Genesis 29

 

וַיִּשָּׂא יַעֲקֹב רַגְלָיו וַיֵּלֶךְ אַרְצָה בְנֵי קֶדֶם  29:1

Gene. 29:1  Then Jacob resumed his journey and went to the land of the children of the east.

וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה בְאֵר בַּשָּׂדֶה וְהִנֵּה שָׁם שְׁלֹשָׁה עֶדְרֵי צֹאן רֹבְצִים עָלֶיהָ כִּי מִן הַבְּאֵר הַהִוא יַשְׁקוּ  29:2

הָעֲדָרִים וְהָאֶבֶן גְּדֹלָה עַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר

Gene. 29:2  And he looked and behold, a well in the field and lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it, for out of that well they watered the flocks.  And the stone over the mouth of the well was great.

וְנֶאֶסְפוּ שָׁמָּה כָל הָעֲדָרִים וְגָלְלוּ אֶת הָאֶבֶן מֵעַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר וְהִשְׁקוּ אֶת הַצֹּאן וְהֵשִׁיבוּ אֶת  29:3

הָאֶבֶן עַלפִּי הַבְּאֵר לִמְקֹמָהּ

Gene. 29:3  So all the flocks would be gathered there, and they would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep; then they would put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well.

There are four vav prefixes in this verse and they are all universally translated as non-inverting.  In other words, the four perfect tense verbs are translated as being in the past tense.  In actuality, I believe the vavs are inverting and this verse describes hypothetical or repetitive operations, as this translation suggests.  Take a moment to look at v. 29:8 below to see why I believe as I do.  Notice, that the implication there is that the watering of the sheep has not yet taken place. Therefore a past tense translation makes little sense.

וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם יַעֲקֹב אַחַי מֵאַיִן אַתֶּם וַיֹּאמְרוּ מֵחָרָן אֲנָחְנוּ  29:4

Gene. 29:4  And Jacob said to them, “My brethren, from where are you?” And they said, “We are from Haran.”

וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם הַיְדַעְתֶּם אֶת לָבָן בֶּן נָחוֹר וַיֹּאמְרוּ יָדָעְנוּ  29:5

Gene. 29:5  And he said to them, “Know you Laban son of Nahor?” And they said, “We know.”

וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם הֲשָׁלוֹם לוֹ וַיֹּאמְרוּ שָׁלוֹם וְהִנֵּה רָחֵל בִּתּוֹ בָּאָה עִם הַצֹּאן  29:6

Gene. 29:6  And he said to them, “Is it well with him?” And they said, “It is well, and behold, Rachel, his daughter, comes with the sheep.”

וַיֹּאמֶר הֵן עוֹד הַיּוֹם גָּדוֹל לֹא עֵת הֵאָסֵף הַמִּקְנֶה הַשְׁקוּ הַצֹּאן וּלְכוּ רְעוּ  29:7

Gene. 29:7  And he said, “Lo, it is still high day; it is not time to gather the cattle.   Water and go feed the sheep.”

וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֹא נוּכַל עַד אֲשֶׁר יֵאָסְפוּ כָּל הָעֲדָרִים וְגָלְלוּ אֶת הָאֶבֶן מֵעַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר וְהִשְׁקִינוּ הַצֹּאן  29:8

Gene. 29:8  And they said, “We will not be able until all the flocks are gathered and they will roll the stone from the mouth of the well; then we can water the sheep.”

עוֹדֶנּוּ מְדַבֵּר עִמָּם וְרָחֵל בָּאָה עִם הַצֹּאן אֲשֶׁר לְאָבִיהָ כִּי רֹעָה הִוא  29:9

Gene. 29:9  He was still speaking with them when Rachel came with the sheep that were her father's, for she was the shepherdess.

וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר רָאָה יַעֲקֹב אֶת רָחֵל בַּת לָבָן אֲחִי אִמּוֹ וְאֶת צֹאן לָבָן אֲחִי אִמּוֹ וַיִּגַּשׁ יַעֲקֹב וַיָּגֶל  29:10

אֶת הָאֶבֶן מֵעַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר וַיַּשְׁקְ אֶת צֹאן לָבָן אֲחִי אִמּוֹ

Gene. 29:10   And it happened as Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, the brother of his mother, and the sheep of Laban, the brother of his mother, that Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of Laban, the brother of his mother.

