- This chapter gives us an account of God's providences concerning Jacob, pursuant to the promise made him in the foregoing chapter. I. How he was brought in safety to his journey's end, and directed to his relations there, who bid him welcome, verse 1-14.
- II. How he was comfortably disposed of in marriage, verse 15-30.
- III. How his family was built up in the birth of four sons, verse 31-35.
Providence brought him to the very field where his uncle's flock's were to be watered, and there he met with Rachel that was to be his wife. The Divine Providence is to be acknowledged in all the little circumstances which concur to make a journey or other undertaking comfortable and successful. If, when we are at a loss, we meet with those seasonably that can direct us; if we meet with a disaster, and those are at hand that will help us; we must not say it was by chance, but it was by providence: our ways are ways of pleasantness, if we continually acknowledge God in them. The stone on the well's mouth was either to secure their property in it, for water was scarce, to save the well from receiving damage from the heat of the sun, or to prevent the lambs of the flock from being drowned in it.
She kept her father's sheep - She took the care of them, having servants under her that were employed about them when he understood that this was his kinswoman (probably he had heard of her name before) knowing what his errand was into that country, we may suppose it struck into his mind immediately, that this must be his wife, as one already smitten with an honest comely face (though it is likely, sun-burnt, and she in the homely dress of a shepherdess) he is wonderfully officious, and ready to serve her, verse 10, and addresses himself to her with tears of joy, and kisses of love, verse 11, she runs with all haste to tell her father, for she will by no means entertain her kinsman's address without her father's knowledge and approbation, verse 12. These mutual respects at their first interview were good presages of their being a happy couple. Providence made that which seemed contingent and fortuitous to give a speedy satisfaction to Jacob's mind as soon as ever he came to the place he was bound for. Abraham's servant, when he came upon a like errand, met with the like encouragement. Thus God guides his people with his eye, Psalms 32:8. It is a groundless conceit which some of the Jewish writers have, that Jacob when he kissed Rachel wept, because he had been set upon his journey by Eliphaz the eldest son of Esau, at the command of his father, and robbed him of all his money and jewels, which his mother had given him when she sent him away: it is plain it was his passion for Rachel, and the surprise of this happy meeting that drew these tears from his eyes. Laban, though none of the best humoured men, bid him welcome, was satisfied in the account he gave of himself, and of the reason of his coming in such poor circumstances. While we avoid the extreme on the one hand of being foolishly credulous, we must take heed of falling into the other extreme of being uncharitably jealous and suspicious. Laban owned him for his kinsman, verse 14. Thou art my bone and my flesh. Note, Those are hard-hearted indeed that are unkind to their relations, and that hide themselves from their own flesh, Isaiah 58:7.
Because thou art my brother - That is, kinsman. Should thou therefore serve me for nought? - No, what reason for that? If Jacob be so respectful as to give him his service without demanding any consideration for it, yet Laban will not be so unjust as to take advantage either of his necessity, or of his good nature. It appears by computation that Jacob was now seventy years old when he bound himself apprentice for a wife; probably Rachel was young and scarce marriageable when Jacob came first, which made him the more willing to stay for her till his seven years were expired.
They seemed to him but a few days for the love he had to her - An age of work will be but as a few days to those that love God, and long for Christ's appearing.
Behold it was Leah - Jacob had cheated his own father when he pretended to be Esau, and now his father-in-law cheated him. Herein, how unrighteous soever Laban was, the Lord was righteous.
It must be so done in our country - We have reason to think there was no such custom in his country; but if there was, and that he resolved to observe it, he should have told Jacob so, when he undertook to serve him for his younger daughter.
We will give thee this also - Hereby he drew Jacob into the sin and snare, and disquiet of multiplying wives. Jacob did not design it, but to have kept as true to Rachel as his father had done to Rebekah; he that had lived without a wife to the eighty fourth year of his age could then have been very well content with one: but Laban to dispose of his two daughters without portions, and to get seven years service more out of Jacob, thus imposeth upon him, and draws him into such a strait, that he had some colourable reason for marrying them both.
When the Lord saw that Leah was hated - That is, loved less than Rachel, in which sense it is required that we hate father and mother, in comparison with Christ, Luke 14:26, then the Lord granted her a child, which was a rebuke to Jacob for making so great a difference between those he was equally related to; a check to Rachel, who, perhaps insulted over her sister upon that account; and a comfort to Leah, that she might not be overwhelmed with the contempt put upon her.
She appears very ambitious of her husband's love; she reckoned the want of it her affliction, not upbraiding him with it as his fault, nor reproaching him for it; but laying it to heart as her grief, which she had reason to bear, because she was consenting to the fraud by which she became his wife. She called her first-born Reuben, see a son|, with this pleasant thought, Now will my husband love me. And her third son Levi, joined, with this expectation, Now will my husband be joined unto me. The Lord hath heard, that is, taken notice of it, that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son. Her fourth she called Judah, praise, saying, Now will I praise the Lord. And this was he, of whom, as concerning the flesh Christ came. Whatever is the matter of our rejoicing, ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving. And all our praises must center in Christ, both as the matter of them, and as the Mediator of them. He descended from him whose name was praise, for he is our praise. Is Christ formed in my heart? Now will I praise the Lord.