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Who Cheated?

Genesis 29:15-28; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 188-190


The Message

God helps us serve others faithfully and patiently.

Memory Verse

“Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

Have you ever worked hard and long for someone you love? Maybe it was helping your dad stack wood or repair the house. Or maybe you helped your mom in the garden all day. You were glad when it was over, but because you loved that person, it was worth it!


Jacob had been at Laban’s house for a month. One day Laban said, “Jacob, you’re my relative. It doesn’t seem right for you to keep working for me without pay. Tell me, what wages would you like?”

Jacob was glad to be at his uncle’s house. He didn’t mind the work. And he had also been admiring Uncle Laban’s youngest daughter, Rachel!

“Uncle Laban, what I’d really like is to marry Rachel! I’ll work seven years for you if you will let Rachel become my wife.”

Laban agreed. “That sounds like a fine arrangement to me. Yes, stay here and work for me.”

In those days a man gave money to the father of the woman he wanted to marry. After the wedding, the father was to give the money to his daughter. It became her own to keep. But some men didn’t have money for the bride price or dowry, as it was called. So if the father agreed, the man could work for him for a certain amount of time. That’s what Jacob had to do.

So Jacob began seven years of work to make Rachel his wife. Day after day he faithfully and patiently did all that Laban asked. And the time seemed to pass quickly because of his love for Rachel. Finally the seven years were up! It was time to make Rachel his bride!

But Laban was not honest or fair with Jacob. He liked having Jacob work without pay. He knew that Jacob worked hard without complaining. It was clear that God was helping Jacob to be a faithful worker. And he didn’t cost Laban anything! So Laban decided to do something wrong. He would trick Jacob to get more free labor from him.

In those days the bride wore a heavy veil during the wedding celebration. No one was to see her face. That night Jacob took his veiled bride to his tent. He couldn’t see that it was Leah, not Rachel. In the morning Jacob made a terrible discovery. He had married the wrong sister! He was shocked and angry. How could his uncle have done such a thing?

“Uncle Laban, why have you done this?” Jacob asked. “I worked hard for you so I could marry Rachel. Why did you trick me?”

“It is our custom,” Laban lied, “for the older sister to marry before the younger.”* “But I’ll make a bargain with you. You may also marry Rachel if you will work for me for another seven years.”

In those days in that country, many men had more than one wife. So at the end of the week of Leah’s wedding celebration, Jacob and Rachel were also married. Then Jacob began to work seven more years for Laban.

Jacob worked without pay for 14 years—a long time—to marry Rachel. Patiently, he served Laban all that time. He truly believed that having Rachel for his wife was worth it! And God helped him to serve faithfully even when the work was hard. When we really love someone, we will serve faithfully and with patience too.

*The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 388, states that Laban probably made up this custom. It was not the usual practice.