The seventh HomeGroups Bible study starting in the book of Genesis is named “and he went out”, or Vayetze (ויצא) in Hebrew. The title comes from the first verse of the reading, which says, “And Jacob went out from Beersheba” (Genesis 28:10 KJV). This study tells the story of Jacob’s flight from his brother Esau, his vision at Bethel, his employment with his uncle Laban and his marriage to the two sisters, Rachel and Leah. Jacob’s double marriage results in a baby-bearing contest that gives him eleven sons. At the end of the portion, Jacob leaves Laban and returns to the land of Canaan, but not before Laban tries to stop him.
You will also find study guides by chapter and advanced study of the original languages following the Bible study outline. While it is our belief that many of the letters of the New Testament were originally written in Aramaic and/ or Hebrew, the Greek texts are used for study even when there are known Hebrew manuscripts (eg. Mathew and Hebrews).
Bible Audio & Text:
Listen to all the Bible study below or click the link to read them at biblegateway.com in your favorite translation:
- Penteteuch: Genesis 28:10-32:2
- Prophets: Hosea 12:12-14:10
- Gospels: Matthew 3 & 4
- Letters: James (Jacob) 2
- Romans: Romans 11
Bible Outlines & Chapter Study Guides
- Genesis 28:10 | Jacob’s Dream at Bethel
- Genesis 29:1 | Jacob Meets Rachel
- Genesis 29:15 | Jacob Marries Laban’s Daughters
- Genesis 30:25 | Jacob Prospers at Laban’s Expense
- Genesis 31:1 | Jacob Flees with Family and Flocks
- Genesis 31:22 | Laban Overtakes Jacob
- Genesis 31:43 | Laban and Jacob Make a Covenant
- Hos 12:12 | The Long History of Ephraim’s Rebellion
- Hos 13:1 | Relentless Judgment on the house of Israel
- Hos 14:1 | A Plea for Repentance and prophecy of Ephraim’s salvation
- Hos 14:4 | Assurance of Forgiveness
- Mathew 3 & 4 | The baptism begins the mission (salvation of the world through Ephraim/ Israel)
- John 1 | Reminding ourselves that Jesus/ Yeshua was there in the beginning
- James (Jacob) 2:1 | Faith without favoritism
- James (Jacob) 2:26 | Faith without works is dead
- (Greek Audio) (Interlinear)
- Romans 11:1 | Paul is sorrowful for the house of Israel’s condition.
- Romans 11:11 | YHVH is Lord of all
- Romans 11:7 | So faith comes from hearing
- (Greek Audio) (Interlinear)
Bible Study Commentary
There are few ideal families in the Bible. Jacob’s certainly wasn’t. As if it was not bad enough to have two wives, they were sisters. Being married to the same man made them bitter rivals. This made for such a dysfunctional combination that the Bible later legislates against marrying sisters (Leviticus 18:18). The sisters added to the dysfunction by offering Jacob their maidservants, Bilhah and Zilpah, as additional baby-makers in their contest to bear sons. And you thought keeping the peace with one spouse was difficult! Try having four.
Jacob’s family was far from the ideal. Yet his children were the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise. His children were, quite literally, the “children of Israel.” This teaches us that God is able to work (and chooses to work) His purposes in less than ideal conditions. Have you ever felt like your family is an embarrassment? “If only we looked like the smiling, perfect family on the cover of the homeschool magazine,” a frustrated mother sighs. Today, broken families and second marriages are common. Obviously this is not the ideal, but God can work with even the worst of circumstances. He is the God who brings order out of chaos and shines light into darkness.
Jacob could have become bitter and complained to God, “I wanted one wife, and now I am stuck with four! How could You do this to me?” But this less-than-ideal family situation he’d landed in was God’s way of multiplying Jacob’s seed and keeping the promises made to Abraham.
Rachel and Leah
When Jacob took Esau’s birthright and blessing, he got more than he bargained for: Two wives!
Here’s how it happened. Laban had two daughters: Rachel and Leah. Leah was older, but the Bible says that she had “weak eyes.” Rachel, on the other hand, was beautiful. What does it mean that Leah had weak eyes? The Hebrew word translated here as “weak” can also mean delicate, tender, or soft. Some translations understand it in the sense of “beautiful eyes.” In that case, the Bible would be saying, “Leah had beautiful eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and face.” Leah had beautiful eyes, but was not as attractive as her sister.
We know that Esau married Canaanite girls. We know that his mother and father would have preferred him to marry within the greater Abrahamic family. Leah would have been the logical choice for him. It seems natural that the firstborn would have married the firstborn and the second-born the second-born.
