Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel
15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?
16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.
18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.
20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.
21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.
22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
23 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.
24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.
25 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?
26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.
27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.
30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
K.J.v. Bible Text
You will recall that when Isaac sent Jacob to stay with Laban it was both to protect him from his brother Esau’s wrath and so that he might find a wife among the people of his own family. It suited his purpose very well to remain with Laban and work for him seven years in order to secure the girl he loved and one that would also be pleasing to his mother and father. Laban agreed to give Rachel to him and when Jacob had worked the entire seven years, he expected to collect his bride.
It certainly shows the power that men had over their families in general and particularly their daughters that Laban thought it of no consequence that he gave his hard-working young relative the elder daughter instead of the one he loved. Of course, one wonders how Leah must have felt on the following morning when Jacob realized that it was not Rachel who had been brought to the marriage bed. One wonders how he may have expressed his displeasure when he awakened to the unwelcome surprise.
Even in those days, a less honorable man may have spurned Leah and brought her to shame but Jacob behaved with honor and stayed with Leah throughout the bridal week. It appears that Laban gave Rachel to Jacob immediately after that, but only with the promise of another seven years of work.
Of course, we know that Jacob did not wish to take Leah to wife; it was Rachel he wanted, so in effect he worked for Laban fourteen years to secure the woman he loved. I believe that was love indeed.
I can’t help but put myself in the place of each of these young women. How sad for Leah that although she was first to marry, she was not the bride her husband desired. I have no doubt that Rachel, being human, had some contempt for Leah because Jacob desired and loved her more.
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