The House of Jacob

I encourage you to read about Jacob’s time with Laban, it’s worth the read, but I’m just going to skim it here.

Jacob went to live with his uncle, Laban and immediately fell in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel.1 The Bible says Rachel was very beautiful but I’m not sure how he’d know that if she was all covered up in a burka, as was the custom at the time2. But that’s what it says.

Jacob made a deal with Laban to work for him for seven years so he could marry Rachel. “Sounds like a good deal to me,” said Laban.

Well, when the wedding day finally came along, Laban pulled a switch and tricked Jacob into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah, instead of Rachel. How that happened is beyond me. Either the women were so covered up he couldn’t tell, or everybody was so drunk they couldn’t see straight. However it happened, Jacob didn’t realize the bait and switch until the next morning and by then he’d already ‘gone in unto’ Leah, if you know what I mean, and now it was too late.

Needless to say, Jacob was irate. But Laban blew him off saying it was the custom to marry off the older daughter before the younger. Like he couldn’t have said that before? And didn’t he make a deal for Rachel in the first place? Anyway, since Jacob wanted Rachel so bad he agreed to work another seven years to get her.

Lying and cheating just seems to be par for the course with these people.

Well, as luck would have it, Rachel was barren, but not Leah. Leah started popping out kids left and right. Rachel was so jealous she gave Jacob her servant so she could have kids through her.3 It didn’t take long before it turned into a competition. Leah gave Jacob her servant so she could have even more babies through her servant.

Then, lo and behold, Rachel miraculously became fertile and gave Abraham a son of her own, Joseph. I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to see a pattern here where the barren wife all of a sudden isn’t barren anymore and gives birth to the favorite son.

When it all washed out, Jacob had eleven sons and one daughter.

These eleven sons would eventually become twelve and the families of these sons would forever be known as the twelve tribes of Israel. Israel because, not too much later, Jacob would change his name to Israel

So, all in all, Jacob had been working for Laban for at least 20 years when God finally told him it was time to go home. He and Laban worked out a deal of what his wages should be but, as you might imagine, Laban tried to cheat Jacob again. But Jacob was too smart for that and he cheated Laban right back and made a run for it.

But Laban chased him down and confronted him about running off with his daughters and all his stuff. I won’t get into it here, but it’s worth the read if you’re interested. Lots more lying and cheating going on. Eventually Laban let Jacob and his daughters go on their way.

1] Jacob’s cousin.

2] And in some places, still is.

3] If you’ve ever seen ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ you’ll get the picture.

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