Genesis 29:18Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”
In this familiar story, Jacob agrees to work seven years to gain the hand of Rachel in marriage. How hard, how long, would we work for what we desire? How much would we pray? How well would we demonstrate the expression, “Work as though everything depends on you; pray as though everything depends on God.”?
1Now it came about, when Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” 2Isaac said, “Behold now, I am old and I do not know the day of my death. 3“Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; 4and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.”
5Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game to bring home, 6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, 7‘Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death.’ 8“Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you. 9“Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them as a savory dish for your father, such as he loves. 10“Then you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death.” 11Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, “Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. 12“Perhaps my father will feel me, then I will be as a deceiver in his sight, and I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing.” 13But his mother said to him, “Your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.” 14So he went and got them, and brought them to his mother; and his mother made savory food such as his father loved. 15Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob.
18Then he came to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done as you told me. Get up, please, sit and eat of my game, that you may bless me.” 20Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have it so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because the LORD your God caused it to happen to me.” 21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come close, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. 24And he said, “Are you really my son Esau?” And he said, “I am.” 25So he said, “Bring it to me, and I will eat of my son’s game, that I may bless you.” And he brought it to him, and he ate; he also brought him wine and he drank. 26Then his father Isaac said to him, “Please come close and kiss me, my son.” 27So he came close and kissed him; and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said,
“See, the smell of my son
Is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed;
28 Now may God give you of the dew of heaven,
And of the fatness of the earth,
And an abundance of grain and new wine;
29 May peoples serve you,
And nations bow down to you;
Be master of your brothers,
And may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be those who curse you,
And blessed be those who bless you.”
The Stolen Blessing
30Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31Then he also made savory food, and brought it to his father; and he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” 32Isaac his father said to him, “Who are you?” And he said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.” 36Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?” 38Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” So Esau lifted his voice and wept.
39Then Isaac his father answered and said to him,
“Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling,
And away from the dew of heaven from above.
40 “By your sword you shall live,
And your brother you shall serve;
But it shall come about when you become restless,
That you will break his yoke from your neck.”
41So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42Now when the words of her elder son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she sent and called her younger son Jacob, and said to him, “Behold your brother Esau is consoling himself concerning you by planning to kill you. 43“Now therefore, my son, obey my voice, and arise, flee to Haran, to my brother Laban! 44“Stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury subsides, 45until your brother’s anger against you subsides and he forgets what you did to him. Then I will send and get you from there. Why should I be bereaved of you both in one day?”
46Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”
Jacob Is Sent Away
1So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and charged him, and said to him, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. 2“Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and from there take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother. 3“May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4“May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.” 5Then Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan-aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.
6Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take to himself a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he charged him, saying, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan,” 7and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Paddan-aram. 8So Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac; 9and Esau went to Ishmael, and married, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.
10Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. 12He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. 14“Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
18So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top. 19He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz. 20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear, 21and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the LORD will be my God. 22“This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
Jacob Meets Rachel
1Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the sons of the east. 2He 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. 3When 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.
4Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where are you from?” And they said, “We are from Haran.” 5He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” And they said, “We know him.” 6And 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.” 7He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.” 8But 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.”
9While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10When 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. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept. 12Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
13So 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. 14Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him a month.
15Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. 18Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.” 20So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
21Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” 22Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. 23Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. 24Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. 25So 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?” 26But 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, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” 28Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 29Laban also gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid. 30So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.
31Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” 33Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” So she named him Simeon. 34She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi. 35And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.
A Psalm of Thanksgiving for God’s Justice
FOR THE CHOIR DIRECTOR; ON MUTH-LABBEN. A PSALM OF DAVID.
1 I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonders.
2 I will be glad and exult in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
3 When my enemies turn back,
They stumble and perish before You.
4 For You have maintained my just cause;
You have sat on the throne judging righteously.
5 You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy has come to an end in perpetual ruins,
And You have uprooted the cities;
The very memory of them has perished.
7 But the LORD abides forever;
He has established His throne for judgment,
8 And He will judge the world in righteousness;
He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.
9 The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed,
A stronghold in times of trouble;
10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.