Old Testament Lesson 10 (Genesis 28–33)
February 28–March 6
Jacob’s Great Vision at Bethel
● Genesis 28 Jacob went to Padan-aram to marry one of Laban’s daughters. Review Jacob’s travels on LDS Bible maps 1,2,5, and 9.
● Genesis 28:10–22; JST Genesis 28:22 Jacob’s blessings were confirmed in a great vision at Bethel. Jacob saw angels ascending and descending on a ladder, and the Lord standing at the top of it. He also had the Abrahamic covenant renewed by the Lord himself (vv. 13–15).
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, speaking of Paul’s comment about one who was caught up to the third kingdom (2 Corinthians 12:2): “Paul ascended into the third heavens, and he could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob’s ladder—the telestial, the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms.”1
Elder Marion G. Romney said, “Because he had met the Lord and entered into covenants with him there, Jacob considered the site so sacred that he named the place Bethel, a contraction of Beth-Elohim, which means literally ‘the House of the Lord.’ He said of it: ‘ . . . this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’ (Gen. 28:17).
“Jacob not only passed through the gate of heaven, but by living up to every covenant he also went all the way in. Of him and his forebears Abraham and Isaac, the Lord has said: ‘ . . . because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.’ (D&C 132:37). Temples are to us all what Bethel was to Jacob. Even more, they are also the gates to heaven for all of our un-endowed kindred dead. We should all do our duty in bringing our loved ones through them.”2
● Genesis 28:22 Jacob began his long quest for exaltation, as most of us do, with a determination to serve the Lord and to pay his tithing.
Rachel and Leah—Jacob’s Covenant Wives
● Genesis 29:1–14 Jacob met his cousin Rachel at the well. It was at the same well in Haran that his father met his mother that Jacob first laid eyes upon Rachel (Hebrew = “ewe lamb”) (vv. 9–10). Their initial encounter was one of great joy and he kissed her (v. 11).
● Genesis 29:12 Each of the three great patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob— married relatives.
— Abraham married Sarah, who was his niece.
— Isaac married Rebekah, who was his first cousin once removed.
— Jacob married Leah and Rachel, who were his first cousins.
● Genesis 29:15–31 The Marriage of Jacob to Leah, Rachel, and their Handmaids.
— v. 17 Leah was “tender eyed.” The Hebrew word translated as “tender” means “soft, delicate, or lovely.”
— v. 17 Rachel is described as “beautiful and well-favoured,” that is, beautiful in every respect.
— v. 18 Soon Laban invited Jacob to work for hire, and they agreed upon 7 years of labor so that Jacob could marry Rachel.
— v. 20 Jacob served 7 years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.”
— vv. 21–26 After promising Rachel to Jacob for seven years of service, Laban sent Leah to Jacob’s tent to consummate the marriage.
— vv. 27–28 Though Laban demanded another seven years for Rachel’s hand, he allowed Jacob to marry her once the seven days of wedding feasts for Leah were finished.
— v. 29 The gift of the handmaidens to each daughter made the servants the direct property of each wife, not of Jacob. While at Haran Jacob also married two of his wives’ servants, Zilpah and Bilhah.
● Genesis 29:30 Jacob married Rachel, who “he loved . . . more than Leah” and gladly served Laban another seven years for her.
● Genesis 29:31 Jacob did not “hate” Leah. The Hebrew word sahnay does not mean “hate” as the term is used today, but rather conveys the idea of “loving less.” A better translation would be, “when the Lord saw that Leah was loved less or was not as favored,” he opened her womb. Meanwhile, Rachel remained barren.
THE TWELVE SONS OF ISRAEL
● Genesis 29:31–35; Genesis 30:1–24 Jacob had children by all four wives while at Haran—eleven sons and one daughter.
● Genesis 35:15–20 Jacob’s youngest and twelfth son, Benjamin, was not born at Haran but later near Bethlehem.
● Genesis 29:32–35 The Children of Leah
— v. 32 Ruben. “Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben [meaning ‘look, a son’] for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.” We see in this Leah’s desire that Jacob would love her as much as he did Rachel.
