KEYWORDS: jacob, laban, rachel, esau, years

Bible in Pictures, The--Chapter 5--Genesis 28-33

David Berg



WE'RE CONTINUING OUR BIBLE STUDIES IN PICTURES‚ IN THE 5TH CHAPTER. This next Chapter is going to be about the Love Story of Jacob & whom? Whom did Jacob marry? Rachel!

ISAAC IS SENDING JACOB AWAY TO FIND A WIFE IN PADAN-ARAM‚ in Haran the place where Terah, Abraham's father, died—the land where their people had settled. It was quite a distance, some 500–600 miles, & he evidently was going to make the journey alone.

WAS HE REALLY JUST GOING TO GET A WIFE, WAS THAT ALL? He was making his getaway!—So he did not get killed by his brother for stealing the blessing, as well as having inveigled him out of his birthright!

HIS MOTHER THOUGHT THE BEST THING FOR HIM TO DO WAS TO LEAVE TOWN, & go some place where they didn't have any extradition & where he wouldn't have any difficulty with his brother—until his brother cooled off awhile!

HE DIDN'T GET BACK FOR A LONG TIME! Does anybody know how long it took him? 21 years! It didn't take him 21 years to get a wife!—By the time he got back he had 4 & a dozen children—the heads of the Tribes of Israel.

HERE HE'S STARTING OFF HIS TRIP TO PADAN-ARAM, & here begins one of the most beautiful Love Stories in the Word of God! There are many beautiful Love Stories there.

THIS IS THE ARTIST'S CONCEPTION of what Jacob might have looked like while, I presume, he was proposing to Rachel. Well, he hadn't gotten there yet!

1. HERE WE HAVE WHAT'S CALLED THE SHIP OF THE DESERT. What is it? That's right, it's a camel! Camels are a very wonderful Beast of Burden: They can go a long time without water, so they are very good transportation out there on the desert.

THIS IS THE WAY HE PROBABLY DID TRAVEL. This is not actually Jacob‚ because this is a photograph, & they didn't have photographs in those days!

IN THE MEANTIME, ESAU DEPARTED FOR THE TRIBE OF ISHMAEL in the desert, southwest of Beer-sheba. He took other wives, like Ishmael did. His Tribe more or less mingled with the Tribe of Ishmael until Esau's & Ishmael's descendants were called the Edomites—actually after Esau, who was so red & hairy, remember? They became bitter enemies of Jacob & the Jews, the descendants of Jacob. As a result of their sins‚ Esau had despised the birthright & Jacob took advantage of his brother! Gen.28:6-10.

2. JACOB & REBEKAH, HIS MOTHER. Jacob started out in quest of his wife, over the same route that Eleazar had gone years before when he secured Rebekah for the wife of Isaac—that was another Love Story.

3. A NATIVE OF BETH-EL. Jacob's the one who gave it its name. Remember how he gave it its name?

4. HE HAD A DREAM THAT NIGHT. As he pillowed his head upon a rock, he dreamed one good dream that was from the Lord: He saw angels descending & ascending a ladder into Heaven. It was a sign, a token, to him that God was with him.

HE WOKE UP & SAID, "THIS IS THE VERY HOUSE OF GOD!"—THE BETH—EL, which means the House of God. So that place remains to this day Beth-el. Here the Lord renewed the covenant with Jacob that same night & assured him that he was to be the successor to God's promise to his grandfather Abraham. Gen.28:10-22.

5. HERE IS THE ROUTE THAT JACOB FOLLOWED FROM CANAAN, which is now Israel, clear across this desert here, through Damascus—following one of the main caravan routes of the East—up into Haran, a land where his forefathers had settled & died‚ & where many of his relatives still lived. They had come from where?

WHERE DID ABRAHAM COME FROM? Ur of the Chaldees‚ down near to the Persian Gulf, at the mouth of the River Euphrates.

REMEMBER, ABRAHAM & HIS FATHER TERAH HAD TRAVELLED UP THE EUPHRATES RIVER TO THE LAND OF HARAN, where they had settled down for awhile & his father Terah died.

IT WAS FOR ABRAHAM, WHO WAS CALLED OUT OF THERE, to go down to Canaan, & receive the Land of Promise & the Promises of God! Now Abraham's grandson is going back over the same route to Haran, to secure a bride.

6. IT'S A PRETTY ROUGH ROUTE, a pretty long & lonely route—mostly desert all the way, rocky mountains, not much water. So when you find a nice water spring like this one here, why, you're very happy to find it!

7. THEY HAVE TO LIFE OFF A BIG STONE THAT USUALLY CAPS THE WELL‚ TO KEEP THE SAND FROM BLOWING IN & filling up the well. Here somebody's just lifted off the stone & they're about to lower their vessels, to water their beasts of burden. This is an actual photograph, of course, in that land. These wells are along that very same route that Jacob traveled on his way to Padan–aram.

