Genesis 29:18
And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.—Heb., thy daughter, the little one, just as Leah, in Genesis 29:16, is called the great one. (See Note on Genesis 9:24.) So in Genesis 44:20, the phrase “the little one” simply means the youngest. Wives had to be purchased in the East (Genesis 24:53), and as Jacob had brought no rich presents, such as Abraham had sent when seeking a wife for his son, he had only his personal services to offer. As the sale was usually veiled in true Oriental fashion under the specious form of freewill gifts, we shall find that both Leah and Rachel are offended at being thus openly bartered by Laban.

29:15-30 During the month that Jacob spent as a guest, he was not idle. Wherever we are, it is good to employ ourselves in some useful business. Laban was desirous that Jacob should continue with him. Inferior relations must not be imposed upon; it is our duty to reward them. Jacob made known to Laban the affection he had for his daughter Rachel. And having no wordly goods with which to endow her, he promises seven years' service Love makes long and hard services short and easy; hence we read of the labour of love, Heb 6:10. If we know how to value the happiness of heaven, the sufferings of this present time will be as nothing to us. An age of work will be but as a few days to those that love God, and long for Christ's appearing. Jacob, who had imposed upon his father, is imposed upon by Laban, his father-in-law, by a like deception. Herein, how unrighteous soever Laban was, the Lord was righteous: see Jud 1:7. Even the righteous, if they take a false step, are sometimes thus recompensed in the earth. And many who are not, like Jacob, in their marriage, disappointed in person, soon find themselves, as much to their grief, disappointed in the character. The choice of that relation ought to be made with good advice and thought on both sides. There is reason to believe that Laban's excuse was not true. His way of settling the matter made bad worse. Jacob was drawn into the disquiet of multiplying wives. He could not refuse Rachel, for he had espoused her; still less could he refuse Leah. As yet there was no express command against marrying more than one wife. It was in the patriarchs a sin of ignorance; but it will not justify the like practice now, when God's will is plainly made known by the Divine law, Le 18:18, and more fully since, by our Saviour, that one man and woman only must be joined together, 1Co 7:2.Jacob serves seven years for Rachel. "What shall thy wages be?" An active, industrious man like Jacob was of great value to Laban. "Two daughters." Daughters in those countries and times were also objects of value, for which their parents were accustomed to receive considerable presents 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.18. I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy daughter—A proposal of marriage is made to the father without the daughter being consulted, and the match is effected by the suitor either bestowing costly presents on the family, or by giving cattle to the value the father sets upon his daughter, or else by giving personal services for a specified period. The last was the course necessity imposed on Jacob; and there for seven years he submitted to the drudgery of a hired shepherd, with the view of obtaining Rachel. The time went rapidly away; for even severe and difficult duties become light when love is the spring of action.Quest. Who was this?

Answ.

1. Shem, as the Jews and many others think, who probably was alive at this time, and, no doubt, a great prince. But neither is it probable that Shem should be a king among the cursed race of Ham; nor will this agree with the apostle’s description of Melchizedek, Hebrews 7:3, without father and mother, & c. Whereas Shem’s parents, and the beginning and end of his days, are as expressly mentioned by Moses as any other.

2. A Canaanitish king, by the Divine Providence made both a king over men, and priest unto the true God, brought in here in this unusual manner, without any mention of his parents, birth, or death, for this end, that he might be an illustrious type of Christ. Of this matter see more upon Hebrews 7:3.

King of Salem, i.e. of Jerusalem, called elsewhere Jebus, and Salem, Psalm 76:2.

Bread and wine; not for sacrifice to God; for then he had brought forth beasts to be slain, which were the usual and best sacrifices: but partly to show the respect which he bore to Abram, and principally to refresh his weary and hungry army, according to the manner of those times. See Deu 23:3,4 25:18 Judges 8:5,6,15 1 Samuel 17:17.

He was the priest of the most high God: thus in succeeding ages the same persons were often both kings and priests, as the learned note out of Virgil and other authors. And this clause is here added, as the cause and reason, not for his bringing forth or offering bread and wine, as some would have it, (for that is ascribed to him as a king, as an act of royal munificence), but of the following benediction and decimation. In those times God had his remnant scattered here and there even in the worst places and nations. And Jacob loved Rachel,.... As he seems to have done from the moment he saw her at the well, being beautiful, modest, humble, affable, diligent, and industrious:

and he said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter: signifying, that he desired no other wages for his service than that, that he might have her for his wife, at the end of seven years' servitude, which he was very willing to oblige himself to, on that condition; for having no money to give as a dowry, as was customary in those times, he proposed servitude instead of it; though Schmidt thinks this was contrary to custom, and that Laban treated his daughters like bondmaids, and such as are taken captives or strangers, and sold them, of which they complain, Genesis 31:15.

And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. I will serve … Rachel] He has no money to offer; he is ready to give seven years’ service without wages, in order to win Rachel as his bride. He cannot as bridegroom, or suitor, offer the usual gifts, or mohar (see note on Genesis 24:53). So he offers the equivalent in work. See the reference to this incident in Hosea 12:12.Verse 18. - And Jacob loved Rachel (it is more than probable that this was an illustration of what is known as "love at first sight" on the part of Rachel as well as Jacob); and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. Having no property, with which to buy his wife, according to Oriental custom (Kalisch), or to give the usual dowry for her to her father (Keil), - cf. Genesis 14:53; 34:12; 1 Samuel 18:25, - Jacob's offer was at once accepted by his grasping uncle, though he was that uncle's "brother" (ver. 15). Jacob asked the shepherds where they lived; from which it is probable that the well was not situated, like that in 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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