Meaning Of Jacobs Name
The name Jacob is derived from the Hebrew verb which means to follow. Jacob was born grabbing onto his twin brother Esaus heel. Hence, Jacob means in Hebrew one who follows on another’s heels .
Jacobs intention to undermine his brother of both his birthright and fathers blessing also earned him the name of Supplanter .
From Zilpah: Gad And Asher
When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. Leahs servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. Then Leah said, What good fortune! So she named him Gad. Leahs servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. Then Leah said, How happy I am! The women will call me happy. So she named him Asher.
Meaning And Significance Of Israel Jacob’s New Name
God blessed Jacob and gave him a new name Israel and with it a new identity. Jacob was no longer to be associated as the swindler and trickster of his past: He was a new creation, filled with Gods blessings with a divine purpose to establish the Israelite nation.
Names in the Bible have a bigger significance than they do now. Now, when we give someone a nickname, we do it for fun or because we enjoy a certain aspect of someone. But when someone changed a name in the Bible, it was a massive deal. It determined their whole identity moving forward.
As a continuous reminder of their encounter and His blessing, God gave Jacob a permanent limp .
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Where Is Jacob In The Bible
Jacob is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 25. When Jacobs mother, Rebekah, was pregnant with him and his fraternal twin Esau, she inquired of God as to why her two babies were fighting in her womb .
God replied that the enmity between the two brothers was a foreshadowing for the two nations that would arise from them Jacob would be the forefather of Israel , Esau of Edom . Additionally, Esau, the elder twin, would become the servant of Jacob, the younger .
A Different Kind Of Marriage
So when Jesus meets a woman at a well, readers are expecting some kind of marriage bond to result. But rather than one woman becoming married, she convinces many people in her community to follow her and join themselves with Jesus. This joining is the final element of the well-meeting pattern and is framed as a bond between two parties. In fact, Jesus is referred to as the groom in the chapter just before . However, this is a different kind of bond than a marriage between two people. Jesus message to the woman and her people is that he, the Messiah, is offering true life, living water, to anyone who would join themselves with him. Just like the waters that flowed out of Eden from the tree of life, so Jesus is offering life to all who would unite themselves with him in a symbolic and everlasting union.
Carissa Quinn holds a PhD in Biblical Studies from Gateway Seminary in Los Angeles, CA. She also holds an MA in Teaching and enjoys studying how people learn and grow. She combines her love for biblical studies and education as BibleProject’s Digital Learning Manager.
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The Ancestors Of Jesus Jacob With Leah And Rachel Michelangelo Sistine Chapel
The painting below is labelled Jacob, Joseph. On the left side sits Jacob and the face given him by Michelangelo suits the deceitful man in Genesis well. Beside him is a rather sickly Rachel with her first son Joseph. On the right side is Leah of the beautiful eyes, blessed with many sons and a daughter Dinah, whose life will be ruined when she is raped by a man who professes to love her.Be wary of information on art websites that tells you the Joseph referred to in this painting is Joseph, husband of Mary of Nazareth, and that the female figure on the right is Mary of Nazareth. Comments like this are made by art historians who do not seem to have read the Old Testament stories on which Michelangelo based his Lunettes.
A Trick At The Wedding
When the seven years have passed, preparations are made for the wedding of Jacob to Rachel. Laban is a man of some importance, so the wedding will be lavish.
One of the customs at a Middle Eastern wedding in this period is that the bride remains completely hidden by heavy veils, both during the ceremony and after it, until her new husband removes these veils.
It is a symbolic gesture only, since the bride and groom in this case will certainly have seen each other many times. Despite this, the custom is strictly adhered to.
When Jacob marries Rachel, her face is hidden.
This allows Laban to play a cruel trick on Jacob.
When the bride is being prepared for her wedding, Laban substitutes Leah for Rachel. It is the unloved Leah under the heavy veil, and it is Leah that Jacob marries.
The wedding night passes without him realizing the substitution .
The conversation between Leah and Jacob the following morning, after he discovers she is not Rachel, can only be imagined. The Bible is discreetly silent on this point.
The Bible never mentions Leahs wishes about marrying Jacob, a man who obviously preferred her sister.
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Moses And Zipporah At The Well
If you still think this could be coincidental, lets look at the next character in the Hebrew Bible who happens upon a well and a woman: Moses . This is the shortest well-meeting story in the Bible, yet it still contains all of the elements of the pattern we noticed above.
