LESSON 22 – Jacob’s Family – Genesis 29 & 30

  1. Discussion
    • Read 29:1-30.  Who does Jacob meet when he gets to Mesopotamia? (vs. 7-11. He meets his uncle’s daughter, Rachel) How is this story a bit reversed from the one with Rebekah? (vs. 10 – Jacob waters Rachel’s sheep.) Jacob kisses Rachel and reveals that he is her cousin. She runs home and tells her father.  Laban invited Jacob to stay and after a month of working Laban asks him what his wages should be. How does Jacob respond? (vs. 18 – I’ll work 7 years for you to marry your daughter, Rachel.) Laban had two daughters. Who were they and how were they different? (vs. 16-17 – Leah, the older, had weak eyes, which means she squinted in order to see; Rachel, the younger, was beautiful in face and form) Laban agrees and Jacob works for 7 years. While this sounds like a long betrothal to us, what is Jacob’s attitude? (vs. 20 – It seemed like only a few days because he loved her so much.) The wedding day comes and Jacob is the groom. Who is the bride? (vs. 25 – Leah!) Since brides were heavily veiled in ancient times, Jacob had not realized he had been deceived by his father-in-law.  What did Laban say when Jacob confronted him about the switch? (vs. 26 – We don’t marry off the younger daughter before the older one {a minor detail he had somehow failed to mention in the previous 7 years!} Laban suggested that Jacob give Leah a week and then Jacob could marry Rachel. However, he had to stay and work for another 7 years.  Did Jacob agree? (vs28 – yes) This passage mentions two other women whose importance will be seen later. Who are they? (vs. 24, 29 – Zilpah – Leah’s maid; Bilhah – Rachel’s maid) What does verse 30 say about Jacob’s marriages that will cause trouble later? (He loved Rachel more than Leah)
    • Read 29:31 – 22. NOTE:  If you have younger children, you may want to skip the details of the marital troubles in Jacob’s home contained in this chapter. However, if you do choose to read the chapter together and your 1st grader asks questions, it may show that they are ready for some of the answers!  I have included at the end of this lesson a chart that lists all the brothers (including Benjamin, who is born later in chapter 35), their mothers and the meanings of their names. Note that one daughter, Dinah, is mentioned in verse 21. For older kids go ahead and read this portion together.  You might ask during reading this: “How is God teaching Jacob about the consequences of deceit and yet blessing him at the same time?” (There is strife and jealousy in his home, yet God is giving Him 12 sons) FYI – mandrakes were considered an aphrodisiac.  However, check out verse 17 for the actual cause of Issachar’s birth!
    • Read 30: 25-43. Once again, it is not necessary to read every word of this narrative for younger children. You can summarize the story by going over the questions here.  What question does Jacob ask Laban after Joseph is born? (vs. 25,26 – Give me my wives and children and let me leave.) What is Laban’s answer? (vs. 27 – Please stay. God is blessing me because of you being here.) Jacob decides working for nothing is no longer acceptable. What terms does he ask in order stay? (vs. 31-33 – Jacob seemingly asks for very little. He wants the speckled, or spotted offspring of the animals he tends for Laban. Jacob seems at least to be interested in being seen as an honest man, so he adds the rider that any unspotted goat or white sheep in his possession would be considered stolen.) This sounds like a pretty good deal to Laban, because the off-breeds would be Jacob’s and the pure white goats and sheep would be Laban’s. How does Jacob once try to take things into his own hands? (vs. 37-43 – This whole description is pretty complicated, but suffice it to say that Jacob was tricking Laban by mating strong animals with the spotted ones and leaving the weak ones for Laban. Also, there was a superstition that peeled white and spotted bark put in the area the animals mated would bring about more spotted animals.) What happened? (Jacob grew very wealthy as his flocks and herds multiplied rapidly.) Was it the bark, the genetics or something else that made Jacob rich? (31:12)
  2. Application – One Bible commentator said that the title of Gen. 29 should read, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” [Gal. 6:7] Jacob has been characterized so far by taking things into his own hands and making things happen that will prosper himself and his ends.  He was willing to plot against his father with his mother and make boldface lies to him in order to get what had already been promised to him – the birthright and the blessing of God.  But instead, he himself became the recipient of deceit and greed. In what ways was Jacob deceitful in chapters 29-30? (pretended to be Esau: wore his clothes, prepared food that would trick his father, lied several times while he met with Isaac) What were the consequences of his actions? (He had to leave his home and his mother and father because of fear of his life from his brother; he lost his relationships with his entire family; he had move far away and be utterly alone and friendless) God disciplines those He loves and we know that God loved Jacob. We see it in the scene of the stone pillow and God revealing Himself to Jacob and confirming the covenant with him when he was alone in the desert. We also see God’s grace working in the life of Jacob when he moves to Haran and has to deal with his conniving and greedy father-in-law, Laban.  In a spectacular irony Jacob isn’t allowed to bypass the right of the first-born, when he is tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel.  Jacob marries two women because his true love is Rachel. This brings heartache into his family as he clearly favors one wife over the other.  This pattern of favoritism, modeled by his parents, will continue on in future chapters when we see Jacob favoring Joseph over his brothers and we know what consequences that will bring.  In all of this, though, we see the hand of God. Jacob is learning what it is like to be on the receiving end of deceit and God is continuing to prosper his life in spite of his sinful ways.  What comfort can we find from seeing that God can use Jacob in spite of his sin? (We can know that we cannot thwart God’s plan for us. He will always work out His plan for us. We may need to face unpleasant consequences for our sin, but God loves us and is conforming us to His image.) Read Romans 8:28, 29. From these verses what is God trying to do in our lives? (conform us to His image) Read I Peter 1:13-15 and list the things that God is calling you to do. 1. Prepare your minds for action – think about what you are doing, don’t just react! 2.  Discipline yourself – If we don’t start making changes, we’ll end up like Jacob with outside consequences pressing on us making us change! 3.  Set your hope on the grace that Jesus will bring when He is revealed. This is awesome. Our hope isn’t to be on our own goals, to feel good about ourselves, to be happy, to get a well-paying job, to marry a perfect person, etc, etc. IT IS JESUS HIMSELF. He’s really coming back – is your hope in His appearing?? 4. Don’t be conformed to our old desires that we had when we were ignorant. Don’t go back – don’t desire those things that will only bring you pain and disillusionment in the end. 5. Be holy. God is calling us to holiness and He is working to eradicate our sinful habits of mind and action.  End your time with being thankful that God could use deceitful Jacob, because that means He can use us as well. Pick one of the 5 points in I Peter to work on this week.
  3. Digging Deeper
    1. You may have had an experience similar to Jacob’s in that you have had to wait a long time for something you wanted (though probably not for 7 years!). Suffering delays in things we want can have several affects on us depending on our attitude.  Tell about a time you had to wait for something and how God used it in your life to teach you something important.  What does God say about waiting? (Give at least 2 verses.)
    2. In what sense are the things that happened to Jacob his fault? His parents’ fault? His brother’s fault? How do you see God working in this family in spite of all the sin going around? What things have you learned through the sins of yourself or friends or family members? How do these things hinder or build our faith? Give a Bible verse that speaks to what our focus should be when we sin or are offended by another.