Genesis 29:24
And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.
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(24) Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah . . . —Bethuel had given Rebekah not only Deborah her nurse, but also damsels (Genesis 24:61); but then she had been obtained by presents of unusual costliness. Still, Laban does not seem to have acted very liberally by his daughters, and they resented his treatment of them (Genesis 31:15).

Genesis 29:24. Laban gave unto Leah, Zilpah his maid — Sir John Chardin observes, in his MS. note on this verse, “that none but very poor people marry a daughter in the East, without giving her a female slave for a chamber-maid; there being no hired servants there as in Europe.” He says much the same in another note on Tob 10:10. — Harmer, vol. 2. page 366.

Genesis 29:25-26. Behold it was Leah — Surely Jacob’s sin in pretending to be Esau, and cheating his own father, would now be brought to his remembrance, when his father-in-law thus cheated him; and he would be compelled to acknowledge that, how unrighteous soever Laban was, the Lord was righteous. It must not be done so in our country — It is probable there was no such custom in his country; but if there were, and he resolved to observe it, he should have told Jacob so when he undertook to serve him for his younger daughter.

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 is betrayed into marrying Leah, and on consenting to serve other seven years obtains Rachel also. He claims his expected reward when due. "Made a feast." The feast in the house of the bride's father seems to have lasted seven days, at the close of which the marriage was completed. But the custom seems to have varied according to the circumstances of the bridegroom. Jacob had no house of his own to which to conduct the bride. In the evening: when it was dark. The bride was also closely veiled, so that it was easy for Laban to practise this piece of deceit. "A handmaid." It was customary to give the bride a handmaid, who became her confidential servant 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.

21. Jacob said, Give me my wife—At the expiry of the stipulated term the marriage festivities were held. But an infamous fraud was practised on Jacob, and on his showing a righteous indignation, the usage of the country was pleaded in excuse. No plea of kindred should ever be allowed to come in opposition to the claim of justice. But this is often overlooked by the selfish mind of man, and fashion or custom rules instead of the will of God. This was what Laban did, as he said, "It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the first-born." But, then, if that were the prevailing custom of society at Haran, he should have apprized his nephew of it at an early period in an honorable manner. This, however, is too much the way with the people of the East still. The duty of marrying an elder daughter before a younger, the tricks which parents take to get off an elder daughter that is plain or deformed and in which they are favored by the long bridal veil that entirely conceals her features all the wedding day, and the prolongation for a week of the marriage festivities among the greater sheiks, are accordant with the habits of the people in Arabia and Armenia in the present day. No text from Poole on this verse.

And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid, for an handmaid. It was usual to have many given them at this time, as Rebekah seems to have had, Genesis 24:59; but Leah had but one, and this was all the portion Jacob had with her. The Targum of Jonathan is,"and Laban gave her Zilpah his daughter, whom his concubine bore unto him:''hence the Jews say (q), that the daughters of a man by his concubines are called maids.

(q) Pirke Eliezer, c. 36.

And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.
Verse 24. - And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah - "the Dropping"? (Gesenius), "Myrrh-juice" (Furst) - his maid (according to Gesenius the word is closely connected with an unused root signifying to spread out, hence a maid-servant) for an handmaid. This was in accordance with Oriental custom (vide Genesis 14:61). That Leah obtained only one damsel need not be ascribed to Laban's parsimonious character, but to his already-formed intention to bestow a second on Rachel. Genesis 29:24But when Jacob asked for his reward at the expiration of this period, and according to the usual custom a great marriage feast had been prepared, instead of Rachel, Laban took his elder daughter Leah into the bride-chamber, and Jacob went in unto her, without discovering in the dark the deception that had been practised. Thus the overreacher of Esau was overreached himself, and sin was punished by sin.
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