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Reprinted with permission from
Who’s Who in the Hebrew Bible
(The Jewish Publication Society).
Rachel daughter of Laban was one of the two wives of her cousin Jacob, the love of his life, and the mother of his sons Joseph and Benjamin. Jacob, aided by his mother, had tricked his blind father, Isaac, into giving him the blessing that was intended for Esau, his older brother.
Furious at Jacob’s trickery, Esau made a vow to kill Jacob as soon as Isaac passed away. To protect Jacob from Esau’s revenge, Rebekah decided to send him away to her brother Laban in Haran.
Finding a Wife for Jacob
She went to Isaac and complained, “I am disgusted with my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries a Hittite woman like these, from among the native women, what good will life be to me (Genesis 27:46)?”
Isaac sent for Jacob, blessed him and said, “You shall not take a wife from among the Canaanite women. Up, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and take a wife there from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother (Genesis 28:1–2).” Jacob did what his father requested and went to Haran.
He arrived at the town and saw shepherds standing next to a well. He asked them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They answered, “Yes, we do. There is his daughter Rachel, coming with the flock (Genesis 29:5–6).”
Jacob went to the well, rolled the stone from its opening, watered the sheep, kissed Rachel, and wept when he told her that he was the son of Rebekah, her father’s sister.
Rachel ran home and told her father that a relative had arrived. Laban came out to see Jacob, embraced him, and brought him to his house. Four weeks later, during which time Jacob had fallen in love with his beautiful cousin Rachel, Laban said to Jacob, “Just because you are a kinsman, should you serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be (Genesis 29:15)?”
Jacob answered, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “Better that I give her to you than that I should give her to an outsider. Stay with me (Genesis 29:18–19).”
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