So whatever you wish that others
would do to you, do also to them,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.


GENESIS 29:1-6, NIrV

1 Then Jacob continued on his journey. He came to the land where the eastern tribes lived. 2 There he saw a well in the open country. Three flocks of sheep were lying near it. The flocks were given water from the well. The stone over the opening of the well was large. 3 All the flocks would gather there. The shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s opening. They would give water to the sheep. Then they would put the stone back in its place over the opening of the well.

4 Jacob asked the shepherds, “My friends, where are you from?”

“We’re from Harran,” they replied.

5 He said to them, “Do you know Nahor’s grandson Laban?”

“Yes, we know him,” they answered.

6 Then Jacob asked them, “How is he?”

“He’s fine,” they said. “Here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.”


Our journey with Jacob continues near a place called Haran, far away from his family. What was he doing there? Running for his life and looking for a wife! If you recall, Jacob had put on a disguise, fooled his father, and swiped his big brother’s blessing. Knowing Esau was planning Jacob’s death, his mother and father sent their son to live with his Uncle Laban. There, Jacob would be safe from his angry brother and, hopefully, fall in love with a nice young lady! In God's perfect timing, Jacob’s journey led him to a nearby well just in time to meet his uncle’s beautiful daughter.

+ Why was Jacob in Haran, so far away from home?

+ What was the name of Uncle Laban’s daughter? (vs. 6)


GENESIS 29:7-14, NIrV

7 “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high in the sky. It’s not time for the flocks to be brought together. Give water to the sheep and take them back to the grasslands.”

8 “We can’t,” they replied. “We have to wait until all the flocks are brought together. The stone has to be rolled away from the opening of the well. Then we’ll give water to the sheep.”

9 He was still talking with them when Rachel came with her father’s sheep. It was her job to take care of the flock. 10 Rachel was the daughter of Laban, Jacob’s uncle. When Jacob saw Rachel with Laban’s sheep, he went over to the well. He rolled the stone away from the opening. He gave water to his uncle’s sheep. 11 Jacob kissed Rachel. Then he began to cry because he was so happy. 12 He had told Rachel he was a relative of her father. He had also said he was Rebekah’s son. Rachel ran and told her father what Jacob had said.

13 As soon as Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he hurried to meet him. Laban hugged Jacob and kissed him. Then Laban brought him to his home. There Jacob told him everything. 14 Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.”

Jacob stayed with Laban for a whole month. 


When Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban, he gave her a “hello” kiss and started crying like a big, happy baby. Why? Because he knew that his long and lonely journey was finally over! Jacob had traveled for hundreds of miles, without anyone to keep him company and without any electronic device guiding him where to go! I’m sure he was looking forward to finally having someone to talk to and maybe even sleeping in a real bed! After a hug and a kiss from his uncle, Jacob joined his mother’s family in their home and told them about all his adventures.

+ What did Jacob do for Rachel? (vs. 10)

+ How long did Jacob stay with Laban? (vs. 14)


GENESIS 29:15-20, NIrV

15 Then Laban said to him, “You are one of my relatives. But is that any reason for you to work for me for nothing? Tell me what your pay should be.”

16 Laban had two daughters. The name of the older one was Leah. And the name of the younger one was Rachel. 17 Leah was plain, but Rachel was beautiful. She had a nice figure. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel. He said to Laban, “I’ll work for you for seven years so I can marry your younger daughter Rachel.”

19 Laban said, “It’s better for me to give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob worked for seven years so he could marry Rachel. But they seemed like only a few days to him because he loved her so much.


While he lived with his uncle Laban, Jacob didn’t lazily waste his days away. He worked hard on his uncle's farm, keeping an eye on Laban’s many sheep. After a month, Laban asked Jacob, “How can I pay you? You shouldn’t have to work for free!” Now, Jacob didn’t want money, he wanted someone to marry! In his time, to marry a daughter, a man needed to give a valuable gift to her father. So Jacob said, “If you’ll let me marry your daughter Rachel, I’ll serve you seven years.” Laban agreed to this deal and Jacob got to work. And powered by love, those 2,555 days felt like only a few to Jacob.

+ What does the Bible tell us about Laban’s two daughters? (vs. 16-17)

+ Why did the seven years seem to fly by for Jacob? (vs. 20)


GENESIS 29:21-24, NIRV

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. I’ve completed my time. I want to sleep with her.”

