Genesis 28–31: Schemers & Sisters

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 8: Monday

These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock, and you changed my wages ten times.”
Genesis 31:41

Today’s Bible reading of Genesis 28–31, spans twenty years in the life of Jacob. Forced to flee to his mother’s brother, Laban, because his own brother, Esau, is planning to kill him after he was cheated by Jacob of the blessing of their father, Isaac, Jacob meets his match in the scheming of his uncle Laban. In love with one daughter, Rachel, but tricked into marrying the other one, Leah, he works for Laban until the hostility of Laban’s sons causes him to flee secretly for Canaan.

These chapters also record the birth of eleven of Jacob’s sons and his daughter, Dinah. The jealousy and rivalry of polygamy is never ending in the ongoing competition between Rachel and Leah for Jacob’s love and Jacob’s sons. The Bible does not always editorialize upon conduct; in the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason Archer addresses the problem of polygamy.

“How do we reconcile this with the monogamy that Jesus so clearly taught in Matthew 19:9 and which He asserted to have been God’s intention from the very beginning of the human race?

“Genesis 2:23–24, as Christ pointed out, teaches monogamy as God’s will for man….

“As we examine the scriptural record, we come to the realization that every case of polygamy or concubinage amounted to a failure to follow God’s original model and plan….

“…so far as Jacob was concerned, there was never any desire on his part to become a polygamist. All he had done was fall in love with Rachel; and after that one thing led to another, until he had four sets of children.”1

Dr. Archer goes on to quote Norman Geisler:

“…That monogamy was His ideal for man is obvious from several perspectives. (1) God made only one wife for Adam, thus setting the ideal precedent for the race. (2) Polygamy is first mentioned as part of the wicked Cainite civilization (Gen. 4:23). (3) God clearly forbade the kings of Israel (leaders were the persons who became polygamists) saying, “And he shall not multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away again” (Deut. 17:17). (4) The saints who became polygamists paid for their sins….(6) Polygamy is usually situated in the context of sin in the O.T….David was not at a spiritual peak when he added Abigail and Ahinoam as his wives (1 Sam. 25:42–43), nor was Jacob when he married Leah and Rachel (Gen. 29:23, 28). (7) The polygamous relation was less than ideal. It was one of jealousy among the wives. Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah (Gen. 29:31)….When polygamy is referred to, the conditional, not the imperative is used. “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights” (Exod. 21:10).”2

The envy and rivalry of the two sisters does not end with them. In the chapters to come jealousy will break out into open enmity and murderous hatred amongst their sons.

_________
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1, 2Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pp. 121–122 123–124.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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