“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.
Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept.”
So Rachel arrives at the well and Jacob is just knocked head over heels by her beauty.
He introduces himself and gives her a kiss.
There was nothing sexual about the kiss he gave her.
That was the standard greeting in that era of the Middle East.
Such a manner of greeting is also prevalent in Eastern Europe.
When I was a young child, I used to visit my father in Yugoslavia and I can distinctly remember that goodbyes were expressed by kisses, two light pecks on the cheeks.
It was a little too forward for my sensibilities but I was aware that in that culture it was not a big deal.
After Jacob informs Rachel that he is her father’s brother, Rachel rushes home to tell her father, Laban who we encountered earlier.
He is welcomed into the household and after some time passes Laban pops the question…
“Because you are my relative,
should you therefore serve me for nothing?
Tell me, what should your wages be?”.
This is an indication that Jacob is now a somewhat permanent fixture in the household.
Smitten with Rachel, it is agreed that he will work seven years to receive her as his wife.
It should be mentioned that this type of negotiation of working to buy a wife was NOT common in those times.
So Jacob puts in his seven years and as his reward a wedding ceremony is held for him and Rachel.
The night of the ceremony, back in the bedroom, Jacob consummates his marriage.
However, the next morning when he wakes up, he is flabbergasted to find out that instead of Rachel, he had been with Rachel’s older sister, Leah.
At that very instant, I am sure he had a quick recall of the time he deceived his father when he pretended to be Esau.
The very deception that he had done unto others had now returned to him in full force.
When he asks Laban why he had been deceived, the dramatic irony of Laban’s answer cannot be overlooked.
“It must not be so done in our country,
to give the younger before the firstborn.”
He hauntingly refers to Leah, the elder sister, as the firstborn.
As Jacob deceived Esau, the firstborn, out of both his birthright and inheritance, so too has the very instrument of deception on his wedding night appeared as the first born daughter of Laban.
The irony is so thick, it could be cut with sharpest of knives.