Jacob Finds His Relatives
(Questions and Proposed Answers Supplied)
Background and Printed Text: Genesis 29:1-14
Genesis 29:1 And He-Will-Heel carried his feet. And he walked toward the land of the sons of the east. 2And he saw. And behold, a well is in the field. And behold, three flocks of sheep couching upon her are there. For they watered the flocks from that well. And the stone is big upon the mouth of the well. 3And all the flocks will be gathered there. And they will roll the stone from upon the mouth of the well. And they will water the sheep. And they will return the stone upon the mouth of the well to her place.
4And He-Will-Heel said to them, “My brethren, from where are ye?” And they said, “We are from Fury.” 5And he said to them, “Knew ye White the son of Snorer?” And they said, “We knew.” 6And he said to them, “Is peace to him?” And they said, “Peace. And behold, Ewe his daughter came with the flock.”
7And he said, “Behold, the day is yet big. [It] is not time for the cattle to be gathered. Water ye the flock. And go-ye. Pasture-ye.” 8And they said, “We will not be able until all the flocks shall be gathered and they shall roll the stone from upon the mouth of the well. And we will water the flock.”
9He is yet speaking with them. And Ewe came with the flock that is to her father. For he is a shepherdess. 10And he was just as He-Will-Heel saw Ewe the daughter of White his mother’s brother and the sheep of White his mother’s brother. And He-Will-Heel approached. And he rolled the stone from upon the mouth of the well. And he watered the flock of White his mother’s brother. 11And He-Will-Heel kissed Ewe. And he carried his voice. And he wept.
12And He-Will-Heel told to Ewe that he is her father’s brother, and that he is Multiple-Pouring’s son. And she ran. And she told to her father. 13And he was as White’s hearing news of He-Will-Heel his sister’s son. And he ran to meet him. And he embraced him. And he kissed him. And he brought him unto his house. And he scrolled to White all these things. 14And White said to him, “But thou art my bone and my flesh!” And he dwelt with him a month of days.
I. Jacob and the Well (verses 1-3)
The Hebrew says that Jacob carried his feet. He had just seen the ladder, and he had spoken with Yehovah. He went toward Laban’s house.
He walked toward a place known as the land of the sons of the east. He looked and saw a well in a field. There were three flocks by it, so Jacob knew that this was a gathering place.
They watered the flocks from this well. A very large stone was placed over the well’s mouth; only when the stone was rolled from the well’s mouth could the sheep be watered. Then the stone was put back again. The shepherds and shepherdesses could not individually remove this large stone; it was far too heavy. Some strong men did the moving of the stone on a daily basis.
1. What does “Jacob carried his feet” mean? This describes something different from walking. It is as if Jacob is depressed, and had to force himself to continue walking. Feet normally carry the person!
2. What is the land of the sons of the east? This refers to India or China, since both locations are east of where he was. Those living on those lands are sons of the east.
3. Jacob, like Avraham’s slave, came right to the right spot and just at the right time to meet a relative of Laban. Did Jacob have good luck or didn’t he? Luck isn’t a Biblical idea. It belongs to occult beliefs—beliefs that are hidden with secrets, powers and forces that are unseen. The Bible is designed to be the opposite of occult (hidden) things, revealing what is occurring in the world and universe. While angels are normally invisible, the Bible explains their doings and their work. Those who use the occult, who are witches, worlocks, drug pushers, illegal drug suppliers and users, followers of popular astrology, palm readers, tarrot card readers, Quija Board users, etc., do not fear Yehovah the God of the Bible, and will desire to have ‘good luck.’ Jacob didn’t have bad or good luck. He had Yehovah.
4. What does couching mean (verse 2)? This describes an animal at rest with its head up and its four hooves or paws in a forward position:
5. Why were the sheep couching? They were at rest, waiting either for water or for moving to pasture lands where they could graze.
6. Why did they use that well (instead of another well)? Wells are rare in that part of the world. Not many places have water that is accessible for sheep. They used what they could, just as they still do in the Middle East.
7. Why was a stone placed over the well, and how was it shaped? Keeping a well covered avoided animals falling in and dying when the well wasn’t being used. It would also keep others from using it without help from strong individuals.
The shape of the stone was round, like this:
It was a large flattened disc that could be rolled.
8. Who will normally roll the stone from the well and will return the stone to the well to cover it? Strong shepherds normally did this.
II. The Inquiry (verses 4-6)
Jacob was the stranger to the area, but he asked them, “From where are ye?” or the way we might say it, “Where are you from?” They told him that they are from Haran (Fury). He then inquired about Laban (White), and they knew him.
In Hebrew, the question, “Is there peace to you?” means, “Are you doing well?” For if one is not doing well, he doesn’t have peace. He asked about Laban’s peace, And they responded, “Peace.” They also knew Rachel, and they told Jacob that she came with the flock.
1. Why did Jacob call strangers brethren? Jacob is from the Syrian culture:
Deuteronomy 26:5 And thou shalt speak and say before Yehovah thy God, “A Syrian ready to perish was my father. And he went down into Egypt. And he sojourned there with a few. And he became a great, mighty and populous nation there.”
While Avraham, Isaac and Jacob were not Syrian by race, but were Arphaxadi, they were Syrian by culture. Jacob could call them brethren for this reason, and perhaps for other reasons.
2. The brethren answered that they knew White (Laban), and peace was to him. Why didn’t they say more? The text doesn’t say. As we read more about Laban, we may know why they said so little about him!
