How long did Jacob wait to marry Rachel?

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By BibleAsk Team


The story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah is one of the most captivating narratives in the Old Testament. Found in the Book of Genesis, this tale involves love, deception, and divine providence. Jacob’s journey to marry Rachel, his deep love for her, and the trials he faced along the way provide rich insights into the human condition and God’s plan. This essay will explore this period in detail, drawing upon references from the Bible.

Jacob’s Journey to Haran

The story begins with Jacob fleeing from his brother Esau’s wrath. Jacob had deceived his father Isaac to receive the blessing meant for Esau, and Esau was determined to kill him. Under the guise of finding a wife from his mother Rebekah’s family, Jacob was sent to Padan Aram, to the house of Laban, Rebekah’s brother.

Genesis 28:1-2 says:

“Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: ‘You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.'”

Jacob Meets Rachel

Upon arriving in Haran, Jacob met Rachel at a well, where she was tending her father’s sheep. It was love at first sight for Jacob, and he quickly decided that he wanted to marry her.

Genesis 29:10-11 narrates:

“And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept.”

Jacob’s Agreement with Laban

Jacob stayed with Laban for a month before discussing his future with Rachel. Laban, recognizing Jacob’s potential as a worker, asked him what his wages should be. Jacob, deeply in love with Rachel, offered to work for Laban for seven years in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage.

Genesis 29:18-20 recounts:

“Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, ‘I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.’ And Laban said, ‘It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me.’ So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.”

The Deception of Laban

After the seven years were completed, Jacob asked Laban to give him Rachel as his wife. However, Laban deceived Jacob by substituting Leah, Rachel’s older sister, in her place. This act of deception took advantage of the custom that the older daughter must be married before the younger one.

Genesis 29:23-25 describes the event:

“Now it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. And Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. So it came to pass 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 you? Why then have you deceived me?'”

The Second Agreement

Laban justified his actions by citing local customs but offered Jacob a solution: he could also marry Rachel in return for another seven years of service. Jacob agreed to this condition, demonstrating his unwavering love and commitment to Rachel.

Genesis 29:27-28 explains:

“Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years.’ Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week. So he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife also.”

The Wedding Week

The phrase “fulfill her week” refers to the traditional seven-day wedding feast. Jacob honored this custom and completed the week with Leah before marrying Rachel. Despite the initial deception, Jacob’s love for Rachel did not waver, and he willingly agreed to work an additional seven years for Laban.

Jacob’s Total Wait for Rachel

Jacob worked a total of 14 years for Rachel: the first seven years before the marriage, and the second seven years after the marriage, as stipulated by Laban’s agreement. This period was marked by Jacob’s patience, perseverance, and dedication to his beloved Rachel.

Leah

Because Leah played a big role in deceiving Jacob, she was unsuccessful in winning her husband’s affections at the beginning. For years Jacob had worked and waited patiently for the day when he would have a happy home with his beloved Rachel, only to find himself troubled with two bitter wives (Genesis 30:1, 2, 8, 15).

The bigamy that had been caused by Laban’s deception brought tension and sadness to the homes of both women. The jealousy and misery that accompanied this marriage required special instruction by Moses and a specific command against a man marrying two sisters at the same time. “Nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive” (Leviticus 18:18).

The Lessons from Jacob’s Story

The story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah offers several lessons:

  1. Love and Patience: Jacob’s love for Rachel is a powerful example of patience and dedication. Despite being deceived and having to work an additional seven years, Jacob’s love did not diminish.
  2. God’s Providence: God’s providence is evident throughout Jacob’s journey. Despite the deception and challenges, God’s plan for Jacob unfolded in His timing and manner.
  3. Human Deception: Laban’s deceit serves as a reminder of the fallibility and deceitfulness of human nature. However, it also shows that God can work through even the most challenging circumstances to bring about His purposes.

Conclusion

Jacob waited only seven years and one week to marry Rachel but still had to serve Laban another seven years after his marriage to her. So, Laban received a total of fourteen years of service from Jacob. His journey to marry Rachel was marked by love, patience, and perseverance, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to her. Despite the deception by Laban, Jacob’s love for Rachel remained steadfast, and he fulfilled his obligations to marry her. This story not only highlights the complexities of human relationships but also underscores the importance of patience, dedication, and trust in God’s providence.

The account of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah serves as a great lesson in love, commitment, and the intricate ways in which God’s plans unfold in the lives of His people. The story encourages believers to remain faithful and patient, trusting that God’s timing and purposes will ultimately prevail.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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