In yesterday’s readings we read about Jacob’s deceit with the help of his mother, and today we get to see him receive a taste of his own medicine at the hands of his mother’s brother.
Jacob is on the run from Esau and heading northeast to find the land his grandfather came from after leaving his original homeland of Ur. We have to remember that they didn’t have GPS or even maps, also roads weren’t really a thing, so just happening upon Haran is itself a minor miracle. When he arrived in Haran he sees Rachel at the well, just like so many other biblical romances, and he immediately falls for her. She tells her father and he runs out to meet his nephew.
Part of me thinks that Laban hasn’t forgotten the wealth of the man who married his sister and is possibly thinking on how he can cash in on his nephew coming to visit him. Being a man who cuts to the chase, Jacob offers to work for seven years for Laban in exchange for his younger daughter Rachel. Laban agrees and Jacob works hard for seven years, but due to local customs of veiling the bride on her wedding night and the fact that inside of a shepherd’s tent is probably a fairly dark place at night time, Jacob doesn’t discover until the morning that he has been deceived and has been wed to the older sister Leah.
Jacob would have to recognize the cold irony here that the deceiver has been deceived. When confronted Laban essentially shrugs his shoulders and offers his younger daughter for another seven years of labor. Jacob agrees and is wed to his actual love Rachel.
After the two sisters marry Jacob they get into a race to see who can have the most babies with him as a way to be the most loved, but even though God shut her womb for years, and Leah had far more children, Jacob still loved Rachel the most. Not content with their own child bearing abilities, the sisters get their maids involved and have them bear children as a sort of surrogate for them. I have to think that this very unhealthy rivalry is the cause for marrying two sisters being banned by Moses. (Lev 18:18)
The chapter closes with Jacob telling Laban he’d like to return to Canaan and take as his pay the off colored sheep and goats, and even though Laban agrees he tries to put his thumb on the scale but Jacob prospers in his breeding plans.
Today we hear the psalmist lament about how the wicked seem to escape unpunished day in and day out, and he calls on God to deliver justice and protect those preyed upon by evildoers.
We start out with the listing of the twelve apostles, and just like anywhere else that they’re listed as a group, Simon Peter is always first, indicating his primacy among them. He then commissions them to go preach the gospel and declare the Kingdom of God is at hand. He gives many smaller details and words of wisdom here for the apostles to be ready for this evangelistic journey.