We have another telling here of Isaac’s blessing of Jacob. In this version, Esau features hardly at all, and it’s much more difficult to feel anything for him. He’s simply in the background. It is easier to feel favorable towards Jacob, as he does not steal the blessing this time; Isaac bestows it freely and willingly. Then Jacob has a dream in which the Lord also blesses him, extending the blessings of Abraham and Isaac, giving the entire thing more weight.
Then we’re at a well again. Wells are clearly very important here, which makes sense given that it was a desert. It’s another historical thing that’s a bit hard to wrap my mind around, so used to water flowing freely from the tap, to really understand how precious and central it would have been.
So Jacob meets Rachel and sparks fly. So Jacob works for Laban in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Only Laban tricks him and marries him off to his elder daughter Leah instead, on the grounds that the younger daughter should not be married before the elder.
I can see this theme echoing already; Isaac being known as Abraham’s first-born son and having the associated role over Ishmael, Jacob receiving Esau’s birthright. The younger surpasses the elder by divine right.
But Jacob works out a deal and winds up marrying Rachel as well, so now he has two wives. Poor Leah, though, is not favored. Again, I can’t imagine the emotional upheaval of the women of the Bible; how much would it hurt to know you were married off to a man who was in love with your sister and wanted nothing to do with marrying you? But Leah bears children, while Rachel does not, and then some more poor slave girls are offered up. (Again. I feel for these women. Perhaps they didn’t mind, but what are the odds they got much say?) And Jacob has a whole mess of kids and this is when I start singing “Jacob, Jacob and sons!” because I was once in a production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and that song never gets out of your head.
No, really. Never.
Then we end with Jacob’s return to his trickster ways, fooling Laban and engineering it so that he leaves with the stronger portion of his flock and Laban is left with the weaker. Again, trickery rewarded. Hmm.