The Light of Christ Journey

Encouraging people on their journey with Christ

Laban’s reprehensible deception had short-term success but long-term consequences. Yes, he got both daughters married off and another seven years of labor from Jacob, but at what cost?

Short-term Victory

Leah appeared to be the less attractive sister. Genesis 29:17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. [1] We are unsure what Scripture means when it says that Leah’s eyes were weak. Perhaps she was cross-eyed. Whatever the problem was, it made Leah less attractive. How could Laban get her married off? Bride doweries were significant, and there would not be one if no one wanted to marry her.

Jacob, for all his faults, appears to be a good worker. Seven years of labor for a bride price was high, yet he was willing to pay it for Rachel. As Laban considered the problem of getting Leah married, I think a devious plan developed. Women wore veils over their faces. The sisters probably had similar body shapes. Weddings were a great time of celebration, and wine flowed freely. Perhaps he could get Jacob drunk enough, and Leah disguised enough that in the dark, Jacob would not discover the substitution of one sister for the other.

I think Laban knew Jacob would be angry, so he had planned to allow him to marry Rachel the following week. Of course, Jacob would have to agree to work another seven years to pay off the second bride price. This was another bonus for Laban, more free labor.

Long-Term Costs

At this point, Jacob nor the sisters would trust Laban again. More than likely, Leah and Rachel had experienced similar things with their father as they grew up. This kind of deception would not have been a one-time thing. Laban needed Leah to cooperate in the ruse. What lies had Laban told each of his daughters? We don’t know, as Scripture doesn’t say.

Laban also set up a marriage situation where the sisters would compete for the love of Jacob. This would go on to affect not only the daughters but the grandchildren. Laban’s actions were highly self-centered, making him appear not to care about the family life of his grandchildren. This action of Laban would help set up the contention between Joseph and his brothers.

Discerning Between the Short-Term and Long-Term

Each day, we all make decisions and need to discern what is best, both for the short-term and long-term. Each of us has desires, but our actions affect others. We are to love God and love others. Philippians 2: Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.[2]

Jesus is our model for our attitude toward others. As we move forward in our life’s journey, we need the wisdom from Jesus to discern how our short-term actions will play out. We need to have the love of Jesus to overflow with love for others.

To hear more about short-term success but long-term consequences, listen here:

[1,2] Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation.  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188

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