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ravens when they cry, and the lions when they roar; he clothes the grass and the lilies ; and will he not much more take care of his servants ? Let them exercise faith in his protecting providence, when, like Jacob, they are exposed to difficulties and dangers; when going on journeys ; when entering on new settlements, or relations in life ; when leaving old friends, and going to strange places or families, or business ; for he hath said, I will give my angels charge concerning thee ; and I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Let us rejoice in this, and bless God, who causeth his angels to encamp around us, to be our defence in this world ; and at length will conduct us in our last remove, and carry us to Abraham's bosom, to join their innumerable company there, together with the spirits of all just men made perfect.
3. When God hath shown us mercy, let us renew our vows to serve him ; so Jacob did. By religious vows we give glory to God, and own our dependence upon him ; and we lay a bond upon our own souls in all our religious engagements, to excite and quicken our obedience to him. Let us imitate Jacob's faith and gratitude. God had promised to be with him, and provide for him ; Jacob lays hold on this promise, and says, Seeing God will do thus with me, I will love and serve and honour him. Let us imitate his modesty and moderation : though heir to great things, he only asks food and raiment. Nature is content with little, grace with less. Agur's wish was, Feed me with food convenient for me. Let us imitate his piety in what he desired, that God would be with him and keep him; and also in what he designed, that he would acknowledge the Lord as his God, build an altar for his worship, and give him the tenth of all that he had. Thus should all the mercies we receive be improved as additional obligations to walk closely with God, as our God; and when we receive extraordinary mercies from him, let us study to show some signal instance of gratitude and obedience to him ; so shall the God of Jacob be our God for ever and ever, and our guide even unto death.
Contains an account of Jacob's arrival at the place appointed ; his
marriage there ; and how the promise began to be fulfilled, that God would make of him a great nation.
HEN Jacob went on his journey, or, lifted up his feet
with great cheerfulness and vigour, (as well he might after such a vision) and came into the land of the people % of the east, to Mesopotamia, where Laban dwelt. And he
looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there (were]
three flocks of sheep lying by it ; for out of that well they
watered the flocks : and a great stone (was) upon the well's 3 mouth, to preserve it sweet and secure. And thither were all
the flocks gathered : and they rolled the stone from the well's
mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon 4 the well's mouth in his place. And Jacob, believing that they
were of the same employment as himself, respectfully said unto
them, My brethren, whence [be] ye? And they said, Of Ha5 ran [are) we. And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the 6 son of Nahor ? And they said, We know [him.) And he
said unto them, [Is] he well ? And they said, [He is]
well : and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the 7 sheep. And he began to talk with them about their occupation,
and the best way of managing their flocks, and said, Lo, [it is) yet high day, neither [is it] time that the cattle should be
gathered together : water ye the sheep, and go [and] fe 8 [them.) And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gath
ered together, and still] they roll the stone from the well's mouth, for we have made an agreement to wait for one another, and when all are gathered together, then we will water the
sheep. 9 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with
her father's sheep : for she kept them. This was formerly reckoned a noble employment, as their chief wealth lay in cattle.
Rachel probably had shepherds under her, but she presided, and 10 looked well to her flock. 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, as an introduction to further acquaintance, he rolled
the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of La11 ban his mother's brother, that is, he assisted in doing it. And
Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept ; he shed tears of joy, to think of the kind providence that had at
tended him in his journey, and that he had happily met with 12 such an agreeable relation at the end of it. And Jacob told Ra
chel that (he) was her father's brother, or kinsman, that is, sis
ter's son, and that he was) Rebekah's son : and she ran and 13 told her father. And it came to pass, when Laban heard the
tidings of Jacob his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house, and thus gave him the most kind reception, though he might be surprised to see him come alone, and not attended as his father's servant was ; but Jacob opened his heart to his kinsman, and he told Laban all these things, about his journey, and
the cause of it, what he had seen in the way, and the reason he 14 had to hope for the divine protection and blessing. And Laban
said to him, Surely thou (art) my bone and my flesh, my near kinsman and nephew. And he abode with him the space of a month ; after which he agreed to take care of Luban's sheen and cattle,
15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou (art] my brother,
or kinsman, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought?
this would be unreasonable, let us therefore come to some agree16 ment ; tell me, what (shall] thy wages [be?] And Laban had
two daughters : the name of the elder (was] Leah, and the 17 name of the younger (was] Rachel. Leah (was] tender 18 eyed ; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. And
Jacob loved Rachel ; and it was the custom in those days to purchase wives, but Jacob, having nothing to give, said, I will
serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. 19 And Laban said, [It is] better that I give her to thee, than that
I should give her to another man: abide with me ; an ambig
uous and crafty answer, intended to make Jacob think that he 20 consented, but serving only to hide his real design. And Jacob
served seven years for Rachel ; and his affection for his cousin was 80 great, that they seemed unto him (but] a few days, for the love he had to her.
