and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee; for the support of his worship; for the maintenance of such that were employed in it; for the provision of sacrifice, and for the relief of the poor, or for any use or service in which God might be glorified: this was imitated by the Heathens in later times, who gave the tenth of their substance to their gods, Jupiter, Hercules, and others (w).
(w) Herodot. Clio sive, l. 1. c. 89. Varro apud Macrob. Saturnal. l. 3. c. 12. Pompon. Laet. de Sacerdot. Rom. c. 3.
INTRODUCTION TO Genesis 29
This chapter informs us of Jacob's coming to a well near Haran, where meeting with some shepherds he inquires after Laban, Genesis 29:1; and there also with Rachel his daughter, the shepherds made known to him, and acquainted her who he was, Genesis 29:9; upon which she ran to her father, and told him who was at the well, who went forth and brought him to his house, and kindly entertained him, Genesis 29:13; with whom he agreed to stay and serve seven years for Rachel his daughter, Genesis 29:15; at the end of which Jacob demands his wife, but instead of Rachel, Leah was brought to him as his wife, Genesis 29:21; which being discovered, and complained of, it was proposed he should have Rachel also, provided he would serve yet seven years more, to which he agreed, Genesis 29:26; and the chapter is concluded with an account of four sons being born to Jacob of Leah, Genesis 29:31.
and came into the land of the people of the east; the land of Mesopotamia or Syria, which lay to the east of the land of Canaan, see Isaiah 9:11; hither he came by several days' journeys.
(x) "et levavit pedes suos", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Fagius; "sustulit", Drusius, Schmidt. (y) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 70. fol. 62. 2. Jarchi in loc.
and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; in order to be watered, when it should be opened:
for out of that well they watered the flocks; the shepherds:
and a great stone was upon the well's mouth; so that until that was rolled off, they could not be watered, which was the reason of their lying by it: this stone was laid upon it, partly to keep the water from flowing out, and being wasted, that there might be a sufficiency for the flocks; and partly to keep the water pure and clean, that it might be wholesome for the flocks, as well as entire for the use of those that had a property in it.
(z) Cartwright's Preacher's Travels, p. 15. (a) Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. 2. p. 329.
and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep; that is, when they watered the sheep, they used to roll away the stone from the mouth of the well in order to do it; for as yet the flocks, now lying by it, had not been watered, as appears from Genesis 29:7,
and put a stone upon the well's mouth in this place; this they were wont to do every time they watered the flocks.
my brethren, whence be ye? a kind and affable way of speaking, used even to strangers, since all men are brethren by nature; or might be used by Jacob, because they were of the same occupation with himself, shepherds, asking them of what city they were, and from whence they came? and which being answered, would lead on to a conversation, which was what he wanted:
and they said, of Haran are we; the very place he was bound for, and was sent unto, Genesis 27:43.
and they said, we know him; perfectly well; he lives in our city, and is our neighbour.
and they said, he is well; or has peace; he and his family are in good health, enjoying all the comforts and blessings of life:
and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep; at that very instant she was coming out of the city with her father's flock of sheep, to water them at the well; an instance of great humility, diligence, and simplicity; this was very providential to Jacob.
(b) "nunquid pax ei", Montanus, Vatablus, Fagius, Cartwright, Schmidt.
neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together; off of the pastures, to be had home, and put into folds, which was usually done in the evening:
water ye the sheep, and go and feed them; give them water out of the well to drink, and then lead them out the pastures, and let them feed until the night is coming on: this he said not in an authoritative way, or in a surly ill natured manner, and as reproving them for their slothfulness; but kindly and gently giving his advice, who was a shepherd himself, and knew what was proper to be done; and this appears by the shepherds taking in good part what he said, and returning a civil answer.
(c) "magnus", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; "multus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Schmidt; "multum adhuc suparet diei", Vatablus.
until all the flocks be gathered together; and therefore they could not fairly and rightly do it, without violating the law and custom among them:
and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; that is, the shepherds of the several flocks:
then we water the sheep; and not till then.
Rachel came with her father's sheep; to water them at the well. She was within sight when Jacob first addressed the shepherds, but now she was come to the well, or near it, with the sheep before her:
for she kept them: or "she was the shepherdess" (d); the chief one; she might have servants under her to do some parts of the office of a shepherd, not so fit for her to do; it may be Laban's sons, for some he had, Genesis 31:1; were not as yet grown up, and Leah, the eldest daughter, having tender eyes, could not bear the open air, and light of the sun, nor so well look after the straying sheep; and therefore the flock was committed to the care of Rachel the younger daughter, whose name signifies a sheep. The Jews say (e), that the hand of God was upon Laban's flock, and there were but few left, so that he put away his shepherds, and what remained be put before his daughter Rachel, see Genesis 30:30; and some ascribe it to his covetousness that he did this; but there is no need to suggest anything of that kind; for keeping sheep in those times and countries was a very honourable employment, and not below the sons and daughters of great personages, and still is so accounted. Dr. Shaw (f) says it is customary, even to this day, for the children of the greatest Emir to attend their flocks; the same is related of the seven children of the king of Thebes, of Antiphus the son of Priam, and of Anchises, Aeneas's father (g).
