29 Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. 2 As he looked, he saw a well in the field and three flocks of sheep lying there beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, 3 and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” 5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban son of Nahor?” They said, “We do.” 6 He said to them, “Is it well with him?” “Yes,” they replied, “and here is his daughter Rachel, coming with the sheep.” 7 He said, “Look, it is still broad daylight; it is not time for the animals to be gathered together. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.” 8 But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”
9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she kept them. 10 Now when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of his mother’s brother Laban. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
13 When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob[a] told Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak,[b] but Rachel was graceful and beautiful. 18 Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” 22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. 23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. 24 (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) 25 When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” 28 Jacob did so and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. 29 (Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid.) 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He served Laban[c] for another seven years.
22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God heeded her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach,” 24 and she named him Joseph,[g] saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”
I haven’t preached on this whole story many times, if at all, in my ministry. (I haven’t wanted to faithfully ponder the deception behind the courtship of this father’s daughters, or to square a man having two sister-wives, and two maids with benefits, with my understanding of the sanctity of a monogamous marriage.) But, we have a children’s Bible that chooses to approach this biblical story in a section on strong women. And it lists two sisters, Leah and Rachel, as such.
As children and adults, we meet these women in reading the scriptures. And a baby named Joseph is born to one of these sisters, as the story of our family of faith goes on.
In looking, though, at this story itself, the editors of a children’s Bible ask us to…
SEE: When you see someone who has something you really need, how do you feel? When you see someone sad, what do you do?
That’s one way to look back at this tale.
God, when Leah and Rachel were each sad, they prayed to you for relief. And we see that you listened and, in time, gave them what they most needed. Strengthen my faith as I follow and pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.