Journey: Moses journeys to the foreign country of Midian
Woman at the well: He encounters a woman at a well
Draws water: Moses defends them and then draws water for them from the well
News: The women go quickly home and tell their father about Moses
Hospitality: Moses is invited to dinner and stays with them
Joining: One of the women, Zipporah, is given to Moses as his wife
How Is Jacobs Story Relevant Today
Like Jacob, we can enter into a relationship with Christ today by asking forgiveness for our sins and declaring God to be our Savior and Redeemer.
Through admitting our brokenness to Him, God can give us a new life as His children, and we can enter into an eternal relationship with Him, full of His blessings and good promises over our lives.
Jacob was able to experience a new identity through his new name, Israel. In the same way, when we come to know Christ, we experience a transformation. It changes everything: our lives, our thoughts, our actions, etc.
We can also learn from Jacob’s story that people throughout the Bible wrestled with God in not only a physical sense. There’s nothing wrong with questions and the need to explore the Bible more. Christian faith isn’t blind, but rather, based on how God has come through for us in the past. We can wrestle with him and still emerge with a new identity.
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Interesting Facts About Jacob
- Jacobs grandfather was Abraham, who was known as the Father of the Faithful .
- Jacob and his twin Esau were complete opposites of one another. Whereas Esau was comfortable in the outdoors hunting, Jacob was content to stay at home . Even in appearance, the two young men were different: Esau was brawny with a thick covering of red hair, whereas Jacob was smooth-skinned .
- Though Jacob was a trickster, God did bless him throughout his life. While Jacob was traveling towards Haran, he lay down to sleep in the desert and dreamt of a staircase that extended up to heaven, on which angels ascended and descended. God appeared to Jacob as he slept and blessed him and his progeny . This particular story in the Bible is referred to as Jacobs Ladder.
- Jacob was a victim of deceit himself. Firstly, after 7 years of service, Jacobs uncle Laban tricked him into marrying his eldest daughter Leah. Laban then made Jacob work a further 7 years before he could marry his youngest daughter Rachel, who had been Jacobs first choice of the bride . Laban also attempted to cheat Jacob out of his wages .
- Jacob is the patriarch of the 12 tribes of Israel .
Leah’s Praise For God
Leah’s praise for God can be witnessed by the way she names her children.
Leah knew that she was unloved and that her husband preferred Rachel over her. When she received Gods’ favor, she realized that though her husband may not love her, God did. She expresses her praise and thankfulness towards God by naming her children, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
Leah named her first son Reuben meaning, ‘behold a son’. This name sounded similar to a Hebrew word which meant ‘he has seen my misery’. This showed how Leah believed that if she had a son before Rachel, her husband would see how miserable she was and would love her more but that was not the case, so when she had her second son she named him Simeon. Simeon means ‘to hear’. She felt as if the Lord had heard how she was unloved and had pity on her by giving her a second son. Her third son was named Levi meaning, ‘joined’. She thought that because she had born her husband three children, he definitely loved her more. However, as Jacob continued to favor Rachel, Leah realized that the only person who had favored her all along was God. So, she named her fourth son Judah meaning, ‘praise’. After bearing four sons she decided to praise the Lord for all he had given her. Her fourth son, Judah, became an ancestor of King David. Ultimately, Jesus would also come from the ancestral line of Judah.
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Why Did Rachel And Leah Have A Strained Relationship As Sisters
Rachel says, I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won when a surrogate mother/maidservant to Rachel bears a son, and Rachel names the baby according to this sentiment. Rachel deeply resents her older sister Leah as the first wife and is jealous of her ability to bear numerous sons.
Leah, on the other hand, keeps hoping and believing that Jacob will love more her as she bears many children for him. The back story may include Jacobs increased love for Leah, but it sounds as though Rachel always has the upper hand in this family with two wives and maidservants acting as concubines. Leah would naturally be jealous of the love and attention Jacob paid to Rachel. There were probably many small privileges that Rachel enjoyed as top woman and wife, which Leah did not receive because Jacobs love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah .
From Rachel: Joseph And Benjamin
Then God remembered Rachel he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, God has taken away my disgrace. She named him Joseph, and said, May the LORD add to me another son.
Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, Dont despair, for you have another son. As she breathed her lastfor she was dyingshe named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.
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The Bibles Original Love Triangle: Jacob Leah And Rachel
Tricked by his father-in-law into marrying his true loves sister, Jacob waited 14 years before he could be with Rachel.
After stealing his older brother’s inheritance, Jacob feared his brother’s wrath and fled to Harran. One night, he dreamed of a ladder going up into heaven. At the top stood God, reaffirming his covenant with Abraham that now passed to Jacob: The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring . Jacob built an altar and called it betel or Bethel .