(d) "quia pastor illa", Montanus, "pastrix", Schmidt. (e) Targ. Jon. in loc. Pirke Eliezer, c. 36. (f) Travels, p. 240. No. 2. Ed. 2.((g) Hom. II. 1. ver. 313. II. 6. ver. 424. II. 11. ver. 106.
and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother; wherefore out of respect to him and his, he being so nearly allied to him, it was
that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, either with the help of the shepherds, or of himself by his own strength; which the Jewish writers (h) say amazed the shepherds, that he should do that himself, which required their united strength. The Targum of Jonathan says, he did it with one of his arms; and Jarchi, that he removed it as easily as a man takes off the lid cover of a pot:
and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother; this he did partly out of respect to his relations, and partly that he might be taken notice of by Rachel.
(h) Pirke Eliezer, c. 36.
and lifted up his voice, and wept; for joy at the providence of God that had brought him so opportunely to the place, and at the sight of a person so nearly related to him; and who he hoped would be his wife, and was the person designed of God for him.
that he was her father's brother; his nephew by his sister, for such were sometimes called brethren, as Lot, Abraham's brother's son, is called his brother, Genesis 14:12,
and that he was Rebekah's son; sister to her father, and aunt to her, and whose name and relation she doubtless knew full well:
and she ran and told her father; leaving the care of her flock with Jacob; Rebekah, in a like case, ran and told her mother, Genesis 24:28, which is most usual for daughters to do; but here Rachel runs and tells her father, her mother very probably being dead, as say the Jewish writers (k).
(i) "et puntiaverat", Pagninus, Montanus; "renuntiaverat", Vatablus. (k) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 70. fol. 62. 4. Jarchi in loc.
that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house; Jarchi and other interpreters represent this as done with avaricious views, and that he expected Jacob had brought presents with him, as pieces of gold, pearls and jewels, and such like precious things Abraham's servant brought and gave him when he came for Rebekah, Genesis 24:53; but I see not why we may not take all this to be hearty, sincere, and affectionate, arising from nearness of relation, and a sense of it:
and he told Laban all these things; how he was sent hither by his parents on account of the hatred of his brother Esau, because he had got the birthright and blessing from him; how God had appeared to him at Luz, and the promises he had made him; how providentially he had met with Rachel at the well, and perhaps might him at, if he did not openly declare, the end of his coming thither for a wife.
(l) Targ. Jon. in loc. Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c. 36.)
and he abode with him the space of a month; or "a month of days" (m), a full month to a day; all this while feeding his flocks, and doing whatsoever service he had for him to do.
(m) "mensem dierum", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius, Schmidt.
shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? nearness of kin was no reason why he should serve him freely, or for nothing, but rather why he should be more kind to him than to a stranger, and give him better wages:
tell me, what shall thy wages be? by the day, or month, or year; signifying he was willing to give him anything that was just and reasonable, which was very well spoken; and this gave Jacob a fair opportunity of opening his mind more freely to him, and for answering a principal end for which he came, as follows:
and the name of the elder was Leah; which signifies labour or weariness:
and the name of the younger was Rachel; before mentioned, whom Jacob met with at the well, Genesis 29:10; and whose name signifies a sheep, as before observed; see Gill on Genesis 29:9.
but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured; in all parts, in the form of her countenance, in her shape and stature, and in her complexion, her hair black, her flesh white and ruddy, as Ben Melech observes.
and he said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter: signifying, that he desired no other wages for his service than that, that he might have her for his wife, at the end of seven years' servitude, which he was very willing to oblige himself to, on that condition; for having no money to give as a dowry, as was customary in those times, he proposed servitude instead of it; though Schmidt thinks this was contrary to custom, and that Laban treated his daughters like bondmaids, and such as are taken captives or strangers, and sold them, of which they complain, Genesis 31:15.
it is better that I should give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man; by which he not only intimates that he preferred him, a relation, to another man, a stranger; but as if he did not insist upon the servitude for her, but would give her to him; unless he means upon the terms proposed, and so it should seem by what follows:
abide with me: the term of seven years, and serve me; suggesting, that then he agreed Rachel should be his wife; and so Jacob, a plain hearted man, understood him; but he designed no such thing.
and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her; for though to lovers time seems long ere they enjoy the object beloved; yet Jacob here respects not so much the time as the toil and labour of service he endured in it; he thought that seven years' service was a trifle, like the service of so many days, in comparison of the lovely and worthy person he obtained thereby; all that he endured was nothing in comparison of her, and through the love he bore to her: besides, the many pleasant hours he spent in conversation with her made the time slide on insensibly, so that it seemed to be quickly gone; which shows that his love was pure and constant.
for my days are now fulfilled; the seven years were up he agreed to serve him for his daughter; and therefore it was but just and right she should be given him:
that I may go in unto her; as his lawful wife, and it was high time Jacob had her; for he was now, as the Jewish writers generally say (n), and that very rightly, eighty four years of age; and from him were to spring twelve princes, the heads of twelve tribes, which should inhabit the land of Canaan.
