Jacob and Rachel
Leslie Cook

In reading Genesis 29, I noticed a contradiction in the story regarding Jacob and Rachel.  When did Jacob receive Rachel, before or after serving seven more years?  I thought it was after serving seven more years but the Scriptures do not support that.  This is why it is so important for each individual to search the Scriptures for themselves and allow the Holy Spirit to bring enlightenment.  Every minute detail adds to the fullness of the story and brings to life the character of each individual, or the character of a nation. 

As you know Jacob was deceived into believing that Leah was Rachel on their wedding night.  Upon awakening the next morning he realized that he had been deceived and was extremely angry.  He went to Laban (Leah and Rachel’s father) and asked “Why did you deceive me?”  Upon answering Laban said “It is against our custom to marry the youngest before the oldest”.  I am sure Jacob was thinking “Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place.”  But let’s look at the Scriptures and see what actually happened. 

Jacob Meets Rachel

29 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the sons of the east. 

He looked, and saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it, for from that well they watered the flocks. Now the stone on the mouth of the well was large. 

When all the flocks were gathered there, they would then roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well.

Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where are you from?” And they said, “We are from Haran.” 

He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” And they said, “We know him.” 

And he said to them, “Is it well with him?” And they said, “It is well, and here is Rachel his daughter coming with the sheep.” 

He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.” 

But they said, “We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered, and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”

While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 

10 When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 

11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept. 

12 Jacob told Rachel that he was a [c]relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.

13 So when Laban heard the news of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Then he related to Laban all these things. 

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

15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 

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

17 And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. 

18 Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 

19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.” 

20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.

History:  In Old Testament times parents usually determined who their children married, and a dowry had to be given.  It was the fathers who negotiated the dowry because “to lose or gain a daughter was to lose or gain a worker.... Jacob substituted an agreed period of work for the marriage price.” (Handbook of Life in Bible Times, J.A. Rogers, p. 85). 

Laban’s Treachery


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

22 Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. 

23 Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. 

24 Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. 

25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” 

History:  On the wedding day, “the groom and his friends would go to the bride’s house in the evening, collect the bride and her friends and return to the groom’s house with singing, music and dancing and her face would be veiled.   (This explains how Jacob was tricked into marrying the wrong woman.)  . . . The feasting could often last for a week.”  (Handbook of Life in Bible Times, by J.A. Thompson, p. 89; reprinted 1987). 

26 But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn.

27 Complete the week of this one, (the wedding feast; 7 days) and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” 

28 Jacob did so and completed her week (Leah’s week), and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 

29 Laban also gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid. 

30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.

So now we see what really happened.  I often wondered why it was so easy for Jacob to work another seven years for a woman he loved after being tricked by her father.  I know he loved her, but it makes more sense that he received her before, not after, making the next seven years bearable knowing she was by his side.