Soon after his arrival in Harran, Jacob fell in love with the beautiful and lovely Rachel, daughter of his cousin Laban . Laban warmly welcomed him to his family, but asked a steep price for Rachels hand in marriage: Jacob would first have to work as a shepherd for seven years, tending Labans flocks. The annual wage for a shepherd in the Bronze Age was about 10 shekels hence, seven years of labor was a stiff demand. But Jacob, a fugitive from Esau, was in no position to bargain.
And Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. ByGenesis 29:20
In time, Jacob was able to acquire a flock of sheep, camels, and goats of his own. But tensions within the clan, particularly between Jacob and Labans sons, compelled Jacob to return to Canaan with his wives and handmaidens, who also served as Jacobs concubines. By this time, these women had borne him 11 sons and a daughter.
Precedent For Marriage Before Payment Of Bride
Labans suggestion of reversing the order of the marriage agreement is unusual but not unprecedented. The most common deviation from paying in full before the marriage was in cases in which the bride-price was to be paid in installments.
For example, a contract from the town of Nuzi presents the case of two parents who have given their daughter, Azuli, as a daughter-in-law to a man named Hapuka. Hapuka in turn gives Azuli to his son Puhishenni as a wife. Three sheep have been given up front as part of the bride-price.
The contract stipulates: When Azuli and her husband get together , shall Hapuka give over the remaining silver to Azulis parents. This contract states that intercourse would the time at which the bride-price should be paid in full.
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Lessons From Leahs Life
What can we learn from Leahs story? For one, a well-known blessing, which all Israel knew, was later pronounced upon Ruth: The LORD make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel .
Leah and Rachel did indeed build the house of Israel12 sons and a daughter! God can work His will in spite of human imperfections, motives and emotions. Rachel and Leah had imperfections, as all men and women do. But in spite of those, God used them to build the house of Israel.
Jacob Is Smitten By Leahs Sister
He heads east, towards the land of his kinsman Laban, seeking shelter there.
He meets some shepherds and asks them about Laban.
They do not seem enthusiastic when Jacob asks them do you know Laban? Their words are guarded, brief. They know Laban well, and surely if hed been a good man they would have said something in his favour.
But not a word do they say.
Jacob does not notice. He is distracted by the sight of an approaching girl. She is lovely, and he learns she is his kinswoman.
The Bible notes that she, not a brother or male cousin, is herding the sheep this is unusual, and suggests she does not have any brothers.
Jacob is instantly smitten with Rachel. In a moment of male bravado he lifts the heavy stone well-cover, something that normally takes two or more men to do.
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Children: The Culmination Of Marriage
The discussion above, which sees consummation as the final step of marriage, works with an economic model the husband supplies money and the father supplies the sexual rights to his daughter. But the birth of a child can also be seen as the culmination or final stage of marriage, since this is one of the main reasons for marriage. In fact, many ancient Near Eastern marriage contracts take this into account, stipulating that the husband has until the birth of the first child to make his final payment.
The stories about the matriarchs appear to be working with this model. We see from the stories of Sarahs barrenness, as well as that of Rachel and Leah, that a wife who cannot produce children might even feel the need to give her husband a surrogate to produce children for her , since otherwise, they are not fulfilling their function as wife. This child-centered perspective can help us understand the next scene in the story.
Although married only a week apart, the experience of the two sisters differs drastically: during a period when Leah has four sons Rachel remains barren. After Leah bears her fourth son, Rachel expresses her distress to Jacob:
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Upset, Jacob agreed to work for Laban for another seven years for the right to marry Rachel. In the meantime, he and his first wife, Leah had children.
Seven years later, Jacob finally married Rachel. Unfortunately, it seemed the Rachel could not have children.
Both sisters were fraught with jealousy and envy. Leah was devastated that her husband favored her sister and Rachel was heartbroken that she could not have a child. Out of desperation, Rachel gave Jacob her servant Bilhah as a wife. By ancient custom Bilhahs children would be credited to Rachel. Bilhah bore children to Jacob, causing Leah to give her servant Zilpah to Jacob, who had children with her.
Eventually, Rachel was blessed with a son, Joseph, who became Jacobs favorite child. Rachel then conceived a second son, but tragically, she died giving birth to him. Before her last breath, she named her new son Ben Oni, son of my mourning but Jacob named him Benjamin.
The four women bore 12 sons and one daughter, Dinah. Those sons became the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Here is Rachels life story from the Bible:
Rachel was unable to have children and jealous of her sister Leah who had many sons.When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, Give me children, or Ill die! Rachel stole her fathers household idols. When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her fathers household gods
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