These chapters are interesting. Jacob, avoiding Esau's anger, is off to seek his fortune. He's been used to getting his own way through trickery and his own wits. but now he's going to come up against other people who are just as wily as he is. And who are also used to getting their own way.
This doesn't make Jacob any less determined, but it does mean it's an opportunity for growth and change. When the chips are down, how do we react? It is this which forms our character.
Also in these chapters, the focus is on family. Jacob falls for Rachel, works to earn her and then is fobbed off with first-born sister Leah. We greatly feel the injustice for Jacob and Rachel. But we also now have Leah in the mix. She longs for her husband's love and is denied repeatedly. And Jacob is continually dealing with his tricky father-in-law who wants nothing more than to cheat him. This is both humbling and serves to teach lessons.
It is not done thus in our place, to give the younger girl before the firstborn. Laban is an instrument of dramatic irony: his perfectly natural reference to "our place" has the effect of touching a nerve of guilty consciousness in Jacob, who in his place acted to put the younger before the firstborn. This effect is reinforced by Laban's referring to Leah not as the elder but as the firstborn (bekhirah). It has been clearly recognized since late antiquity that the whole story of the switched brides is a meting out of poetic justice to Jacob—the deceiver deceived, deprived by darkness of the sense of sight as his father is by blindness, relying, like his father, on the misleading sense of touch. ... *Jacob has a visceral sense of just what his actions felt like to Esau.
God shows himself in this family struggle as he has through every family we've encountered in Genesis. I think about how he reveals himself through the everyday like breeding sheep and the big events like Leah's children. No special dreams or spoken voices are needed. God's there through everything in this story of our long-ago ancestors in faith.
|Jacob and Rachel at the Well, Francisco Antolínez|