Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
East. Mesopotamia, where Laban dwelt. (Haydock)
Stone. Not of such an immoderate size but that Jacob could remove it. In that country water was scarce, and preserved with care. (Calmet)
Sheep. Instead of this, Kennicott would read shepherds; as also ver. 2. and 8. In which last, the Samaritan, Arabic and Septuagint agree with him; as the two former do likewise in this third verse. (Haydock)
Brethren. Jacob understands and speaks their language, either because it was not very different from his own, or he had learnt the Chaldean language from his mother. In the days of Ezechias, the Jews did not understand it. (4 Kings xviii. 26; Jeremias v. 15.) (Calmet)
Of Nachor, by Bathuel, who was not so well known. (Menochius)
Health. Hebrew, "in peace;" by which name all good things are designated. (Du Hamel)
To feed. He shews his knowledge of pastoral affairs, and his concern for them. (Menochius)
Gen 29:9 . Hebrew He, ipsa. Eva is put for Eia, the letters being similar, chap. iii. 15. (Haydock) --- Other copies agree with the Vulgate and the Septuagint (Calmet)
Cousin-german, and uncle, are put for brevity's sake by St. Jerome, instead of the Hebrew, "the daughter of Laban, brother of Rebecca his mother," and "his mother's brother." (Haydock)
Kissed her, according to the custom of the country, (chap. xxiv. 26,) having told her who he was. He was not so young, that she could suspect him guilty of an unbecoming levity, being above 77 years old, chap. xxvii. 1. (Haydock) --- In that age of simplicity, beautiful maids might converse with shepherds, without suspicion or danger. (Menochius) --- Wept, through tenderness, and perhaps on account of his present inability to make her a suitable present. (Calmet)
Brother, or nephew. The name of brother, in Scripture, almost corresponds with the Consanguineus of the Latins, or our relation.
My flesh, entitled to my utmost protection and friendship. (Calmet)
Blear-eyed. Hebrew, racoth. Watery and tender, unable to look steadfastly at any object, but at the same time very beautiful. (Onkelos; &c.) --- The beauty of Rachel was perfect; not confined to one part. These two sisters represented the synagogue and the Church of Christ. Lia, though married first, never gains the entire affection of her husband. (Calmet)
For Rachel. It was then the custom to buy or to pay a dowry for a wife. (chap. xxxiv. 12; Osee iii. 2.) Herodotus says, i. 196, that the Babylonians sold their beautiful women as high as possible, and gave part of the price to help off the more deformed. The Turks do the like. (Calmet) --- A few, &c. So highly did he esteem Rachel, that he thought he had obtained her for just nothing, though delays naturally seem long to lovers. (Tirinus) --- Calmet supposes that he was married to her the second month after he arrived at Haran; and on this account, easily explains his words, as love made all labour tolerable, and even easy, in the enjoyment of the beautiful Rachel. Usher also places the birth of Ruben in the first year of Jacob's service, A. 2246 [in the year of the world 2246]. But Salien and the context decide, that he waited full seven years, and then obtained Lia, by fraud, of Laban; and seven days after, Rachel. (Haydock) --- He was then 84 years old! (Du Hamel)
Go in, &c. To consummate my marriage; (Menochius) as the time is expired. (Haydock)
Friends. Hebrew, Septuagint and Chaldean say, "all the men of that place." He was rich, and, though very greedy, could not well avoid conforming to the custom of making a splendid entertainment on such a joyful occasion. (Haydock)
A handmaid, by way of dowry, as he did afterwards to Rachel. Both sisters considered it so small, as to say they had nothing, chap. xxxi. 14. --- Lia, who committed a great sin of adultery, though she was more excusable than Laban; inasmuch as she obeyed his order. (Menochius) --- Jacob might justly have refused to marry her; and then what a dishonour would have been entailed upon her for life! In consequence of this imposition, the legitimacy of Ruben's conception was rendered doubtful. We may suppose, that shame hindered Lia from opening her mouth; so that Jacob had no means of discovering the cheat till day-break, having gone into the nuptial chamber after it was dark, according to custom, and the woman being also covered with a veil, Tobias viii. 1. Hence Jacob was guilty of no fault, as his mistake was involuntary. (Haydock) --- He afterwards consented to marry her, (Calmet) probably on the second day of the feast. (Haydock)
Custom. This appears to be a false pretext: for all the people saw that Rachel was adorned like the intended bride, (Haydock) and were invited to her wedding. (Menochius)
Week. Seven days; not years, as Josephus would have it. The nuptial feast lasted a week, Judges xiv. 15.
Latter. Jacob is the figure of Jesus Christ; who rejected the synagogue, and treated his Church, gathered from all nations, with the utmost affection. (Calmet) --- Lia means "painful or labourious;" and Rachel a sheep; denoting, that a quiet contemplative life must be united with an active one; and that the Church must suffer here, and be crowned in heaven. (Haydock) (St. Gregory, Mor. vi. 28.)
Despised, or loved less; so Christ orders us to hate father, &c., Matthew x. 17. (Calmet)
Ruben. "See the son, or the son of vision;" alluding perhaps, distantly, to ver. 24, He saw Lia. (Haydock)
Despised, or the hated wife, Deuteronomy xxi. 15. --- Simeon, "hearing or obedient."
Levi, "adhesion or union." My husband will now stick to me.
Juda, "praise or confession." (Calmet) --- Left bearing for a time. (Haydock) --- In the imposition of these names, Lia testified her gratitude to God. (Tirinus)