King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 29

Jacob comes to the well of Haran. (1-8) His interview with Rachel, Laban entertains him. (9-14) Jacob’s covenant for Rachel, Laban’s deceit. (15-30) Leah’s sons. (31-35)

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Jacob comes to the well of Haran

1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.

2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well’s mouth.

3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well’s mouth in his place.

4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we.

5 And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him.

6 And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.

7 And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them.

8 And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep.

His interview with Rachel, Laban entertains him

9 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep; for she kept them.

10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.

11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.

12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son: and she ran and told her father.

13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things.

14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.

Jacob’s covenant for Rachel, Laban’s deceit

15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?

16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.

17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.

18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.

19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.

20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.

22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.

24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.

25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?

26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.

27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.

28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.

29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid.

30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.

Leah’s sons

31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.

33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.

34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.

35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. East. Mesopotamia, where Laban dwelt. H.

Ver. 2. Stone. Not of such an immoderate size but that Jacob could remove it. In that country water was scarce, and preserved with care. C.

Ver. 3. Sheep. Instead of this, Kennicott would read shepherds; as also v. 2. and 8. In which last, the Sam. Arab. and Sept. agree with him; as the two former do likewise in this third verse. H.

Ver. 4. Brethren. Jacob understands and speaks their language, either because it was not very different from his own, or he had learnt the Chaldee language from his mother. In the days of Ezechias, the Jews did not understand it. 4 K. xviii. 26. Jer. v. 15. C.

Ver. 5. Of Nachor, by Bathuel, who was not so well known. M.

Ver. 6. Health. Heb. “in peace;” by which name all good things are designated. D.

Ver. 7. To feed. He shews his knowledge of pastoral affairs, and his concern for them. M.

Ver. 9. She. Heb. He, ipsa. Eva is put for Eia, the letters being similar. C. iii. 15. H. — Other copies agree with the Vulg. and the Sept. C.

Ver. 10. Cousin-german, and uncle, are put for brevity’s sake by S. Jerom, instead of the Heb. “the daughter of Laban, brother of Rebecca his mother,” and “his mother’s brother.” H.

Ver. 11. Kissed her, according to the custom of the country, (C. xxiv. 26,) having told her who he was. He was not so young, that she could suspect him guilty of an unbecoming levity, being above 77 years old. C. xxvii. 1. H. — In that age of simplicity, beautiful maids might converse with shepherds, without suspicion or danger. M. — Wept, through tenderness, and perhaps on account of his present inability to make her a suitable present. C.

Ver. 12. Brother, or nephew. The name of brother, in Scripture, almost corresponds with the Consanguineus of the Latins, or our relation.

Ver. 14. My flesh, entitled to my utmost protection and friendship. C.

Ver. 17. Blear-eyed. Heb. racoth. Watery and tender, unable to look steadfastly at any object, but at the same time very beautiful. Onkelos, &c. — The beauty of Rachel was perfect; not confined to one part. These two sisters represented the synagogue and the Church of Christ. Lia, though married first, never gains the entire affection of her husband. C.

Ver. 20. For Rachel. It was then the custom to buy or to pay a dowry for a wife. C. xxxiv. 12. Ose. iii. 2. Herodotus says, i. 196, that the Babylonians sold their beautiful women as high as possible, and gave part of the price to help off the more deformed. The Turks do the like. C. — A few, &c. So highly did he esteem Rachel, that he thought he had obtained her for just nothing, though delays naturally seem long to lovers. T. — Calmet supposes that he was married to her the second month after he arrived at Haran; and on this account, easily explains his words, as love made all labour tolerable, and even easy, in the enjoyment of the beautiful Rachel. Usher also places the birth of Ruben in the first year of Jacob’s service. A. 2246. But Salien and the context decide, that he waited full seven years, and then obtained Lia, by fraud, of Laban; and seven days after, Rachel. H. — He was then 84 years old! D.

Ver. 21. Go in, &c. To consummate my marriage; (M.) as the time is expired. H.

Ver. 22. Friends. Heb. Sept. and Chal. say, “all the men of that place.” He was rich, and, though very greedy, could not well avoid conforming to the custom of making a splendid entertainment on such a joyful occasion. H.

Ver. 24. A handmaid, by way of dowry, as he did afterwards to Rachel. Both sisters considered it so small, as to say they had nothing. C. xxxi. 14. — Lia, who committed a great sin of adultery, though she was more excusable than Laban; inasmuch as she obeyed his order. M. — Jacob might justly have refused to marry her; and then what a dishonour would have been entailed upon her for life! In consequence of this imposition, the legitimacy of Ruben’s conception was rendered doubtful. We may suppose, that shame hindered Lia from opening her mouth; so that Jacob had no means of discovering the cheat till day-break, having gone into the nuptial chamber after it was dark, according to custom, and the woman being also covered with a veil. Tob. viii. 1. Hence Jacob was guilty of no fault, as his mistake was involuntary. H. — He afterwards consented to marry her, (C.) probably on the second day of the feast. H.

Ver. 26. Custom. This appears to be a false pretext: for all the people saw that Rachel was adorned like the intended bride, (H.) and were invited to her wedding. M.

Ver. 28. Week. Seven days; not years, as Josephus would have it. The nuptial feast lasted a week. Jud. xiv. 15.

Ver. 30. Latter. Jacob is the figure of Jesus Christ; who rejected the synagogue, and treated his Church, gathered from all nations, with the utmost affection. C. — Lia means “painful or labourious;” and Rachel a sheep; denoting, that a quiet contemplative life must be united with an active one; and that the Church must suffer here, and be crowned in heaven. H. S. Greg. Mor. vi. 28.

Ver. 31. Despised, or loved less; so Christ orders us to hate father, &c. Matt. x. 17. C.

Ver. 32. Ruben. “See the son, or the son of vision;” alluding perhaps, distantly, to v. 24. He saw Lia. H.

Ver. 33. Despised, or the hated wife, Deut. xxi. 15. — Simeon, “hearing or obedient.”

Ver. 34. Levi, “adhesion or union.” My husband will now stick to me.

Ver. 35. Juda, “praise or confession.” C. — Left bearing for a time. H. — In the imposition of these names, Lia testified her gratitude to God. T.