He worked for Laban another seven years.
Yogi Berra was known for his quips and malapropisms, including this favorite: “It’s déjà vu, all over again.” We might feel like Yogi Berra if we compare Genesis 24 with the opening of our reading for today. Both stories include Laban, an industrious woman, and the search for a wife.
But the two courtships go in different directions. The story of Isaac and Rebekah is filled with divine twists that bring them together; the story of Jacob and Rachel is filled with human machinations that threaten to keep them apart.
While Abraham was careful to send a servant for Rebekah, we first note that Jacob was alone and far from home, a disadvantageous position. Even under the best circumstances, he would find it difficult to establish an independent household while under Laban’s roof. From the start we sense that Laban was in control of events.
Jacob also had no money and no immediate prospects, which meant no security or dowry for Rachel. This led to the very steep price of seven years of labor, an arrangement guaranteed to benefit Laban, with Jacob forced to trust that Laban would be true to his word.
The encounter at the well also has subtle differences from chapter 24. When Jacob was informed about Laban’s watering practices (v. 8), he quickly disregarded them (v. 10), perhaps to impress Rachel. The incident reveals Jacob’s impetuous character that would create more problems for him later.
Brides traditionally wore heavy veils, but for Jacob to sleep with Leah and be unaware that she was not Rachel must have meant that either he drank himself senseless or he chose to ignore doubts in the moment. Either way, Jacob’s cavalier approach to that night set up much unintended pain.
Apply the Word
Is there an area in your life that you’ve treated too casually? Whether it’s marriage, parenting, job responsibilities, or church service, pray that the Lord will strengthen your focus. Have you been characterized by an impetuous spirit, thinking only of now rather than eternity? Pray that God will enable you to exhibit patience.