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Gen 29:26 . . Laban said; It is not the practice in our place to marry off the
younger before the older.

Jacob lived in "our place" for seven years. I tend to think he knew full well their
customs.

Perhaps Jacob expected the locals would make an exception for him because he
was a rich boy from down south. But no; local custom was local custom, and even
Mr. Silver Spoon In Your Mouth was going to have to accept it.


NOTE: I suspect the guests all knew that Jacob was being tricked on his wedding
night, but I also suspect that they never forgot his lack of fair play back at the well
when he first blew into town. You know, when you're unfair with people, you have
to expect that they will be unsympathetic when unfairness comes your way.


Gen 29:27 . .Wait until the bridal week of this one is over and we will give you
that one too, provided you serve me another seven years.

Serving Laban the first seven years for Rachel was Jacob's idea; except that instead
of getting Rachel; he got Leah. Now Laban's proviso is that Jacob serve yet another
seven years for Rachel; which will total fourteen for a girl he was supposed to get in
seven. I think most any normal red-blooded man would have refused.

But Jacob was an Ethan Frome kind of guy. I don't think he wanted to hurt Leah,
and maybe even felt partially responsible for her predicament.

That's a crummy reason to marry a girl, but I don't think Jacob could have lived
with himself if he threw Leah back now. After all, Jacob was her first love, and it's
not like she was used goods or anything.

It's true that Jacob was not above fraud; but basically, he was a fairly honorable
man.


Gen 29:28-29 . . Jacob did so; he waited out the bridal week of the one, and then
he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife. Laban had given his maidservant Bilhah
to his daughter Rachel as her maid.

Maidservants weren't just female commodities. They were actually a part of the
household, and often treated with a pretty fair degree of respect.


Gen 29:30 . . And Jacob cohabited with Rachel also; indeed, he loved Rachel
more than Leah. And he served him another seven years.

I'm sure Jacob never mistreated Leah. But he wasn't crazy about her in a romantic
way. It's like the relationship between Robert Philip and his fiancé Nancy Tremaine
in the Disney movie Enchanted. Nancy is neither a bad girl nor a bad choice-- the
chemistry just isn't there.

Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, Jacob's situation probably led to
some favoritism. And in this case, I think Jacob began spending most of his time
with Rachel and leaving Leah out in the cold; so to speak; viz: she was in the
unenviable limbo of a burden to her husband. However, since Jacob chose to keep
Leah, he was morally obligated to treat her as if he was infatuated with her, even if
he really wasn't.

When you get right down to it; Leah didn't do any more to Jacob than what he did
to his dad; so all in all: what right had Jacob to complain? I've a pretty strong
feeling that after Leah's week was fulfilled, no more was said about this incident.
_
 

Odë:hgöd

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Gen 29:31 . .The Lord saw that Leah was unloved and he opened her womb; but
Rachel was barren.

God didn't make Rachel barren. She was already that way. And Leah was too. In
fact, every one of the matriarchs were barren women. It must have been in their
genes. But the Lord elected to repair Leah and leave Rachel out of whack for a
while longer.

I really don't think what the Lord did was punishment against Jacob and Rachel. I
think it was a countermeasure to get Jacob to pay a little more attention to Leah.
It's very important for spouses to bond. Allowing Jacob to focus too much of his
attention on Rachel would soon make Leah the odd man out; and a very lonely
woman.

But why would God do that-- take an interest in Leah's problems? Because, as
Hagar discovered, Abraham's god is a sensitive god who sees people (Gen 16:13-
14). And it seems very obvious to me that He was sympathetic to Leah's
circumstances.

And that tells me something. It's true that Leah was in on the scheme to trick
Jacob. But God didn't get upset with her for that. In fact, it looks to me like He was
actually very pleased that she married Jacob. After all, it was through Leah that the
man predicted in Dan 7:13-14 would come, not Rachel. I believe that is very
significant.

I would even go so far as to say that Leah was the one God Himself would have
picked for Jacob if he had only sought a wife in the very same manner that
Abraham had sought one for Isaac. But no. Jacob took matters into his own hands,
came to Haran in person, and fell in love with the wrong girl. Well; he ended up
marrying Leah anyway in spite of his feelings for Rachel; just like his dad ended up
blessing Jacob in spite of his feelings for Esau.

