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Daily Devotional

January 22

JACOB CAME INTO THE LAND OF THE PEOPLE OF THE EAST

by Henry T. Vriesen

Genesis 29–31

Jacob came to Haran in Mesopotamia. He met some men at a well, with three flocks of sheep waiting to be watered. “Do ye know Laban, the son of Nahor?” he asked them. They answered, “We know him … behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.” Jacob saw a young shepherdess approaching and he hurried to meet her. He rolled the stone away from the well and watered her sheep; then he told her that he was her cousin, the son of her father’s sister, Rebekah. His joy upon seeing one of his relatives after such a long, lonely journey brought tears into his eyes and he wept as he kissed the beautiful girl. Rachel hurried home to tell her father that his sister’s son had arrived from Canaan, and so Jacob received a hearty welcome from his relatives at Haran.

As the days went on Jacob willingly assisted his uncle Laban in his work. After he had been there for a month Laban said, “Shouldest thou therefore serve me for nothing? tell me, what shall thy wages be.” Jacob agreed that he would be willing to serve seven years for Rachel, to become his wife. He loved her so much that to him the seven years of hard labor seemed only a few days. At the end of the seven years Laban arranged a marriage feast. A number of people were invited. In the evening Laban brought the bride to Jacob. A large veil was thrown over her that no one might look upon her face. This was the usual custom of the country, and even Jacob could not see the face of the woman he was taking to be his wife. After lifting the veil, he found that he had not married Rachel whom he loved, but her older sister Leah, who was not beautiful. When Jacob demanded an explanation, Laban said, In his country it was not customary to allow the younger daughter to marry first. He said, for working another seven years he could have Rachel also. We see in those times people did not deem it sinful to have two wives or even more. So Jacob served seven more years for Rachel.

When the fourteen years had passed Jacob desired to return to Canaan. But Laban was not willing to let him go, for Jacob was wise and careful in his work. He did a great deal for Laban. So they arranged that Jacob should have for his wages a share of the sheep and goats and cattle of his uncle. And God blessed Jacob and increased his possessions, so that in the course of the years he became a wealthy man. At last, after he had been in Mesopotamia for twenty years, Jacob decided to return to the land of Canaan and to his father Isaac, who was still living, though now very old and feeble.

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