After the family discord we read about last time, we see in Chapter 28, how matters were resolved. We left Jacob in receipt of his father’s blessing and birthright. With his mother’s plan to deceive Isaac accomplished, Esau was ready to kill his younger brother. Rebekah then plans a way Jacob can escape. In chapter 28 v 1 – 5 Jacob is blessed again by Isaac, this time he prepares his younger son to take the journey to Padan Aram to choose a wife from the family that Abraham left behind having been sent by God to the promised land. Just as Abraham had procured Rebekah for Isaac, so Jacob was do the same.
In verses 6 – 9 we read of Esau’s reaction. Surprisingly, he decides to choose a wife for himself from Abrahams family. Not in Padan Aram, but from the daughters of Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar (we can read about Hagar in Genesis chapter 16 and 17)
Verses 10 – 22 tell of Jacob’s journey. He reached a place to spend the night, and lay down, using a stone for a pillow. Verse 12 -15 records a vivid dream involving a ladder that reached to heaven. Angels were going up and down the ladder and he heard the voice of God reiterating the promises He had made to Abraham and Isaac. Jacob received word of comfort in verse 15. When he awoke Jacob was afraid. He felt that the place was special. Verse 18 described Jacob setting up the stone he’d used as a pillow, as a pillar and pouring oil over it. He renamed to place Bethel and vowed that God would be his God if He cared for him and brought him back to his father’s home. His promise of giving a tenth of his possessions was reflected in Genesis ch 14 verse 20 which is the first mention of tithes in the Bible.
Jacob’s long journey finishes when he reaches the well that his Mother had drawn water from years before. The record is in Genesis chapter 24. A comparison with these two chapters makes interesting reading.
Jacob’s experience led to him meeting Rachel, the daughter of Laban Verse 10 explains the relationship. It was love at first sight. As the chapter unfolds we learn of Laban’s trickery. Jacob works for Laban for seven years and earns Rachel’s hand in marriage. But the morning after he wedding, Jacob discovers the woman he is married to is Leah, Rachel’s older sister. Laban tell him he can work another seven years for Rachel.
Laban kindly allows the wedding to take place a week later, working the seven years afterward – verse 27. The two women were given handmaids. Verse 30 tells us that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. The rest of the chapter tell of the births of Rueben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. All born to Leah. Rachel couldn’t conceive. The reason can be found in verse 31. “… When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he opened Leah’s womb; but Rachel was barren …”