Today’s Readings: GENESIS 30:25-31:55
Moses wrote Genesis about 3400 years ago. The stories of Jacob that we are reading right now are dated from about 1900 BC or 3900 years ago. Who would have imagined that the topic of Genetics, which we would consider modern science, would play a prominent role in today’s reading.
At first glance it would appear that somehow Jacob has cheated his father in law Laban. Somehow, Jacob starting with no livestock and ends up taking the larger portion. Jacob does have a slight history of unfair dealings, but in this case he may be innocent.
Laban has not been so honest with Jacob. He promised his daughter Rachel to Jacob for 7 year’s work, then gives his daughter Leah first and then make Jacob work another seven years for the daughter he dearly loved and wanted to marry from the beginning, Rachel. But in his dealings with Laban, Jacob has a clean conscious. cf Genesis 30:37 – 43.
Two things that were in Jacob’s favor:
1. He was a professional herdsman. Jacob had been taking care of the livestock for 14 years. He was very dedicated to his profession, he was good at it and he understood it. Was Jacob a geneticist, not really, but he did understand how the sheep reproduced and that it was more likely to have a speckled sheep than it was to have a pure white one.
2. He was blessed by God. Ultimately, I believe that this is the one that mattered most. Read what Jacob explained to his wife Rachel when they discussed the large herds and how it came to be…
Genesis 31:6 – 13 NLT
6 You know how hard I have worked for your father, 7 but he has cheated me, changing my wages ten times. But God has not allowed him to do me any harm. 8 For if he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wages,’ the whole flock began to produce speckled young. And when he changed his mind and said, ‘The striped animals will be your wages,’ then the whole flock produced striped young. 9 In this way, God has taken your father’s animals and given them to me.
10 “One time during the mating season, I had a dream and saw that the male goats mating with the females were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 11 Then in my dream, the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I replied, ‘Yes, here I am.’
12 “The angel said, ‘Look up, and you will see that only the streaked, speckled, and spotted males are mating with the females of your flock. For I have seen how Laban has treated you. 13 I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, the place where you anointed the pillar of stone and made your vow to me. Now get ready and leave this country and return to the land of your birth.’”
As the story continues there is a confrontation between Jacob and Laban, and there we see how honest Jacob was. His honesty is even more revealing when we see how poorly Laban dealt with Jacob for those 20 years.
Genesis 31:38 – 42 NLT
38 “For twenty years I have been with you, caring for your flocks. In all that time your sheep and goats never miscarried. In all those years I never used a single ram of yours for food. 39 If any were attacked and killed by wild animals, I never showed you the carcass and asked you to reduce the count of your flock. No, I took the loss myself! You made me pay for every stolen animal, whether it was taken in broad daylight or in the dark of night.
40 “I worked for you through the scorching heat of the day and through cold and sleepless nights. 41 Yes, for twenty years I slaved in your house! I worked for fourteen years earning your two daughters, and then six more years for your flock. And you changed my wages ten times! 42 In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side—the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac—you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!”
It is nice to see that Jacob is developing into a solid man of God as he gets older, while it may look deceptive, he was acting according to the will and plan of God. He dealt honestly with Laban who was not dealing honestly with him. God got involved and acting on the side of Jacob.
Tomorrow we read about Jacob’s profound experience with God that results in a name change.