And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother’s father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughers of Laban thy mother’s brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham. And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.(Genesis 28:1-5)
Genesis is a book about choice. God’s choice and man’s. God has a purpose which he is carrying out, since the fall of man in the garden of Eden. He will save the world, undoing the effects of the fall of man,. through a virgin born Savior, “the seed of the woman”.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were chosen to be the family through which the seed would come. Jacob’s life is of great import in recounting the “miracle nation” story.
In our text, Jacob is blessed by Isaac, the Abrahamic covenant re-iterated, complete with the promise of fruitfulness, the land, and of the seed.He is then sent to find a wife from among Abraham’s people in Padan Aram (in Iraq).
By way of contrast, Esau’s profanity, rebellion and godlessness is re-iterated also,
And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.(Genesis 28:8-9)
On the way to his uncle’s house, Jacob slept at a place called “Bethel” , the house of God. There he had a vision of a vast stairway to heaven, with Angels ascending and descending between heaven and earth.
And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.(Genesis 28:11-15)
In this vision, the LORD again re-iterated the Abrahamic covenant to Jacob, showing by the vision that the traffic between heaven and this fallen earth would be enabled through the seed of the covenant. The person coming through Abraham,Isaac and Jacob, the Messiah, would be qualified to bring heaven to earth and the peoples of earth into heaven, and thus be a blessing to every family on earth.
Jesus referred to himself as the stairway that Jacob saw in the vision, in John 1.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.(John 1:50-51)
When Jacob arrived at his uncle’s, He came to the well that the local Shepherds used for their flocks and inquired about his uncle Laban. As they were talking Laban’s daughter Rachel came with her flocks, and Jacob removed the cover of the well and helped her to water her flocks.
This image of a woman at the well, is a commonly repeated motif in scripture.
Abraham’s servant found a wife for Isaac, by recognizing rebekah at the well, willing to water his camels.Here Jacob falls in love with his prospective bride, at the well. Moses helped his future wife fight off bullying Shepherds in Exodus.
In the New Testament, Jesus sits by a well and enters into conversation with the thirsty soul of a fallen woman.It seems the Bride and the Messiah come together, at the wells of salvation, the one thirsting for Life, and the other, the fountain of Life.
Rachel brings Jacob home to Father, Uncle Laban, who greets him as long lost family. After a while, Laban hires Jacob as help, and asks Jacob for what wages he desires.
And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be? And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favored. And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.( Genesis 28:15-20)
Jacob loved Rachel and worked for seven years for her, prospering his employer, because of the Abrahamic blessing, particularly the part that says, “I will bless those who bless you…”.
And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her. And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid. And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?( Genesis 29:21-25)
It is hard to fathom the shock Jacob experienced when He woke up, having slept with Leah, and not Rachel, whom he loved. What happened? In the dark, under the heavy clothing that middle eastern modesty requires, and after a lengthy feast, Jacob had literally been deceived by Laban, just as Isaac had by Rebekah and Jacob, and for the same Divine reason, i.e. the purposes of election.
Humanly speaking Laban had fooled Jacob, but God allowed it because he had chosen Leah to be the direct ancestor of the Messiah, the seed of Abraham. Jacob fell in love with Rachel, and would also marry her, but unto Leah was given the gift of being the mother of Judah. Jacob would one day prophesy over Judah that through him the Messiah would come to prevail.