When Jacob Met Rachel

Way before Linda Ronstadt sang “Just one look, that’s all it took, yeah,” Jacob belted it out. He took one look at Rachel and jumped up to move the stone away from the well by himself, a stone that would normally take more than one man to move. He not only moved away the stone, but he watered Rachel’s flock. A sure way to a woman’s heart, guys, is to water her flock of sheep if she happens to have one. Keep a sharp eye out for those. Allen Ross writes, “Jacob must be contrasted with the lazy shepherds. (The ones who did not jump up to water her flock. Or even their own.) He was generous, zealous, and industrious—spurred on to a magnanimous act. He had a mission, a quest.” Jacob understood that the Lord was with him and when believers know that God is at work in their lives, they will work hard and give generously in service to others.

Not recommended on a first meeting, guys, but Jacob then kissed Rachel and cried like a baby. The kiss was probably a middle eastern greeting, on the cheek not the lips, the same kind of smooch Jacob will get from Uncle Laban later in the story. The tears? Well, they must have come from joy that the Lord had indeed led him to this place and to this woman. It is the only time in the Bible when an unmarried man kissed a woman who was not his mother. When Jacob told “Cousin Rachel” who he was, she ran to tell Laban her father, who dropped everything and ran to the well. A family of runners. I like that. Next thing we know, Jacob has lived with his Mesopotamian family for a month, apparently working for Uncle Laban the whole time.

“Tell me,” Laban says to Jacob after he had been serving his uncle for a month for free, helping out on the farm, “What shall your wages be?” You know why Laban said that? Because he had seen Jacob’s work ethic and solid character of diligence and punctuality and thoroughness for 30 days now, and he did not want to lose him from the company. Jacob did what every person should do who is working for another: he made himself indispensable to the point that he could almost command his own salary. But in this case, Jacob wasn’t as interested in wages as he was in a certain young woman. So he tells Laban he will serve him for seven years for his younger daughter Rachel. It was a high bride price, and you wonder why Jacob didn’t lower it some, but he was letting Laban know how much he valued his daughter. There were two daughters, but Jacob only had eyes for Rachel. (This is when he wrote a song for The Flamingos).

Jacob loved Rachel. He was willing to wait and willing to work to have her as his wife. The Africa Study Bible has this commentary: “The Banyamulenge community of the Democratic Republic of Congo require an expensive dowry (cows) from a bride’s suitor, or, if he does not have a dowry, (he must) serve as a shepherd before taking a wife. Marriage in most African communities includes elaborate requirements meant to test the degree of love and commitment the man will have for his future wife. It tests the man’s ability to provide for, take care of, and protect his wife once they are married…We can tell true love because true love waits, is patient, and endures to the end. A Rwandan proverbs says, ‘A bride is not given on a silver platter, rather by hard work.’”

It’s a great love story, but not without many challenges for the next 20 years. Read Genesis 29-30 for more!

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