22 So Laban brought all the people of the place together and had a feast prepared. 23 But when evening came, he gave his daughter Leah to Jacob. And Jacob slept with her. 24 Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter as her servant.


Have you ever heard the saying, “What goes around comes around”? It means, “Watch what you do to others – they might do the same to you!” That’s exactly what happened to Jacob. Years before, he tricked his brother into trading away his birthright. And later, he fooled his father into blessing the wrong brother. But Jacob the trickster ended up getting tricked himself! After the wedding, Jacob entered his tent with his bride. It was dark and her face was covered with a veil (a special wedding cloth), so Jacob didn’t realize that Laban had tricked him into marrying Leah, not Rachel!


+ How did Laban celebrate Jacob’s wedding? (vs. 22)

+ Why didn’t Jacob know that it was Leah and not Rachel?


GENESIS 29:25-27, NIRV

25 When Jacob woke up the next morning, there was Leah next to him! So he said to Laban, “What have you done to me? I worked for you so I could marry Rachel, didn’t I? Why did you trick me?”

26 Laban replied, “It isn’t our practice here to give the younger daughter to be married before the older one. 27 Complete this daughter’s wedding week. Then we’ll give you the younger one also. But you will have to work for another seven years.”


The morning after his wedding, Jacob woke up to a huge surprise. The brand new bride snoozing next to him wasn't Rachel – it was Leah! The Bible doesn’t fill in all the details, but it’s easy to picture Jacob angrily stomping over to Laban’s tent and screaming, “WHAT DID YOU DO?” Laban explained, “In our land, we have a rule: the oldest daughter must be married first.” I bet Jacob thought, “It would have been nice if you told me that BEFORE the wedding!” To calm Jacob down, Laban offered Jacob a deal: “In one week, you can marry Rachel. But you’ll owe me seven more years of work.”

+ When did Jacob realize he had been tricked into marrying Leah? (vs. 25)

+ According to the Bible, how many wives is a man supposed to have?


GENESIS 29:28-30, NIRV

28 So Jacob completed the week with Leah. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her servant. 30 Jacob slept with Rachel also. He loved Rachel more than he loved Leah. And he worked for Laban for another seven years.


After bamboozling Jacob into marrying his oldest daughter, Laban offered Jacob a deal. "You may marry Rachel, too, but you'll owe me seven more years of work!" Now, Jacob knew God's plan for marriage meant having only one wife. Despite that, Jacob accepted his uncle's offer. And only one week after marrying his first wife, Jacob married his second. 

Laban had given Jacob "a taste of his own medicine." That's something people say to describe when people who do bad things have the same bad things done to them! Many times in his life, Jacob tricked people in order to get what he wanted. He tricked his brother so that he could get Esau's firstborn rights. And he fooled his own father so that he would be given his family's special blessing.

Jacob was given a dose of his own tricky medicine when his uncle Laban fooled him into marrying Leah. Just like Jacob, Laban had played a trick in order to get what he wanted: a husband for his oldest daughter and seven years of free work on his farm!

Like a tornado tearing through a town, Jacob and Laban’s tricks left behind a path of destruction. Because of his tricks, Jacob had a mom and dad he could no longer see and a brother who wanted him dead and buried. And because of Laban's tricks, his two daughters would be forever mixed up in a messy marriage. But that’s what always happens when we don’t follow God’s good commands: we make a humongous mess!

But here’s a great thing about our God: he can take a complete mess and turn it into a masterpiece! God grew Jacob’s messy family into the great nation of Israel. Though their history was just as messy as Jacob’s marriage, God was always with them. Time and again, he rescued them from the messes they made for themselves!

In the end, God used this messy family to bless messy sinners like you and me. Leah gave birth to a son named Judah, who had a son named Perez, who had a son named Hezron. And this continued for about 2,000 years until Jacob and Leah’s many-times-great grandson Jesus was born.

Though he came from a messy family, Jesus was the perfect Son of God. Like a firefighter rushing into a burning building, Jesus entered our sinful world to undo the mess our sin had made. He paid sin’s price by dying in our place on a cross. But his story didn’t end there!  Since he was the all-powerful Son of God, he came back to life on the third day!

Because of this perfect person born into the messy family of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel, sinners like you and me can be rescued from the forever fiery death of sin. Instead, we can become a forever part of God’s perfect family!

+ How did Jacob feel about Rachel and Leah? (vs. 30)

+ What problems do you think loving Rachel more than Leah caused?

© 2023 Andrew Doane. All rights reserved.