How Does this Story Look in the Narrative of the Matriarchs?
Old Testament Reading: Genesis 29:15-28
For Sunday, July 24 , 2011: Year A—Ordinary 17
Rachel had long had her eyes on the birthright of her elder sister Leah. When she saw Jacob at the well and that he was her kinsman she formed a plan.
Stealing Leah’s Birthright
Rachel asked Jacob to take the stone away, to open the well and water her sheep. When he had done this and his sheep were watered as well, she explained to Jacob that when her father saw that his sister’s son had come to them, Laban would ask him to stay and to take Leah, his first born, as his wife, but that he should instead ask for her.
She warned him that it was known to Laban that God had closed Leah’s womb and that her father would deceive Jacob.
Schemer Meets Schemer?
Jacob was blind to Rachel’s scheming and he loved her. Rachel ran to her father and told Laban of his sister’s son’s arrival. Laban ran to him, looked at him and embraced him. He Jacob stayed with them for a month’s time, and Laban said to him, “Because you are my kin, should you serve me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be?”
When Jacob said that he would serve Laban seven years for his younger daughter Rachel, Laban was not surprised. He was not blind. He knew of Rachel’s long desire to take the place of his firstborn. He saw the way she looked at Jacob and caused Jacob to look at her. He thought to himself, “I am not an old man to be deceived by my youngest child.” And he devised a plan.
In the Dark
When the seven years where up, Jacob asked for his wife, Rachel, to be sent to his bed. Laban prepared a feast. He called his youngest daughter to him and ordered her not to leave her own bed. Then he brought Leah to Jacob and to his bed. In the dark, Jacob could not see that it was Leah and so he was deceived.
In the morning, Leah, lay in his bed. He went to Laban and said, “What have you done to me, was it not for Rachel that I served you?” Laban said, “It is not done in our place, to give the younger girl before the firstborn. Serve me another seven years and I will give you Rachel. And so Jacob did.
The Hardest Question
Why did God bless the womb of Leah with four sons, while Rachel’s was barren? Would a matriarchal reading be different than a patriarchal one?