Jacob Arrives In Paddam Aram
Life isn’t easy, and what life does to us depends a great deal on what life finds in us. Jacob could have easily left his family problems behind, but he had to take along his biggest problem—himself. During the next twenty years (Gen.31:41), Jacob would experience many painful trials in Laban’s household, but in the end, he would become God’s man to accomplish God’s will.
However, don’t read these chapters as an ancient story about one man’s family. This is a contemporary story about all of us who are making important decisions on the road of life, decisions that determine character and destiny.
Marriage: Finding Your Mate
Jesus made it clear that not everybody is supposed to get married (Matt. 19:1-12). But with Jacob, marriage wasn’t an option; it was an obligation. The success of the covenant promises God gave to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3; 28:1-4) depended on Jacob’s finding a wife and with her building a family that would eventually become the people of Israel, the nation that would bring the promised Redeemer into the world.
Jacob Meets Rachel
Jacob resumed his journey and went to the eastern country.
Genesis 29:1 (HCSB)
The Hebrew idiom, lifted up his feet, tells of the young man’s response to the divine encouragement. He was on his way to Paddan Aram, seeking his mother’s family near Haran. It was difficult to take such a long journey, but Jacob seemed to have no alternative.
Suddenly he came upon a well out in the fields with three flocks of sheep lying around it. The flocks were watered from this well, which had a large stone over the opening.
Genesis 29:2 (GNT)
The episode at the well reminds us of the experience of Abraham’s servant when he was seeking a wife for Isaac, a story that Jacob had certainly heard many times. However, there’s no record that Jacob prayed, as did his grandfather’s servant; but perhaps he had prayed for God’s guidance all during his long journey.
|The servant of Abraham found Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, at a well (Genesis 24). Here Jacob found his wife at a well. Moses found his wife at a well (Exodus 2:15-17 and 20-22).|
When all the flocks were gathered there, the ⌊shepherds⌋ would roll the stone from the opening of the well and water the sheep. The stone was then placed back on the well’s opening.
Genesis 29:3 (HCSB)
It appears this “large stone” was larger than what an average person alone could move. This is why multiple shepherds had to gather to do it. This must have been for protection so that others couldn’t foul the waters or deplete them.
Jacob went over to the shepherds and asked, “Where are you from, my friends?”
“We are from Haran,” they answered.
“Do you know a man there named Laban, the grandson of Nahor?” he asked.
“Yes, we do,” they replied.
“Is he doing well?” Jacob asked.
“Yes, he’s well,” they answered. “Look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the flock now.”
Jacob said, “Look, it’s still broad daylight—too early to round up the animals. Why don’t you water the sheep and goats so they can get back out to pasture?”
“We can’t water the animals until all the flocks have arrived,” they replied. “Then the shepherds move the stone from the mouth of the well, and we water all the sheep and goats.”
Genesis 29:4-8 (NLT)
This is the same divine favor that Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, experienced when he obtained Rebekah as a bride for Isaac (Genesis 24). Jacob was providentially led to the house of Laban and to his cousin Rachel.
How miraculous that the first people Jacob greeted knew his uncle. Not only did Jacob encounter people who knew his uncle, but also his cousin Rachel approached while he asked this question. This was definitely providential.
I get the impression that when Jacob saw Rachel, it was love at first sight. If so, it explains why he tried to get the shepherds to water there flocks and leave, because he wanted Rachel all to himself at their first meeting. The stone that covered the well was large and heavy, but Jacob was able to move it so he could water Rachel’s flock.
Jacob was still talking with them when Rachel arrived with her father’s flock, for she was a shepherd. And because Rachel was his cousin—the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother—and because the sheep and goats belonged to his uncle Laban, Jacob went over to the well and moved the stone from its mouth and watered his uncle’s flock. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and he wept aloud. He explained to Rachel that he was her cousin on her father’s side—the son of her aunt Rebekah. So Rachel quickly ran and told her father, Laban.
Genesis 29:9-12 (NLT)
If the conjecture is true that this was a great stone and it took multiple shepherds to remove it, then Jacob must have been quite a strong man. Remember that he was seventy-seven at this time.
This kiss was a gesture of friendship as employed by Laban towards Jacob in Genesis 29:13. The weeping was probably in gratitude to the Lord for prospering his journey and bringing him to his uncle’s family.
When Jacob introduced himself, she ran to tell Laban the news. In the ancient East, family ties were very strong; and visiting relatives, including those you’d never met before, would be entertained in the home of their own flesh and blood.
We see the providence of God in this meeting. Jacob could have borrowed words from Isaac’s servant: “The Lord has led me straight to my master’s relatives.” (Gen.24:27). Unbelievers might call this event “a fortunate coincidence,” but believers would see in it the gracious leading of the hand of God.
In The Life Of The Trusting Christian, There Are No Accidents, Only Appointments.
When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him, hugged him, and kissed him. Then he took him to his house, and Jacob told him all that had happened.
Genesis 29:13 (HCSB)
But we also see in this event the beginning of some positive changes in the character of Jacob. For one thing, look at his boldness as he confronted the shepherds, moved the stone, and introduced himself to Rachel. And look at his honesty as he told his story to Laban, Rachel’s father.
How much family history is covered by “all these things” isn’t revealed in the text, but Jacob certainly had to explain why he was there and what plans he had for the future. Remembering the wealth his sister Rebekah received from Isaac, Laban may have hoped that Jacob would be just as generous.
|Be Authentic (Genesis 25-50)
By Warren W. Wiersbe
Life is full of imitations. Which is why today’s culture genuine, transparent people of God; believers who crave real spiritual growth. But what does that look like? The book of Genesis provides the answer, where we find 3 men who experienced an authentic life: Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Be Authentic: Genesis 25-50 shows the vital need shows the vital need for authenticity in an artificial world. Through this commentary you will discover how to pursue authentic relationships with others and God and how to live out your faith in an irresistible, compelling way.