Vol. 5, No. 11
~ Page 13 ~
My mind reels every time I read this story... The day had finally arrived for Jacob. For seven years, he had looked forward to making Rachel his wife (Genesis 29:18). He had served the better part of a decade for his bride-to-be and it had seemed but a few days to him (v. 20).
Following the "wedding reception" (v. 22), Jacob's father-in-law, Laban, brought his new bride to him in the evening. The newly married couple then spent their first intimate night alone (verses 21, 23).
It was the custom to have a great festive week after a wedding, beginning with a banquet on the nuptial night, with many male guests invited. At the proper time, when the wedding formalities had been observed, Laban presented his daughter to Jacob as his wife.
Although Leah was veiled, Jacob never questioned that it was really Rachel. The two sisters were no doubt sufficiently alike in stature and general mien, probably even in tone of voice, that the deception was fairly easy to accomplish on the unsuspecting Jacob. When he took her into his chambers and into his bed, it was dark, and no doubt much of the conversation that night was in whispers and in brief words of love. Probably also Leah had been arrayed in Rachel's clothing and perfumes. It was not until the morning that Jacob actually saw he had been grievously deceived (Henry Morris, "Jacob and Laban," The Genesis Record. Grand Rapids: Baker, 461).
Amazing, isn't it? Rather than sleeping with Rachel, Jacob had spent the first night of his honeymoon alone with Leah (v. 17) -- and he didn't even know it! We can only imagine the anger and shock that he felt at the moment of discovery. The Bible says, "So it came to pass in the morning, that behold, it was Leah. And he said to Laban, 'What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?'"(verse 25).
Jacob's kinfolk had conspired against him, and he found himself in bed not with the beautiful daughter of Laban, but with the tender-eyed1 daughter of Laban (verse 17).2 He must have been hurt. May I suggest that Jacob is not the only person to have ever experienced this kind of "morning revelation"? Everyday, newlyweds around the world awaken to the realization that they've married the wrong person. Like Jacob, they discover that they've joined themselves to someone far below their expectations:
"I never knew he had a drinking problem..."
"I always assumed she would attend worship with me..."
"I never realized he had such a temper..."
"I never imagined she could be so careless with money..."
"I never noticed when we were dating that he could be so possessive and controlling..."
The truth is, we ALL eventually "wake up" and find ourselves in this kind of circumstance (cf. Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8, 10). Imperfections that were once hidden [or overlooked] inevitably come to light and the honeymoon draws to an end. But what happens at this juncture is critical because when we experience real disappointment in our mates, the relationship then takes one of two directions. Either the union begins to dissolve and divorce ensues, or else we commit ourselves to making the marriage succeed (Matthew 19:6; cf. Romans 7:3). Jacob decided to take the latter approach. Despite his frustration, he was able to "work through" (verses 26-30) his unique marital problems and find an acceptable solution. Granted, the Patriarch lived under a different law and dispensation than we do today (cf. Galatians 6:2), but the principle remains the same. We can bemoan the fact we didn't marry a "Prince Charming" or "Cinderella," or we can make adjustments and bring real substance to our vows.
Dear reader, what will you do when you experience disappointment in your marriage? How will you respond when you realize that you've married "the wrong person?" Will you work like Jacob (cf. Luke 9:23; cf. Ephesians 5:25, 28-29; Titus 2:4), or will you run?
1 I find it noteworthy that Jacob earlier in life had deceived his father (Genesis 27:1ff), Isaac, about his own identity. Now the tables have been turned on him in return (cf. Galatians 6:7).
2 The word "tender eyed" in Hebrew means weak-eyed, a turning eye, or cross-eyed. Evidently, Leah had a problem with her sight and the disfigurement made her face unappealing.