Genesis 29:1
Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXIX.

MARRIAGE OF JACOB WITH LEAH AND RACHEL.

(1) Jacob went on his journey.—Heb., Jacob lifted up his feet, that is, hastened forward. Confirmed in the possession of the birthright by God as well as man, and encouraged by the promise of the Divine presence, and of a safe return home, he casts no wistful glances back, but pursues his journey under the inspiriting influence of hope.

The people of the East.—Usually the Arabians are designated by this phrase, but it here signifies the tribes who inhabited northern Mesopotamia.

29:1-8 Jacob proceeded cheerfully in his journey, after the sweet communion he had with God at Beth-el. Providence brought him to the field where his uncle's flocks were to be watered. What is said of the care of the shepherds for their sheep, may remind us of the tender concern which our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, has for his flock the church; for he is the good Shepherd, that knows his sheep, and is known of them. The stone at the well's mouth was to secure it; water was scarce, it was not there for every one's use: but separate interests should not take us from helping one another. When all the shepherds came together with their flocks, then, like loving neighbours, they watered their flocks together. The law of kindness in the tongue has a commanding power, Pr 31:26. Jacob was civil to these strangers, and he found them civil to him.Jacob arrives at the well of Haran. "The land of the sons of the east." The points of the heavens were defined by the usage of practical life, and not by the standard of a science yet unknown. Hence, the east means any quarter toward the sunrising. Haran was about four degrees east of Beer-sheba, and five and a half degrees north. The distance was about four hundred and fifty miles, and therefore it would take Jacob fifteen days to perform the journey at thirty miles a day. If he reached Bethel the first night, he must have travelled about fifty miles the first day. After this he proceeds on his journey without any memorable incident. In the neighborhood of Haran he comes upon a well, by which lay three flocks. This is not the well near Haran where Abraham's servant met Rebekah. It is in the pasture grounds at some distance from the town. On its mouth was a large stone, indicating that water was precious, and that the well was the common property of the surrounding natives. The custom was to gather the flocks, roll away the stone, which was too great to be moved by a boy or a female, water the flocks, and replace the stone. Jacob, on making inquiry, learns that Haran is at hand, that Laban is well, and that Rachel is drawing nigh with her father's flocks. Laban is called by Jacob the son of Nahor, that is, his grandson, with the usual latitude of relative names in Scripture Genesis 28:13. "The day is great." A great part of it yet remains. It is not yet the time to shut up the cattle for the night; "water the sheep and go feed them." Jacob may have wished to meet with Rachel without presence of the shepherds. "We cannot." There was a rule or custom that the flocks must be all assembled before the stone was rolled away for the purpose of watering the cattle. This may have been required to insure a fair distribution of the water to all parties, and especially to those who were too weak to roll away the stone.CHAPTER 29

Ge 29:1-35. The Well of Haran.

1. Then Jacob went, &c.—Hebrew, "lifted up his feet." He resumed his way next morning with a light heart and elastic step after the vision of the ladder; for tokens of the divine favor tend to quicken the discharge of duty (Ne 8:10).

and came into the land, &c.—Mesopotamia and the whole region beyond the Euphrates are by the sacred writers designated "the East" (Jud 6:3; 1Ki 4:30; Job 1:3). Between the first and the second clause of this verse is included a journey of four hundred miles.Jacob comes to the well of Haran, Genesis 29:1-3; inquires of the shepherds concerning Laban, Genesis 29:4-8. They show him Rachel, Laban’s daughter, coming with the sheep, Genesis 29:9. Jacob goeth near to her; waters the flock, Genesis 29:10; tells her who he was, Genesis 29:12. She tells it her father, who brings him to his house, hears what had happened to him, Genesis 29:12-14. They bargain that Jacob should serve seven years for Rachel, Genesis 29:15-19. He performs his service, and desires her to be given him, Genesis 29:20,21. Laban makes a feast, and invites all the men of the place, Genesis 29:22; and puts Leah, his eldest daughter, in the room of Rachel, Genesis 29:23-26. Jacob obtains Rachel, promising other seven years’ service, Genesis 29:27-30. Rachel is beloved and barren; Leah hated, and bears Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Genesis 29:31-35.

