Questions to Consider
1. Briefly review lesson 18 (link above). Compare the account of Abraham’s servant finding a wife (Rebekah) for Isaac to Jacob finding Rachel in today’s passage. What are some similarities? Differences? Compare both of these accounts to the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well. How do Abraham (via his servant) and Jacob point ahead to Christ through these incidents? How do Rebekah and Rachel point ahead to the woman seeking the Living Water?
2. God doesn’t put extraneous information in Scripture; everything was written for a purpose. Why do you think God explains so much detail about shepherding practices in the first part of chapter 29?
3. Jacob has traveled several hundred miles to arrive at this destination. Compare verses 4-5 with Genesis 27:43-44. How is this the first confirmation of the fulfillment of the journey his parents had sent him on? Compare verses 6 and 10 with Genesis 28:2. Who had Isaac told Jacob to marry? How was this the second confirmation of the fulfillment of his journey? How were both of these meetings and the subsequent events part of God keeping his promises to Jacob? Do these confirmations of God’s leading and work in his life help shed some light on Jacob’s emotional reaction in 9-12?
4. Try to picture Jacob’s interaction with the shepherds in verses 4-8. What is Jacob’s immediate reaction (7) to seeing Rachel coming? Is it just me or is he trying to get those guys to vamoose so he can spend some time with Rachel? :0) Do they leave? (8)
5. What can we infer from verse 15 that Jacob had been doing for the month (14) he had been staying with Laban’s family?
6. Write character sketches of Rachel and of Leah based on the information in this passage. What were some temptations each of them may have faced? Knowing what you know about Rachel and Leah and their relationship, how might Leah have felt about Jacob asking for Rachel’s hand, offering to work seven years for her, and observing Jacob’s love for Rachel? (15-20)
7. Look closely at verse 21. Notice that the phrase is worded: “go in to her”, not “go into her.” The phrase “go in to her” means that the husband would enter the bed chamber where the wife was waiting for him (for consummation of the marriage). (Judges 15:1 makes this clearer.) I recently spoke with a young lady who had read this phrase as “go into her” all her life and thought the Bible was referring crassly to intercourse. Just wanted to bring a little clarity for anyone else who might have been stumped by that phrase.
8. Read 21-30 imagining you’re Leah. How do you react to your father’s attitude that the only way he’ll ever marry you off is to trick some poor guy who doesn’t want you? How would your new husband Jacob’s anger have made you feel, as well as the fact that once he married Rachel, he loved her more than you? Now imagine you’re Rachel. How do you react to your father giving your sister to the man you love and have waited seven years for? How did this wedding start out as Rachel’s big day and ended up as Leah’s big day?
9. One of the questions that always comes up about verses 21-30 is, “How did Jacob not know it was Leah?”. Let’s look at some of the factors at play:
a) How was the wedding celebrated? (22) What type of beverage is typically consumed freely at such events?
b) What time of day was the marriage consummated? (23) What impact would this have had on visibility? Remember, “he went in to her”. Leah was already in the (probably dark) bedchamber waiting for Jacob.
c) Think about the way women of that time period dressed. How might Leah’s clothing have hidden her identity?
d) Think about the structures people lived in and the proximity to others, since family tended to stay close together, and since many of the wedding guests may have been spending the night. Being quiet and whispering during marital relations might have been a normal way to protect a couple’s privacy from eavesdroppers, and thus, could have kept Jacob from recognizing Leah’s voice.
e) The Holy Spirit has been known to prevent people from seeing things He doesn’t want them to see.
Can you see how some or all these factors may have worked together to keep Jacob from recognizing Leah?
10. Make a list of all of the cultural and hospitality customs this passage teaches us.
God leading Jacob to men from Haran and then to Rachel was part of God keeping his promises to Jacob. God’s promises to Christians are written down in the New Testament. Think about some ways God has fulfilled His promises in your life. Write down the verse(s) that contain that promise along with the way God fulfilled that promise in your life. Take some time in prayer to thank Him for keeping His promises.
Suggested Memory Verse
So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.