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Genesis 29:15-30

Context

29:15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Should you work 1  for me for nothing because you are my relative? 2  Tell me what your wages should be.” 29:16 (Now Laban had two daughters; 3  the older one was named Leah, and the younger one Rachel. 29:17 Leah’s eyes were tender, 4  but Rachel had a lovely figure and beautiful appearance.) 5  29:18 Since Jacob had fallen in love with 6  Rachel, he said, “I’ll serve you seven years in exchange for your younger daughter Rachel.” 29:19 Laban replied, “I’d rather give her to you than to another man. 7  Stay with me.” 29:20 So Jacob worked for seven years to acquire Rachel. 8  But they seemed like only a few days to him 9  because his love for her was so great. 10 

29:21 Finally Jacob said 11  to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time of service is up. 12  I want to have marital relations with her.” 13  29:22 So Laban invited all the people 14  of that place and prepared a feast. 29:23 In the evening he brought his daughter Leah 15  to Jacob, 16  and Jacob 17  had marital relations with her. 18  29:24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) 19 

29:25 In the morning Jacob discovered it was Leah! 20  So Jacob 21  said to Laban, “What in the world have you done to me! 22  Didn’t I work for you in exchange for Rachel? Why have you tricked 23  me?” 29:26 “It is not our custom here,” 24  Laban replied, “to give the younger daughter in marriage 25  before the firstborn. 29:27 Complete my older daughter’s bridal week. 26  Then we will give you the younger one 27  too, in exchange for seven more years of work.” 28 

29:28 Jacob did as Laban said. 29  When Jacob 30  completed Leah’s bridal week, 31  Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 32  29:29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 33  29:30 Jacob 34  had marital relations 35  with Rachel as well. He loved Rachel more than Leah, so he worked for Laban 36  for seven more years. 37 

1 tn The verb is the perfect with the vav (ו) consecutive; the nuance in the question is deliberative.

2 tn Heb “my brother.” The term “brother” is used in a loose sense; actually Jacob was Laban’s nephew.

3 tn Heb “and to Laban [there were] two daughters.” The disjunctive clause (introduced here by a conjunction and a prepositional phrase) provides supplemental material that is important to the story. Since this material is parenthetical in nature, vv. 16-17 have been set in parentheses in the translation.

4 tn Heb “and the eyes of Leah were tender.” The disjunctive clause (introduced here by a conjunction and a noun) continues the parenthesis begun in v. 16. It is not clear what is meant by “tender” (or “delicate”) eyes. The expression may mean she had appealing eyes (cf. NAB, NRSV, NLT), though some suggest that they were plain, not having the brightness normally expected. Either way, she did not measure up to her gorgeous sister.

5 tn Heb “and Rachel was beautiful of form and beautiful of appearance.”

6 tn Heb “Jacob loved.”

7 tn Heb “Better my giving her to you than my giving her to another man.”

8 tn Heb “in exchange for Rachel.”

9 sn But they seemed like only a few days to him. This need not mean that the time passed quickly. More likely it means that the price seemed insignificant when compared to what he was getting in the bargain.

10 tn Heb “because of his love for her.” The words “was so great” are supplied for stylistic reasons.

11 tn Heb “and Jacob said.”

12 tn Heb “my days are fulfilled.”

13 tn Heb “and I will go in to her.” The verb is a cohortative; it may be subordinated to the preceding request, “that I may go in,” or it may be an independent clause expressing his desire. The verb “go in” in this context refers to sexual intercourse (i.e., the consummation of the marriage).

14 tn Heb “men.”

15 tn Heb “and it happened in the evening that he took Leah his daughter and brought her.”

sn His daughter Leah. Laban’s deception of Jacob by giving him the older daughter instead of the younger was God’s way of disciplining the deceiver who tricked his older brother. D. Kidner says this account is “the very embodiment of anti-climax, and this moment a miniature of man’s disillusion, experienced from Eden onwards” (Genesis [TOTC], 160). G. von Rad notes, “That Laban secretly gave the unloved Leah to the man in love was, to be sure, a monstrous blow, a masterpiece of shameless treachery…It was certainly a move by which he won for himself far and wide the coarsest laughter” (Genesis [OTL], 291).

16 tn Heb “to him”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

17 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

18 tn Heb “went in to her.” The expression “went in to” in this context refers to sexual intercourse, i.e., the consummation of the marriage.

19 tn Heb “and Laban gave to her Zilpah his female servant, to Leah his daughter [for] a servant.” This clause gives information parenthetical to the narrative.

20 tn Heb “and it happened in the morning that look, it was Leah.” By the use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”), the narrator invites the reader to view the scene through Jacob’s eyes.

21 tn Heb “and he said”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

22 tn Heb What is this you have done to me?” The use of the pronoun “this” is enclitic, adding emphasis to the question: “What in the world have you done to me?”

23 sn The Hebrew verb translated tricked here (רָמָה, ramah) is cognate to the noun used in Gen 27:35 to describe Jacob’s deception of Esau. Jacob is discovering that what goes around, comes around. See J. A. Diamond, “The Deception of Jacob: A New Perspective on an Ancient Solution to the Problem,” VT 34 (1984): 211-13.

24 tn Heb “and Laban said, ‘It is not done so in our place.’” The order of the introductory clause and the direct discourse has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.

25 tn Heb “to give the younger.” The words “daughter” and “in marriage” are supplied in the translation for clarity and for stylistic reasons.

26 tn Heb “fulfill the period of seven of this one.” The referent of “this one” has been specified in the translation as “my older daughter” for clarity.

sn Bridal week. An ancient Hebrew marriage ceremony included an entire week of festivities (cf. Judg 14:12).

27 tn Heb “this other one.”

28 tn Heb “and we will give to you also this one in exchange for labor which you will work with me, still seven other years.”

sn In exchange for seven more years of work. See C. H. Gordon, “The Story of Jacob and Laban in the Light of the Nuzi Tablets,” BASOR 66 (1937): 25-27; and J. Van Seters, “Jacob’s Marriages and Ancient Near Eastern Customs: A Reassessment,” HTR 62 (1969): 377-95.

29 tn Heb “and Jacob did so.” The words “as Laban said” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

30 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

31 tn Heb “the seven of this one.” The referent of “this one” has been specified in the translation as Leah to avoid confusion with Rachel, mentioned later in the verse.

32 tn Heb “and he gave to him Rachel his daughter for him for a wife.” The referent of the pronoun “he” (Laban) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

33 tn Heb “and Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his female servant, for her for a servant.”

34 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

35 tn Heb “went in also to Rachel.” The expression “went in to” in this context refers to sexual intercourse, i.e., the consummation of the marriage.

36 tn Heb “him”; the referent (Laban) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

37 tn Heb “and he loved also Rachel, more than Leah, and he served with him still seven other years.”



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