Heb. Jacob lift up his feet; which may note either the gesture of his body, that he went on foot; or the temper of his mind, that he went not sadly and unwillingly, drawing his legs after him, as we use to say, but readily and cheerfully, being encouraged by God’s word.

The land of the people of the east; which lay eastward from Canaan, as Mesopotamia did.

Then Jacob went on his journey,.... After the above vow at Bethel, and having had some intimation that what he desired would be granted him; or "he lift up his feet" (x), which not only shows that he walked afoot, but that he went on his journey with great cheerfulness; for having such gracious promises made him, that God would be with him, and keep him, and supply him with all necessaries, and return him again to the land of Canaan, which made his heart glad; his heart, as the Jewish writers say (y), lift up his legs, and he walked apace, and with great alacrity:

and came into the land of the people of the east; the land of Mesopotamia or Syria, which lay to the east of the land of Canaan, see Isaiah 9:11; hither he came by several days' journeys.

(x) "et levavit pedes suos", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Fagius; "sustulit", Drusius, Schmidt. (y) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 70. fol. 62. 2. Jarchi in loc.

Then Jacob {a} went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.

(a) Or, lifted up his feet.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. went on his journey] Heb. lifted up his feet.

the children of the east] A phrase generally used of the nomad Arab tribes to the east of Palestine: see note on Genesis 25:6. Cf. Numbers 23:7; Jdg 6:3. Here it is used for the Aramaeans of Haran, N.E. of Palestine.

In Hosea 12:12 Jacob is said to have “fled into the field of Aram.”

Verse 1. - Then Jacob went on his journey (literally, lifted up his feet - a graphic description of traveling. Inspired by new hopes, and conscious of loftier aims than when he fled from Beersheba, the lonely furtive departed from Bethel), and came into the land of the people of the east - literally, the land of the sons of the east, i.e. Mesopotamia, about 450 miles distant from Beersheba. Genesis 29:1Arrival in Haran, and Reception by Laban. - Being strengthened in spirit by the nocturnal vision, Jacob proceeded on his journey into "the land of the sons of the East," by which we are to understand, not so much the Arabian desert, that reaches to the Euphrates, as Mesopotamia, which lies on the other side of that river. For there he saw the well in the field (Genesis 29:2), by which three flocks were lying, waiting for the arrival of the other flocks of the place, before they could be watered. The remark in Genesis 29:2, that the stone upon the well's mouth was large (גּדלה without the article is a predicate), does not mean that the united strength of all the shepherds was required to roll it away, whereas Jacob rolled it away alone (Genesis 29:10); but only that it was not in the power of every shepherd, much less of a shepherdess like Rachel, to roll it away. Hence in all probability the agreement that had been formed among them, that they would water the flocks together. The scene is so thoroughly in harmony with the customs of the East, both ancient and modern, that the similarity to the one described in Genesis 24:11. is by no means strange (vid., Rob. Pal. i. 301, 304, ii. 351, 357, 371). Moreover the well was very differently constructed from that at which Abraham's servant met with Rebekah. There the water was drawn at once from the (open) well and poured into troughs placed ready for the cattle, as is the case now at most of the wells in the East; whereas here the well was closed up with a stone, and there is no mention of pitchers and troughs. The well, therefore, was probably a cistern dug in the ground, which was covered up or closed with a large stone, and probably so constructed, that after the stone had been rolled away the flocks could be driven to the edge to drink.

(Note: Like the cistern Bir Beshat, described by Rosen., in the valley of Hebron, or those which Robinson found in the desert of Judah (Pal. ii. 165), hollowed out in the great mass of rock, and covered with a large, thick, flat stone, in the middle of which a round hole had been left, which formed the opening of the cistern, and in many cases was closed up with a heavy stone, which it would take two or three men to roll away.)

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