Laban’s Deception | Genesis 29:1-30


So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. (Genesis 29:20)

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)


Thus far in our journey through Jacob’s life, Abraham’s grandson is finally beginning to walk in faith with God. Previously, Jacob deceived his brother, Esau, twice. First, Esau traded away his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of lentil soup. Second, Jacob disguised himself as Esau to trick his father into blessing him instead of Esau. At the request of his mother, Jacob then fled back to her homeland to find a wife and escape the murderous anger of Esau. On that journey, Jacob encountered God in a vision. The LORD vowed to guard Jacob’s life, and Jacob responses by vowing to serve God.

Our present text finds Jacob entering Haran, his mother’s homeland. If he entered the land on a spiritual high from having seen God, it would not last long. His stay in Haran begins well. He quickly meets Rachel, whom he loves instantly. He then makes an agreement with Laban to work seven years for him in order to marry Rachel. While seven years sounds like a lot, they only felt like a few days to Jacob because of how much he loved Rachel. So Jacob is with his kinsmen, has a good job, and is about to marry the love of his life. What could possibly go wrong?

After the wedding night, Jacob awakes to find Rachel’s older sister, Leah, beside him instead. Jacob is furious with Laban’s deception, but Laban just brushes the anger aside by saying that Leah needed to be married first since she was older. Jacob is then allowed to marry Rachel as well… for another seven years of work, of course. Jacob, the deceiver, gets outplayed by his cunning uncle. Jacob usurped Esau, the firstborn, only to find himself bound in a surprise marriage because of firstborn rights. Though some might shrug off this account as simple irony, we know that God is the sovereign orchestrator of everything.

Read verses 1-14 and discuss the following.

  1. Throughout this stage of his life, Jacob appears to be quite a fearful man, yet because of God’s promise to him in the previous chapter, Jacob boldly completes his journey. In what ways does faith overcome fear?

Read verses 15-30 and discuss the following.

  1. In a twist of irony, Jacob is deceived by his uncle into marrying Leah, the firstborn. How does this illustrate the words of Galatians 6:7-8?
  2. We can certainly view Laban’s deception of Jacob as being used by the LORD in order to discipline. Is being disciplined by God a good thing? How might God discipline His children?
  3. Jacob officially finds himself in a polygamous marriage. What is the biblical stance on polygamy? Why was it occasionally permitted in the Old Testament?


  • Obey. Though Jacob received a grand vision of God, his sin of deception was not left behind like he hoped. Ignored and unrepentant sin tends to creep back into our lives at very inconvenient times. Consider any past sin that you may have forgotten or simply ignored, and bring it to God in repentance.
  • Pray. Recall past moments of painful discipline from the LORD that were ultimately for your benefit. Thank the LORD for his mercy of disciplining us as a father disciplines his children.

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