Jacob's Family In Haran

Genesis 29-30       Review Activities for this Lesson

In this issue we will talk more about God's promises to Abraham's family. Jacob became the patriarch after his father Isaac. You remember the oldest son usually became the patriarch. But the older son Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. And later Jacob tricked Isaac into giving him Esau's blessing. Esau was so angry that he vowed to kill Jacob--so Jacob had to leave the promised land of Canaan to save his life. Would Jacob ever be able to come back home to take his place in the family? Yes, God told Jacob in a wonderful dream that He would bring him back to Canaan someday. But before then Jacob would go through some bad times. Most of the trouble was in his family. He finally married the beautiful Rachel that he loved, but. his home was not happy.

After Jacob's dream about the wonderful ladder, he went on toward Haran, the home of
his mother's brother Laban. One day he found some shepherds around a well in Padan-aram and
learned they were from Haran.

"Do you know Laban, the son of Nahor?" Jacob asked the men. And they said, "Yes, we know him ... look, his daughter Rachel is coming with the sheep." Jacob was happy to know the beautiful shepherdess was from his his uncle Laban's family. He helped Rachel water her sheep, then kissed her and cried for joy.

When Laban heard his sister's son Jacob had come, he ran to meet him and invited him to stay in his house. Jacob was a good worker and after a month, Laban asked him how much he wanted to be paid for all his work. But Jacob did not want Laban to pay him in money. Instead he told Laban, "I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter." Laban agreed, saying, "It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me." Laban had two daughters,--Rachel and an older sister named Leah. But Rachel was the one Jacob loved.

The Bible tells us, "So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed but a few days to him because of the love he had for her." When the seven years were over, Jacob reminded Laban that he was supposed to marry Rachel. In those days, the father of the bride held a great feast, then gave his daughter to the bridegroom. So Laban invited a lot of people to the wedding feast to help him celebrate. That night, when it was time for Jacob and Rachel to be together as husband and wife, Laban did a terrible thing--he took his older daughter Leah in to Jacob instead of Rachel. It
was dark and Jacob did not know he had the wrong girl until the next morning. Imagine his shock when he saw his bride was Leah, not Rachel!

"What is this that you have done to me?" Jacob demanded of Laban. "Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?" Laban explained in their country they always gave
the oldest daughter before the youngest daughter. If Jacob would go on and take Leah, Laban would give him Rachel a week later. Then Jacob could work seven more years for the second wife. Having two wives was not God's plan, but Jacob agreed to do that. Laban also gave the girls their maids Zilpah and Bilhah. Now Jacob had a household of his own.

As the years passed, ten sons were born to Jacob. Their names were Reuben, Simeon, Levi,
Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, and Zebulun. However, the family was not happy. Rachel, the wife that Jacob loved, still had no children. She was jealous of Leah because Leah gave Jacob sons, and Leah was jealous of Rachel because she was the one Jacob loved.

Finally Rachel, too, had a son. God had not forgotten Rachel! She named her son Joseph, a name which meant she hoped God would give her more sons.

Talking It Over

1. Do you remember how Jacob took advantage of other people? God says we reap what we sow. That means that when we do wrong, we will have bad things happen to us. How is Jacob reaping
what he sowed?

2. When Jacob came to his uncle's house, he was willing to help out with the work. What about
boys and girls helping out when they visit others?

3. How was Jacob's family different from God's plan? How did this cause trouble? 

Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times. Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce for use, but not for publication.