Did Jacob wait seven or fourteen years to marry Rachel?

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The Bible tells us that Jacob loved Rachel dearly. So, he proposed to Laban her father saying, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter” (Genesis 29:18). Finally, after the long seven years of work, Jacob asked Laban for his bride Rachel. But Laban deceived Jacob and gave him Leah, his older daughter, instead.

The morning after the wedding, Jacob, who had been a deceiver, awoke to find himself the victim of deceit. Inescapable justice had repaid him double for his own double-dealing. Enraged he told Laban: “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?” Then Laban in self-defense pleaded that he was only keeping a local social custom and added, “Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years” (v. 27).

Laban calmed Jacob after deceiving him and affirmed to him that he will have Rachel also only at the close of Leah’s marital week of festivities (Genesis 29:28–30) according to the custom of those days. Thus, Jacob waited only seven years and one week to marry Rachel but still had to serve Laban another seven years. So, Laban received a total of fourteen years of service from Jacob.

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).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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