The Cost of Love
Pastor Ernie Brodie Jr., Ed.D.
When one considers the cost of love, it can be overwhelming. Genesis 29 contains an account of the cost
of love. In Genesis 27, Jacob on the advice of his mother, Rebekah, deceives Isaac into giving him the
family blessing of the firstborn. When Esau discovers what his twin brother has done, he promises
vengeance (Genesis 27:41-46). Jacob is forced to leave the Promise Land and head to Padanaram. The
journey is long and dangerous. In Genesis 28, Jacob dreams of God’s protection and promised blessings.
Jacob names the place “Bethel” (house of God) in response to the angels coming down from heaven to
protect him. In Genesis 29, Jacob finally reaches the end of his journey. Providentially, Jacob reaches a
well where Rachel comes to water the flock she is tending. Jacob is smitten with her beauty (Genesis
29:1-12). When the news reaches Laban, he quickly takes in the young man who is his sister’s son
After staying with Laban for a month, Laban offers wages to Jacob (Genesis 29:15). Since Jacob is not his
son, nor is he a servant, Laban must offer wages. The love-struck young man offers to work for the hand
of Rachel in marriage (Genesis 29:16-20). It was customary in ancient times for a man to pay a brideprice
(Genesis 34:12, Exodus 22:17, I Samuel 18:25) to the family of the young woman to compensate for
her care and protection. According to Exodus 21:2, the Mosaic Law provided that certain slaves or
servants could obtain their freedom after seven years of service. While the events of Genesis 29 took
place hundreds of years before the Mosaic Law was written, Jacob offered to work for Rachel for seven
year in order to obtain her hand in marriage. Laban was overjoyed at the agreement. Jacob was in love.
The seven years seemed like only a short time (Genesis 29:20).
After completing the seven years of work, Jacob approached Laban concerning the marriage (Genesis
29:21). Jacob was nearly 50 years old (Genesis 25:24-26, 26:34-35, 27:46) and was now eager to marry
the love of his life. Laban arranged for the wedding as promised (Genesis 29:22). However, Laban
switched Rachel with his oldest daughter, Leah (Genesis 29:23-26).
For whatever reason, Jacob did not love Leah. According to Genesis 29:17, Leah was “tender eyed”
while Rachel was “beautiful and well favored.” According to Jewish tradition, Leah and Rachel were
twins. They were also supposed to marry Esau and Jacob. When Leah discovered what kind of man Esau
was, she cried until her eyelashes fell out. What we do know is that she wanted to marry Jacob. When
one examines the text of Genesis 29, it does not appear as if Rachel was in love with Jacob.
Following the wedding to Leah (Genesis 29:25-30), Jacob discovers that he married the wrong girl and
confronts Uncle Laban. Laban sees a grand opportunity and convinces Jacob that he must work another
seven years for Rachel. Laban does allow Jacob to marry Rachel before the seven year period begins.
Jacob works a total of fourteen years for the woman he loves. Love costs.
On a side note, Leah was a wonderful wife for Jacob. There are times that we fight of Providence of God.
Jacob continually attempted to press for his own will throughout his life. When one looks at how God
blessed Leah, it becomes apparent that she was God’s will for Jacob’s life. Leah is the line from which
the Messiah comes, as well as the mother of the priestly tribe. She was buried beside Jacob (Genesis
49:29-31). Perhaps the real cost for Jacob, was not the fourteen years he worked for Rachel’s hand. The
real cost was that it took him so many years to realize the love of Leah.
For Christians, the account of Jacob regarding the cost of love is mindful of the love of God. In John
3:16, we are reminded that God chose to become a human being in order to take our place on the cross.
John 3:17-21 reveals that this love and sacrifice of God was rejected by many. Despite the condemnation
humanity is under, there is only one source of salvation. Acts 4:12 reads as follows: “Neither is there
salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be
saved.” Romans 5:8-11 shows us that the sacrifice of God removes the hostility between God and His
creation. Romans 10:9-10 assures us that all who call on the Lord for salvation will be saved. This is the
greatest love story ever told.