And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Genesis 29:22. Laban gathered all the men of the place — His kindred and neighbours, according to custom, Jdg 14:10-11; John 2:1-2. Probably he collected a greater number, that the marriage might be more solemn and public, and that Jacob, being overawed by their presence and authority, might not attempt to disannul the marriage and reject Leah, which otherwise he might have done.Genesis 24:59, Genesis 24:61. In the morning Jacob discovers that Laban had overreached him. This is the first retribution Jacob experiences for the deceitful practices of his former days. He expostulates with Laban, who pleads the custom of the country.
It is still the custom not to give the younger in marriage before the older, unless the latter be deformed or in some way defective. It is also not unusual to practise the very same trick that Laban now employed, if the suitor is so simple as to be off his guard. Jacob, however, did not expect this at his relative's hands, though he had himself taken part in proceedings equally questionable. "Fulfill the week of this." If this was the second day of the feast celebrating the nuptials of Leah, Laban requests him to Complete the week, and then he will give him Rachel also. If, however, Leah was fraudulently put upon him at the close of the week of feasting, then Laban in these words proposes to give Rachel to Jacob on fulfilling another week of nuptial rejoicing. The latter is in the present instance more likely. In either case the marriage of Rachel is only a week after that of Leah. Rather than lose Rachel altogether, Jacob consents to comply with Laban's terms.
Rachel was the wife of Jacob's affections and intentions. The taking of a second wife in the lifetime of the first was contrary to the law of nature, which designed one man for one woman Genesis 2:21-25. But the marrying of a sister-in-law was not yet incestuous, because no law had yet been made on the subject. Laban gives a handmaid to each of his daughters. To Rebekah his sister had been given more than one Genesis 24:61. Bondslaves had been in existence long before Laban's time Genesis 16:1. "And loved also Rachel more than Leah." This proves that even Leah was not unloved. At the time of his marriage Jacob was eighty-four years of age; which corresponds to half that age according to the present average of human life.Exodus 6:8 Numbers 14:30 Deu 32:40 Ezekiel 20:5,6.
and made a feast; a marriage or marriage feast, as the Septuagint version, see Matthew 22:2; which was usual, when a marriage was solemnized, expressive of joy on that account.And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. made a feast] The marriage feast was a great affair. The ceremonial lasted for seven days. Cf. Jdg 14:10; Jdg 14:12; Tob 11:18. “All the men of the place,” not only “brethren,” i.e. “relations,” are invited. “The place” is the residence of a large community, cf. Genesis 29:26.Verse 22. - And Laban (unable to evade or delay the fulfillment of his agreement with Jacob) gathered together all the men of the place (not the entire population, but the principal inhabitants), and made a feast - a "mishteh, or drinking (cf. Genesis 19:3), i.e. a wedding banquet (cf. bride-ale - bridal), which commonly lasted seven days (Judges 14:10; Tobit 11:18), though it appears to have varied according to the circumstances of the bridegroom. 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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