Parashat Vayeizei (And He Went Forth)
Beresheet (Genesis) 28:10–32:3
In this week’s parasha, we read of the famous story of Jacob & Laban, and Laban’s deception of Jacob in his search for a bride:
Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the sons of the east. He looked, and saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it, for from that well they watered the flocks. Now the stone on the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, they would then roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well.
Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where are you from?” And they said, “We are from Haran.” He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” And they said, “We know him.” And he said to them, “Is it well with him?” And they said, “It is well, and here is Rachel his daughter coming with the sheep.” He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.” But they said, “We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered, and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”
While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept. Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
So when Laban heard the news of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Then he related to Laban all these things. Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him a month.
Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn. Complete the (wedding) week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” Jacob did so and completed her (wedding) week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. Laban also gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid. So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.
When one reads this story, it can be perceived as an unjust story with regard to Laban’s deception of Jacob, which from a human perspective is true. However, I believe there is a principle here that we need to understand in God’s economy, which is that of consequences. Often, we forget that while, yes, God has a plan, and yes, the Father has forgiven our iniquities through faith in His Son whom He sent for us to be reconciled to Him, the reality is that there are still earthly consequences for our actions.
We see this evidenced in Jacob’s life. In verse 26, it is written, “But Laban said, ‘It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn’.” Does this not remind us of the fact that Jacob stole the right of the firstborn and the blessing from his brother? Here we see Jacob suffering the consequences of his deception of Esau, by being deceived by Laban. It is a spiritual principle that we find in the New Covenant as well:
Do not be deceived — God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also shall reap.
Yet, we see God’s faithful hand in all of this, despite Jacob’s sinful ways. God’s plan was to continue the seed of the blessing through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; His plan will not be thwarted! We see numerous examples of sin and wrongdoing in the lives of these three amazing men, yet to my amazement, God still accomplished His wondrous plan through them.
God’s grace was present from the beginning of time and it is still true today. His plan will be accomplished; you and I can choose to be part of it or not. Let’s not take God’s grace for granted and remember that there will be consequences for our wrongdoing!