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Friday, September 14 2018

A Bible Journey, 29: Israel's Syria Origin

"Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother"

Jacob (the LORD hadn't changed his name to "Israel" yet - that would happen on the return journey, two decades later) arrived in Syria as a fugitive, seeking refuge from the deadly wrath of his brother Esau (see A Bible Journey, 27: The Blessing And Birthright From Esau To Jacob and A Bible Journey, 28: The Stairway To Heaven Dream).

It was nevertheless no mere chance that Jacob immediately came into contact with his relatives of the family of Abraham (see A Bible Journey, 12: The Haran Connection) that the LORD had chosen to fulfill the Messianic branch of Abraham's seed (see also A Bible Journey, 17: A Father Of Many Nations and A Bible Journey, 15: The Exodus Prophecies).

Although Jacob didn't realize it when he arrived, it would be his home for the next twenty years. While he arrived poor and alone, he would return home as a wealthy patriarch with two wives and two concubines with eleven sons (of all of the Israelite tribal patriarchs, only Benjamin wasn't born in Syria; see the Fact Finder question below).


"29:1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.

29:2 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. 29:3 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." (Genesis 29:1-3 KJV)

The meeting of Jacob and the family of his wives was similar to the centuries-later meeting of Moses to the family of Zipporah in the Sinai (see also Moses And Zipporah).

29:4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye?

And they said, Of Haran are we.

29:5 And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor?

And they said, We know him.

29:6 And he said unto them, Is he well?

And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.

29:7 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.

29:8 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. 29:9 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them.

29:10 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. 29:11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. 29:12 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." (Genesis 29:4-12 KJV)

There is no way that Rebekah could have told her brother Laban that Jacob was coming beforehand - there was no means of communication, other than the first to come with the news. The running-for-his-life Jacob was himself the first arrival.

"29:13 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. 29:14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh.

And he abode with him the space of a month.

29:15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?" (Genesis 29:13-15 KJV)

As was customary of the time, Jacob made a formal agreement with Laban for the marriage of his daughter to Jacob.

"29:16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 29:17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. 29:18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.

29:19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. 29:20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

29:21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her." (Genesis 29:16-21 KJV)

Jacob's mother Rebekah had been the mastermind of Jacob's elaborate posing as Esau to get Esau's blessing. It seems that Rebekah and Laban were a brother and sister of similar manipulative character. Laban concocted a similar switch in the darkness, but this time, it was Jacob who was deceived. When the ruse was discovered the next morning, Jacob hypocritically protested what had been done to him.

A Woman

"29:22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

29:23 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.

29:24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.

29:25 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?

29:26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 29:27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.

29:28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.

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

29:30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years." (Genesis 29:22-30 KJV)

Although Jacob agreed to the marriage, there was no love from him for Leah, emotionally or physically, at the beginning. "And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren." The great irony of that, in the end, was that Leah became the mother of more children of Jacob/Israel (including Judah) than any of the other three women - and she is today the only wife of Jacob buried with him in the family tomb at Hebron (see also Jacob's Mummy).

"29:31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

29:32 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.

29:33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon.

29:34 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.

29:35 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." (Genesis 29:31-35 KJV)

Fact Finder: Who were the women of Syria who became the mothers of most of the Israelite lines - including Judah?
The Mothers Of The Patriarchs: Leah
The Mothers Of The Patriarchs: Rachel
The Mothers Of The Patriarchs: Zilpah
The Mothers Of The Patriarchs: Bilhah


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This Day In History

This Day In History, September 14

81: Domitian became the 11th Roman emperor (see The Roman Emperors: Domitian). He reigned (81-96 AD) during the time that the apostle John was given to write the book of Revelation (see Revelation: Thy Kingdom Come). Domitian succeeded his brother Titus who oversaw the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem in 70 (see The Roman Emperors: Titus and What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones?).


629: Byzantine Emperor Heraclius entered Constantinople (named after Roman Emperor Constantine; see also Emperor Constantine's Sun Dogs) after his victory over the Persian Empire.

1180: The Battle of Ishibashiyama in Japan.

1262: Cadiz, Spain, was captured by Alfonso X of Castille, ending a 500-year occupation of the city by the Moors.


1741: The German-born English composer George Frederick Handel finished his "Messiah" oratorio, after working on it non-stop for 23 days.

1752: Along with most of the rest of the world, Britain and its worldwide colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar (see Pope Gregory's Calendar; also The Blasphemy Calendar).

1812: During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon's invasion of Russia reached Moscow to find that the entire city had been abandoned and set on fire by retreating Russian forces (see Russia Or Europe - Who Has Been The Invader?).

Napoleon's Retreat From Russia

1829: The Russo-Turkish War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Adrianople between the Ottomans and the Russians (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).

1854: British and French forces landed in the Crimea to fight the Russians, who had started the Crimean War with their invasion of Turkey in July 1853.

1901: U.S. President William McKinley died at age 58, a week after being hit by an assassin's bullet while standing in a reception line in Buffalo, New York. McKinley was one of many U.S. Presidents who did not survive their elected office (historically, the greatest danger for U.S. Presidents hasn't been foreign enemies, but their own people). In 1989, Ronald Reagan broke what some called the "year zero curse" when he became the first U.S. President since 1840, who won a Presidential election in a year ending in a zero, to leave office alive (although not without incident - Mr. Reagan was very seriously wounded in an assassination attempt in March of 1981):

1960: John F. Kennedy, assassinated
1940: Franklin D. Roosevelt, natural causes
1920: Warren Harding, natural causes
1900: William McKinley, assassinated
1880: James Garfield, assassinated
1860: Abraham Lincoln, assassinated
1840: William Harrison, natural causes

1917: After the communist revolution that overthrew the Czar Nicholas ("Czar" was term used for the Russian king, which was derived from the Roman "Caesar"), Russia was proclaimed a republic by the victorious rebels (see When Do Liberals Become Conservatives? and The Origin Of Politics and Republics).

Czar Nicholas

1939: The first functional helicopter, Russian-born Igor Sikorsky's VS-300, made its first flight (see also Who Was The First To Fly?).

1944: Belgium, Luxembourg and part of Holland were liberated from Nazi occupation by U.S., British and Canadian troops.

1948: Construction of the United Nations buildings in New York began.

1959: The Soviet Union's unmanned Luna-2 became the first man-made spacecraft to land on the Moon.

1960: Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia formed OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

1982: Bashir Gemayel, President-elect of Lebanon, was assassinated by a bomb while speaking before a Maronite women's group. The explosive device, which was set by a pro-Syrian dissident, demolished the building and killed dozens of other people.

2001: A "National Prayer Service" was held at the Washington National Cathedral for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. A service was also held on Parliament Hill in Canada, the largest such service in Canada's capital.

In the hours after 9-11 happened, President George W. Bush closed U.S. airspace to everyone - even U.S. airliners over the Atlantic. That wasn't a problem for those who weren't yet half-way - they could turn around and return to Europe. But those closer to home didn't have enough fuel to turn around, but were still warned not to enter U.S. airspace or they'd be shot down. Fortunately for the 7,000 people on those U.S. airliners, there is a little airport in Canada, known as Gander.




Copyright © Wayne Blank