Genesis 29:7-12 tells the story of Jacob meeting Rachel for the first time. This passage provides important insights into the cultural practices and expectations of the time and sheds light on the character of Jacob.
In Genesis 29:7-8, Jacob comes across a group of shepherds who are waiting for their flocks to be watered. He asks them where they are from, and they tell him that they are from Haran. Jacob then asks them if they know Laban, his mother's brother. They tell him that they do and that, in fact, they can see Laban's daughter Rachel approaching with the sheep.
In Genesis 29:9-10, the text says, "Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban, his mother's brother. Jacob went near to the flock of Laban, his mother's brother, and he watered the sheep of Laban, his mother's brother."
Here, we see Jacob's eagerness to meet his family and his willingness to work for them. He immediately goes to help water the sheep, which was likely a menial task but one that would have been appreciated by the shepherds. This action also shows that Jacob is not afraid of hard work and is willing to serve others.
In Genesis 29:11, Jacob kisses Rachel and weeps aloud. The text says, "Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept." This action may seem strange to modern readers, but it was likely a common cultural practice at the time. In ancient Near Eastern cultures, a kiss was a sign of greeting and respect, and weeping was a sign of emotion and sincerity. Jacob's actions here indicate his deep affection for Rachel and his desire to establish a close relationship with her.
In Genesis 29:12, Rachel runs to tell her father Laban about Jacob's arrival. She says, "Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son. She ran and told her father." Rachel's excitement and eagerness to share the news with her father demonstrate her close relationship with him and her trust in his judgment.
Overall, this passage illustrates the importance of family relationships and cultural practices in ancient Near Eastern societies. It also sheds light on Jacob's character, showing him to be hardworking, affectionate, and eager to establish close relationships with his family members.
Additionally, this passage sets the stage for the rest of the story of Jacob and Rachel, which is full of drama, conflict, and love. Jacob will go on to work for Laban for many years in order to win Rachel's hand in marriage. He will be deceived by Laban into marrying Rachel's older sister Leah, but he will eventually marry Rachel as well. This complicated relationship dynamic will continue to play out throughout the book of Genesis, demonstrating the importance of family and the complexities of human relationships.
Genesis 29:7-12. He said, “Behold, it is still the middle of the day, not time to gather the livestock together. Water the sheep, and go and feed them.” They said, “We can’t, until all the flocks are gathered together, and they roll the stone from the well’s mouth. Then we water the sheep.” While he was yet speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she kept them. When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban, his mother’s brother, Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son. She ran and told her father.