The two marriages of Jacob (Gen 29:15-Gen 29:30)

“Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?’   Now Laban had two daughters.  The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.  Leah’s eyes were lovely and Rachel was graceful and beautiful.  Jacob loved Rachel.  So he said, ‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.’  Laban said, ‘It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man.  Stay with me.’  So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.”

Laban decided to pay Jacob because he was a ‘kinsman.’  Laban had two daughters, Leah, the oldest, and Rachel, the youngest.  Jacob loved Rachel and he said that he would serve Laban for seven years in order to marry her.  This seems like a real love story when years seem like days. Jacob did this so that he could marry his first cousin.

“Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.  So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast.   But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob.  He went in to her.  Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.   When morning came, it was Leah!  Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel?  Why then have you deceived me?’  Laban said, ‘This is not done in our country, to give the younger before the first-born.  Complete this marriage week, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.’  Jacob did so, and completed her nuptial week.  Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.  Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid.  So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah.  He served Laban for another seven years.”

On the wedding night, Laban brought the veiled Leah, not Rachel, to Jacob.  ‘He went in to her,’ a euphemism for intercourse.  He also gave her a maid called Zilpah. This time it is Jacob who is deceived.  Laban explained that the older daughter must be married before the younger daughter.  Nevertheless they completed the week of marriage festivities.  However, he said if you work another seven years I will give you Rachel, the younger one with a maid named Bilhah.  It turns out to be a two for one deal as Jacob marries two sisters at the same time.

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