Having been told by his parents to find a wife among Isaac’s and Rebecca’s relatives, Jacob sets out on his journey toward Harran.
The first night he beds down by the side of the road and puts a stone under his head.
Lo and behold, Jacob dreams of a ladder reaching up to heaven. Messengers of God are going up and down the ladder, and look: here’s God, standing near Jacob.
God introduces himself. “I am God,” he says, “the God of your dad and your granddad. I promise to watch over you.”
Jacob wakes from his dream and he’s totally awestruck. He sets up the stone he has been using to sleep on as a standing pillar.
Off he goes to Harran, and at the well he meets Rachel, Laban’s daughter, with her sheep. Jacob rolls this big rock off the well and lets Rachel’s flocks drink.
Then Jacob weeps and tells Rachel that he’s Rebecca’s son. She runs and tells her father, Laban, and Laban asks Jacob to work for him.
Here’s the thing: Laban has two daughters, Rachel and Leah, and Jacob is crazy about Rachel. Laban agrees to give Rachel in marriage after seven years of working for him, but Laban plays a trick! Laban throws a feast, and takes Leah in to Jacob instead of Rachel.
“Why have you hoodwinked me?” yells Jacob when he realizes what has happened.
Laban says “We don’t do things that way here. We don’t give the younger daughter in marriage before the older. Just spend a week with Leah and after that, you can marry Rachel.
So that’s what Jacob does. He keeps Leah as his wife, but he also marries Rachel, whom he loves. Then he spends another seven years working for Laban.
God sees that Leah is hated, so he gives her four sons: Reuben, Simon, Levi and Judah. After the first one, poor Leah says “Now my husband will love me.”
Rachel is jealous of her sister. “Come now,” she says to Jacob. “Give me children! If not, I will die!” Jacob gets made and tells her “Am I God who has denied you a baby?” So Rachel gives him Bilha, her maid, and Bilha has two little boys, Dan and Naftali.
Not to be outdone, Leah gives Jacob her maid Zilpa, who has a son named Asher, which means happiness.
Food for Thought
God promised to look after Jacob. Why does he let Laban take advantage of him?