And while he yet spoke with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep; for she kept them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Rachel came with her father’s sheep.—Comp. Exodus 2:16; and so in modern times Mr. Malan saw “the sheik’s daughter, the beautiful and well-favoured Ladheefeh, drive her flock of fine patriarchal sheep” to a well for water in this very region (Philosophy or Truth, p. 95). As forty years at least elapsed between this meeting of Jacob and Rachel and the birth of Benjamin, she must have been a mere child at this time.Genesis 29:9. For she kept them — Having, no doubt, servants under her who performed the meaner and more laborious offices, and whom it was her place to oversee. When Jacob understood that this was his kinswoman Rachel, (for he had probably heard of her name before,) knowing what his errand was into that country, we may suppose it occurred to his mind immediately, that this must be his wife. As one already smitten with an honest, comely face, (though it is likely sun-burnt, and she in the homely dress of a shepherdess,) he is wonderfully officious, and ready to serve her, (Genesis 29:10,) and addresses himself to her with tears of joy and kisses of love, Genesis 29:11. She runs with all haste to tell her father, for she will by no means entertain her kinsman’s address without her father’s knowledge and approbation, Genesis 29:12. These mutual respects at their first interview were good presages of their being a happy couple. Providence made that which seemed contingent and fortuitous to give a speedy satisfaction to Jacob’s mind, as soon as ever he came to the place he was bound for. Thus God guides his people with his eye, Psalm 32:8. Laban, though none of the best-humoured men, bid him welcome, was satisfied with the account he gave of himself, and the reason of his coming in such poor circumstances. While we avoid the extreme on the one hand of being foolishly credulous, we must take heed of falling into the other extreme of being uncharitably jealous and suspicious.Genesis 2:23. A month here means the period from new moon to new moon, and consists of twenty-nine or thirty days.
Rachel came with her father's sheep; to water them at the well. She was within sight when Jacob first addressed the shepherds, but now she was come to the well, or near it, with the sheep before her:
for she kept them: or "she was the shepherdess" (d); the chief one; she might have servants under her to do some parts of the office of a shepherd, not so fit for her to do; it may be Laban's sons, for some he had, Genesis 31:1; were not as yet grown up, and Leah, the eldest daughter, having tender eyes, could not bear the open air, and light of the sun, nor so well look after the straying sheep; and therefore the flock was committed to the care of Rachel the younger daughter, whose name signifies a sheep. The Jews say (e), that the hand of God was upon Laban's flock, and there were but few left, so that he put away his shepherds, and what remained be put before his daughter Rachel, see Genesis 30:30; and some ascribe it to his covetousness that he did this; but there is no need to suggest anything of that kind; for keeping sheep in those times and countries was a very honourable employment, and not below the sons and daughters of great personages, and still is so accounted. Dr. Shaw (f) says it is customary, even to this day, for the children of the greatest Emir to attend their flocks; the same is related of the seven children of the king of Thebes, of Antiphus the son of Priam, and of Anchises, Aeneas's father (g).And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep; for she kept them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 9. - And while he yet spake with them (literally, he yet speaking with them), Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them - or, she was a shepherdess, the part. רֹעָה being used as a substantive (Gesenius, 'Lex.,' sub. nom.). Genesis 29:2), by which three flocks were lying, waiting for the arrival of the other flocks of the place, before they could be watered. The remark in Genesis 29:2, that the stone upon the well's mouth was large (גּדלה without the article is a predicate), does not mean that the united strength of all the shepherds was required to roll it away, whereas Jacob rolled it away alone (Genesis 29:10); but only that it was not in the power of every shepherd, much less of a shepherdess like Rachel, to roll it away. Hence in all probability the agreement that had been formed among them, that they would water the flocks together. The scene is so thoroughly in harmony with the customs of the East, both ancient and modern, that the similarity to the one described in Genesis 24:11. is by no means strange (vid., Rob. Pal. i. 301, 304, ii. 351, 357, 371). Moreover the well was very differently constructed from that at which Abraham's servant met with Rebekah. There the water was drawn at once from the (open) well and poured into troughs placed ready for the cattle, as is the case now at most of the wells in the East; whereas here the well was closed up with a stone, and there is no mention of pitchers and troughs. The well, therefore, was probably a cistern dug in the ground, which was covered up or closed with a large stone, and probably so constructed, that after the stone had been rolled away the flocks could be driven to the edge to drink.
(Note: Like the cistern Bir Beshat, described by Rosen., in the valley of Hebron, or those which Robinson found in the desert of Judah (Pal. ii. 165), hollowed out in the great mass of rock, and covered with a large, thick, flat stone, in the middle of which a round hole had been left, which formed the opening of the cistern, and in many cases was closed up with a heavy stone, which it would take two or three men to roll away.)
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