(n) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 70. fol. 63. 1. Jarchi in loc. and others.
and made a feast; a marriage or marriage feast, as the Septuagint version, see Matthew 22:2; which was usual, when a marriage was solemnized, expressive of joy on that account.
that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him, to Jacob, in his apartment, his bedchamber, or to him in bed: for it is still the custom in some eastern countries for the bridegroom to go to bed first, and then the bride comes, or is brought to him in the dark, and veiled, so that he sees her not: so the Armenians have now such a custom at their marriages that the husband goes to bed first; nor does the bride put off her veil till in bed (o): and in Barbary the bride is brought to the bridegroom's house, and with some of her female relations conveyed into a private room (p); then the bride's mother, or some very near relation, introduces the bridegroom to his new spouse, who is in the dark, and obliged in modesty not to speak or answer upon any account: and if this was the case here, as it is highly probable it was, the imposition on Jacob is easily accounted for:
and he went in unto her; or lay with her as his wife; a modest expression of the use of the bed.
(o) Tournefort's Voyage to the Levant, vol. 3. p. 255. (p) Ockley's Account of Southwest Barbary, c. 6. p. 78.
(q) Pirke Eliezer, c. 36.
and he said to Laban; when he arose in the morning, and at first meeting with him:
what is this that thou hast done unto me? what a wicked thing is it? as it was, to put another woman to bed to him that was not his wife, and in the room of his lawful wife; or why hast thou done this to me? what reason was there for it? what have I done, that could induce thee to do me such an injury? for Jacob knew what he had done, of that he does not inquire, but of the reason of it, and expostulates with him about the crime, as it was a sin against God, and an injury to him:
did I not serve thee, for Rachel? even seven years, according to agreement? was not this the covenant I made with thee, that she should be my wife at the end of them?
wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? by giving Leah instead of her: though Laban is not to be justified in this action, yet here appears in Providence a righteous retaliation of Jacob; he beguiled his own father, pretending he was his brother Esau; and now his father-in-law beguiles him, giving him blear eyed Leah instead of beautiful Rachel.
(r) Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc.
to give the younger, that is, in marriage:
before the firstborn; but it does not appear there was any such custom, and it was a mere evasion; or otherwise, why did not he inform him of this when he asked for Rachel? and why did he enter into a contract with him, contrary to such a known custom? and besides; how could he have the nerve to call the men of the city, and make a feast for the marriage of his younger daughter, if this was the case?
(s) "in loco nostro", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
and we will give this also; meaning Rachel that stood by; and the sense is, that he and his wife, if he had any, or his friends about him, would give to Jacob Rachel also to be his wife, upon the following condition:
for the service which thou shall serve with me yet seven other years; which shows the avaricious temper of the man.
(t) T. Hieros. Moed Katon, fol. 80. 4. Pirke Eliezer, c. 16, 36.
and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also; not after seven years' service, as Josephus (u) thinks, but after the seven days of feasting for Leah; though on condition of the above service, as appears from various circumstances related before the seven years' service could be completed; as his going in to Rachel, Genesis 29:30; her envying the fruitfulness of her sister, Genesis 30:1; giving Bilhah her handmaid unto him, Genesis 30:3; and the whole series of the context, and life of Jacob.
(u) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 19. sect. 7.
and he loved also Rachel more than Leah; she was his first love, and he retained the same love for her he ever had; as appears by his willingness to agree to the same condition of seven years' servitude more for her sake, and which he performed as follows:
and served with him, yet seven other years; that is, Jacob served so many years with Laban after he had married his two daughters, and fulfilled the weeks of feasting for each of them.
he opened her womb; or gave her conception; as Onkelos paraphrases it:
but Rachel was barren; bare no children as yet, and for many years after, Genesis 30:22.
for she said, surely the Lord hath looked on my affliction; being deceived by her father, not so much loved by her husband as her sister was, and perhaps slighted by her:
now therefore my husband will love me: more than he has done, and equally as my sister, having bore him a son.
(w) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 918.
and said, because the Lord hath heard that I was hated; or less loved than her sister:
he hath therefore given me this son also; to comfort her under the trial and exercise, and engage her husband's love the more unto her:
and she called his name Simeon: which signifies "hearing", and answers to the reason of her having him as she concluded.
(x) Pirke Eliezer, c. 36.
and said, now this time will my husband be joined to me; in greater affection and stronger ties of love, and cleave unto her:
because I have born him three sons; which she considered as a threefold cord, binding his affections to her, which could not be easily broke:
and therefore was his name called Levi; which signifies "joined"; from him the Levites sprung, and had their name.