Considered from Jacob’s perspective, the most dramatic point of this story comes in verse 25 where Jacob roars at his new father-in-law, “Why have you deceived me?!” Perhaps moments later Jacob recalled Esau’s similar feelings some seven years earlier.
Considered from Rachel and Leah’s perspective, the most dramatic point of this story comes in verse 31 where Leah, as the “hated wife”, begins bearing sons to Jacob and Rachel, as the “favorite wife” smolders with dark jealousy against her rival sister/wife.
Consider these questions to sharpen your understanding of this tragic story:
- Notice which sister was older and how she is described and which is younger and how she is described (29:16 & 17). From what you know of the way siblings tend to relate, what dynamics do you imagine between these two sisters as they grew to adulthood side by side?
- Picture the dynamics between the two sisters as one of them becomes the “woman of one man’s dreams” (29:1-20). How do you imagine Jacob’s arrival into Laban’s household affected Rachel and Leah as sisters? How might the sisters be affected by the attitude of their father, Laban? Of the "the deeply in love" Jacob?
- Finally Jacob has worked 7 years for Rachel and has earned the right to marry her. But what a terrible deceptive trick unfolds with the wedding night! (29:21-27). What does this incident tell you about Laban (as a Dad, future father-in-law, etc.)? How might this event have affected Leah? Rachel? Jacob? The nucleus of Jacob’s new family? What might it be like for these sisters to now become rival wives?
- What might those next 7 years of early married life have been for this “unhappily linked threesome” (29:28-30)?
- So where was God in all of this? Remember God’s assurance to Jacob (Gen. 28:10-17) just before arriving at Laban’s home? How was God at work during these very turbulent times? For Jacob? For Rachel & Leah? Even for Laban?
- What does it mean to experience God’s presence in the midst of ordinary and sometimes difficult situations? How do we discern the God of “Jacob’s ladder” still connecting with us in family difficulties, financial setbacks, personal failings, and the ins and outs of daily life?
Director of Outdoor Leadership and Education, Southern Adventist University