— v. 33 Simon. Leah continued to bear sons. She named her second-born son Simon [‘hearing’] who she believed was given to her as evidence that God had heard her prayers concerning he sorrow over Jacob’s continuing favoring of Rachel.
— v. 34 Levi. Leah next bore Levi [‘joined or pledged’] whose name was symbolic of her hope that her husband would now be “joined unto me” because she had now bore him three sons.
— v. 35 Judah. Leah bore a fourth son, who she named Judah [“praise”] as a way of praising the Lord for her continued fertility and posterity.
● Genesis 30:1–8 The Children of Rachel’s Handmaid Bilhah
— vv. 1–4 Rachel envied Leah for all her sons, and said unto Jacob,”Give me children, or else I die” (v. 1). She gave her handmaid to Jacob as a third wife, whose posterity would be considered hers in that culture (vv. 3–4).
— vv. 5–6 Dan. Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Rachel named him Dan [‘vindicated’].
— vv. 7–8 Naphtali. Bilhah then bore a second son who Rachel named Naphtali [‘my wrestling’], symbolic of the “great wrestling” she had with her sister Leah.
● Genesis 30:9–13 The Children of Leah’s Handmaid Zilpah
— v. 9 Seeing that she could have no more children, Leah then gave her handmaid Zilpah to Jacob as a fourth wife.
— vv. 10–11 Gad. Zilpah bore her first son, who Leah named Gad [‘troop’ and ‘good fortune’], symbolic of her gloating that a “troop” had come through her and her handmaid.
— vv. 12–13 Asher. Zilpah bore a second son who Leah named Asher [‘happy, blessed’].
● Genesis 30:14–21 More Children for Leah
— vv. 14–16 Reuben went into the fields and harvested mandrakes, which were believed in those days to enhance fertility. He gave them to his mother Leah in the belief that she would then be able to have more children.
— vv. 17–18 Issachar. Leah conceived and bore a fifth son, who she named Issachar [‘recompense’].
— vv. 19–20 Zebulun. Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son, who she named Zebulun [‘exalted abode’] in symbolism of her hopes that Jacob would now dwell with her.
— vv. 21 Dinah. Leah then bore a daughter who she named Dinah.
● Genesis 30:22–24 The First Child of Rachel
— vv. 22–24 Joseph. Finally, the Lord opened Rachel’s womb and she bore her first-born son who she name Joseph [‘to add,” ‘to take away,’ and ‘to gather,’ all three of which were symbolic of his life’s journey]. As the first-born of Jacob covenant wife, he would become the successor to the patriarchal priesthood that Jacob held.
● Genesis 30:25–43; 31:1–55 Jacob separates from Laban and Returns Home.
— Genesis 30:25 through 31:1–18 At this point, Jacob asks Laban to give him his share of the livestock so that he can return to his homeland. They agree upon the process by which the flocks might be divided. Jacob’s portion thrived. Then, while Laban was away, Jacob took his wives and children and his portion of the livestock and left to return home.
— vv. 19–55 Three days later, Laban overtook Jacob and accused him of stealing his children and his “images.” The two men discussed the matter and made a covenant with each other on mount Gilead.
Jacob and Esau Meet and Make Amends
● Genesis 32:1–8 Jacob sees a vision of angels. He is concerned about his brother Esau’s feelings toward him and send a delegation to greet him and ask for a meeting.
● Genesis 32:9–12 Jacob prays for protection from the wrath of Esau, reminding the Lord of His promise of seed greater than the sands of the sea.
● Genesis 32:24–26 Jacob wrestles with an angel, seeking the blessings of God that he had been promised.
● Genesis 32:27–29 The angel changed Jacob’s name to Israel [‘let God prevail’] because he is a prince that has power with God and with men, and will prevail.
● Genesis 32:30 Jacob then calls the place Peniel [‘the face of God’] because there he had seen the face of God and lived.
● Genesis 33:1–15 After many years of hard feelings, Jacob and Esau were reunited. Esau’s example of forgiveness is inspiring, considering all that had happened in the past.
1. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 304–305.
2. “Temples–The Gates to Heaven,” Ensign, Mar. 1971, 16.