8. WHEN HE GOT INTO THE LAND OF PADAN-ARAM, remember what happened? This is a real thrilling, he–man, hero story for you girls. This beautiful girl was there trying to water her flocks at the well & she couldn't lift the stone off the well, so he‚ a big strong man, lifted the stone off the well for her.

I GUESS IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT! When they first met they kissed, & he loved her on the spot! He asked her who she was, & it came to pass that she was a cousin of his, the daughter of his uncle Laban.

9. HERE HE IS AGAIN SUPPOSEDLY MEETING RACHEL—another artist's idea of what they may have looked like.

10. THIS IS REALLY THE WAY THESE EASTERNERS DO GREET ONE ANOTHER, as many Christians do. To this day, they embrace & kiss each other on each cheek. That's 2 men, not Jacob & Rachel! "It came to pass when Laban heard these tidings of Jacob, his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, & kissed him, & brought him to his house."

HE TOLD LABAN HIS UNCLE ALL THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED SINCE DEAR OLD FATHER ABRAHAM HAD LEFT THERE‚ or since at least Rebekah had left there. Rebekah was Laban's sister, & that's how they got to be related. Well, Laban didn't take much after his sister, I'm sorry to say; because he was an old crook! For the first time in his life Jacob met a crook that was even crookeder than he was!

GOD WAS GOING TO PUT HIM THROUGH THE MILL NOW & TEACH HIM SOME GOOD LESSONS for the way he had tricked his brother Esau! "Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone & my flesh. And he abode with him for a whole month." He abode with him a lot longer than that, but for a whole month as a guest! First thing they did was have a big feast‚ like they usually do in those Eastern countries! Gen.29:13-14.

11. SO THEY PREPARED A FEAST FOR JACOB. The girls go out & gather vegetables out of the garden, like these girls here. They get strong heads & necks in that country—they carry on their heads sometimes as much as 100 pounds! (45 Kilos)

12. IT'S UP TO THE MEN TO SELECT A CHOICE SHEEP FROM THE FLOCK FOR THEIR VISITING GUEST. It's the man's duty & it's almost a kind of ritual with them—which is a type of the selection of the Passover Lamb, also a type of the selection of Christ as our Saviour!

13. HERE THE MAN IS PREPARING THE SHEEP TO BE COOKED OVER AN OPEN FIRE. These are descendants of the very people who lived there in days gone by. Most of them, however, are not from the Jacobite line but rather from the Ishmaelite & Edomite line—'cause they're Arabs, & most of them are Moslems.

14. THE MEN ALSO WOULD PUT THE MILK INTO THE GOAT-SKIN & jostle it back & forth, shake it back & forth, churn the milk until they made‚ what is called in the Bible, butter. But the kind of butter they had was not like our butter at all! How many of you have had any yami—yogurt? Modzom the Armenians call it.

IT'S LIKE THE SOUR CREAM THAT THEY HAVE IN OUR STORES—only it's made of just the milk. It's kind of a thick material‚ sort of like sour cream, & that's the butter that is spoken of in the Bible.—Curd is the word I was looking for.

15. IN THE MEANTIME, THE WOMEN ARE PREPARING FOR THIS BIG FEAST. They grind the meal on a rock with a pestle. All this is done by hand, & all out of materials that they themselves have made or raised or grown & cared for—from the flocks & from the crops. So they're pretty independent!

THEY'RE NOT DEPENDENT UPON THE CORNER GROCERY STORE or the thrifty market. Even if an atom bomb should blow away the markets & the stores, why I guess‚ it looks like they might still be able to carry on!

16. THEN THE GIRLS GO DOWN TO THE WELL & DRAW WATER FOR THE FEAST & THE FLOCKS. They carry these big earthen urns on top of their heads, & they can walk right along—"See, no hands, mom!"—balancing that big crockery right on top of their crock! It holds about 4 gallons or 18 litres. By a well, the Bible sometimes means a natural spring‚ which is often miles away.

17. THE YOUNGER GIRLS KNEAD THE DOUGH. It's not like younger girls need dough nowadays! But it's the way they mix the dough for making bread. Some of these younger girls didn't think that was very funny!

18. THEN THEY HAVE A VERY SPECIAL‚ CEREMONIAL RITUAL in which the host himself grinds thee coffee beans right before your eyes! It's their important welcoming for accepted guests.

HOWEVER, BEWARE IF NO COFFEE IS OFFERED!—It means you are rejected & resented as an enemy, & are apt to end up with a knife in you back! Apologize & politely get on your horse & ride away!

