Genesis 29:21–30—When was Rachel given to be Jacob’s wife?

Problem: In Genesis 29:27 Laban tells Jacob to complete the bridal week of feasting with Leah, and then Rachel would be given to him. However, the verse also says that the contract between Laban and Jacob stipulated that in return for another seven years of service Rachel would be given to Jacob. When was Rachel given to Jacob, at the end of Leah’s bridal week, or at the end of the seven years service?

Solution: The passage indicates that Rachel was given to Jacob after the seven days which comprised the bridal week of Leah. The marriage feast generally lasted seven days (cf. Jud. 14:12). Laban contracted with Jacob that Rachel would become his wife at the end of this seven day bridal feast, and, in return, Jacob would serve Laban for an additional seven years. Ironically, Jacob, who had taken Esau’s birthright by deception, had himself been deceived by Laban.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.