Genesis 29:1-30

 |  April 9, 2018

Gen. 29:1-30

  1. Locate the passage

This passage tracks Jacob as he travels to Padan Aram in search of a wife. His instructions are to meet his mother’s brother, Laban. Jacob finds Laban to be much like himself. What follows is the story of two deceivers deceiving and being deceived. In the end, both end up getting what they deserve.

  1. Genre

The passage is narrative. It includes conversations between Jacob and the people of Padan Aram, Jacob and Rachel, and Jacob and Laban.

  1. Determine the structure of the passage

29:1-8 – Jacob meets the people of Padan Aram

29:9-14 – Jacob meets Rachel and she introduces him to her father, Laban

29:9-11 – Jacob meets Rachel

29:12 – Jacob introduces himself to Rachel

29:13-14 – Jacob meets Laban

29:15-20 – Jacob asks Laban permission to marry Rachel as “wages” for working for Laban

29:21-25a – Jacob’s first marriage to a daughter of Laban (just not the one Jacob thought)

29:25b-28a – Jacob confronts Laban about his deceit and agrees to serve Laban another 7 years for Rachel

29:28b-30 – Jacob marries and loves Rachel

  1. Exegete the passage

Jacob meets his future wife by a well much like Abraham’s servant first met Isaac’s future with by a well.

The deception of Laban and his rationalization (It’s not appropriate for the younger to marry before the older) functions in the text as both a reminder for the reader of Jacob’s deceptive acquisition of his brother’s birthright and blessing and for Jacob of the consequences of his sin. In one sense, since his deception was the cause that led him to Laban, the wives he will marry serve as a perpetual reminder to Jacob of his sin. Laban’s comment (“It must not be done so in our country to give the younger before the older”) suggests that he might be aware of Jacob’s deception.

29:1 – Jacob went on his “journey”

29:2 – “Behold, a well”

29:2-3 – These verses describe the occasion that Jacob will help resolve. The well was covered by a stone. The stone kept animals out of the well and may have served to prevent others who might pass by the well from “stealing” the water.

29:4-6 – The people of Haran assist Jacob in identifying his cousin, Rachel.

29:7-8 – Jacob is perplexed that the cattle are gathered together and are not being given water. The people respond that “we cannot.” The reason that they offer seems to relate more to tradition than their inability to cooperate together to move the stone.

27:9-10 – Jacob doesn’t want to wait for “they” to move the stone. So, he breaks their tradition and moves it himself.

29:11-12 – Jacob greets Rachel and introduces himself as her relative.

29:13-14 – Jacob related his journey to Laban who was eager for Jacob to stay with him.  So, Jacob stayed with Laban for a month before any negotiations took place.

29:15 – Laban offered Jacob a permanent job to work for him.

29:17 – The “eyes” were sometimes used as descriptions of beauty (Cf. 1 Sam. 16:12)

29:18-20 – Because Jacob loved Rachel, he offers to work for Laban for 7 years for the privilege of her hand in marriage.

29:21-25 – “Behold, it was Leah.”

29:26-28 – The excuse that “it must not be done so in our country” perhaps expresses Laban’s awareness of Jacob’s deceit of his father in his country (“We don’t favor the younger over the older here like you do in your country”). Jacob likely recognizes the poetic justice of the trick.

29:29-30 – It is not hard to understand Jacob’s preference for Rachel over Leah. Yet, surely, he must have seen the irony of his preference for Rachel mirroring his parents’ preferences regarding their children.

  1. Let the structure of the text drive the sermon

Exp. One thing is clear from this story, Jacob will never be lonely again.

App. God’s providential care for Jacob reminds me that I can trust God to provide in my journey

Exp. While Jacob was able to accomplish what the people said in 29:8 “we cannot” do; he was also confronted with the reality of his sin in 29:26, when Laban said “we must not” reminding Jacob that he did.

App. So, Jacob in the story did in one case what others could not do (29:8) and in another case, what others should not do (29:26)

Exp. When my sin begins to impact my home

Exp. The irony of the story is thick:

Exp. Look how many lives are affected by the consequences of Jacob’s sin: Jacob, Esau, his parents, Laban, Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, Bilhah, etc.

Exp. What’s missing in this story that was a part of the story of Isaac gaining a wife is prayer (Abraham sought the Lord, the servant sought the Lord, Isaac sought the Lord – later both Isaac and Rebekah prayed)

Exp. This is a story of Rebekah’s plan, and Jacob pays the price for it.


Category: Sermon Structure
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