Why do you suppose Laban has to be repeatedly identified as the brother of Jacob’s mother -- three times in this verse?  The practice of identifying a person by a relationship prevails throughout the bible.  In fact, it is unusual to be missing.  But three times in one verse seems like overkill.  Was this kind of identification considered a sign of respect?

וַיִּשַּׁק יַעֲקֹב לְרָחֵל וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת קֹלוֹ וַיֵּבְךְּ  29:11

Gene. 29:11   And Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted his voice and wept.

This is not a typical act when meeting a cousin whom one has never seen before.  I wonder if Jacob fell in love at first sight, and knowing that she would be his wife, he couldn’t control his reaction.

וַיַּגֵּד יַעֲקֹב לְרָחֵל כִּי אֲחִי אָבִיהָ הוּא וְכִי בֶן רִבְקָה הוּא וַתָּרָץ וַתַּגֵּד לְאָבִיהָ  29:12

Gene. 29:12   And Jacob announced to Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was the son of Rebekah, and she ran and declared to her father.

וַיְהִי כִשְׁמֹעַ לָבָן אֶת שֵׁמַע יַעֲקֹב בֶּן אֲחֹתוֹ וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתוֹ וַיְחַבֶּקלוֹ וַיְנַשֶּׁקלוֹ וַיְבִיאֵהוּ אֶל בֵּיתוֹ  29:13

וַיְסַפֵּר לְלָבָן אֵת כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה

Gene. 29:13   And it happened when Laban heard the news of Jacob, the son of his sister, that he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house, and he recounted to Laban all these things.

וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ לָבָן אַךְ עַצְמִי וּבְשָׂרִי אָתָּה וַיֵּשֶׁב עִמּוֹ חֹדֶשׁ יָמִים  29:14

Gene. 29:14   And Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.”  And he stayed with him a month of days.

וַיֹּאמֶר לָבָן לְיַעֲקֹב הֲכִיאָחִי אַתָּה וַעֲבַדְתַּנִי חִנָּם הַגִּידָה לִּי מַה מַּשְׂכֻּרְתֶּךָ  29:15

Gene. 29:15   And Laban said to Jacob: “Because you are my kinsman, should you serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?”

וּלְלָבָן שְׁתֵּי בָנוֹת שֵׁם הַגְּדֹלָה לֵאָה וְשֵׁם הַקְּטַנָּה רָחֵל  29:16

Gene. 29:16   Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah and the name of the younger was Rachel.

וְעֵינֵי לֵאָה רַכּוֹת וְרָחֵל הָיְתָה יְפַתתֹּאַר וִיפַת מַרְאֶה  29:17

Gene. 29:17   And the eyes of Leah were weak, but Rachel was of beautiful figure and beautiful to look upon.

There are various interpretations of the word tAK+r, translated here as weak.  Other synonyms of the word are tender, soft, delicate, or timid.  For some, the Hebrew indicates that Leah had been crying, the reason being that she was sure she was going to be married off to Esau, because they were each respectively the eldest of the children of Laban and Rebekah.  For others, it indicates that her eyes were sensitive, perhaps meaning very beautiful.  For them, Leah was equal in beauty to Rachel, thus making it easy for Jacob to be fooled on his wedding night.  For still others, it indicates that Leah was perceptive.  No one knows with any degree of certainty.  For me it means simply that she may not have been able to see well.  And I further believe that, because Leah was to be the mother of most of Jacob’s children, it was the scribe’s euphemism for her not being as beautiful as Rachel.

וַיֶּאֱהַב יַעֲקֹב אֶת רָחֵל וַיֹּאמֶר אֶעֱבָדְךָ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים בְּרָחֵל בִּתְּךָ הַקְּטַנָּה  29:18

Gene. 29:18   And Jacob loved Rachel, and he said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter.”

