Jacob’s Deal With Laban


Genesis 30:27-43


This is a strange story. No matter how many times I read it, the account of the speckled goats never fully ties together. It is possible that Jacob had connections to the mystics, but – for all the trouble he caused in his life – mysticism wasn’t really his style. You will probably never read Genesis 30:25-32 and get a clean read on what happened. Simply know that Jacob’s life commitment was firmly to Yahweh-God. In today’s setting, what happened is that Jacob and Laban played poker one night. And Jacob had marked the deck.


Depending on how you interpret Genesis 41:46, Jacob was either 60 or 77 years old when Laban hired him for the first set of seven years. This means he was either 74 or 91 when he married Rachel1. This is somewhat older than most people picture. Genesis 28:1-2 introduce Isaac choosing for Jacob from whom he should select a wife. Today, this type of suggestion would be met with “Dad, I’m 21.” Align that scene against Jacob who was 60, perhaps 77 when his father gave him advice on who to marry.


After Jacob had completed his 14 years’ service for Laban, he stayed with Laban six more years. All the sons except Benjamin were born by the end of this six-year period. Leah had six sons altogether. Up to four of them may have been born during Jacob’s second seven years of service to Laban.


1Jacob was 130 when he went to Egypt to see Joseph (Genesis 47:9). So he was 128 when the famine began (Genesis 42:6). He was 121 when the plenty began (Genesis 41:29). He was 91 years old when he married Rachel (Genesis 41:46). And after a period of baroness not to exceed 6 years, Joseph was born. So he began work for Laban at age 77.


Alternately, Genesis 41:46 could read that Joseph had been son [to the Pharaoh] for 30 years, making him genetically 47 when the good crops began (Genesis 37:2), and Jacob would have been only 74 years old when Joseph was born, or 60 when he started work for Laban. I’m partial to Jacob being 74 when Joseph was born, or 60 when he fled. For that would place Joseph’s birth at 1823 BC.


His sale to the Midianites at 1806 BC (Genesis 37:2), 400 years before Moses’ death and Joshua’s march on Jericho in 1406 BC, according to the terms of Genesis 15:13.


© 2012, On Beyond Sunday School, All Rights Reserved.