Jacob leaves the “gate to heaven” because fucking your cousin is more interesting than hanging around the entrance to the house of god, apparently. You know what else is more interesting than the gate to heaven? Wells. The Bible spends the next several verses talking about wells. Jacob comes across a well that captures his attention, and soon some men come along who know Laban. They are expecting Laban’s daughter Rachel to come to the well to water her flock. Rachel shows up while they are talking about her, which is in no way exactly like the time when Abraham’s slave found a wife – Rebekah – for Isaac. At Laban’s well. When she approached while they were talking about her. Definitely not exactly like that story.
Jacob has the strangest reaction ever to seeing this woman. Before even exchanging any words, he “kisseth Rachel, and lifteth up his voice, and weepeth.” That’s…interesting. Then everyone starts running around, exactly like the Isaac/Rebekah version of this story. Rachel runs to tell Laban, Laban runs back to the well, and they hug and kiss.
Jacob stays for a while, working for Laban, and Laban asks what wages he would like for his labor. Jacob says “Rachel,” because she is “fair of form and fair of appearance.” Meeeeyow. Laban’s other daughter Leah only has “tender” eyes. Wah Wah.
Laban accepts the terms of sale for his daughter, and works for seven years for Laban. At the end of the seven years, he hilariously demands that Laban pay out his wages: “Give up my wife, for my days have been fulfilled, and I go in unto her.” In other words, “hurry up and give me my wife, I’m horny as shit and I’ve been waiting seven years for that ass.”
Laban pulls a fast one, though, and swaps Rachel for Leah, and Jacob “accidentally” consummates his marriage with her. He must have been quite a conscientious lover if he didn’t realize he was banging the wrong woman. He wakes up in the morning and realizes what he has done, and calls out Laban. Laban explains that it is customary to sell your oldest daughter before you sell your younger daughter. To patch things up, he offers him Rachel as a BOGO cousin-wife, if Jacob works for him another seven years. So the family tree has gotten a bit confusing: Leah and Rachel are concurrently (1) sisters (2) sisters-in-law, and (3) cousins-in-law.
The Bible specifies that each sister-wife gets a slave as a wedding present. Touching.
Then it gets weird. God sees that Jacob loves Rachel more than Leah, so he “openeth her womb, and Rachel is barren.” Another dick move by the beneficent creator. He doesn’t have a problem with Laban tricking Jacob into marrying the wrong wife, or Jacob marrying two sisters in the span of a week, and Rachel didn’t do anything wrong, but she is stricken barren on Jacob’s behalf. Leah has four sons for the sole purpose of trying to get Jacob to like her, and specifies this every time she names a son. She calls one Reuben “Because Jehovah hath looked on mine affliction; because now doth my husband love me.” She calls another Simeon”Because Jehovah hath heard that I am the hated one, He also giveth to me even this one. She finally decides that the third one, Levi, is the charm because “Now is the time, my husband is joined unto me, because I have born to him three sons. After the fourth one, she’s all birthed out.
1 And Jacob lifteth up his feet, and goeth towards the land of the sons of the east;
2 and he looketh, and lo, a well in the field, and lo, there three droves of a flock crouching by it, for from that well they water the droves, and the great stone [is] on the mouth of the well.
3 (When thither have all the droves been gathered, and they have rolled the stone from off the mouth of the well, and have watered the flock, then they have turned back the stone on the mouth of the well to its place.)
4 And Jacob saith to them, `My brethren, from whence [are] ye?’ and they say, `We [are] from Haran.’
5 And he saith to them, `Have ye known Laban, son of Nahor?’ and they say, `We have known.’
6 And he saith to them, `Hath he peace?’ and they say, `Peace; and lo, Rachel his daughter is coming with the flock.’
7 And he saith, `Lo, the day [is] still great, [it is] not time for the cattle to be gathered; water ye the flock, and go, delight yourselves.’
8 And they say, `We are not able, till that all the droves be gathered together, and they have rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, and we have watered the flock.’
9 He is yet speaking with them, and Rachel hath come with the flock which her father hath, for she [is] shepherdess;
10 and it cometh to pass when Jacob hath seen Rachel, daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the flock of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob cometh nigh and rolleth the stone from off the mouth of the well, and watereth the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
11 And Jacob kisseth Rachel, and lifteth up his voice, and weepeth,
12 and Jacob declareth to Rachel that he [is] her father’s brother, and that he [is] Rebekah’s son, and she runneth and declareth to her father.
13 And it cometh to pass, when Laban heareth the report of Jacob his sister’s son, that he runneth to meet him, and embraceth him, and kisseth him, and bringeth him in unto his house; and he recounteth to Laban all these things,
14 and Laban saith to him, `Only my bone and my flesh [art] thou;’ and he dwelleth with him a month of days.
15 And Laban saith to Jacob, `Is it because thou [art] my brother that thou hast served me for nought? declare to me what [is] thy hire.’
16 And Laban hath two daughters, the name of the elder [is] Leah, and the name of the younger Rachel,
17 and the eyes of Leah [are] tender, and Rachel hath been fair of form and fair of appearance.
18 And Jacob loveth Rachel, and saith, `I serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter:’
19 and Laban saith, `It is better for me to give her to thee than to give her to another man; dwell with me;’
20 and Jacob serveth for Rachel seven years; and they are in his eyes as some days, because of his loving her.
21 And Jacob saith unto Laban, `Give up my wife, for my days have been fulfilled, and I go in unto her;’
22 and Laban gathereth all the men of the place, and maketh a banquet.
23 And it cometh to pass in the evening, that he taketh Leah, his daughter, and bringeth her in unto him, and he goeth in unto her;
24 and Laban giveth to her Zilpah, his maid-servant, to Leah his daughter, a maid-servant.
25 And it cometh to pass in the morning, that lo, it [is] Leah; and he saith unto Laban, `What [is] this thou hast done to me? for Rachel have I not served with thee? and why hast thou deceived me?’
26 And Laban saith, `It is not done so in our place, to give the younger before the first-born;
27 fulfil the week of this one, and we give to thee also this one, for the service which thou dost serve with me yet seven other years.’
28 And Jacob doth so, and fulfilleth the week of this one, and he giveth to him Rachel his daughter, to him for a wife;
29 and Laban giveth to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his maid-servant, for a maid-servant to her.
30 And he goeth in also unto Rachel, and he also loveth Rachel more than Leah; and he serveth with him yet seven other years.
31 And Jehovah seeth that Leah [is] the hated one, and He openeth her womb, and Rachel [is] barren;
32 and Leah conceiveth, and beareth a son, and calleth his name Reuben, for she said, `Because Jehovah hath looked on mine affliction; because now doth my husband love me.’
33 And she conceiveth again, and beareth a son, and saith, `Because Jehovah hath heard that I [am] the hated one, He also giveth to me even this [one];’ and she calleth his name Simeon.
34 And she conceiveth again, and beareth a son, and saith, `Now [is] the time, my husband is joined unto me, because I have born to him three sons,’ therefore hath [one] called his name Levi.
35 And she conceiveth again, and beareth a son, and saith this time, `I praise Jehovah;’ therefore hath she called his name Judah; and she ceaseth from bearing.