וַיֹּאמֶר לָבָן טוֹב תִּתִּי אֹתָהּ לָךְ מִתִּתִּי אֹתָהּ לְאִישׁ אַחֵר שְׁבָה עִמָּדִי  29:19

Gene. 29:19   And Laban said, “Better my giving her to you than my giving her to another man.  Abide with me.”

Was Laban already scheming to put one over on Jacob at the appointed time?  Most commentators assume that the practice in that time (as it is today among many people) was to marry off the oldest daughter first.

וַיַּעֲבֹד יַעֲקֹב בְּרָחֵל שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים וַיִּהְיוּ בְעֵינָיו כְּיָמִים אֲחָדִים בְּאַהֲבָתוֹ אֹתָהּ  29:20

Gene. 29:20   And Jacob served seven years for Rachel, but they seemed in his eyes as a few days, because he loved her.

וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב אֶל לָבָן הָבָה אֶת אִשְׁתִּי כִּי מָלְאוּ יָמָי וְאָבוֹאָה אֵלֶיהָ  29:21

Gene. 29:21   Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is fulfilled.”

The vav prefix in ha'Aba'w>, that I may go in, is non-inverting, because the verb is first person imperfect.  Notice also that Jacob doesn’t call Rachel by name.  He says merely, “Give me my wife ....”  As you will find out, I believe that Jacob had a private line with the Lord that is not mentioned in the text.  So I believe he may have known what Laban was going to do.  Perhaps he was not fooled at all.

וַיֶּאֱסֹף לָבָן אֶת כָּל אַנְשֵׁי הַמָּקוֹם וַיַּעַשׂ מִשְׁתֶּה  29:22

Gene. 29:22   And Laban gathered all the people of the place and made a feast.

וַיְהִי בָעֶרֶב וַיִּקַּח אֶת לֵאָה בִתּוֹ וַיָּבֵא אֹתָהּ אֵלָיו וַיָּבֹא אֵלֶיהָ  29:23

Gene. 29:23   And it happened in the evening that he took Leah, his daughter, and brought her to him and he went into her

וַיִּתֵּן לָבָן לָהּ אֶת זִלְפָּה שִׁפְחָתוֹ לְלֵאָה בִתּוֹ שִׁפְחָה  29:24

Gene. 29:24   And Laban gave Zilpah, his bondwoman, to her, to Leah, his daughter, to be a handmaid.

וַיְהִי בַבֹּקֶר וְהִנֵּה הִוא לֵאָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל לָבָן מַה זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לִּי הֲלֹא בְרָחֵל עָבַדְתִּי עִמָּךְ  29:25

וְלָמָּה רִמִּיתָנִי

Gene. 29:25   And it happened in the morning that behold, it was Leah, and he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me?  Did I not serve with you for Rachel?  Then why have you deceived me?”

וַיֹּאמֶר לָבָן לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה כֵן בִּמְקוֹמֵנוּ לָתֵת הַצְּעִירָה לִפְנֵי הַבְּכִירָה  29:26

Gene. 29:26   And Laban said, “It cannot be done so in our place, to give the younger before the firstborn.”

מַלֵּא שְׁבֻעַ זֹאת וְנִתְּנָה לְךָ גַּם אֶת זֹאת בַּעֲבֹדָה אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲבֹד עִמָּדִי עוֹד שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים אֲחֵרוֹת  29:27

Gene. 29:27   “Complete the week with this one and we will also give the other to you for the service that you will serve with me yet another seven years.”

וַיַּעַשׂ יַעֲקֹב כֵּן וַיְמַלֵּא שְׁבֻעַ זֹאת וַיִּתֶּן לוֹ אֶת רָחֵל בִּתּוֹ לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה  29:28

Gene. 29:28   And Jacob did so and completed that week, and he gave Rachel, his daughter, to him, to him for a wife.

