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Genesis 29:1-14

The Marriages of Jacob

29:1 So Jacob moved on 1  and came to the land of the eastern people. 2  29:2 He saw 3  in the field a well with 4  three flocks of sheep lying beside it, because the flocks were watered from that well. Now 5  a large stone covered the mouth of the well. 29:3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds 6  would roll the stone off the mouth of the well and water the sheep. Then they would put the stone back in its place over the well’s mouth.

29:4 Jacob asked them, “My brothers, where are you from?” They replied, “We’re from Haran.” 29:5 So he said to them, “Do you know Laban, the grandson 7  of Nahor?” “We know him,” 8  they said. 29:6 “Is he well?” 9  Jacob asked. They replied, “He is well. 10  Now look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” 29:7 Then Jacob 11  said, “Since it is still the middle of the day, 12  it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. You should water the sheep and then go and let them graze some more.” 13  29:8 “We can’t,” they said, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone is rolled off the mouth of the well. Then we water 14  the sheep.”

29:9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep, for she was tending them. 15  29:10 When Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban, 16  and the sheep of his uncle Laban, he 17  went over 18  and rolled the stone off the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of his uncle Laban. 19  29:11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep loudly. 20  29:12 When Jacob explained 21  to Rachel that he was a relative of her father 22  and the son of Rebekah, she ran and told her father. 29:13 When Laban heard this news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he rushed out to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob 23  told Laban how he was related to him. 24  29:14 Then Laban said to him, “You are indeed my own flesh and blood.” 25  So Jacob 26  stayed with him for a month. 27 

1 tn Heb “and Jacob lifted up his feet.” This unusual expression suggests that Jacob had a new lease on life now that God had promised him the blessing he had so desperately tried to gain by his own efforts. The text portrays him as having a new step in his walk.

2 tn Heb “the land of the sons of the east.”

3 tn Heb “and he saw, and look.” As in Gen 28:12-15, the narrator uses the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) here and in the next clause to draw the reader into the story.

4 tn Heb “and look, there.”

5 tn The disjunctive clause (introduced by the noun with the prefixed conjunction) provides supplemental information that is important to the story.

6 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the shepherds) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Heb “son.”

8 tn Heb “and they said, ‘We know.’” The word “him” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the translation several introductory clauses throughout this section have been placed after the direct discourse they introduce for stylistic reasons as well.

9 tn Heb “and he said to them, ‘Is there peace to him?’”

10 tn Heb “peace.”

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

12 tn Heb “the day is great.”

13 tn Heb “water the sheep and go and pasture [them].” The verbal forms are imperatives, but Jacob would hardly be giving direct orders to someone else’s shepherds. The nuance here is probably one of advice.

14 tn The perfect verbal forms with the vav (ו) consecutive carry on the sequence begun by the initial imperfect form.

15 tn Heb “was a shepherdess.”

16 tn Heb “Laban, the brother of his mother” (twice in this verse).

17 tn Heb “Jacob.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

18 tn Heb “drew near, approached.”

19 tn Heb “Laban, the brother of his mother.” The text says nothing initially about the beauty of Rachel. But the reader is struck by the repetition of “Laban the brother of his mother.” G. J. Wenham is no doubt correct when he observes that Jacob’s primary motive at this stage is to ingratiate himself with Laban (Genesis [WBC], 2:231).

20 tn Heb “and he lifted up his voice and wept.” The idiom calls deliberate attention to the fact that Jacob wept out loud.

21 tn Heb “declared.”

22 tn Heb “that he [was] the brother of her father.”

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

24 tn Heb “and he told to Laban all these things.” This might mean Jacob told Laban how he happened to be there, but Laban’s response (see v. 14) suggests “all these things” refers to what Jacob had previously told Rachel (see v. 12).

25 tn Heb “indeed, my bone and my flesh are you.” The expression sounds warm enough, but the presence of “indeed” may suggest that Laban had to be convinced of Jacob’s identity before permitting him to stay. To be one’s “bone and flesh” is to be someone’s blood relative. For example, the phrase describes the relationship between Abimelech and the Shechemites (Judg 9:2; his mother was a Shechemite); David and the Israelites (2 Sam 5:1); David and the elders of Judah (2 Sam 19:12,); and David and his nephew Amasa (2 Sam 19:13, see 2 Sam 17:2; 1 Chr 2:16-17).

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

27 tn Heb “a month of days.”

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