Jacob Journeys to Haran (1-6)
Haran is located in the southern region of Turkey, just above the northern border of Syria. It is the place where Abraham’s father, Terah, took his family when they left Ur of the Chaldees. Evidently, the city was named for Abraham’s brother, Haran, Lot’s father, who died before they left Ur (Gen. 11:27-32). It is where Nahor’s family eventually resided (Gen. 27:43). Jacob, like Eliezer before him (Gen. 24), anticipated meeting Laban’s family at a well, where they would be watering their flocks.
Jacob Advises About Cattle (7-8)
Jacob demonstrated his knowledge of “cattle” by telling the shepherds that they ought to be feeding their sheep instead of watering them in the middle of the day. Jacob was obviously a much better shepherd than his cousins (Gen. 30:27-30, 43).
Jacob Meets Rachel (9-12)
Jacob met Rachel when she came to the well with Laban’s sheep. It seems odd that Rachel would be watching his sheep since he had sons who could do this (Gen. 31:1). In Ex. 2:16, Moses met his wife while she was watering her father’s flock, but evidently she didn’t have any brothers. In any case, Laban’s sons neglected their father’s flock and Jacob ended up with the best of them (Gen. 31:1). Let this be a lesson: don’t trust the care of your possessions to anyone other than an honest, trustworthy man like Joseph (Gen. 39:4-6).
Jacob Meets Laban (13-14)
When Laban met Jacob, he professed, “thou art my bone and my flesh,” indicating their close family kinship (Gen. 2:23, 2 Sam. 5:1). Their family tree looked like this:
Jacob Negotiates for a Wife (15-20)
Jacob offered to work for Laban for 7 years in order to marry his daughter, Rachel. Laban’s “agreement” (19) wasn’t a direct “Yes” and set Jacob up for the deception on his wedding night (23). Obviously, Rachel was much prettier than Leah since Rachel was “beautiful” while Leah was merely “tender eyed,” (17).
Jacob Marries Leah (21-26)
On his wedding night, Jacob reaped the first harvest in his field of deception that he had sown. He had tricked his father by pretending to be the “firstborn,” (27:19). And now Laban reminded him that the “firstborn” is entitled to certain privileges denied to younger siblings (26). This was a cruel “awakening.”
Jacob Marries Rachel (27-30)
After a weeklong “honeymoon” with Leah, Laban gave Rachel to Jacob in exchange for another 7 years of service. This set up a rivalry between Leah and Rachel, since Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Later on, in Lev. 18:18, marrying sisters was forbidden. Each of the wives brought a handmaid to the marriage.
Jacob Starts a Family (31-35)
The Lord had pity on Leah, since she was hated, and gave her four children without giving Rachel one. Her first four children were:
Reuben – “See a son” because the Lord had looked upon her affliction (32).
Simeon – “Hearing” because the Lord had heard that she was hated (33).
Levi – “Joined” because now her husband would be joined to her (34).
Judah – “Praise” because now she would praise the Lord (35).