19. PREPARING DINNER. But for welcome friends there is a general commotion in the kitchen in the efforts of the women-folks to round up the meal!

20. DINNER IS SERVED. The meal is served in one great bowl from which each helps himself, having no other table-ware than his fingers. It is‚ however, rather decently done, since it is considered a breach of etiquette to immerse the fingers in the common bowl above the first joint.—Ha! All the men-folks eat to themselves, the women wait & are served what is left, if there happens to be anything! How Christian love has changed the state of women in Christian lands!

21. AFTER THE MEAL THE MEN MAY INDULGE IN SOME GAMES or sports. In this particular case it is high-jumping.

22. —BUT MORE COMMONLY IT IS DANCING! Here again, of course, the women are not allowed—the dancing is for men only, & often they work themselves into a frenzy!

23. FINALLY THE MEAL IS CLEARED AWAY & the amusements are over. There's a short visit or a few stories, & all roll into their blankets & the day is done.

24. JACOB CONTRACTS FOR RACHEL. But one day the routine was different: Jacob was in love with Rachel, & proposed to Laban that since he had no property to exchange for her, he would work for him 7 years if Laban would give Rachel to be his wife.

AN OUTRIGHT TRADE OF THIS NATURE IS VERY COMMON THERE IN THIS DAY, the literal selling of daughters & buying of wives! Laban consented to this, & Jacob began to work as his herdsman. Gen.29:15-20.

25. JACOB THE SHEPHERD. For 7 years Jacob patiently toiled for Laban over the plains of the upper Euphrates, "And they seemed unto him but a few days for the love he had for Rachel!" Gen.29:20.

26. LIKE THIS EASTERN BRIDEGROOM, it would have been no surprise if at the end of this time Jacob had donned his wedding garments, certain that he had purchased Rachel with his 7 years of hard labour.

27. AN EASTERN BRIDE. Rachel was no doubt just as sure as Jacob. But the wedding did not materialize. These are portraits of a Bedouin bride & her bridegroom. This case was similar, but the man held the father to his agreement & took the girl by force of arms!

28. INSTEAD, POOR JACOB GETS LEAH! Leah was the older of the 2 girls, & she had tender eyes. Laban had already gotten 7 years work out of Jacob, & probably thinking it would be more difficult to dispose of the older Leah to an advantage, he compelled Jacob to marry Leah instead of Rachel by sneaking Leah into the wedding tent in the dark instead of Rachel!

IN THE MORNING JACOB WOKE TO FIND LEAH & NOT RACHEL! But Laban finally proposed that if Jacob would work 7 more years he could also marry Rachel. Jacob accepted Laban's offer & gave 7 more years of hard labour for Rachel. Gen.29:21-30. B.C. 1753.

29. A CAREFUL SHEPHERD. At the expiration of 14 years Laban finally let Jacob marry Rachel too. Then the crafty Laban proposed that of Jacob would continue his services with him he would give him a certain portion of the increase of the flocks. Jacob accepted his offer, & by taking certain precautions told him by the Lord, Jacob profited by the transaction. Gen.30:25-43.

30. THE EUPHRATES VALLEY WHERE JACOB LABOURED. This scene is in the valley of the upper Euphrates where the Lord increased the flocks of Jacob. In fact his prosperity was so phenomenal that it incited the jealousy of Jacob's cousins, Laban's sons, who influenced their father until he became very sullen to his son-in-law Jacob. Gen.31:1-2.

31. TRAVELLING BY CAMEL. So the Lord spake to Jacob & warned him to return unto the land of his fathers. So Jacob mounted his family on camels & secretly stole away at night, taking with him all his 4 wives, 12 children & his possessions & herds‚ Gen.31:3–21. B.C. 1739.

32. THE CARAVAN. Laban had become a worshipper of idols. 3 days after their departure he missed certain household gods, & presuming they must have been stolen by Jacob, he set out in pursuit of him.

WITH JACOB'S 4 WIVES & 12 LITTLE ONCE, 11 SONS & 1 LITTLE GIRL, DINAH, THEY TRAVELLED SLOWLY, so Laban overtook them when they had progressed about 300 miles, halfway to his home in Canaan.

33. JACOB & FAMILY RETURNING. Jacob's family by this time consisted of Leah & Rachel & their 2 maids, Zilpah & Bilhah, 11 sons & 1 daughter, Dinah. The names of the sons in order are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Ashur, Issachar, Zebulun & Joseph—6 by Leah (plus Dinah), 2 by Bilhah, 2 by Zilpah & one by Rachel.

34. JACOB HAD REACHED MOUNT GILEAD WHEN LABAN CAUGHT UP WITH HIM. Laban demanded his gods which Jacob denied having, as he did not know Rachel had them!