3. Is Ewe a good name for a girl? What is a ewe? A ewe is a female sheep. Sheep can be very delightful and gentle; this would be a good name for a daughter. Her name in English is Rachel or Raquel.
4. Since Ewe (Raquel) has her own flock of sheep, is she wealthy? No; she is very poor. Being a shepherd was a very low-status job, and being a shepherdess is even lower!
III. Jacob’s Advice (verses 7-8)
Jacob was mystified. There were three flocks by this covered well, and the day is yet big (the sun is high); this isn’t the time to gather cattle. He told them to water the flock and to take them to pasture.
They explained that they were unable to do this. All the flocks must be gathered; then and only then will they role the stone from the mouth of the well. They can then water the flock.
1. Why did Jacob act in such a bossy manner (verse 7)? He didn’t. This would be bossy in English, but it isn’t in Hebrew. He was inquiring to find why they were standing by a well doing nothing when the sheep should be drinking or eating.
2. What does “Behold, the day is yet big” mean? This means that there is still much more daylight.
3. What is the time that cattle should be gathered? That is much closer to the evening. Folks had to watch their cattle and flocks because animals might attack and humans would steal if they didn’t watch.
4. What does “Pasture-ye” mean? This means to take the animals to places where they can graze well, those lands being called pastures. This is where the word pastor comes. A pastor is one who leads folks to where they can find Biblical Truth (like food) to eat and Biblical Life (like waters) to drink. The idea of a pastor isn’t to make folks dependent on him or her for these things, but to be independent. The pastor (shepherd) also has other responsibilities, like warning the flock and taking care of needs that they can. Members of the flock in turn give them what they produce (like sheep give wool and milk).
IV. Jacob’s Sudden Strength (verses 9-11)
Jacob was still in conversation when Rachel and her flock arrived. When Jacob saw her and the sheep, Jacob approached the well and rolled the stone cover from it. He then watered the flock of Laban. After this, he kissed Rachel. Then Jacob carried (lifted) his voice and wept out loud.
1. What other text describes an event that is like this, in which a slave is speaking to Yehovah and making a request, when he is also interrupted by seeing an important girl? This was what occurred with Avraham’s slave who went to obtain a woman for Isaac. He was making a request, and she (Rivka) came along.
2. Why does the text read, “For he is a shepherdess,” when he is a girl? That is the Hebrew way of saying, “For this is a shepherdess,” referring to her as a member of the human race rather than as an individual. All members of the human race are generically described (described in a general, non-specific way) as he. (Everyone is a soul, and the human souls of men and women, girls and boys are always feminine in gender, as if they were girls!)
3. Why did Jacob suddenly approach the stone over the mouth of the well, and roll it off? It was because he saw Raquel! She was cute. He went into action to serve her.
4. Where did Jacob get the strength to move such a heavy rock? His strength either came from adrenaline (a chemical that gives sudden strength when a person has a sudden emotional response to something that requires extra energy), or it came from Yehovah. Either way, it was there!
5. Why did Jacob water the flock? Jacob wanted to serve his Uncle Laban, and he wanted to serve Raquel.
6. Why did Jacob kiss Rachel before he explained who he was? Wasn’t this wrong? After all, kissing a girl was a very big deal in those days! Jacob kissed her because she was kin to him. This wasn’t wrong. There was nothing wrong about this kiss; it was proper affection.
7. Wasn’t Jacob a wimp, a sissy or a wuss for weeping out loud? He was quite the opposite. He was very tough, and therefore he wasn’t afraid to show emotions. Cultures in the Bible openly showed emotions without appearing to be cowards.
V. Laban Comes (verses 12-14)
Jacob told Rachel how he was related to her. He called himself “her father’s brother,” but the word “brother” is used to mean “relative” when used this way. He said that he was Rebekah’s (Rivka’s) son. Rachel ran and told her father (leaving Jacob by the well).
Laban heard the news, and he ran to meet Jacob. He embraced him (he hugged him tightly), and he kissed him. (Men kiss men in many cultures, and it does not mean that they are attracted to each other; it means that they are glad to see each other or that they will miss each other when they part.)
Laban then brought Jacob to his house. Jacob scrolled to Laban what had happened at his house, and why he had come. Laban said that he (Jacob) was his bone and flesh!
Jacob stayed with Laban for a month of days—that is, for about thirty days.
1. Ewe ran. Did she leave the sheep? She must have! They were safe enough; they had been watered, and they were content.
2. Did her father live far away? The text doesn’t say. He probably wasn’t close. If he lived close, she would not be waiting by the well; she would be waiting at home. If Laban had been close, he could have had some of his men move the stone from the well. Since they all just waited, the well must have been a distance from where she lived.
3. What does “And he was” mean? This tells the reader that the next event about to be described occurred at the same time as the event already occurring. For example, Laban hears the news of Jacob. He immediately runs to meet him. Thus, Laban’s running to meet him was (occurred) when White heard the news. It is like “It came to pass,” but this expression sounds like it is describing a fairy tale! The Bible tells what happened next.
4. Was Laban happy to see him? Yes, he was.
5. What did Jacob tell Laban? Jacob told Laban all these things. He scrolled it to him, giving the events in order.
6. What did Laban mean by, “but thou art my bone and my flesh”? He meant that Jacob was a close relative, though he used the expression found in marriage.
7. Was it good for Jacob to stay a full month? It was fine and such long stays were normal, at that time.