On the way to Laban’s house, Jacob has a dream. In it, he sees a stairway to heaven where angels of God are ascending and descending. Then the Lord gives Jacob the same promises regarding land and descendants that He gave his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham – “I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
When Jacob arrives at Padan Aram, Laban, Rebekah’s brother, welcomes him into his household. Jacob falls in love with Laban’s younger, beautiful daughter Rachel and works seven years for her hand in marriage. But Laban, a schemer himself, tricks Jacob into marrying the not so beautiful, older daughter, Leah. When Jacob realizes he was given Leah as his bride instead of Rachel, he protests to Laban. Laban tells Jacob that he will also give him Rachel after he fulfills a week with Leah and agrees to serve him another seven years. Jacob agrees and now he has two wives.
“When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive.” Rachel becomes jealous of Leah and has Jacob sleep with her maid, Bilhah, so she will bear children for her. Then the baby making contest begins! One thing leads to another and eventually Jacob fathers twelve sons and one daughter by Leah, Rebekah, and both of their maids. Leah’s children are Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and a daughter named Dinah; Leah’s servant Zilpah gives birth to Gad and Asher; Rachel’s son is Joseph and later she will give birth to Benjamin; and Rachel’s servant Bilhah gives birth to Dan and Naphtali.
This family drama isn’t too much for our Lord to use to accomplish His awesome purposes. The priesthood will eventually be established through Levi’s descendants, the story of the Israelites landing in Egypt for four hundred years will come through the life of Joseph, and the Messiah will come through Leah’s son Judah, who has a pretty colorful story himself, so keep reading! (Genesis 28:6-30:24)