Most guys have visions of the girl they would like to marry. She's young, gorgeous,
shapely, and congenial. But the reality is: most will never find a girl like that. So
they settle for what they can get and become resigned to missing out on life. Big
mistake. Leah was no less a woman just because she wasn't Miss Haran circa 1770
bc. And when the chips are down in life, your very best friend had better be your
wife. Beauty means nothing when a man is out of work, or coming down with
cancer. That's when guys need a faithful friend, not a love pet.

Unbeknownst to Jacob, he was destined to father the twelve tribes of Israel. Up to
now, It had been one patriarch fathering just one descendant. But that all changed
with Jacob. The nation of Israel quite literally started with him.

(chuckle) That guy lived solo for better than eighty years of his life and then all of a
sudden, WHAM, in just one week's time, four women moved in with him. Then, in
just seven years time, he had a posse of juveniles running around the house.
Awww-Haw-Haw-Haw-Hawww!!!

The scheme God implemented to bond Jacob to Leah probably wouldn't work with
men like Esau. Not all guys are cut out to be family men. Adventurers, explorers,
scientists and the like; typically aren't all that well suited for marriage and
parenthood.

But Jacob was a man who'd rather be home than away for five months on a long
hiking trail, or risking his life to free climb rocks and/or summit difficult mountains,
or squandering untold hours operating a particle collider searching for an elusive
boson. Married guys with kids at home should not be doing things like that;
especially dangerous things that could easily, and quite suddenly, rob their family
of its daddy.

"Nobody should seek only his own good, but also the good of others." (1Cor 10:24)


Gen 29:32 . . Leah conceived and bore a son, and named him Reuben; for she
declared: The Lord has seen my affliction. Now my husband will love me.

Reuben's name is from Re'uwben (reh-oo-bane') which means: Look; a son!


Gen 29:33 . . She conceived again and bore a son, and declared; This is because
The Lord heard that I was unloved and has given me this one also. So she named
him Simeon.

Simeon's name is Shim'own (shim-one') which means: hearing. Leah was obviously
a woman of prayer and had no reservations about sharing her personal problems
with the god of her choice. (cf. Phil 4:6-7)


Gen 29:34 . . Again she conceived and bore a son and declared; This time my
husband will become attached to me, for I have borne him three sons. Therefore he
was named Levi.

Children do have a way of bonding a (normal) man to their mother. It doesn't
always work, but often does.

Levi's name is Leviy (lay-vee') which means: attached; viz: bonded.

Jacob was indeed a family man now. In spite of his romantic passions for Rachel, he
would never again feel the same way about Leah. She could never be just another
woman in the house now that she was the mother of his children. Jacob couldn't
help but feel bonded to her. God's idea worked. You say: how do I know it worked?
Because the next boy was named in gratitude to God for saving the marriage.


Gen 29:35 . . She conceived again and bore a son, and declared; This time I will
praise The Lord. Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.

Well done! And Judah was a real honor too. He became the tribe of Israel's kings;
and from them descended David, and Christ.

The Hebrew word for "Judah" is Yehuwdah (yeh-hoo-daw') which means celebrated;
i.e. famous.

The scheme God implemented to bond Jacob to Leah probably wouldn't work with
men like Esau. Not all guys are cut out to be family men. Adventurers, explorers,
scientists and the like; typically aren't all that well suited for marriage and
parenthood.

But Jacob was a man who'd rather be home than away for five months on a long
hiking trail, or risking his life to summit a difficult mountain, or untold hours
operating a particle collider searching for an elusive boson. Married guys with kids
at home should not be doing things like that; especially dangerous things that could
easily, and quite suddenly, rob his family of its daddy.

"Nobody should seek only his own good, but also the good of others." (1Cor 10:24)
_
 

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Gen 30:1a . .When Rachel saw that she had borne Jacob no children, she became
envious of her sister;

Sibling rivalry is bad enough. But when siblings compete for the affections of the
same love object, it's all the worse. I don't know what it is about kin, but it's much
easier to compete with someone outside the family than those within. Rivalry within
family is not just a competition; it is more like the passions of a blood feud. The
feelings run deep, and hot, and painful. People who never had a brother or sister
cannot understand this. You just have to live it to know what it's like.


Gen 30:1b . . and Rachel said to Jacob: Give me children, or I shall die.

