At last, Jacob goes to secure a wife.
How shall we look at these chapters?
They contain some of the funniest stories in all the book of Genesis and yet, when you consider poor Jacob, he seems quite the oppressed individual. You would expect God to do better by him.
Think about how old Jacob is when he goes to Laban. To do this, we will have to think about passages we have not read and work backwards.
When finally Jacob moves to be with his son Joseph in the land of Egypt, he is 130 years old (Genesis 47:9). Joseph is about 39 (he entered Pharaoh’s service at age 30. Seven years of plenty have passed, along with two years of famine – Genesis 45:6). That means Jacob was 91 when Joseph was born. Six years after Joseph’s birth, Jacob left Laban having served him for twenty years. Give or take a few years, Jacob was in his late seventies when he traveled to Laban and in his mid-eighties when he married for the first time. Having waited that long to get a wife, he might be excused for not checking her ID on their wedding night.
The switch of Leah for Rachel is the first time Laban cheats Jacob – but it won’t be the last. And yet, Jacob remains fairly submissive about the whole thing, agreeing to work seven more years and fulfilling his commitment. As you read chapters 29 – 32, think about how you would feel if you were treated, by wives and relatives, as Jacob is treated. Ask yourself whether, if you were in Jacob’s shoes, you might not wonder why God isn’t helping you. Then perhaps you will understand Jacob’s desperation at the end of chapter 32.