Many of you know the story of Jacob, and how he ended up with two wives, two concubines, and a bunch of boys. The drama all begins in the twenty-ninth chapter of Genesis, but I’m not going to dwell on that part today. Instead, I’m choosing a gem from the first few verses of the chapter.
Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.” But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.” While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess.Genesis 29:1-9 ESV
Behold, Jacob has arrived.
The beholds that set the stage for Jacob’s encounter with God in chapter twenty-eight pop up again as Jacob arrives at a well in the east. He’s never traveled without his parents nor outside the Promised Land. Though it’s his mother’s homeland, it’s foreign to her favorite son. Unlike the journey of Abraham’s servant in chapter twenty-four, Jacob isn’t carrying a lot of luggage or accompanied by servants. All he has is the name of his uncle. That doesn’t seem like much until you realize that God is his GPS!
It’s hot, but he finds sheep near this well, along with their shepherds. At this surprising time of day, God provides men to let him know he’s arrived; he’s found the land of his uncle.
Behold, a shepherdess.
At an inopportune time, not only does Jacob find sheep and shepherds, but his cousin happens along as well. While talking with the men, they point out the arrival of Rachel. Why she came when it was “still high day,” is anyone’s guess, but obviously known to God. Her presence moves Jacob to act quickly and water her sheep, as he tells her he is her father’s relative.
Yet, unlike his grandfather’s servant, Jacob has no riches to pay the bride price for Rachel’s hand, and thus begins the years of negotiations and work for the son of the promise. Jacob didn’t see any of that now—he’s enthralled by Rachel’s fine eyes and beauty.
He’s found his gem, and he’s willing to work to keep her. Little did he know how much.
Grace and Peace