It’s interesting that the phrase, to him, appears twice.  I get the impression that it means something.  But most bibles with which I am familiar ignore this.  In fact, their translations of the verse make the repetition disappear in the English.  I suspect that the repetition may imply that Laban was reluctant to release Rachel to Jacob.  Could he have thought that Rachel was too good for this gullible senseless fool of a son-in-law?  On the other hand, could it presage the later prohibition against laying with a woman and her sister (Levi. 18:18)?

וַיִּתֵּן לָבָן לְרָחֵל בִּתּוֹ אֶת בִּלְהָה שִׁפְחָתוֹ לָהּ לְשִׁפְחָה  29:29

Gene. 29:29   And Laban gave Bilhah, his bondwoman, to Rachel, his daughter, to her for a handmaid.

וַיָּבֹא גַּם אֶל רָחֵל וַיֶּאֱהַב גַּם אֶת רָחֵל מִלֵּאָה וַיַּעֲבֹד עִמּוֹ עוֹד שֶׁבַעשָׁנִים אֲחֵרוֹת  29:30

Gene. 29:30   And he went also into Rachel and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with him yet another seven years.

וַיַּרְא יְהוָה כִּי שְׂנוּאָה לֵאָה וַיִּפְתַּח אֶת רַחְמָהּ וְרָחֵל עֲקָרָה  29:31

Gene. 29:31   And the Lord saw that Leah was hated so He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.

וַתַּהַר לֵאָה וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ רְאוּבֵן כִּי אָמְרָה כִּי רָאָה יְהוָה בְּעָנְיִי כִּי עַתָּה יֶאֱהָבַנִי אִישִׁי  29:32

Gene. 29:32   And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben for she said, “Because the Lord looked upon my affliction, that my husband should love me now.”

The name Reuben means “Behold a son!”  What could be the reasoning behind this name?  Did Leah mean that the Lord was making this statement in answer to her anguish?  Or is it intended to represent Leah calling out to Jacob?   It’s impossible to say with any certainty.  But in line with the reasoning in the next verse (v. 29:33), the answer is more likely to be that Leah sees Reuben’s birth as the Lord responding to her:  “Behold a son!”

                                                                                                                                   [Return to Gene. 33:2]

וַתַּהַר עוֹד וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתֹּאמֶר כִּי שָׁמַע יְהוָה כִּי שְׂנוּאָה אָנֹכִי וַיִּתֶּן לִי גַּם אֶת זֶה וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמו שִׁמְעוֹן  29:33ֹ

Gene. 29:33   And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, so He gave me this one also.”  And she called his name Simeon.

The name Simeon can mean “heard” or “hearing.”  Here what is being expressed by the name seems more certain. Here the statement is explicit.  The Lord was doing the hearing.

וַתַּהַר עוֹד וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתֹּאמֶר עַתָּה הַפַּעַם יִלָּוֶה אִישִׁי אֵלַי כִּי יָלַדְתִּי לוֹ שְׁלֹשָׁה בָנִים עַל כֵּן  29:34

קָרָא שְׁמוֹ, לֵוִי

Gene. 29:34   And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will be joined to me because I have borne him three sons.”  Therefore was his name called Levi.

The name Levi means “joined.”  As I see it, this name is both descriptive and prophetic.  The Levites, the descendants of Levi, will be joined in the service of the Lord in the tabernacle and the temple and throughout the land of Israel.

וַתַּהַר עוֹד וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתֹּאמֶר הַפַּעַם אוֹדֶה אֶת יְהוָה עַל כֵּן קָרְאָה שְׁמוֹ יְהוּדָה וַתַּעֲמֹד מִלֶּדֶת  29:35

Gene. 29:35   And she conceived again and bore a son and she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.”  Therefore she called his name Judah; and she stopped from bearing.

The name Judah may mean simply “praised,“ or “He shall praise,” or even “He shall be praised,” leading to the observation that the name could be both descriptive and prophetic.  It could be prophetic in the sense that later on Judah is not involved with his brothers in getting rid of Joseph and prevents him from being slain (Gene. 37:26), and he could be praised for that.  Of course, his intervention turns out to be providential.  Still another possibility exists:  The name could mean that God will be praised.

 

[Return to Genesis Chapters]  [Prev:  Gene. 28]  [Next:  Gene. 30]