Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee. — Genesis 30:26
As an employer, one of the first qualities I looked for in prospective employees was the trait of loyalty. Many individuals who applied for jobs tried to impress me with their knowledge, experience, or strengths, but I was interested in something deeper. What did their prior track record reveal about whether they would show faithfulness and allegiance to our company? Experience had taught me that loyal employees made it a point to be supportive of the organization, showed up on time, did their best to produce consistently good work, and were willing to go the extra mile in terms of effort. Their commitment was evidenced by their approach to the job.
Employees without loyalty were often tardy, invested the minimum amount of effort in any task, frequently had complaints and a negative attitude about job requirements, and generally produced work below the quality they were capable of. Ultimately, I often had no choice but to dismiss them.
In our focus verse, Jacob was reminding Laban of his loyalty and faithfulness to him. Jacob had agreed to work seven years in order to have Rachel as his wife, and the time had gone by quickly for him because of his deep love for her. When Laban deceived him and substituted Leah, Jacob had agreed to work another seven years for Rachel. He had been faithful to that commitment and fulfilled his agreement with Laban. His uncle acknowledged that Jacob had served him well when he responded to Jacob’s request by saying, “I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake” (Genesis 30:27).
Loyalty is vital not only in work situations, but also in marriages, families, and friendships. Without it, these relationships will ultimately collapse. There must be a commitment to the interests of others. Yet, while loyalty to spouse, family, church, and job are important, our prime loyalty must be to God. We need to be loyal to Him because of who He is, and because of His great love which He has shown toward us — even when we did not deserve it!
Does your life show that you are loyal to God? Are you faithful and true to Him, honoring Him through your words and deeds, and doing your best to please Him in every way? If so, you can be sure that He notices and appreciates your devotion to Him.
Today’s chapters tell of the formation and growth of Jacob’s family, and the wealth he began to accumulate.
Haran was more than four hundred miles from Beersheba, so if Jacob traveled twenty miles each day, his trip would have taken him about three weeks. The first people he met in the area of Haran were shepherds who knew Laban, Rebekah’s brother. Though Jacob referred to Laban as “the son of Nahor” in Genesis 29:5, Laban was actually a grandson of Nahor; in Hebrew writings, “son” merely indicated the family line. The custom mentioned by the shepherds of waiting until all the flocks were gathered at the well may have been so the water could be distributed fairly, or because the stone was so large that combined effort was needed to move it.
When Rachel told her father about Jacob, Laban reacted in a manner typical of the culture. Family members, though previously unknown, were welcomed, entertained, and housed. After a month in the household, Jacob knew what he wanted. When Laban offered wages, Jacob was ready with an answer. He had nothing to give for the customary dowry to obtain Rachel as his wife, so he offered seven years of work.
Laban did not reveal to Jacob the custom of the area which dictated that an older daughter must be married before a younger. The bride was given in the evening, and she also wore a veil, so Laban was able to substitute Leah for Rachel at the marriage ceremony. When Laban said “fulfill her week” (Genesis 29:27), he referred to the customary week of marriage festivities. When that week was fulfilled, Rachel was given to Jacob, who was eighty-four years old, and he worked another seven years for her. The statement that “Leah was hated” (Genesis 29:31) indicated that Jacob loved her less than he did Rachel, which is confirmed in verse 30.
At first, God blessed Leah with children, but Rachel was barren. The mandrakes mentioned in Genesis 30:14-16 are thought to have been yellow berries from a mandragora vernalis, which were believed to promote fertility. By the time God blessed Rachel and allowed her to conceive and bear Joseph, Jacob had finished serving his seven years for her.
The children of Jacob’s two wives and their handmaids, Bilhah and Zilpah, were the ancestors of the twelve tribes of the great nation of people that would one day be called Israel. The names given the sons reflected the disharmony that was present in Jacob’s home.
Jacob wanted to return to Canaan, but Laban was well aware that he had profited financially as a result of Jacob’s service. Again they negotiated. Most goats in that area were dark brown or black; sheep were white. The flocks and herds that Jacob had been caring for belonged to Laban. They separated out the animals with unusual colors, and Laban’s sons took them to another area. Jacob was left with those that were the usual colors, and Laban agreed to give him any oddly-colored animals that were born to these herds that were left. Jacob began selective breeding, and God blessed him abundantly by increasing the number of oddly-colored offspring that were produced.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The early history of the chosen race
3. Jacob’s sojourn with Laban
a. His arrival (29:1-12)
b. His service for Rachel (29:13-20)
c. His deception by Laban (29:21-30)
d. His children (29:31-30:24)
(1) From Leah (29:31-35)
(a) Reuben (29:31-32)
(b) Simeon (29:33)
(c) Levi (29:34)
(d) Judah (29:35)
(2) From Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid (30:1-8)
(a) Dan (30:1-6)
(b) Naphtali (30:7-8)
(3) From Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid (30:9-13)
(a) Gad (30:9-11)
(b) Asher (30:12-13)
(4) From Leah (30:14-21)
(a) Issachar (30:14-18)
(b) Zebulun (30:19-20)
(c) Dinah (30:21)
(5) From Rachel: Joseph (30:22-24)
e. His increased wealth (30:25-43)
If we have loyalty toward God in our hearts, it will be evident in our lives.