“And Jacob said unto Laban, ‘Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her’… And it came to pass in the evening, that he (Laban) took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him… (Jacob).”
Genesis 29: 21, 23
King James Version
“The Double Dealer”
Laban, Not a Good Choice for Father-of-the-Year
“Indeed, it is not in human nature to deceive others for any long time, without in a measure deceiving ourselves, too.”
John Henry Newman
Has there been an experience in my life where I was the victim of deceit?
How did this make me feel and what were the consequences?
“No one is ever warmed by wool pulled over (her) eyes.”
“He was so crooked you could have used his spine for a safety pin.”
Dorothy L. Sayers
After studying about Rebekah, and witnessing the trickery she used to make certain her favorite child, Jacob, received the birthright blessing, you’d think we would have had enough of deceitful behavior. Yet just a few pages over in the Bible, we find Rebekah’s brother, Laban, employed the same treachery, not only against his own daughters, but also against his future son-in-law.
However, in order for us to more clearly understand Laban’s behavior, it is wise to go back a few chapters in Genesis to get a clearer picture of how Laban, at an early age, became what you and I would call an “operator.”
In Genesis 24, you will remember, Abraham’s chief steward went to the “family home” in Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor to find a wife for Isaac. This steward, the Bible tells us, came laden with gifts. First, Genesis 24: 22 tells us he gave Rebekah a “golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold.” The steward was generously passing around the “bling!” And guess who was the first to notice? You got it! Laban, Rebekah’s brother paid close attention. And don’t forget, he, like Rebekah, probably was in his late teens or early twenties at the most. Yet, already Laban was a wheeler-dealer in the making. Genesis 24: 30 (K.J.V.) says: “And it came to pass, when he (Laban) saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister… he said, ‘Come in thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.’ To hear Laban talk, you would think he ruled the Kingdom. Flattery dripped off his lips. Forget mom and dad, he was in charge. Then if we go over a few more verses. After Laban and her father, Bethuel told Rachel it was of God she marry Isaac, we find the steward lavishing more gifts on Rachel, her mother, and yes, her dear brother Laban, who also benefited from this union.
From the first time we meet Laban, he has a good eye for a great deal. So when young, healthy, Jacob arrived and Laban found out whose bloodline he came from, and that Jacob was the bearer of the birthright passed from Abraham down to Isaac, you can just imagine his delight. But what proved to play into the deceitful hand of Laban even more favorably was that Jacob was “in love.” In fact, it might be that Jacob was so blinded by love, he couldn’t see the real motives of Laban. Instead, he offered to work for Laban seven years for the hand of Rachel, his daughter.
Laban would have been foolish to turn down the services of an able-bodied man like Jacob. Good help was hard to find. And so Laban readily agreed to Jacob’s proposition.
But as we have seen in the past, sometimes we get as we give and boy did Jacob find out that the seeds of deceit he used to trick his own father, had blossomed into a garden of weeds in his own field!
Laban, the King of Trickery, had Leah and her handmaid, give Jacob a big surprise on his wedding morning. When Jacob awoke to what should have been the happiest day of his life, he realized he was now on the receiving end of deceptive behavior – and, it didn’t feel good. Genesis 29: 25 (K.J.V.) records this very angry outburst from Jacob: “And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he (Jacob) said to Laban, ‘What is this thou has done unto me? Did not I serve thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?’”
STOP! Notice the word “beguiled.” For those of you who came to the garden when we were studying about Eve, this is the same statement she made to God about the serpent in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “The serpent “beguiled” me!” And we found out then that the root of the word beguiled is “seduced.” The serpent seduced Eve. Pulled the wool over her eyes. This is exactly what Laban did to Jacob. He seduced him with false promises. Seduction can trip us as well by reeling us in with people, possessions and power! All of these can be used to seduce any of us.
But what I find so disturbing about this story is that in Genesis 29: 26-28 (K.J.V.) Laban “seduces” Jacob again with an excuse and a plan. “And Laban said, ‘It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.’ All I can say is, “why didn’t Laban inform Jacob of this “custom” before he pulled the switcheroo on Jacob. Then Laban said, “I have an idea.” Here was his plan: “Fulfill her (Leah’s) week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her (Leah’s) week: and he (Laban) gave him (Jacob) Rachel his daughter to wife also.”
Remember how Lot disrespected his daughters and offered his virgin girls to the men of Sodom as a trade for the angel messengers at his home. Lot paid dearly for this action because later we find his daughters disrespecting him. Well, Laban also reaped a bitter harvest in his family because his act of deception disrupted the family and drove a deep wedge between two sisters and finally, in order to try to bring some type of unity back into his life, Jacob and his wives left Laban’s home. Laban lost his girls just as his sister, Rebekah, lost her son, Jacob, due to deceit and dishonesty!
What a lesson for us. Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom,” and if we look around us in our world today, we find this to be more than true!
The fervent evangelist, Dwight L. Moody said this about dishonesty: “Lying covers a multitude of sins – temporarily.”
In Jacob’s case, first when he deceived his blind and elderly father in order to steal the birthright and secondly, when he was “beguiled” by his father-in-law only to awake in the arms of a woman he didn’t love, he found out that in the words of Ellis Peters: “There is in the end no remedy but truth. It is the one course that cannot be evil.”
“Truth, though it has disadvantages, is at least changeless. You can always find it where you left it.”
LORD OF HEALING
“Lord of my darkest place:
Let in your light.
Lord of my greatest fear:
Let in your peace.
Lord of my most bitter shame:
Let in your word of grace.
Lord of my oldest grudge:
Let in your forgiveness.
Lord of my deepest anger:
Let it out.
Lord of my loneliest moment:
Let in your presence.
Lord of my truest self--my all:
Let in your wholeness.
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.