Genesis 29:20
And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.
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(20) They seemed unto him but a few days.—Jacob was at least fifty-seven years of age, but the late marriages hitherto of the patriarchs show that they only slowly arrived at manhood. We need not be surprised, then, at the warmth of his affection, nor was it a passing emotion, but lasted all his life through. This, however, is the last of these late marriages; for Jacob’s sons married when young.

Genesis 29:20. They seemed to him but a few days — That is, the work or service of that time seemed but little in comparison of the worth of Rachel. An age of work will seem but a few days to those that love God, and long for Christ’s appearance.

29:15-30 During the month that Jacob spent as a guest, he was not idle. Wherever we are, it is good to employ ourselves in some useful business. Laban was desirous that Jacob should continue with him. Inferior relations must not be imposed upon; it is our duty to reward them. Jacob made known to Laban the affection he had for his daughter Rachel. And having no wordly goods with which to endow her, he promises seven years' service Love makes long and hard services short and easy; hence we read of the labour of love, Heb 6:10. If we know how to value the happiness of heaven, the sufferings of this present time will be as nothing to us. An age of work will be but as a few days to those that love God, and long for Christ's appearing. Jacob, who had imposed upon his father, is imposed upon by Laban, his father-in-law, by a like deception. Herein, how unrighteous soever Laban was, the Lord was righteous: see Jud 1:7. Even the righteous, if they take a false step, are sometimes thus recompensed in the earth. And many who are not, like Jacob, in their marriage, disappointed in person, soon find themselves, as much to their grief, disappointed in the character. The choice of that relation ought to be made with good advice and thought on both sides. There is reason to believe that Laban's excuse was not true. His way of settling the matter made bad worse. Jacob was drawn into the disquiet of multiplying wives. He could not refuse Rachel, for he had espoused her; still less could he refuse Leah. As yet there was no express command against marrying more than one wife. It was in the patriarchs a sin of ignorance; but it will not justify the like practice now, when God's will is plainly made known by the Divine law, Le 18:18, and more fully since, by our Saviour, that one man and woman only must be joined together, 1Co 7:2.Jacob serves seven years for Rachel. "What shall thy wages be?" An active, industrious man like Jacob was of great value to Laban. "Two daughters." Daughters in those countries and times were also objects of value, for which their parents were accustomed to receive considerable presents Genesis 24:53. Jacob at present, however, is merely worth his labor. He has apparently nothing else to offer. As he loves Rachel, he offers to serve seven years for her, and is accepted. Isaac loved Rebekah after she was sought and won as a bride for him. Jacob loves Rachel before he makes a proposal of marriage. His attachment is pure and constant, and hence the years of his service seem but days to him. The pleasure of her society both in the business and leisure of life makes the hours pass unnoticed. It is obvious that in those early days the contact of the sexes before marriage was more unrestrained than it afterward became.18. I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy daughter—A proposal of marriage is made to the father without the daughter being consulted, and the match is effected by the suitor either bestowing costly presents on the family, or by giving cattle to the value the father sets upon his daughter, or else by giving personal services for a specified period. The last was the course necessity imposed on Jacob; and there for seven years he submitted to the drudgery of a hired shepherd, with the view of obtaining Rachel. The time went rapidly away; for even severe and difficult duties become light when love is the spring of action. Not Melchizedek gave to Abram, as some Jews foolishly understand it; for Abram swears that he would not keep nor take any of the recovered goods of the kings of Sodom, or his brethren, Genesis 14:23. But Abram gave to Melchizedek, as appears both from Hebrews 4:7, and from the nature of the thing, for the tithes confessedly belong to the priest, such as Melchizedek, and not Abram, is here described to be.

All, not of all the recovered goods, but of all the spoils taken from the enemies.

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel,.... The whole term of time, diligently, faithfully, and patiently. Reference is had to this in Hosea 11:12,

and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her; for though to lovers time seems long ere they enjoy the object beloved; yet Jacob here respects not so much the time as the toil and labour of service he endured in it; he thought that seven years' service was a trifle, like the service of so many days, in comparison of the lovely and worthy person he obtained thereby; all that he endured was nothing in comparison of her, and through the love he bore to her: besides, the many pleasant hours he spent in conversation with her made the time slide on insensibly, so that it seemed to be quickly gone; which shows that his love was pure and constant.

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a {g} few days, for the love he had to her.

(g) Meaning after the years were accomplished.

20. for the love] These simple and touching words are noticeable for their beauty in a narrative which in many of its details is repulsive to our notions of delicacy.

Verse 20. - And Jacob served - hard service (Genesis 31:40, 41), in keeping sheep (Hosea 12:12) - seven years for Rachel. The purity and intensity of Jacob's affection was declared not alone by the proposal of a seven years' term of servitude, - a long period of waiting for a man of fifty-seven, if not seventy-seven, years of age, - but also by the spirit in which he served his avaricious relative. Many as the days were that required to intervene before he obtained possession of his bride, they were rendered happy by the sweet society of Rachel. And they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. "Words breathing the purest tenderness, and expressing more emphatically than the flowery hyperboles of romantic phraseology the deep attachment of an affectionate heart" (Kalisch); words too which show the lofty appreciation Jacob had of the personal worth of his future bride. Genesis 29:20Jacob's Double Marriage. - After a full month ("a month of days," Genesis 41:4; Numbers 11:20, etc.), during which time Laban had discovered that he was a good and useful shepherd, he said to him, "Shouldst thou, because thou art my relative, serve me for nothing? fix me thy wages." Laban's selfishness comes out here under the appearance of justice and kindness. To preclude all claim on the part of his sister's son to gratitude or affection in return for his services, he proposes to pay him like an ordinary servant. Jacob offered to serve him seven years for Rachel, the younger of his two daughters, whom he loved because of her beauty; i.e., just as many years as the week has days, that he might bind himself to a complete and sufficient number of years of service. For the elder daughter, Leah, had weak eyes, and consequently was not so good-looking; since bright eyes, with fire in them, are regarded as the height of beauty in Oriental women. Laban agreed. He would rather give his daughter to him than to a stranger.

(Note: This is the case still with the Bedouins, the Druses, and other Eastern tribes (Burckhardt, Voleny, Layard, and Lane).

Jacob's proposal may be explained, partly on the ground that he was not then in a condition to give the customary dowry, or the usual presents to relations, and partly also from the fact that his situation with regard to Esau compelled him to remain some time with Laban. The assent on the part of Laban cannot be accounted for from the custom of selling daughters to husbands, for it cannot be shown that the purchase of wives was a general custom at that time; but is to be explained solely on the ground of Laban's selfishness and avarice, which came out still more plainly afterwards. To Jacob, however, the seven years seemed but "a few days, because he loved Rachel." This is to be understood, as C. a Lapide observes, "not affective, but appretiative," i.e., in comparison with the reward to be obtained for his service.

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