Genesis 29:2–14

29 2 Jacob looked around and there saw a well in the field, and there were three flocks of sheep lying beside it. That well was used as a source to water the flocks. The stone that covered the mouth of the well was large. When all of the flocks were gathered, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well, water the sheep, and put the stone in its place at the mouth of the well.
     Jacob said, “Brothers, where are you from?”
     They said, “We are from Haran.”
     He said, “Do you know Laban, son of Nahor?”
     They said, “We know him.”
     He said, “Is all well with him?”
     They said, “It is well; Here comes his daughter Rachel, with the flock.”
     He said, “It is only the middle of the day, not yet time to gather the herd. Water the sheep, and take them out to graze.”
     They said, “We cannot until all the herds are gathered, only then is the stone rolled away from the mouth of the well and the flock watered.”
     Jacob was still speaking to them when Rachel came with her father’s flock—she was a shepherdess. 10 It happened when Jacob saw Rachel, daughter of Laban, and the flock of his mother’s brother that Jacob stepped forward and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well. Jacob watered the sheep of his uncle Laban, his mother’s brother. 11 Jacob kissed Rachel, lifted his voice, and broke into tears. 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kin—Rebekah’s son. Rachel ran to tell her father. 13 When Laban heard the report about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him. Laban embraced him, kissed him, and brought him into his house. Jacob recounted to Laban all that had happened. 14 Laban said to him, “Yes, you are my bone, my flesh.”
     Jacob stayed with Laban for a renewing of the moon.

In seemingly no time, Jacob arrives in Rebekah’s ancestral land.

First, Jacob sees a well. Water has been important in Genesis from too much, needing to be constrained into seas, to a return of too much, a flood, to dry Canaan from the well-watered land of the Tigris and Euphrates flowing from Eden. Wells are signs of G*D’s presence and the development of human relationships—both commercial and personal.

Secondly, Jacob sees the sheep waiting to be watered.

Thirdly, Jacob notices the stone on top of the well. Like his earlier stone of protection, this one holds the potential to be differently configured into an altar or memorial to blessings given and received.

Approaching the well, additional information is provided about how the stone was chosen to be large enough, it could only be removed by all the shepherds together. This peacekeeping measure keeps one flock from having an advantage over the others.

As Jacob arrives, he engages the shepherd in conversation and finds he is in the place he was aiming for. To confirm this, Rachel, the Shepherdess, draws near with her flock. As Rachel nears, Jacob is suggesting an early removal of the stone. When Rachel is arrived, Jacob is energized to single-handedly move the stone—pretty good for a tent-dweller.

Jacob proceeds to water the flocks, as Rebekah had done years previously, and kisses Rachel. The Hebrew puns “watered” and “kissed.” This connection will be seen again in the erotic Song of Songs.

Rachel, like Rebekah before her, ran to tell of this encounter with a far distant relative. This excited energy of running is typically part of betrothal scenes.

Jacob meets Rachel’s father and tells enough family stories that Laban exclaims the ’adamic line, “You are bone of my bone!” As back in the Garden, innocence will include betrayal, but that is another story for another moon time.

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