In Genesis 28-31 we see that Jacob leaving the promised land. And we see the dissension caused by Isaac and Rebekah loving one child more than another.
Isaac loved Esau … but Rebekah loved Jacob. (25:28)
Because Jacob had both the birthright and blessing that he took from Esau (with a little help from mom), he has to flee from his home. Esau has plotted to kill him. While Jacob has divided loyalty with his sons, he does reassure and reaffirm the blessing of Abraham (28:3–5). Esau’s revenge now extends to his father as well as Jacob, when he decides to marry those that his father had forbidden (28:6–9).
As Jacob leaves the promised land, his future is uncertain, despite the reassurances of his father. Thus, God himself meets him(through a dream) on his way out of the land.
[Yahweh said:] “Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”(28:15)
Thus, the outward circumstances, alienation from his family, removed from the promised land suggests that Jacob has lost everything. Yet God comforts him with the promise that God is still in control and bring about that blessing that God himself had given.
When Jacob makes his vow (28:20–22), he does not initiate the covenant between them. Rather his vow is in response to what God had already promised. His vow reflects his faith in God’s words to him.
Jacob finally reaches his destination. He thinks that he can control the situation. After all, Rachel is a beautiful woman, he loves her, and he wants her for his wife. And now, the deceiver (Jacob= “he who deceives”) is deceived himself. Imagine Jacob’s surprise and consternation when he works for seven years to have Rachel as his wife. But the woman next to him is her sister, Leah!
Jacob lives with that result and then works another seven years for Rachel as his wife. But the favoritism that he learned from his parents now enters into his relationships with his wives.
Jacob slept with Rachel also, and indeed, he loved Rachel more than Leah. When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was unable to conceive (29:30–31)
But God’s mercies continue to surprise, especially Leah. The dissension continues as now there is a wall of hostility between Rachel and Leah, and finally between Rachel and Jacob:
When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she envied her sister. “Give me sons, or I will die!” she said to Jacob.
Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, “Am I in God’s place, who has withheld children from you?” (30:1–2)
Indeed, Jacob has tried to be in God’s place, deceiving and scheming to get what he wants. Rachel has nailed it exactly. So, everything comes full circle. Isaac and Rebekah set the pattern for jealousy and selective love, which affects their sons, and now Jacob’s wives, and Jacob’s own specially loved wife, Rachel. Eventually Jacob has 12 sons and one daughter (strumming on the banjo in the kitchen!).
Laban, his father-in-law, continues to get the most out of his son-in-law with regard to the flocks and the land. But God, true to his promise, blesses Jacob despite Laban’s efforts. Finally, after 20 years, Jacob has had enough of Laban’s deceit and moves away.
And now the the other part of “what goes around…” comes back on Laban:
And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean, not telling him that he was fleeing. (31:20)
Finally after a tense confrontation (with Rachel’s theft of the idol) between Laban and Jacob, they agree to a covenant between themselves. Thus, ends Jacob’s exile, and the beginning of his return. Interestingly he leaves the land in contention with his brother, Esau, and now leaves the land of exile in contention with his father-in-law. What goes around does, indeed come around…