Somehow Rachel felt the fault was Jacob's as if he were doing something to
deliberately prevent conception. According to Jewish folklore, it was a common
practice in that day for a man with two wives to give the prettier one some sort of
birth control herb to prevent her from getting pregnant and losing her figure. Thus
the prettier of the two was reserved for pleasure; and the other for bearing
children. Genetically, that was a pretty dumb idea since the practice results in the
perpetuation of inferior stock. I seriously doubt you'll ever see breeders of dogs,
cats, livestock and/or race horses conducting their business like that.

Jacob wasn't doing anything to Rachel. She was just simply unable to have
children. If only she had followed her sister Leah's example in prayer instead of
getting in one of those moods, then she wouldn't have been so ready to rag on
Jacob for something over which he had no control.


Gen 30:2a . . Jacob was incensed at Rachel

Jacob's anger was no doubt an unpleasant mixture of hurt and indignation. He
really did love Rachel. She wasn't just a girl toy. For her to insinuate that he was
keeping her around just for pleasure must have bitten deeply into his soul.
Romantic love can easily turn into hate-- very suddenly and very quickly; like
turning a page in a book.

Romantic love is very different than the love of a loyal friend. Romantic love seeks
its own best interests and is very fragile and easily wounded. Fraternal love is much
better. It's like a strong anchor. The more a storm buffets the ship, the deeper the
anchor digs into its moorage.


Gen 30:2b . . and said: Can I take the place of God, who has denied you fruit of
the womb?

I'm sure that just as soon as Jacob lashed out at Rachel he regretted it. His retort
implied that she was a sinner who didn't deserve children. What an ugly thing to
say. But he was upset and felt betrayed by his best girl. So his reaction is
understandable. But isn't there a better way? Yes.

Instead of attacking her husband in an attempt to put blame, Rachel would have
been much better off just finding a nice quiet spot and telling God how she was
feeling about her sterility-- how it was hurting her and making her feel inferior to
her sister: and threatening her marriage. Would God respond to that? Yes. Because
that is exactly what Rachel did do eventually. It's just too bad she didn't think of it
sooner.

If Rachel felt that God cared about her at all, then she would have recognized that
barrenness was serving some sort of Divine purpose; even if she couldn't think of
one at the time. But Rachel's circumstances were causing her feelings to override
her thinking; and making her emotional and reactive instead of objective and
rational.


Gen 30:3-5 . . She said: Here is my maid Bilhah. Consort with her, that she may
bear on my knees and that through her I too may have children. So she gave him
her maid Bilhah as concubine, and Jacob cohabited with her. Bilhah conceived and
bore Jacob a son.

That was indeed a strange custom, and a cruel one at that. Why is it nobody ever
thought to ask the maids how they felt about it? I just don't think it's ethical to
subjugate women to the status of mere breeder stock.

Those who give their babies away in adoption, often don't want to see them when
they're born-- not even a glimpse; they don't even want to know their gender.
They want their baby delivered and whisked out of the room immediately with no
more feeling than doing their business in the lou. Women who get abortions
typically do not want to see a sonogram of their babies nor listen to its heartbeat
because that's just too bonding and sensitive. Pharaoh's daughter (Ex 2:6) fell
apart when she gazed upon baby Moses weeping. What normal woman can resist
something like that?

The maid's baby would be legally Rachel's, but she would never be the biological
mother. Nothing can ever change a thing like that.


Gen 30:6 . . And Rachel said: God has vindicated me; indeed, He has heeded my
plea and given me a son. Therefore she named him Dan.

Dan's name means judge, and/or the past tense: judged. (or possibly: a judgment)

In Rachel's mind, Bilhah's success proved that God wasn't withholding children from
her for being a sinner, as Jacob had insinuated. But Dan wasn't really Rachel's
child. He was only hers by adoption.

But who was going to nurse Dan? There was no such thing as formula in those
days. Somebody had to be his wet nurse. Well . . what about Dan's biological mom?
Didn't she just go through a pregnancy? So Dan remained with his biological
mother at least until he was weaned; and probably longer too. It wasn't like they all
lived miles apart. All four women were practically living under the same roof.

So although Dan was reckoned legally Rachel's child, he wasn't taken away from
home. Trouble is; Bilhah became a single mom with no husband. But she wasn't
really alone. At least she had Dan; and her boy had Jacob; and everyone was
together, in one way or another.

I am he,
As you are he,
As you are me,
And we are all together.

