Jacob continued east and saw a well in the distance. Three flocks of sheep and goats lay in an open field beside it, waiting to be watered. But a heavy stone covered the well.
It was custom to wait for all of the flocks to arrive before removing the stone and watering the animals. (In case you were wondering.) Jacob asked the shepherds where they were from.
“Do you know Laban, grandson of Nahor?”
“Yes. Here comes his daughter Rachel with their flock now.”
Jacob removed the stone and watered his cousin’s flock. Then he kissed her and wept aloud. He explained they were cousins and she went to tell Laban.
Laban ran to meet Jacob and kissed him before bringing him home. Jacob told him his story and Laban said “You really are my own flesh and blood! Gotta keep it in the family!”
After Jacob had stayed with Laban for a month, Laban said “You shouldn’t work for me for free just because we’re relatives. How much should I pay you?”
Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he said “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel as my wife.”
“Agreed! Rather you than anyone else. Jacob’s love for her was so strong, the seven years seemed but a few days to him.
Finally, the time came for them to be married.
So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a feast. But that night, in the darkness, Laban took Leah, his older daughter (who was described as lacking a spark in her eyes) to Jacob, and he slept with her.
Jacob woke in the morning and said “What have you done to me? I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?”
“It’s not our custom to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban said. “But wait until the bridal week is over, then we’ll give you Rachel, too. Provided you promise to work another seven years for me.” (Could all this not have been explained ahead of time?)
Jacob agreed. A week later he married Rachel and slept with her, too. He loved her much more than Leah. For some reason, he kept his commitment and worked seven additional years for Laban.
When God saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel couldn’t. Leah gave birth to a son that she named Reuben. She said “The Lord has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.”
She gave birth to another son and named him Simeon. She said “The Lord heard I was unloved and gave me another son.”
She named her third son Levi and said “Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!”
She gave birth to one more son, named him Judah, then stopped having children. She said “Now I will praise the Lord!”