GENESIS 29 – 30
Bible Study Notes Rev. Betsy Perkins
Jacob Builds a Community of Peoples
Jacob has the birthright and blessing of his father, Isaac, and has also received the promises that God first gave to his grandfather, Abraham. Yet he is fleeing, alone and empty-handed, in order to save his life and to find a way to fulfill his life with a family of his own.
Jacob at the well (29:1-14)
o Jacob’s long and arduous journey on foot ends when he looks up and sees a well. What else does Jacob notice as he arrives at the well?
o In what ways does this scene at the well differ from the Genesis 24 scene at the well? In what ways is it similar?
o How does Jacob feel to have safely reached the goal of his journey? What kind of reception is Jacob given?
The Deceiver is Deceived (29:15-30)
o Jacob works for his uncle Laban for a whole month before the issue of compensation is raised. What economic arrangement do they make then?
o How does Jacob feel towards Rachel? How does he feel towards her sister, Leah? Do we get any clues about how they may have felt about him?
o How is Jacob, the deceiver, himself deceived? Are there similarities between his deception of others and his own deception?
o Jacob defied the traditional rights of the firstborn. How does that ending up catching up with Jacob in the end?
o How might God be using the difficult and unexpected events in Jacob’s life to work on his heart?
Longing for Love (29:31-35)
o Why is Leah miserable? How does the LORD help her?
o How does Leah express her feelings in the naming of her sons? Is there a progression in her feelings over the series of births? What do we learn of her understanding of God and her relationship with God?
o Have you ever experienced the need to compete for someone’s love, or known people who were competing for love? Is that love ever enough?
The Children of Jacob (30:1-24)
o How does Rachel feel? Is love enough? How does she try to cope with her feelings?
o How does Jacob’s response to Rachel’s difficulties differ from his father’s response to Rebekah’s difficulties (25:21)?
o Leah’s first son, Reuben, brings home a plant associated with fertility. What is the deal that Leah and Rachel work out with the use of the plant? Does the plant help make either of them pregnant?
Maybe God used the love-plants, or maybe God just did what God wanted to do, despite the love-plants and despite the sex-for-hire element in the story. Once more, God shrugs shoulders and works through or despite our human strangeness. John Goldingay
o Are there any aspects of the human brokenness in this family story that you can relate to from your family story?
o How does God use the sibling rivalry to fulfill His purposes? How are even the slave women given dignity in this story?
Competition and Cunning (30:25-43)
o Why does Jacob want to return to the land of Canaan? Why does Laban not want Jacob to leave?
o Jacob’s initial request was to leave with just his wives and children. What deal does he make for what he can take with him? What kinds of deception and trickery are involved this time?
o How is God involved? How are God’s plans being fulfilled?
In light of this passage and our discussion, what one truth about God and about yourself stand out as something to “take to heart” this week?
Are there steps you will take, by God’s grace, to more fully apply it to your life?
Resources: Robert Alter, Genesis, 1996
John Goldingay, Genesis for Everyone, 2010
Max Lucado, Life Lessons with Max Lucado: Book of Genesis, 1997