(The Beetles; I Am The Walrus, 1967)
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Gen 30:7-8 . . Rachel's maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.
And Rachel said; A fateful contest I waged with my sister; yes, and I have
prevailed. So she named him Naphtali.

rayyyrrr! scratch! Man that woman was scrappy! No second place winner; Rachel
would keep kicking at you even if her arms were pinned down on the mat. Move
over Chyna! (Chyna used to be a WWF professional female wrestler)

"Naphtali" is from Naphtaliy (naf-taw-lee') which means: my wrestling. Not just any
wrestling, but "my" wrestling. Apparently Rachel took things very personal. The
bitter rivalry between her and Leah had become the total focus of Rachel's life.


NOTE: Jacob could've easily disowned Naphtali by simply emancipating Bilhah;
same as his grandpa Abraham broke with Ishmael by emancipating Hagar.


Gen 30:9 . .When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took her maid
Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as concubine.

Since Jacob favored Rachel, when did he find time for Leah and Zilpah? Well; don't
women have a certain time of the month? It was very unsanitary in those days to
sleep with women during their period and, in fact, was later forbidden by the laws
of the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God. (Lev 15:19-24, 18:19)

So every month, like clockwork, Jacob was forced to sleep with Leah whether he
liked it or not. I guess he could have slept on the couch, but that would look stupid.
So Leah got a shot at him at least one week a month. And she made the most of it,
you can be sure of that! So now she farmed him out to Zilpah's bed for that week
to see what would happen. If Rachel could have children by her maid, then by golly
Leah was going to do it too. Boy, those sisters were really at war!


Gen 30:10-11 . . And when Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son, Leah said: What
luck! So she named him Gad.

"Gad" is from gad (gawd) which means: a troop. (chuckle) Leah was having enough
boys to field a recon squad.


Gen 30:12-13 . .When Leah's maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son, Leah
declared: What fortune! meaning, Women will deem me fortunate. So she named
him Asher.

Well; what had the local women been deeming her up till then? Women can be so
cruel to each other. Leah wasn't attractive, and she was getting up in years before
she met Jacob. Women in Leah's neighborhood very likely made her the object of
sneering gossip: "Oh, here comes that old maid. Hasn't she found a husband yet?
Poooooor thing; tsk." And they would put on their best pity faces for Leah as she
walked by.

"Asher" is from 'Asher (aw-share') which means: happy.


Gen 30:14 . . Once, at the time of the wheat harvest, Reuben came upon some
mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah:
Please give me some of your son's mandrakes.

Mandrake is the common name for any of a genus of herbs. The species to which
the name is particularly applied has two varieties, vernal and autumnal, both native
to the Mediterranean and Himalayan regions and especially to Greece. The whole
plant has a fetid odor. As late as the Middle Ages, a dose of the oddly shaped root
was sometimes given to patients as a narcotic before surgical operations. In the
United States, mayapple is often called mandrake.

The mandrake has traditionally been an object of superstition, largely because of
the resemblance of its forked root to the human figure. Used as an aphrodisiac, the
mandrake was also variously regarded as a charm for pregnancy-- a sort of fertility
drug --also for invulnerability, and for discovering treasure.

Leah certainly didn't need mandrakes to have children. She was doing just fine
without a charm or a fertility drug. But she may have wanted them around the
house for medicinal purposes and home remedies. Rueben was trained to recognize
mandrakes and he brought them home because he knew his mom would want
them: and of course Rachel would want them too because she was infertile.


Gen 30:15a . . But she said to her: Was it not enough for you to take away my
husband, that you would also take my son's mandrakes?

Of the two sisters, Leah is the only one to label Jacob "my" husband. Personally, I
don't think Rachel ever really thought too much of Jacob.

One of the very first social skills children learn from their parents is sharing. Jacob's
family was so bitterly divided that his wives, two blood kin sisters, were not even
disposed to display even the simplest of graces towards each other. In other words,
Leah was saying: if you want some mandrakes, go out and find your own!


Gen 30:15b-16 . . Rachel replied: I promise, he shall sleep with you tonight, in
return for your son's mandrakes. When Jacob came home from the field in the
evening, Leah went out to meet him and said: You are to sleep with me, for I have
hired you with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.

Haw! Jacob became a gigolo in his own home. His wives were not only fighting
amongst themselves because of him, but they were bartering for him like a
commodity too. Jacob was sure in a pickle. He was probably like most men; just
wanting peace and quiet in his own home. If that's what the women arranged for
him that night, well alright; if it made them happy and kept the noise down then
what the hey.

