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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 37 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 4: Jacob and Rachel: Labor of Love *
Introduction: Last week, we left our story with everything going
downhill. Jacob and his mother conspired to have Jacob receive the
birthright through deception. This so angers the older brother,
Esau, that Jacob flees from his home to avoid being murdered by Esau
for 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!
- Jacob Arrives
- Genesis 29 records that Jacob runs to the area in which
his mother's family lives and he finds a young beauty
named Rachel. Rachel is the daughter of his uncle Laban
(Jacob's mother's brother). Let's pick up the story by
reading Genesis 29:10-13. 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 his
relatives and their warm greeting is a huge relief.)
- Read Genesis 29:14-15. Based on Laban's statement, what
kind of man 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
- What is unusual about this marriage? (Jacob
arranged it, not his parents.)
- 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 does this teach us about the relative merit of
arranged marriages? (Contrary to expectations,
parents can be as "bone-headed" as children in
choosing a mate. The best marriages are those in
which the parents and the children are praying for
God's leading in finding a spouse.)
- What would have happened if Jacob had not chosen Rachel
based on her looks and her body? What would have happened
if Jacob had just accepted Laban's decision and he had not
- Married Life with Rival Wives
- Read Genesis 29:30-35. What kind of attitude does Leah
have about her situation?
- What has God done that Jacob should have done? (God
is trying to make the situation more just. To help
Leah to be loved.)
- 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
- In Genesis 30:27 we learned that Laban believed he
had been blessed because of the presence of Jacob.
How do you think he justified this most recent fraud?
- 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?
- Jacob finally leaves Laban to return home. Let's look at
the pledge that Laban asks Jacob to make. Read Genesis 31:48-50. What does this teach us about Laban - that he is
a caring father? (The Bible reveals only that Laban was
the abuser of his daughters. He caused the "extra" wife
and that act set in motion all sorts of strife. The Bible
does not reveal that Jacob abused his wives. Accusing
someone else of your sins and weaknesses is nothing new.)
- Friend, sometimes marriage is not perfect because of
factors which are out of our control - such as Laban's
fraud on Jacob. Sometimes, the problems in a marriage
reflect mistakes in judgment that we made in the
beginning. Jacob was deceived just like he deceived his
father regarding the birthright. Whatever the source of
the problem in our marriage, we need to become partners
with God to minimize the problem. Will you make that your
- Next week: Moses and Zipporah: Relating with Relations.
* Copr. 2007, 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.