And Laban said to Jacob, Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nothing? tell me, what shall your wages be?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)What shall thy wages be?—As Jacob had given upon his arrival a full account of himself (Genesis 29:13), Laban probably expected the very answer he received; nevertheless, the proposal was fair and upright. Doubtless he had seen, during Jacob’s stay of a month, that his services would be very valuable.Genesis 29:15. Because thou art my brother — That is, kinsman; shouldst thou therefore serve me for naught? — Is that reasonable? If Jacob be so respectful as to give him his service, without demanding any consideration for it, yet Laban will not be so unjust as to take advantage either of his necessity or of his good-nature. Relations frequently look for more from each other than they ought, as if mere affinity were a sufficient reason for expecting to be served gratuitously. But the conduct of the nearest relations toward each other, as well as that of strangers, should be regulated by justice and equity. It appears by computation that Jacob was now seventy years old or upward, when he bound himself apprentice for a wife; probably Rachel was young and scarcely marriageable when Jacob came first, which might make him the more willing to stay for her till his seven years were expired.
Genesis 29:18-19. I will serve thee seven years for Rachel — It was not the custom of those countries for fathers to give a dowry with their daughters, but to receive a considerable present from those who married them; therefore Jacob, having no riches to give, as not being the inheritor of his father’s substance, offers his service for seven years instead thereof. It is better that I should give her to thee than to another — His answer is ambiguous and crafty. For he does not directly grant Jacob’s desire, but only insinuates his consent to it, in such terms as hid his design, which the event showed.Genesis 24:53. Jacob at present, however, is merely worth his labor. He has apparently nothing else to offer. As he loves Rachel, he offers to serve seven years for her, and is accepted. Isaac loved Rebekah after she was sought and won as a bride for him. Jacob loves Rachel before he makes a proposal of marriage. His attachment is pure and constant, and hence the years of his service seem but days to him. The pleasure of her society both in the business and leisure of life makes the hours pass unnoticed. It is obvious that in those early days the contact of the sexes before marriage was more unrestrained than it afterward became.He divided himself, i.e. his forces into several parties, that coming upon them from several quarters he might strike them with greater terror, whilst they thought his army far more numerous than it was. Genesis 29:12,
shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? nearness of kin was no reason why he should serve him freely, or for nothing, but rather why he should be more kind to him than to a stranger, and give him better wages:
tell me, what shall thy wages be? by the day, or month, or year; signifying he was willing to give him anything that was just and reasonable, which was very well spoken; and this gave Jacob a fair opportunity of opening his mind more freely to him, and for answering a principal end for which he came, as follows:And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. Because … brother] Lit. “art thou a brother, and shouldest thou serve me for nothing?” For “brother,” see note on Genesis 29:12. Laban asks Jacob to state on what terms he would serve.Verse 15. - And Laban said unto Jacob (probably at the month's end), Because thou art - literally, is it not that. thou art (cf. Genesis 27:36; 2 Samuel 23:19) - my brother, - my kinsman (vide on ver. 12) - shouldest thou therefore serve me for naught? (literally, arid thou server me gratuitously) tell me, what shall thy wages be? A proof of Laban's generosity and justice (Kalisch); of his selfishness and greed (Keil); of his prudence and sagacity in opening up the way for a love-suit (Large). Genesis 24:11, in the immediate neighbourhood of the town of Haran; and when they said they were from Haran, he inquired after Laban, the son, i.e., the descendant, of Nahor, and how he was (לו השׁלום: is he well?; and received the reply, "Well; and behold Rachel, his daughter, is just coming (בּאה particip.) with the flock." When Jacob thereupon told the shepherds to water the flocks and feed them again, for the day was still "great," - i.e., it wanted a long while to the evening, and was not yet time to drive them in (to the folds to rest for the night) - he certainly only wanted to get the shepherds away from the well, that he might meet with his cousin alone. But as Rachel came up in the meantime, he was so carried away by the feelings of relationship, possibly by a certain love at first sight, that he rolled the stone away from the well, watered her flock, and after kissing her, introduced himself with tears of joyous emotion as her cousin (אביה אחי, brother, i.e., relation of her father) and Rebekah's son. What the other shepherds thought of all this, is passed over as indifferent to the purpose of the narrative, and the friendly reception of Jacob by Laban is related immediately afterwards. When Jacob had told Laban "all these things," - i.e., hardly "the cause of his journey, and the things which had happened to him in relation to the birthright" (Rosenmller), but simply the things mentioned in Genesis 29:2-12 - Laban acknowledged him as his relative: "Yes, thou art my bone and my flesh" (cf. Genesis 2:23 and Judges 9:2); and thereby eo ipso ensured him an abode in his house.
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