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Lesson 11: Jacob Becomes Israel *

Introduction: Last week, we left our story with Jacob fleeing his home to avoid being murdered by his brother Esau over defrauding him of the birthright. Jacob's cover story for his flight is that he is going to find a wife. Let's dive into our study and see what Jacob finds!

  1. Jacob Arrives

    1. Genesis 29 records that Jacob finds Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban. Let's pick up the story by reading Genesis 29:11-13. Why do you think Jacob weeps when he meets Rachel? Does this make him appear to be "husband material?"(Jacob has a lot of stress over his fraud, the threat to his life, leaving home and hoping to be able to find his relatives. He has now found them and their warm greeting is a huge relief.)

    2. Read Genesis 29:14-15. Based on Laban's statement, what kind of businessman would you judge him to be? (He sounds very fair and honest. He will not take advantage of a relative.)

      1. Look closer. Is it appropriate to treat your nephew like an ordinary servant?

    3. Read Genesis 29:16-18. How long did it take for Jacob to fall in love with Rachel? (A month!)

      1. Why did Jacob fall for Rachel? (She had a great body and a beautiful face.)

        1. Why do you think the Bible mentions this?

        2. Is this an appropriate basis on which to fall in love?

      2. What do you think of the "deal" which Jacob offered Laban?

        1. Read Genesis 31:14-15. What did Rachel and Leah think of the "deal?"

        2. Read Genesis 29:19. What did Laban think of the "deal?"

  2. The Marriages

    1. Read Genesis 29:20-25. What about this reminds you of Jacob's past life? (He fooled his father by substituting himself for his sibling. Laban now fools him by substituting a sibling.)

      1. Were Leah and Rachel part of this fraud?

    2. Read Genesis 29:26. What do you think of Laban's legal defense?

      1. What would you have said in response if you were Jacob? (I've been here seven years and you never disclosed your "custom" to me or mentioned that it made our contract impossible.)

    3. Read Genesis 29:27-29. What kind of wedding feast is given to Rachel? (It seems she got none.)

    4. Consider the impact of Laban's fraud:

      1. On Rachel;

      2. On Leah; and,

      3. On Jacob.

    5. What is God's view of all of this? (Read Leviticus 18:18.)

      1. What does this text suggest is the problem? (Rivalry!)

    6. What kind of a guy is Laban? (He thinks only of himself.)

      1. Can you put together a justification for Laban's actions? (Arranged marriages were probably normal. Jacob plans to marry for love, but Laban decides to "arrange" a marriage for him. He is going to give Jacob what he wants, but he will squeeze a little more work out of him (because Leah is worth it). If daughters are like possessions, you cannot be too concerned about their feelings.)

    7. What would have happened if Jacob had not chosen Rachel based on her looks and her body?

  3. Married Life with Rival Wives

    1. Read Genesis 29:30-35. What kind of attitude does Leah have about her situation?

    2. Read Genesis 30:1-2. Beautiful body, beautiful face, what kind of personality does Rachel possess?
    3. Read Genesis 30:3-6. Do you think God vindicated Rachel? (Rachel vindicated Rachel.)

      1. What should she have done? (Review Genesis 28:13-14; Genesis 25:21; Genesis 16:1-2. Both Jacob and Rachel are forgetting history. God made promises to Jacob about his descendants. Jacob should have followed the good example of his father and mother rather than the poor example of Abraham and Sarah.)

    4. Read Genesis 30:14-18. Mandrakes, which look like little yellow apples, were considered to be a fertility drug. What does this little story reveal about the relationship between the two women?

      1. Had God rewarded Leah? (We need to be careful what we attribute to God.)

    5. Read Genesis 30:22-24. Is Rachel satisfied? (She wants more sons.)

  4. Work Life

    1. Read Genesis 30:25-28. Is Jacob ready to quit? (His 14 years of service are at an end.)

      1. Why does Laban want Jacob to stay? Is he concerned about losing his daughters and their children?

      2. Does Laban sound generous? (Yes: "Name your wages and I will pay them!")

    2. Read Genesis 30:29-34. Describe the "deal" for Jacob's wages and tell me what you think about it? (Several commentaries say that oriental sheep were normally white and the goats normally black or brown. Jacob was asking for the few rejects.)

    3. Read Genesis 30:35-36. What does "Mr. Honesty" do to ensure that Jacob gets the wages promised to him? (Laban removes all of the animals that should belong to Jacob and he separates them from the rest of the flock tended by Jacob so that when they reproduce, they will be owned by Laban.)

    4. Read Genesis 30:37-43. Do you agree with Genesis 30:43? Did Jacob become wealthy because of his ingenious plan to show the flocks pieces of wood which looked something like the offspring they should have? (Pregnant women: be sure to look only at handsome men and beautiful women!)

      1. What is wrong with Jacob's plan? (He has a scheme instead of trusting God.)

    5. Let's skip ahead for a moment. Read Genesis 31:10-12. What does this reveal was God's part in this plan? (God revealed to Jacob his "business plan.")

      1. Is there a lesson in this for us?

  1. The Trip Home

    1. God comes to Jacob and tells him it is time to return home. Jacob summons Rachel and Leah and discusses leaving their father and their home. Read Genesis 31:14-16. On what basis do Jacob's wives confirm his decision? (Financial considerations!)

    2. Read Genesis 31:17-21. What time does Jacob chose to leave? (When his father-in-law is too busy to notice because he is off shearing sheep.)

      1. Why did he choose that time? (He would not have to deal with Laban when he left.)

      2. What do we learn about the spiritual side of Rachel? (This shows that she was not wholly devoted to God.)

  2. Meeting Esau

    1. If you were Jacob, what would go through your mind when thinking of meeting your brother Esau?

    2. Read Genesis 32:3-6. How would you react to this message if you were Jacob? (Read Genesis 32:7-8. Jacob is fearful and he takes steps to preserve part of his possessions.)

    3. Read Genesis 32:9-12. Compare the Jacob who left his home with the Jacob who returns many years later? (He now turns to God, not himself, when he is in trouble.)

    4. Read Genesis 33:1-4. What is the result of trusting God?

    5. Friend, Jacob's deceit and lack of trust in God causes him heartache in his home and in his work. Years later, he learns his lesson. How about you? Will you trust God now or will you have to learn the hard way to trust Him?

  3. Next week: From Prison Cell to Palace.

* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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