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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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
- Jacob Arrives
- 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.)
- 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
- Look closer. Is it appropriate to treat your nephew
like an ordinary servant?
- Read Genesis 29:16-18. How long did it take for Jacob to
fall in love with Rachel? (A month!)
- Why did Jacob fall for Rachel? (She had a great body
and a beautiful face.)
- Why do you think the Bible mentions this?
- Is this an appropriate basis on which to fall in
- What do you think of the "deal" which Jacob offered
- Read Genesis 31:14-15. What did Rachel and Leah
think of the "deal?"
- Read Genesis 29:19. What did Laban think of the
- The Marriages
- 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.)
- Were Leah and Rachel part of this fraud?
- Read Genesis 29:26. What do you think of Laban's legal
- 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.)
- Read Genesis 29:27-29. What kind of wedding feast is given
to Rachel? (It seems she got none.)
- Consider the impact of Laban's fraud:
- On Rachel;
- On Leah; and,
- On Jacob.
- What is God's view of all of this? (Read Leviticus 18:18.)
- What does this text suggest is the problem?
- What kind of a guy is Laban? (He thinks only of himself.)
- 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.)
- What would have happened if Jacob had not chosen Rachel
based on her looks and her body?
- Married Life with Rival Wives
- Read Genesis 29:30-35. What kind of attitude does Leah
have about her situation?
- Read Genesis 30:1-2. Beautiful body, beautiful face, what
kind of personality does Rachel possess?
- Read Genesis 30:3-6. Do you think God vindicated Rachel?
(Rachel vindicated Rachel.)
- 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.)
- 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?
- Had God rewarded Leah? (We need to be careful what we
attribute to God.)
- Read Genesis 30:22-24. Is Rachel satisfied? (She wants
- Work Life
- Read Genesis 30:25-28. Is Jacob ready to quit? (His 14
years of service are at an end.)
- Why does Laban want Jacob to stay? Is he concerned
about losing his daughters and their children?
- Does Laban sound generous? (Yes: "Name your wages and
I will pay them!")
- 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.)
- 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
- 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!)
- What is wrong with Jacob's plan? (He has a scheme
instead of trusting God.)
- 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.")
- Is there a lesson in this for us?
- The Trip Home
- 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?
- 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.)
- Why did he choose that time? (He would not have to
deal with Laban when he left.)
- What do we learn about the spiritual side of Rachel?
(This shows that she was not wholly devoted to God.)
- Meeting Esau
- If you were Jacob, what would go through your mind when
thinking of meeting your brother Esau?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Read Genesis 33:1-4. What is the result of trusting God?
- 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?
- 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.