Monday, October 05, 2009

Jacob Meets Rachel and Kisses Her -- Genesis 29:9-12

While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept. Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah's son, and she ran and told her father.

As Jacob is continuing his conversation with the local shepherds, Rachel arrives at the well. The scripture says she was a shepherdess. And here all along some of us thought this was man’s work years ago. Surprise, the owner of the flock probably picked his own family member to look after his interests, especially when it came to being present at the opening of his well each day. For those of you who know the story that is still to come, Rachel plays a significant role for several more chapters in the Bible and then is referred to later on in the Old Testament and again early in the New Testament. And to think she was simply a shepherd girl. More early proof that God can, and does use, people from all walks of life to accomplish His plan for humanity.

Now notice the sequence of what happened next: first Jacob sees Rachel, the daughter of his uncle (his mother’s brother) and thus his cousin; second he immediately goes to the stone at the mouth of the well and rolls it away single-handedly; third, he waters Laban’s flock; fourth, he kisses Rachel; fifth, he lifts up his voice; sixth, he weeps; and finally seventh, he tells Rachel who he is at which news she runs off to tell her father Laban.

Can you imagine the emotion Jacob was experiencing? He had left home initially to escape the wrath of his older brother and partially to find himself a wife from his mother’s family and then he sees his cousin Rachel. Somehow all that energized him to be able to move, all by himself, the stone that the shepherds could not move without considerable help from others. Was he showing off, helping the other shepherds water their sheep so they would leave him alone with Rachel, or just generally interested in getting things going so that he can return to Laban’s house with Rachel? Scripture does not tell us and neither should we surmise.

He takes care to water Laban’s flock. That could well have been an act of kindness to his uncle’s family or it could have been an act of chivalry (long before the word was invented during medieval times) sparing the young woman from having to water her flock.

And then he kisses her. Now one may argue that this kiss was simply a way to greet a close relative or cousin in this case, seeing them anew after a real long interval or as in Jacob’s case, seeing a kin person for the first time. We have no way of knowing exactly how the kiss played out or what the motivation behind it was. However, if we accept the order of events as outlined above, it is hard to believe that the ‘long lost distant relative greeting’ would wait until after steps two and three above were accomplished. No, that greeting would have occurred after step one. When we meet a relative at the airport, we don’t see them, go and find their bags, get them a bite to eat, and then welcome them with a kiss. We kiss them as soon as we get near them, everything else can wait. I am more inclined to believe that Jacob’s kiss for Rachel was indeed a romantic one planned carefully during the rolling of the stone and the watering of the flock. In fact, he also made sure that they had not even exchanged words between them. Nothing could have stopped him from doing what he had planned to do.

Having kissed her, Jacob fully satisfied that his quest was about to be accomplished and only the details had to be worked out between himself and Laban, he lifts his voice out of sheer joy to God with thanksgiving and he weeps from gladness. God had indeed been with him and blessed him on the outward-bound part of his journey. Having kissed her and thanking God for making it all happen, what finally remains was to simply tell her who he was. And then, reminiscent of exactly what Jacob’s mother Rebekah did after she heard Abraham’s servant praise the Lord for blessing his journey, Rachel runs off to tell her family. The stories have an incredible similarity for God is a God of order and pattern, in nature as well as in the life of His people.

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  1. Keisha Gentles5/10/09 11:10


  2. Anonymous5/10/09 11:43

    ...we come upon the fact that Jacob kissed Rachel...and don't we know it (!)...we go roaring off with our thoughts...truly, none of us can say what all this meant...none of us were there hiding in some bushes, "spying" on them...albeit, some one who has done what this "Gentleman Jacob" has done...there is room for thought, has he automatically turned into a "choir boy"?...hmmmm! I do say I firmly believe God is always in control...NOTHING escapes Him...He will allow what He will allow...and what's it to us anyway(?) interest is how God allows this drama to unfold

  3. Anonymous7/3/11 20:29

    I'm not sure if the "exegetical-attempt" here bears ANY contextual truth, other than the seven steps in what took place in the Jacob and Rachel account. Now, given the seven step outline above in what actually happened in the Jacob Rachel account is true. But to eliminate the historical causes (background) for what happened in this account (the "reason" why he kissed her, the "reason" why he moved the large stone away from the well (showing off his strength to the other shepherds), or knowing whether or not his greeting to Rachel was a "premeditated" act)is absolutely dangerous for it remains a mystery UNTIL the historical contextual backgound has been clearly established. From this historical background which serves as a "floor" upon which the "contextual-meaning" is laid, can we then "interpret the "meaning" of the Scripture by the help of the Spirit of God and thereby apply the "revelation" of what is shown into our lives.

  4. Dear 2nd Anonymous (7/3/11): Thank you for your perspective on the above post. I do wonder, however, as to why you would write anonymously? Anyway, you can respond to that as you wish.

    You are entitled to your "opinions" as you have shared them but when one disagrees with what another has written, it is best that he not simply say so, but identify him/herself and also provide some rationale or logic that is easy to understand. (By the way, your second sentence above is unclear and grammatically unsound -- it is an incomplete sentence as best and I fail to see its meaning.)

    I also find it hard to understand why it is "dangerous" to suggest what may have been causes for something just because certain things remain a "mystery" to other people. At this point in Genesis we do not have a lot of other "historical contextual background". In addition, my approach to studying the Scriptures is to basically take them as they are presented to us, to the extent possible. I believe the Spirit of God was indeed helping to open this passage of Scripture for me and I simply shared what I believe may be the case.

    You seem to criticize from a very "educated ivory tower" position which I find neither helpful, nor necessarily the truth. In my writing, I often say "we have no way of knowing certain things". Neither was I trying to give my understanding of the passage from a "historical contextual background and meaning". Blessings. Ken.