And Jacob said to Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)My days are fulfilled.—That is, the appointed time of service is completed. It was undeniably at the end of the seven years that the marriage took place.Genesis 24:59, Genesis 24:61. In the morning Jacob discovers that Laban had overreached him. This is the first retribution Jacob experiences for the deceitful practices of his former days. He expostulates with Laban, who pleads the custom of the country.
It is still the custom not to give the younger in marriage before the older, unless the latter be deformed or in some way defective. It is also not unusual to practise the very same trick that Laban now employed, if the suitor is so simple as to be off his guard. Jacob, however, did not expect this at his relative's hands, though he had himself taken part in proceedings equally questionable. "Fulfill the week of this." If this was the second day of the feast celebrating the nuptials of Leah, Laban requests him to Complete the week, and then he will give him Rachel also. If, however, Leah was fraudulently put upon him at the close of the week of feasting, then Laban in these words proposes to give Rachel to Jacob on fulfilling another week of nuptial rejoicing. The latter is in the present instance more likely. In either case the marriage of Rachel is only a week after that of Leah. Rather than lose Rachel altogether, Jacob consents to comply with Laban's terms.
Rachel was the wife of Jacob's affections and intentions. The taking of a second wife in the lifetime of the first was contrary to the law of nature, which designed one man for one woman Genesis 2:21-25. But the marrying of a sister-in-law was not yet incestuous, because no law had yet been made on the subject. Laban gives a handmaid to each of his daughters. To Rebekah his sister had been given more than one Genesis 24:61. Bondslaves had been in existence long before Laban's time Genesis 16:1. "And loved also Rachel more than Leah." This proves that even Leah was not unloved. At the time of his marriage Jacob was eighty-four years of age; which corresponds to half that age according to the present average of human life.
for my days are now fulfilled; the seven years were up he agreed to serve him for his daughter; and therefore it was but just and right she should be given him:
that I may go in unto her; as his lawful wife, and it was high time Jacob had her; for he was now, as the Jewish writers generally say (n), and that very rightly, eighty four years of age; and from him were to spring twelve princes, the heads of twelve tribes, which should inhabit the land of Canaan.And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 21. - And Jacob said unto Laban (who, though the term of servitude had expired, appeared to be in no haste to implement his part of the bargain), Give me my wife (i.e. my affianced wife, as in Deuteronomy 22:23, 24; Matthew 1:20), for my days are fulfilled (i.e. my term of service is completed), that I may go in unto her - quo significant intactam adhuc esse virginem (Calvin); a proof that Jacob's love was pure and true. Genesis 41:4; Numbers 11:20, etc.), during which time Laban had discovered that he was a good and useful shepherd, he said to him, "Shouldst thou, because thou art my relative, serve me for nothing? fix me thy wages." Laban's selfishness comes out here under the appearance of justice and kindness. To preclude all claim on the part of his sister's son to gratitude or affection in return for his services, he proposes to pay him like an ordinary servant. Jacob offered to serve him seven years for Rachel, the younger of his two daughters, whom he loved because of her beauty; i.e., just as many years as the week has days, that he might bind himself to a complete and sufficient number of years of service. For the elder daughter, Leah, had weak eyes, and consequently was not so good-looking; since bright eyes, with fire in them, are regarded as the height of beauty in Oriental women. Laban agreed. He would rather give his daughter to him than to a stranger.
(Note: This is the case still with the Bedouins, the Druses, and other Eastern tribes (Burckhardt, Voleny, Layard, and Lane).
Jacob's proposal may be explained, partly on the ground that he was not then in a condition to give the customary dowry, or the usual presents to relations, and partly also from the fact that his situation with regard to Esau compelled him to remain some time with Laban. The assent on the part of Laban cannot be accounted for from the custom of selling daughters to husbands, for it cannot be shown that the purchase of wives was a general custom at that time; but is to be explained solely on the ground of Laban's selfishness and avarice, which came out still more plainly afterwards. To Jacob, however, the seven years seemed but "a few days, because he loved Rachel." This is to be understood, as C. a Lapide observes, "not affective, but appretiative," i.e., in comparison with the reward to be obtained for his service.
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