You would think the home life of the patriarchs would be the most sterling role
models you could ever want. But no. They were actually pretty disappointing. And
why was that? Becuz they were people. They weren't a celestial breed of
supernatural beings whose home planet was located out in space somewhere
between the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud.

No, the patriarchs didn't fall down from Jupiter as a superior race of extragalactic
agents, nor did they draft in on the tail of a comet and drop off in the land of
Palestine. None of that. They were just as human as anybody else and they were all
slaves to human proclivities and predilections right along with the rest of the
Adams' family.
_
 
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Gen 30:17 . . God heeded Leah, and she conceived and bore him a fifth son.

God was favorably inclined to grant Leah's wishes. But why doesn't God grant the
wishes of all barren women? Is that fair? Why is God sensitive to some while
ignoring the feelings of others? I wish I could answer that. The brutal fact is: God is
merciful to whom He wishes to be merciful. Love it or leave it; we're stuck with a
God who has a mind of His own and does as He pleases. (cf. Matt 20:1-15)


Gen 30:18 . . And Leah said: God has given me my reward for having given my
maid to my husband. So she named him Issachar.

Issachar's name is Yissaskar (yis-saw-kawr') which means: he will bring a reward
(or possibly; he is a reward). To Leah, Issachar really was worth his weight in gold
to her as a mother.

I really don't understand Leah's reasoning. Why would God approve of putting her
husband in bed with the maid? Sounds like a plot for a soap opera to me. But
nevertheless, Leah was happy with the way things turned out.

You know, that really shows the importance that women in that day put upon
children. Leah was willing to share her husband with another woman as long as it
meant more babies for herself. Isn't that something? How many women would feel
that way today-- especially here in abortion-prone, career-minded, day-care
dependent, glass-ceiling, women's-lib, feminist-active America?

I would like to point something else out too. Leah was crazy about kids and she was
crazy about her husband. That is not so apparent with Rachel. She only wanted kids
out of envy for her sister's fertility. And she even sold Jacob's affections for nothing
more than some wild herbs. A lordly price.

I really shouldn't be too harsh with Rachel. I truly believe she was stuck in an
arranged marriage against her will. After all, it wasn't her idea to marry Jacob. Her
dad engineered the whole thing. And Leah had already worn the shine off Jacob by
the time Rachel got a shot at him so that was no big treat. I just don't think
Rachel's heart was really in it.

I feel sorry for her. She really should have been given a home of her very own; not
thrown into someone else's marriage to wreck it with strife and rivalry-- most
especially not her own sister's. Rachel deserved better than that. She really got a
raw deal in life, that's for sure.


Gen 30:19-20a . .When Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son, Leah
said: God has given me a choice gift; this time my husband will exalt me, for I have
borne him six sons.

So far, Leah is the only woman in the house calling Jacob "my" husband; and from
one night to the other, she never really knew where he'd be-- with her, one of the
maids, or with Rachel. Jacob probably had a toothbrush and shaving gear in every
one of their bathrooms.

Well . . Leah wanted her husband to live at home with her, not with one of the
other women. Sleeping with the others was just a fact of life around there and she
was getting used to it. Leah could deal with that. But when he was done fooling
around with the others, she wanted him to come home to her, not stay overnight
with one of them. Since God had blessed her with the most boys, and the most
children, it only seemed right in Leah's mind that she had more claim on Jacob than
anybody else and he really should be bonded to her more than the others.


Gen 30:20b . . So she named him Zebulun.

Zebulin's name is from Zebuwluwn (zeb-oo-loon') or Zebuluwn (zeb-oo-loon'); or
Zebuwlun (zeb-oo-loon') which mean: habitation. Synonyms for habitation are:
occupancy, residence, domicile, and home. In other words, Zebulin is where a man
hangs his hat.


Gen 30:21 . . Last, she bore him a daughter, and named her Dinah.

Dinah's name is from Diynah (dee-naw'). That word is the feminine of duwn (doon)
which means: judgment, justice. and/or fair play.

You can bet Dinah was an instant hit with the women. Now they had someone to
make dolls for, and cute little dresses, and tiny little knickers. And they could show
her how to paint her fingernails, perm her hair, and put on make-up and eye
shadow. I would guess that Dinah did more to help the women forget their
differences and become friends than anything else around there.

