1Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.*n1*n2 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 a great stone was upon the well’s mouth. 3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well’s mouth in his place. 4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we. 5 And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. 6 And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.*n3 7 And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them.*n4 8 And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep. 9 ¶And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them. 10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son: and she ran and told her father. 13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things.*n5 14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.*n615 ¶And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be? 16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. 18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. 19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. 20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. 21 ¶And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her. 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. 24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid. 25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? 26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.*n7 27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. 28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also. 29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid. 30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
So we find Jacob just coming into town and as luck would have it, finding someone who knows his uncle Laban at the local watering hole. He also meets his future wife there, Laban’s daughter Rachel. It was love at first sight!
It was not a usual thing to see a daughter taking care of the sheep, and this might have been because Laban only had daughters.
Jacob goes home with her and lives there for about a month before things start moving and he eventually asks for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Laban agrees to a seven year deal with Jacob (probably because he didn’t have a dowry) and everything seems to be working out, but Jacob soon finds out where his mother got her crafty ways because Laban pulls a fast one on Jacob.
His seven years are over and they had seemed to go by in a flash. Jacob tells Laban that he is ready to take his wife. Laban agrees and Jacob’s new wife comes into his chamber that night and they seal the deal so to speak, but in the morning Jacob learns that he had been tricked by Laban.
Jacob was now married to Rachel’s older sister Leah and embarks on a deal for another seven years in order to have Rachel as a wife as well.
A dowry was something that a young man must have had in those days, Chuck Smith called it “alimony in advance,” because it was something used to sustain the wife if things didn’t work out. The father was supposed to save the dowry for just such an occasion. It seems that perhaps Jacob was working out this kind of deal with Jacob, but as things progress we will learn that he has spent all of the money that was saved for his daughters and that he in fact pretty much sold them to Jacob.
Verse 17 says that Leah was “tender-eyed,” and that Rachel was beautiful and well-favored.
Tender-eyed is the Hebrew word rak (Strong’s #7390), “tender (literally or figuratively), and, by implication, weak” (Strong’s Concordance).
So there was something weak about her eyes, or she did not stand out when you looked at her. Some scholars believe that her eyes might have been blue, rather than the dark brown that they found attractive, or that her eyes were not big, and beautiful as her sister’s.
Two important things to notice are Jacob’s reactions to Laban and his two daughters. It seems to me that he MUST have had his previous dealings with his brother and father in mind while all of this was happening, because he says almost nothing about how Laban had tricked him. Maybe he was thinking about reaping what he had sown.
We are told that Jacob loved Rachel and almost nothing of what he felt for Leah. That is too bad because we will soon learn that he was not looking to God when he chose his wife, but his own feelings and desires. He seemed to be in a real hurry to snatch this beautiful woman up before someone else did.
We will soon see that evidently, Leah would have been the chosen wife for Jacob had he given God the say-so in the whole determination.