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when there is nothing to obstruct a union, love is impatient of delay; but when great difficulties interpose, it stimulates to a patient and resolute course of action, in order to surmount them. Where the object is highly valued, we think little of the labour and expense of obtaining it. Love endureth all things.

Ver. 21-24. At the expiration of the time, Jacob demanded his wife, and preparation is made accordingly for the marriage. Laban, like some in their gifts to God, is not wanting in ceremony. He made a feast, gave his daughter a handmaid, and went through all the forms; but the gift itself was a deception : it was not Rachel, but Leah, that was presented. It seems somewhat extraordinary that Jacob should be capable of being thus imposed upon. Perhaps the veil which was then worn by a woman on her marriage might contribute to his not perceiving her. It was a cruel business on the part of Laban; yet Jacob might see in it the punishment of his having imposed upon his father. In such a way God often deals with men, causing them to reap the bitter fruits of sin, even when they have lamented and forsaken it. When thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.

Ver. 25-30. Jacob perceiving by the light of the morning how he had been deceived, remonstrated ; but it was to no purpose. The answer of Laban was frivolous. If the custom of the country was as he alleged, he ought to have said so from the first : but it is manifest that he wanted to dispose of both his daughters in a way that might turn to his own advantage. Hence he adds, Fulfil her week, and I will give thee this also. These words would seem to intimate that he had seven years longer to stay for Rachel ; but this does not agree with other facts. Jacob was twenty years in Haran.* At the end of fourteen years Joseph was born.t At that time Rachel had been a wise without bearing any children for several years. The two marriages therefore must have been within a week of each other ; and the meaning

; of Laban's words must be, 'Fulfil the seven days' feasting for Leah, and then thou shalt have Rachel, and shalt serve me seven

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* Gen. xxxi. 41.

+ Chap. xxx. 25.

† Chap. xxxi. 22, 24.

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years after the marriage on her account.' With this perfectly agrees what is said in ver. 30, in which he is said to have gone in also unto Rachel, denoting that it was soon after his having gone in unto Leah ; and in which the seven years' service is spoken of as following his marriage to her. This proposal on the part of Laban was as void of principle as any thing could be. His first agreement was uugenerous, his breach of it unjust ; and now to extort seven years' more labour, or withhold the object agreed for was sordid in the extreme. Jacob had no desire for more wives than one ; yet as polygamy was at that time tolerated, and as the marriage had been consummated, though ignorantly, with Leah, he could not well put her away : yet neither could he think of foregoing Rachel. So he acceded to the terms notwithstanding their injustice, and was married also to Rachel ; and Bilbah was given to her for a handmaid. But it was to him a sore trial, and that which laid the foundation of innumerable discords in his family, of which the succeeding history of it abounds. The following prohibition to Israel seems to have been occasioned by this unhappy example in their great ancestor : Thou shalt not take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, besides the other, in her life-time.

Ver. 31–35. That Leah, who was never the object of Jacob's choice, and who must have had a share in the late imposition, should be hated in comparison of Rachel, is no more than might be expected: yet it is worthy of notice how God balances the good and ill of the present life. Leah is slighted in comparison of Rachel : but God gives children to her, while he withholds them from the other; and children in a family whose chief blessing consisted in a promised seed, were greatly accounted of, The names given to the children were expressive of their mother's state of mind; partly as to her affliction for want of an interest in her husband's heart, and partly, we hope, as to her piety, in viewing the hand of God in all that befel her. Four children were born of her successively ; namely, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah : and thus God was pleased to put more abundant

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the part that lacked. The name of the last of these children, though given him by his mother merely under an emo.

honour upon

tion of thankfulness, yet was not a little suited to the royal tribe, from whence also the Messiah should descend. Of this his father was made acquainted by revelation when he blessed his sons. Judah, said he, thou art he whom thy brethren shall PRAISEthe sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come ; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be!

One sees in the conduct of both Jacob and Leah, under their afflictions, a portion of that patience which arose from a consciousness of their having brought them upon themselves. They were each buffeted in this manner for their faults; and being so, there was less of praiseworthiness in their taking it patiently. Yet, when compared with some others, who, in all their troubles, are as bullocks unaccustomed to the yoke, we see what is worthy of imitation.

DISCOURSE XXXIX.

JACOB IN HARAN.

Gen. XXX. xxxi. 1-16.

Though every part of scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for various purposes; yet I conceive it is no disparagement from its real value to say, that every particular passage in it is not suited for a public exposition. On this ground I shall pass over the thirtieth chapter, with only two or three general remarks.

First: The domestic discords, envies, and jealousies, between Jacob's wives, serve to teach us the wisdom and goodness of the Christian law, that every man have his own wife, as well as every woman her own husband. No reflecting person can read this chapter without being disgusted with polygamy, and thankful for that dispensation which has restored the original law of nature, and with it, true conjugal felicity.

Secondly: Though the strifes and jealousies of Jacob's wives were disgusting, yet we are not to attribute their desire of children, or the measures which it put them upon for obtaining them, to mere carnal motives. Had it been so, there is no reason to believe that the inspired writer would have condescended to narrate them.

“ It would," as an able writer observes, “ have been below the dignity of such a sacred history as this is, to relate such things, if there had not been something of great consideration in them.' The truth appears to be, they were influenced by the promises of God to Abraham; on whose posterity were entailed the richest blessings, and from whom the Messiah was, in the ful.. ness of time, to descend. It was the belief of these promises that

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rendered every pious female in those times emulous of being a mother. Hence also both Leah and Rachel are represented as praying to God for this honour, and when children were given them, as acknowledging the favour to have proceeded from him. Ver. 17, 18, 22.

Thirdly : The measure which Jacob took to obtain the best of the cattle would at first sight appear to be selfish, and disingenuous, and if viewed as a mere human device, operating according to the established laws of nature, it would be so : but such it was not. As when unbelievers object to the curse of Noah upon

his son, that it was the mere effect of revenge, we answer, Let them curse those who displease them, and see whether any such effects will follow; so if they object to the conduct of Jacob as a crafty device, we might answer, Let them make use of the saine, if they be able. I believe it will not be pretended that any

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person bas since made the like experiment with success. It must there. fore have been by a special direction of God, that he acted as he did.* And this will acquit him of selfishness, in the same manner as the divine command to the Israelites to borrow of the Egyptians acquits them of fraud. Both were extraordinary interpositions in behalf of the injured ; a kind of divine reprisal, in which justice was executed on a broad scale. And as the Egyptians could not complain of the Israelites, for that they had freely lent, or rather given them their jewels, without any expectation of receiving them again; † so neither could Laban complain of Jacob, for that he had nothing more than it was freely agreed he should have ; nor was he on the whole injured, but greatly bene-. fited by Jacob's services.

Chap. xxxi. 1, 2. It is time for Jacob to depart; for though Laban has acknowledged, in the hope of detaining him, that the Lord had blessed him for his sake; yet there is at this time much envy and evil-mindedness at work in the family against him, overlooking

Chap. xxxi. 10–12. + The Hebrew word 982 often signifies merely to ask, without any engagement to repay: (See Psa. ii. 8.) nor do I believe the Israelites held out any such idea to the Egyptians.

R.

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