And Jacob no doubt liked her immensely. It is just about impossible for a normal
man to resist the charms of a bouncy little cherub. I've seen the toughest blue
collar beasts you can imagine become mushy morons around little girls. When one
of those teensy sweethearts puts her chubby little arms around a man's neck and
says "Daddy, I love you" it's all over but the burial. If sons were indeed prized in
those days, then the daughters were icing on the cake.


NOTE: Dinah is the very first girl on record born to the people of Israel.
_
 

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Gen 30:22a . . Now God remembered Rachel;

Does that mean the omniscient Almighty had somehow forgotten all about her?
(chuckle) No. God's memory works just fine. I think the best way to treat this is
simply to say that God now turned His full attention to Rachel whereas before He
was mostly focused upon Leah's concerns.


Gen 30:22b . . God heeded her and opened her womb.

Does the word "heeded" mean Rachel finally decided to pray for a baby? I think so.
Some people are driven to drink by the problems of everyday life. God's people are
often driven to their knees.


Gen 30:23 . . She conceived and bore a son, and said: God has taken away my
disgrace.

It's one thing to adopt children, or take in foster kids, or become a step-parent. But
nothing can take the place of having your very own. Rachel possessed two legal
children by her maid Bilhah. But those were really and truly Bilhah's babies, not
Rachel's. Until she had her very own, Rachel remained low on the totem pole of
feminine esteem.

Men just can't appreciate how important babies are to (normal) women. Even tough
women don't really feel like real women until they have a child. I worked as a
vacuum cleaner salesman many years ago when I was very young. The owner of
the business was married to a successful woman in her mid forties who had no
children of her own; and actually, never wanted any.

But whenever she was in the presence of moms, they made her feel like a loser
because in her mind, moms were the real women. In other words: she was a freak
of nature born without a mother's heart; and that is a fatal flaw in any woman's
character: business or otherwise.

That woman's confession amazed me because hers was a strong, assertive, self
confident kind of personality with scratch-proof, dent-proof hide like depleted
uranium armor plating. But every suit of armor has a chink in it somewhere and
that was hers.

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like
arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth." (Ps 127:3-4)

Arrows are not only weapons of war, but also tools of readiness, strength, and
defense. In Rachel's day, children were old age security. They still are for many
people in third world countries; and for those of us who face retirement on fixed
incomes. When my wife and I finally wax old and feeble, we hope our son will care
enough about us to make sure we don't die hungry and poverty-stricken.


Gen 30:24 . . So she named him Joseph, which is to say: May The Lord add
another son for me.

Joseph's name is from Yowceph (yo-safe') which means: let him add (or perhaps
simply the active participle: adding)

Yowceph is the future tense of yacaph (yaw-saf') which means: to add or augment
(often adverbial, to continue to do a thing) So in colloquialism, maybe Rachel was
really saying: Yeah! Keep 'em comin'.


Gen 30:25-26 . . After Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban: Give me
leave to go back to my own homeland. Give me my wives and my children, for
whom I have served you, that I may go; for well you know what services I have
rendered you.

Jacob had agreed to remain with Laban for fourteen years. Well, time's up, and
Laban had no further moral or legal claim either upon Jacob or upon his family.


Gen 30:27 . . But Laban said to him: If you will indulge me, I have learned by
divination that The Lord has blessed me on your account.

The divination that Laban was talking about was a dark art. The word for
"divination" is from nachash (naw-khash') which means: to hiss, i.e. whisper a
(magic) spell; generally, to prognosticate.

Nachash was one of the sinful practices that God condemned in the Canaanite
peoples. (Deut 18:9-14)

Apparently, somewhere along the line, Laban became very puzzled how Jacob was
doing so well in animal husbandry. In the fourteen years that Jacob worked for him,
his flocks not only increased; but they increased beyond reason.

So he consulted with a mystic, seeking to find out the secret of Jacob's success. Lo
and behold, the diviner discovered Jacob really had no trade secrets to hide at all.
He was actually under Yhvh's auspices-- Abraham's god --whom Laban didn't
worship himself but at least recognized as an option.

Laban was justifiably reluctant to let Jacob go. He prospered greatly because of
Jacob's abilities and because of his faithfulness; and especially because of his
connection to Abraham's god. He was willing to strike almost any bargain that
would keep Jacob on the job working for him. Once before he had gotten the better
part of the bargain by letting Jacob name his price; so now he made the same
proposition again.
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Gen 30:28 . . And he said: Specify your wage to me and I will give it.