THE CAMP WAS SEARCHED BUT THE GODS WERE NEVER FOUND, thought Rachel had really stolen them & sat upon them, hiding them from her father!—This is perhaps why the Lord had previously stricken her barren, because she was a heathen idolworshipper!—And she soon died in childlabour when bearing her second son, Benjamin. Gen.31:19 & 34–35.

35. IN THE HEART OF GILEAD. Laban did not know that Rachel had the gods, so in emphasizing his apologies, Laban made a covenant with Jacob here in the heart of lonely Gilead never to accuse him again.

THEY PLACED A HEAP OF STONES THERE & SAID‚ "THIS IS MIZPAH (a watch tower). The Lord watch between me & thee when we are absent one from another."—A prayer we often still pray together today when parting, & still called "The Mizpah Benediction"! Gen.31:45—49.

36. THEN "JACOB OFFERED SACRIFICE UPON THE MOUNTAIN & called his brethren (Laban & his cousins) to eat bread. They did eat & tarried all night in the mountain. And early next morning Laban rose up & kissed his grandsons & his daughters, & blessed them, & Laban departed & returned unto his place." Gen.31:54-55.

37. JACOB MOVED A BIT FARTHER UNTO GILEAD TO MAHANAIM from whence he sent messengers to Edom‚ about 100 miles south, to inquire into his angry brother Esau's attitude toward him. To his dismay the returned messengers reported that Esau was on his way to meet him with 400 soldiers! Gen.32:1-6.

38. JACOB AT THE JABBOK. Jacob was very afraid of Esau who had threatened his life 21 years before when he fled to Laban's, so Jacob sent his men before him to meet his brother Esau with valuable presents & desperately prayed for God to save him! Then he sent his family across the Brook Jabbok, & he alone remained on the farther side. His fear of Esau's vengeance was bringing repentance for how he'd taken his brother's birthright!

39. JACOB WRESTLES AN ANGEL. "And Jacob was left alone; & there wrestled a man (an angel) with him until the breaking of day." Jacob's name was changed that night from Jacob, "The Deceiver", to Israel, "a Prince of God & man!" And the place was called Peniel (the face of God).

40. THE RIVER JABBOK. Jacob had travailed in prayer & repentance & was like a new man‚ born again! There was no more fear‚ even though he might be called upon to give his life for the mistake he had made when he & Esau were just boys! So he now boldly crossed the Jabbok to stand or fall with his family, sending his wives & children before him to meet Esau first‚ hoping Esau would have mercy on them.

41. ISRAEL & ESAU MEET. He found Esau encamped before him with 400 men, but Jacob now bravely & humbly approached him.

42. TO JACOB'S JOY & RELIEF, "ESAU RAN TO MEET HIM & EMBRACED HIM, & fell on his neck & kissed him & they both wept. "And when Esau beheld the women & children he said: "Who are those with thee?" And he said, "The children which God hath graciously given thy servant." Gen.33:4-5.

43. SUCCOTH. After expressing a thorough forgiveness, Esau returned to Mount Seir, & Jacob moved on a little way to Succoth, where he built a house for himself & stables for his cattle. Gen.33:12-17.

Review Questions for Chapter 5:

1. Why did Jacob leave home?

2. Where did he go?

3. Where did Esau go?

4. Were the people of Haran related to Jacob?

5. Is Padan-aram a city or country?

6. Where did Jacob spend an eventful evening?

7. What was the nature of his vision at Bethel?

8. What did God promise Jacob?

9. What distance did he travel?

10. Whom did Jacob meet at a well?

11. Who was Rachel's father?

12. What relation was he to Rebekah?

13. Was Jacob made welcome?

14. How long did the visit last?

15. With whom did Jacob fall in love?

16. How many years labour did he exchange for Rachel?

17. Did he get Rachel the first time?

18. How many more years did he work for Rachel?

19. At the end of 14 years what did Laban propose?

20. How many more years did he work?

21. How many wives did he marry?

22. How many children did he have there?

23. What was his only daughter's name?

24. Was Jacob prosperous?

25. Why did he leave Laban?

26. To where did he set out?

27. Why did Laban pursue him?

28. Where did Laban overtake him?

29. Had Laban's idols really been stolen?

30. Who took them?

31. Did Laban find them?

32. What was said at Mizpah?

33. Where was Esau now living?

34. Did he still fear Esau?

35. When he learned Esau was coming to meet him what did Jacob do?

36. Who wrestled with Jacob?

37. Why did God forgive Jacob?

38. To what was Jacob's name changed?

39. He became the father of what great people or nation?

40. On what river did Jacob camp?

41. Did Jacob meet Esau?

42. What was their attitude?

43. Where did Esau then go?

44. Where did Jacob go next?

45. How many children did Jacob finally have altogether?