All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

A Deceiver Meets His Match!
Based on Genesis 28 and 29

After being deceived into giving Jacob the birthright blessing, Isaac knows he needs to get his son away from Esau’s wrath. So he takes Rebekah’s suggestion and sends Jacob to find a wife among her clan.

After traveling 50 to 60 miles as a fugitive, Jacob lies down to sleep, with a stone as a headrest. He dreams about a ladder or staircase that reaches to Heaven, and sees angels traveling up and down from the Lord, who stands at the top. Jacob understands this imagery. His Mesopotamian ancestry built ziggurats or towers next to their temples where their imaginary heavenly messengers traveled between earth below and their gods in Heaven. But while these gods resided in temples, Jacob’s God is different. He travels with him, and promises never to leave him!

God also promises him the land of Canaan as an inheritance, and a great posterity through which all earthly families will be blessed. Then He promises to never leave him, and to bring him back safely.

“How awesome is this place!” Jacob exclaims, adding that this is the “House of God,” and “the gate of Heaven.” He names it Bethel (indicating it is a temple), sets his headrest upright as a pillar, and anoints it with oil to consecrate it as a permanent marker. Then he utters the first recorded scriptural vow—the Lord will be his God, and he will tithe his goods.

Then Jacob continues his journey to Mesopotamia by traveling northeast, around the desert.

At the Well

Days later, Jacob arrives at a well where shepherds are gathered and inquires where they are from. They answer, “From Haran,” so he asks about his uncle Laban. “He is well,” they reply, pointing out his daughter, Rachel, who’s approaching with her sheep. Jacob eagerly rolls away the large stone covering the well and waters her sheep, undoubtedly telling her who he is, since she’s not offended by his kisses and tears. Rachel runs back to tell her father Laban, and he invites Jacob home.

The Bible mentions Laban has two daughters, Rachel and Leah. Rachel, his youngest, is described as beautiful in form and appearance. But while the Hebrew text says Leah’s eyes are “tender” or “soft,” the ancient Greek Septuagint translates it as “dull.” The ancients found great beauty in sparkling eyes.

Jacob, who is now 77, falls in love with Rachel. Since he’s penniless, he bargains to work seven years to pay the bride price, a sum normally given to the wife at marriage to sustain her, should her husband die, desert, or divorce her. By any standards, this is a premium price, and it’s interesting that after working seven years, Jacob has to remind his father-in-law about his contract!

Finally, Laban prepares the wedding feast, but takes Leah (who consents to his ruse), veils her, and gives her to Jacob. The next day, when he discovers he’s married to Leah and not Rachel, Jacob furiously confronts his father-in-law! But Laban’s shrewd response is that the custom is to marry the older daughter first. “Complete the week of feasting, then marry Rachel,” he says, adding that Jacob must work seven more years for her. Driven by his love for Rachel, Jacob fulfills both obligations.

This bride switch seems impossible to us, but the custom of the day apparently allowed Laban and Leah to trick him. Jacob the Deceiver has now met his match in Laban—the Super Deceiver!

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