Jacob Gets Married--Twice
After his vivid dream, Jacob continued his journey to Haran. He has dialogue with some shepherds who know Laban (i.e., Jacob's uncle). They are gathered near a well that would be uncovered when the time was proper. The well was not accessible all the time due to a large stone that was kept on the well's mouth. These shepherds inform Jacob that Laban is doing well and that his daughter Rachel was actually heading in their direction!
"Now while he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's relative and that he was Rebekah's son. So she ran and told her father" (Gen. 29:9-12).

It would seem that Jacob is smitten with Rachel's beauty. He springs into action as she approached. He, apparently single-handedly, moved the large stone away from the well's mouth so he could water the flock Rachel was tending to. His emotions spilled over as he kissed her and wept (i.e., tears of joy, no doubt). He then explained who he was. Rachel quickly reports the news to her father. Jacob stayed with them for a month, likely working very hard every day for his relatives.

"Then Laban said to Jacob, 'Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what should your wages be?' Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah's eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance. Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, 'I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter'" (Gen. 29:15-18).

Seven years seems like a long engagement, especially when one considers how quickly Isaac acquired Laban's sister as wife (though there were expensive gifts given on that occasion). I have to wonder if Laban might have accepted a lesser amount of time. Regardless, Jacob set the timeframe and Laban accepted it. Rachel's name meant "ewe" (i.e., a mature female sheep), and she was a beauty to behold. Her older sister Leah, on the other hand, was much less beautiful. Leah's name meant "wild cow." Her eyes were not of a sharp, brilliant color like Rachel's were.

"So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her. Then Jacob said to Laban, 'Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go into her.' And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast. Now it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her" (Gen. 29:20-23).

Time certainly flies when a person is having fun (or when he's working hard toward an important goal). Jacob is anxious to begin his married life with Rachel after the seven years are completed. Who can blame him, particularly since he was in his early 80s at this time! Laban does something that night, however, that will change Jacob's life in a significant way that he did not expect. Somehow Laban is able to trick Jacob into consummating a marriage with Leah instead of Rachel. One can only imagine Jacob's surprise (and anger) when he woke up the next morning next to Leah! The deceiver had been deceived (cf. Hosea 8:7)! This trick is the root cause of Jacob's polygamy (instead of marrying 1 woman, he would soon have 4). Jacob still wanted to marry Rachel, and Laban agrees--for another seven years of service! Laban evidently liked having Jacob around and didn't want him to leave with his daughter. One week after Jacob married Leah, he was allowed to marry Rachel also, and then work a second period of seven years. It is during this period that Jacob would have twelve children. Jacob would have marital problems from the very beginning (polygamy never works out well). He was naturally much more drawn to Rachel, and this favoritism would have repercussions among the wives and children.