And Jacob said unto Laban, Give [me] my wife, for my days are fulfilled, the seven years' service agreed upon, that
I may go in unto her, and make her my wife by marriage, as 22 she hath already been by contract. And Laban seemingly con
sented to this ; and as these marriages were done publicly before
proper witne8808,80 he gathered together all the men of the 23 place, and made a feast. And it came to pass in the evening,
that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him ; and
he went in unto her ; and, she being veiled and in the dark, he 24 could not discern the fraud, And Laban gave unto his daugh
ter Leah Zilpah his maid (for) an handmaid, or bondwoman. 25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it (was]
Leah! What a grievous disappointment was this ! What a shameful return of Laban for Jacob's faithful services ! What a foolish thing in Leah! for what happiness could she expect in such a connection : and what injustice to Rachel, as well as Jacob! He was justly provoked, and he said to Laban, What
[is] this thou hast done unto me ? did not I serve with thee 26 for Rachel ? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? And
Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. This was a sorry answer ;
probably there was no such custom ; if there was, he ought to 27 have been told of it before, He adds, Fulfil her week, keep
the week of feasting for thy marriage with Leah, and so confirm the marriage with her, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. This was quite a new contract, and a very unjust des mand ; but Jacob was obliged to comply with it, as he could not
think of leaving Rachel, or putting away Leah. 28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and at the end of
that week he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also, on
29 condition that he served him seven years longer. · And Laban
gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her 30 maid. And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also
Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven
other years. 31 And when the LORD saw that Leah (was) comparatively
hated, and Rachel preferred before her, (by which she was pun.
ished for consenting with her father to the sin) that he opened 32 her womb : but Rachel (was) barren. And Leah conceived,
and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben, that is, See a son; or, Behold how God hath given me now a son in my
affliction : for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon 33 my affiction ; now therefore my husband will love me. And
she conceived again, and bare a son ; and said, Because the Lord hath heard that I (was] hated, he hath therefore given
me this (son) also : and she called his name Simeon, that is, 34 hearing, because God heard her prayer. And she conceived
again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me in more sincere and fervent affec
tion, because I have borne him three sons: therefore was his 35 name called Levi, that is, joined. And she conceived again,
and bare a son : and she said, Now will I praise the LORD openly, in a solemn manner : therefore she called his name Judah, that is, praise ; and after this she left off bearing for a while ; for she had other children afterward, as we shall see in the next chapter.
HEN we have enjoyed communion with God, and
have been favoured with his blessings, we may go on cheerfully. The design of his favours is to make us active in his service, that we may lift up our feet in the way to heaven. When he hath enlarged our heart, we should run in the way of his commandments ; when he hath put spiritual strength into us, that strength should be employed in making advances heaven ward. When we, like Jacob, have devoted ourselves to God, and have reason to hope he hath accepted us, we may still, as the pious eunuch when he was baptised, Acte viii. 39. go on our way rejoicing ; though difficulties and dangers are before us, we may lift up our feet, having God with us ; being surrounded with angels; having his Spirit for our guide, and his promises for our cordial. We are to run with patience the racethat is set before us; and thus, by being strong in faith, we are to give glory to God.
2. We have in Jacob a good example of civility and a readiness to do good offices, and the happy consequences of it. Courteous civility even to strangers is commendable ; it gains a man esteem and makes way for him. Had not Jacob spoken civilly to those shepherds, he might not have known his relations, or not have been so welcome to them. Jacob was a plain man, and yet he knew how to treat others in an obliging manner. On his tongue was the law of kindness ; this made his abode in that country more agreeable, and kept up a good understanding between him and his brother shepherds. Probably he met with respect and kindness from them. So we should learn to be courteous, to serve one another in love, and to treat even strangers with civility and respect; knowing that it is agreeable to them, may be very useful to us, and is indeed fulfilling the law of Christ.
3. God sometimes shows his people their former sins in those afflictions that he causes to befal them. Jacob had craftily obtained his father's blessing, had beguiled and supplanted his brother ; and here he is beguiled and supplanted by Laban in a very tender instance. This probably brought his own sin to remembrance, and would make his disappointment more grievous. Such methods God is pleased sometimes to take, in order to lead men to repentance ; with what measure they mete, it is measured to them again. There is much wisdom in this, as it humbles them, renews their repentance for sin, which they had perhaps forgotten, and makes them more cautious and watchful for the time to come. Jacob could not but own, as Adonibezek afterward did, when he lost his thumbs and toes, that the Lord was righteous in so requiting him. It is well if, amidst the afflictions of life, we can appeal to God concerning our integrity, and have not former sins brought to our remembrance, to increase the trouble and double the grief. Innocence is a good support under disappoint. ment.
4. Let us cherish the love of God, as that which will make his service most easy and delightful to us, v. 20. This is the great commanding passion that regulates and governs the rest; if this be rightly fixed, and rises high, apparently difficult things will be easy. Jacob regarded not the heat by day, nor the frost by night, nor so long servitude, to have an agreeable relative; and shall we think a few years too much to employ in the service of God, when attended with so much present pleasure, and the agrecable prospect of being completely happy for ever? We may rest assui
sured, that when the service is over, and we rest from our labours, we shall not be, like Jacob, disappointed, and forced to begin again, but shall be put in the full possession of that which is the great object of our desire and pursuit. We do not, we shall not, serve God for nought. Let us cultivate love to him, and delight in him ; that will make even difficulties pleasant, and teach us to glory in tribulation. If we had sincere love to God, we should never say, What a weariness is it to serve him ? when will the sabbath be gone, and his service be over? It is in vain for men to pretend to love God, when their hearts are not with him, and when they do not take pleasure in his service. If