It is certainly difficult for a 21st Century person to relate to the culture of the ancient near east, three to four thousand years ago. In another strange story we see the beginning of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob finds his mother’s family, and he falls in love with his cousin Rachel. Here’s the strange part to our ears; he agrees to work for his uncle for seven years so he can marry Rachel. Why did he need to work, almost like he was buying her?
I don’t know, but after seven years that seemed like days to him, his uncle deceives him and instead of Rachel he gives the older daughter Leah and Jacob finds out he has married her. Don’t these people have eyes? The uncle gives a great feast to celebrate the marriage, but Jacob was either so drunk or it was so dark he didn’t realize that he had had sex with Leah until the next morning. I think we assume that Jacob was as familiar with both sisters as we would be today. Hang out at the house, go to lunch and the movies, take long walks. Maybe that’s all wrong; maybe they are kept completely apart until the wedding.
Be that as it may, his uncle let’s him marry Rachel too for another seven years work; 14 years just to marry the woman he wanted! And of course he prefers Rachel because she’s just more beautiful than her sister. But that doesn’t keep him from doing his husbandly duty to have children, and while Rachel can’t seem to get pregnant, Leah’s womb was “opened” by the Lord so she could, and quickly has three. We’ll see Rachel’s response in the next chapter.
I’m not sure how I failed to put in a post for chapter 28. I’m now (Dec. 22) just finishing up Deuteronomy, and in the next to last chapter Moses refers to God as the eternal and everlasting. The entire Pentateuch is focused on the earthly and temporal, and I was trying to remember if there were any references to eternal and spiritual things, and I thought of this chapter and Jacob’s ladder, or stairway to heaven, thank you Robert Plant. I wanted to see what I wrote about it, and alas, I completely skipped it.
That’s a shame because there is in Jacob’s dream because there is a confirmation that God’s blessing will not be limited to just one nation or people, and thus points forward to the universal and thus radical nature of gospel and Paul’s assertion in Galatians 3:28:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
In Jacob’s dream we have a confirmation of the promise God gave to Abram in Genesis 12. In verse 14 God says to Jacob:
Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.
In Genesis 12:3, God says to Abram:
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
And we see back through thousands of years of history how revolutionary the gospel is in breaking down walls and barriers among people. Nothing can do what it has done, and it was God’s plan from the beginning.