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The Adult Sabbath School lesson quarterly emphasizes that the marriage of Jacob and Rachel stands out in the Old Testament because it is not an arranged marriage, but a “love marriage.” This love, however, did not lead to a perfect marriage. In fact, the account of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel sounds more like the script of a soap opera or TV miniseries. Perhaps romantic love isn’t all it is cracked up to be?

1. Throughout the Old Testament, we see that marriages were arranged. In other words, those getting married often had minimal input into who their spouse would be. This is the practice in many parts of the world today.

*What are the benefits of “arranged” marriages? How much input should family members have in the marriage decisions of the younger generation? Is romantic love a good indicator or who we should marry?

2. Review again the story of Jacob’s marriage first to Leah and then to Rachel.

* Is there anyone in the story (Laban, Jacob, Leah, or Rachel) who seems kind and innocent?

3. It is easy to fault Jacob for the way that he favored Rachel over Leah. But in Genesis, it also seems that God favored Leah. Genesis 29:31 says, “When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.”

* Does God play favorites–and does he favor those who are not loved? If so, is this a problem, or is does it say something wonderful about God?

4. As we study the lives of Old Testament couples, one of the awkward realities is that many of them were not couples. Instead, polygamy was often practiced. Equally awkward is the fact that clear prohibitions of polygamy do not seem to exist.

* On what basis would we argue that monogamy is God’s ideal?

* Are there indirect evidences in the Old Testament that polygamy is wrong?

* How might we respond to those who describe marriage in the West as often following a pattern of serial (rather than simultaneous) polygamy?

* How should Christians deal with new believers in countries where polygamy is currently practiced?

* If Jacob (from whom come the tribes of Israel) and David (a “man after God’s own heart”) were polygamous, on what basis would we exclude from fellowship those who are polygamous today?

5. Throughout this story, there is a great emphasis on the meaning of names. Notice the way in which Leah and Rachel feud and “argue” through the names they give their children.

* What lessons can we learn from this squabble? Do parents still sometimes use their children as pawns in their adult games?

6. The Adult Sabbath School Study Guide points out the irony present in Genesis 30:1, when Rachel she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die.” Ultimately, Rachel did have a child and named him Joseph, which means “may he add.” According to Gen 30:24, she chose this name and said, “May the LORD add to me another son.” Her prayer was answered, but, sadly, it was the birth of this second son that killed her.

* Are there times when God responds to our requests and gives what is asked for, even if it may not ultimately be for our own good? Can an answered prayer be a negative thing?

* Given that Leah produced more children than Rachel, and that Jesus was born in the lineage of Leah, not Rachel, why is it that Rachel seems to be the more “popular” of Jacob’s two wives? (Notice, for example, that the title of this lesson mentions only one of the women Jacob fathered children with.) On what basis do we select “favorites” in the Bible?

7. What are the most important and most practical lessons that we should learn from the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel?

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