Daily Word

Dowry loan | Genesis 29:15-20

15 Laban said to him, “You shouldn’t work for me without pay just because we are relatives. Tell me how much your wages should be.”

16 Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. 17 There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. 18 Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.”

19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.

Genesis 29:15-20 (NLT)

Why are you here?

When Abraham’s servant came looking for a wife for Isaac, he made his business clear right off the bat (Genesis 24:33). Jacob, on the other hand, said nothing. But Laban must have known Jacob was looking for a wife otherwise, why would he travel all the way there. Jacob had proved his value during the month so now it’s time to negotiate. As we’ll see tomorrow, Laban was an unscrupulous negotiator.

7 year engagement

Laban asks Jacob for the terms of the agreement. Jacob comes up with the idea of a 7 year engagement and Laban heartily agrees – in part because he has a trick up his sleeve (see tomorrow). But a 7 year engagement! Can you imagine? Typically engagements are about a year. Given today’s (mis)understanding of purity and marriage, it’s a good thing he was living then and and in that culture or he may not have lasted without sinning.

Dowry loan

The idea of working to get your wife is certainly unique. In Eastern cultures, the idea of a dowry comes to play. “Though Jacob came from a family with great wealth, he left home with no money.” (enduringword.com) How to solve this? Take out a “dowry loan” from Uncle Laban. Not only did Jacob get a wife, he had a place to stay while he waited for his brother’s anger to subside.

True love

Isn’t that so romantic – that 7 years seemed like 7 days he was so in love. Isn’t that true love? Well, actually, probably not. Surely love is patient (long suffering) so he had that going for him. Based on the context, however, my guess is he was attracted by the beauty of the body primarily. 


On the topic of “why are you here”, asked not of Jacob but of you. How would you answer? Are you still trying to figure it out? Is it to enjoy life to the fullest – eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die? We should know that our purpose is, as the Westminster shorter catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” If you’re not a follower of Christ yet, click here.

Dowry gold jewelry. Image from onmanorama.com *

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