Jacob fell in love with the second-born Rachel, but, legally, he had already taken Esau’s position as firstborn over the family when he purchased Esau’s birthright. Leah was the one God had chosen to be the wife of the progenitor of Abrahamic blessing. When Jacob took that position from Esau, he unwittingly acquired Leah as well. Jacob worked seven years to pay the bride price for Rachel. On their wedding night, Laban surreptitiously switched his daughters. He disguised Leah as Rachel, just as Jacob had disguised himself as Esau to trick Isaac. The ruse worked. Jacob accidentally married Leah. This is prophetic as well.
Laban switched his daughters on the wedding night simply to get another seven years of work out of Jacob. Executing the swap would not have been difficult. In the custom of the ancient world, the bride would have been completely veiled and in extravagant dress, unrecognizable. Her unveiling would have happened only in the bridal chamber and in the dark.
Many Jewish communities today still have the tradition of completely veiling the bride on her wedding day. However, the bridegroom is allowed to lift the veil just prior to the ceremony to make sure he is marrying the right girl.
Jacob’s accidental marriage to Leah is a good example of how God works in our lives. We make plans, dream dreams and set out to accomplish certain things. Then our plans are frustrated, our dreams come to naught and we find ourselves far away from our original goals. But this does not mean that God has abandoned us. Your plans for your life may not necessarily be His plans. God may be attempting to work something great through your situation that you never expected.
Through Leah, Jacob sired Judah and Levi, who in turn fathered the line of the Davidic monarchy and the Aaronic priesthood. He never intended to marry her, but the spiritual greatness of Israel came through Leah. That is only a small portion of the greatness of Israel’s two houses though. As it says in 2Sa 19:43:
“And the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, and said, We have ten parts in the king, and we have also more right in David than ye: why then did ye despise us, that our advice should not be first had in bringing back our king? And the words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel.”(KJV)
Wow, do you see this gem? This is prophetic! Prophecy in the Bible doesn’t just happen one time- prophecy is not linear, it’s cyclical. God’s prophetic calendar follows very precise patterns. Remarkably, most christians, if they read these prophecies like in Hosea 12, think that these prophecies are about the Jews, but they are not! They are talking about the house of Israel, the Samaritans, the Christians grafted in to the house of Israel because of Jesus/ Yeshua the Messiah and King! The house of Israel is representative of having “ten parts in the king”. The house of Judah only has 2 parts! In other words, if God’s kingdom was a democracy, we would be the majority vote! Thankfully it’s a monarchy, not a democracy. And in a way, it is also a republic where there is equality between individuals; all the same rules and blessings are afforded equally, without respect of persons. Only with the exception that some rules are only for men, some for farmers, some for Levites and some only for women.
We read in James (Jacob) that obeying these rules and doing these works go hand-in-hand with our faith without favoritism. And these deep mysteries are explained by Paul in Romans 11. He explains why BOTH houses have partial blinders on. The key to understanding Paul’s explanation is to know that this chapter, just like the previously discussed prophecies, are not about the Jews! Salvation (the ability to be grafted in to the commonwealth of Israel) did not come through Jews. In fact, Jews in the first century would never offer up to teach the Hebrew Scriptures to the gentiles. They would not even eat with them. They accused Jesus/ Yeshua many times for associating with them as they did His disciples.
The branches that were “broken off” were not the Jews, it was the house of Israel as it was prophesied many times after many warnings that they would be cut off/ divorced.
The depth of these Scriptures this week cannot be overstated. But neither can it adequately be explained in just one Bible study. But I do hope you enjoy getting just a little taste.
In the Hebrew Scriptures there are hidden aleph-tav’s [את] that aren’t usually translated into English. But they are very enlightening when we read them in the Hebrew. These are the ones we find in this week’s study:
Concerning the name Rachel which is used a total of 45 times in the Penteteuch/ Torah, the את is used only 6 times in front of her name during key events
Gen 29:10 when Jacob sees Rachel for the first time;
Gen 29:18 when Jacob confesses his love for her and commits to work for Laban for 7 years to earn her hand in marriage;
Gen 29:28 when Rachel is finally given to him in marriage;
Gen 29:30 when Rachel sleeps with Jacob for the first time;
Gen 30:22 when Elohim remembers Rachel and opens her womb for the first time;
Gen 33:2 just before they confront Esau we see a ואת in front of her name as the order of the family is given.
Special attention should be noted that the את is also used in place of Rachel’s name, such as in Gen 29:21 where Jacob says to Laban, give me את my wife. Also in Gen 29:27 where Laban says to Jacob complete the week with Leah and we will give you also את (Rachel) for serving me another seven more years…the scripture actually reads, ‘complete the week and we will give you also את for serving me another seven more years’.
Bible Study for Kids
It’s sometimes hard to make the Old Testament fun for kids. Try these Children’s activities:
For Deeper Language Learning
Hebrew “Word of the Week” by Hebrew4Christians.com
Greek “Greek of the Week”