The wage Laban had in mind wasn't an hourly rate or monthly salary like we
typically think of wages. Pay was a separate matter to be negotiated later. The deal
they would make concerned what it would cost Laban to keep Jacob working for
him. In other words; a signing incentive.


Gen 30:29-30a . . But he said: You know well how I have served you and how
your livestock has fared with me. For the little you had before I came has grown to
much, since the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned.

Yes, Laban knew very well how fortunate he was to have Jacob working on his
ranch. But Jacob just wanted to be sure his uncle Laban didn't think Jacob was too
stupid to know it. Jacob rarely stood up for himself. But this time the circumstances
required him to be firm.


Gen 30:30b . . And now, when shall I make provision for my own household?

Jacob spent fourteen years of his life making another man rich. Well, it was high
time he did himself some good for a change.


Gen 30:31-34 . . He said: What shall I pay you? And Jacob said: Pay me nothing!
If you will do this thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your flocks: let me
pass through your whole flock today, removing from there every speckled and
spotted animal-- every dark-colored sheep and every spotted and speckled goat.
Such shall be my wages.

. . . In the future when you go over my wages, let my honesty toward you testify
for me: if there are among my goats any that are not speckled or spotted or any
sheep that are not dark-colored, they got there by theft. And Laban said: Very well,
let it be as you say.

Jacob was supposed to do the culling. But Laban apparently didn't trust him so took
it upon himself to cull out all the mixed breeds and then hide them three days
distance in who knows what direction. So if Jacob was going to acquire any sheep
and cattle, he was going to have to get them from the flocks of pure breeds;
making it even more difficult for him to build a herd of his own. I'm sure Laban
figured that he would be able to hang on to Jacob many, many years while the poor
slob languished away waiting for the blue ribbon flocks to produce mixed breed
animals.

Laban really did have a criminal mind. He was incredibly unscrupulous, greedy,
selfish, and dishonest; and a very heartless man to boot. It's difficult to digest he
was really related to Abraham.


Gen 30:35-36 . . But that same day he removed the streaked and spotted he
goats and all the speckled and spotted she-goats-- every one that had white on it
--and all the dark-colored sheep, and left them in the charge of his sons. And he
put a distance of three days' journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob was
pasturing the rest of Laban's flock.

By keeping the mixed breeds so far away from the blue ribbon flocks, there was no
chance Jacob might sneak around and put them together for mating when Laban
wasn't looking. Although there is no record of Jacob ever cheating Laban, the old
man surely remembered that Jacob wasn't totally honest. He stole his brother's
blessing, and tricked his dad. If Jacob would scam his own close family, then he
could sure do the same thing to outsiders. You can hardly blame Laban for not
trusting Jacob when the chips were down.


Gen 30:37-39 . .Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane
trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was in the rods.
And he set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the gutters, even
in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they became hot
when they came to drink. So the flocks mated by the rods, and the flocks brought
forth striped, speckled, and spotted.

To the modern mind, what Jacob did was purely superstition; but in that day, it
wasn't. Jacob was experienced at animal husbandry. He had tended flocks for
several decades; beginning with his dad Isaac's, and then with his uncle Laban's.
Jacob wouldn't have tried the striped-rods trick if he hadn't seen it work already
before.

Who really knows what goes on in the minds of goats and sheep? There's a patch of
color down in the throats of young Great Blue Herons that when the parents see it,
the color makes them gag and vomit up the contents of their stomachs into the
craws of the growing youngsters. Even human beings are stimulated by sight. Food
we are about to eat stimulates the saliva glands, plus there's the phenomenon of
blushing, and nauseous reactions produced by gruesome sights, and the effects of
pornographic pictures stimulating the reproductive apparatus are cases in point.

Jacob didn't use the striped-rods trick to produce multicolored animals, but rather
as a visual aphrodisiac to stimulate the parents to mate more often than usual;
thus increasing his chances of producing the kind of animals he wanted for himself.
When Laban's flocks saw the stripes on the sticks, they went into what animal
husbandry calls heat. From thence, Jacob counted on recessive genes to do their
work. Even though he never studied Mendelian genetics, Jacob knew from
experience that even blue-blooded animals produce "black sheep" once in a while.

Leaving nature to its course, it could have been many years before Laban's flock of
blue-bloods produced enough hybrids for Jacob to move away anytime soon. But up
ahead we'll see that he had the advantage of a higher power.
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