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the water which now refreshed his wearied frame! They knew Laban, he was well, and the maiden who approached with her sheep to the cistern, was Rachel his daughter !
CATHERINE. Now here is a circumstance so apparently trivial as to offer us nothing, yet its coincidence with a custom of the present day is strikingly reinarkable. "The stone lay on the well's mouth" is incidently said, and modern travellers report that in Arabia they cover the wells lest the sand which is put in motion by the wind should quite stop them up. They wait till the flocks are all gathered together before they begin to draw water, and when they have finished, the well is immediately closed again.
Mrs. M. Our conversations would be protracted beyond our plan were we to exhibit every fact illustrative of the authenticity of scripture history, yet we are sometimes arrested so forcibly that we cannot easily pass on. Let us now, however, return to our traveller whom we left watching with a palpitating heart the approach of his fair cousin.
Laban, the brother of Rebekah, had two daughters, Leah, the elder, was not handsome, but Rachel, the younger, was beautiful! Overpowered by her unexpected appearance-his spirits exhausted by a long journey, of nearly 500 miles, and recollecting his forlorn situation, an exile from his father's house, Jacob could not restrain his tears while he told her he was her relative--the son of her father's sister! Then courteously removing the stone, he drew water for her flock, while she ran to carry the news of his arrival to her father. Laban himself came out to receive hiin, and the fugitive was conducted to the house with the tenderest expressions of joy and affection!
Consoled now by the caresses of his new friends, Jacob found himself at home in his uncle's family. He took an interest in their affairs, and a share in their labours. Days and weeks rolled pleasantly away, but he said nothing of the purpose of his visit, until Laban observing his capacity for business, proposed to give him a salary for bis services, because, “ it was unreasonable that they should be received without compensation.” He bid him therefore to fix his own terms, and Jacob required no time to deliberate. The charms of Rachel had captivated his affections, the voice of avarice was silent, and love alone preferred her claim : for Rachel—the beautiful shepherdess, was all he desired! Seven years would be serve were she the reward ! Unwilling to part with his nephew or to alienate his family from that of Isaac, Laban gladly accepted the offer. Time now moved on silken wing-years were but days in the estimation of Jacob; he kept the herds of bis kinsman, and felt neither the noon-day sun, nor the midnight dew; for in the society of Rachel, every toil was delightful ! Seven years were completed, and he claimed his reward. Laban prepared for the wedding. The neighbours were invited, and the banquet was spread. But a cruel disappointinent awaited the lover; for the deceitful Laban, favoured by the eastern custom of covering the bride with a long veil, united him to Leah, instead of Rachel !
CHARLES. Then the imposition that Jacob had practised on his father, was returned on his own head.
Mrs, M. Yes. But we do not choose that others should do unto us as we do unto them; and Jacob accordingly, grieved and indignant, complained of the cheat. He had served for Rachel; why then was Leah, the disagreeable Leah, imposed on him? They who commit injustice are
seldom without an excuse, and the crafty Syrian had one at hand. It was not their custom, he said, to give away the younger daughter, before the elder; but seeing poor Jacob had given his heart wholly to Rachel, another-seven year's servitude might obtain her also. No price was too great to obtain the object of his affection, and another
period of bondage was readily undertaken by the devoted lover.
It is not, however, understood by commentators that the reward of his constancy was witheld until the stipulated service was rendered. The circumstances of their subsequent history require that Rachel should have been given to Jacob immediately upon his agreeing to serve another seven years, and acknowledging Leah publicly by "fulfilling her week,” which is supposed to mean the celebration of the marriage festivities, for a week.
FANNY. Was it lawful for Jacob to marry two sisters ?
Mrs. M. It was never lawful for any man to have more than one wife at a time. The will of the Creator is unequivocally declared in the formation of one man and one woman at the first. Reason easily deduces the sameand the testimony of the Messiah is to us conclusive. But the patriarchs were not so clear in the knowledge of their duty as we are: besides, they were unhappily surrounded by Heathens, into whose vicious practices they were sometimes betrayed. Their deviations are faithfully recorded, to show us, that the best of men were imperfect. Jacob was certainly a pious man, yet he committed several actions that cannot be justified. He not only married both sisters, but while they yet lived, he took two other wives. He seems to have remained contentedly with Laban many years after his marriage; for we have no intimation of a desire to return to his country, till he was the father of eleven sons and one daughter. He then began to think of settling his family in the land which was ultimately to be their inheritance. But when he communicated his inten-, tion to his father-in-law, the latter would not consent to his desire. Experience, he said, had taught him, that the blessing of heaven attended the labours of Jacob. The cattle had increased to a multitude under his careful hand ; and now if he would yet remain in his service, whatsoeyer he required should be his. Persuaded by this tempting offer, Jacob proposed to receive for his wages a certain share of the cattle and herds. The terms were accepted, and he removed with his family several days' journey from the dwelling of his father-in-law, and attended his charge with assiduity. As wealth accumulated around him, the jealousy of Laban's sons was proportionably excited. They saw a stranger growing rich on their patrimony, and forgetting the long and faithful service by which he had purchased his right, they instigated their father to treat him with coldness.
About the same time, in a dream he was commanded to return to his native country; a step which he knew would be opposed by Laban, who had manifested, so repeatedly, his anxious desire to convert to his own advantage the tem, poral blessings so abundantly bestowed upon Jacob. To
Το compel his continuance in Mesopotamia, violent measures might perhaps be adopted-even the seizure of his wives and their children, should his intention to depart be communicated to his father-in-law. A secret removal would prevent inconvenient collisions—and to obtain the acquiescence of Leah and Rachel, when he informed them of the mandate he had received, he expatiated on the services
he had rendered to their family, and the ingratitude and treachery he had experienced. The sisters had been made sadly sensible of the avaricious disposition of their father, they now saw the alienation of his affections, and declared their readiness to submit to the divine command.
CATHERINE. Their simple mode of life was favourable to the execution of their plan; they were not encumbered with the multifarious articles of household furniture indispensáble with us.
Mrs. M. A very few utensils, and those of primary necessity, supplied the wants of Jacob's family. Their wealth consisting chiefly in cattle and servants, was easily put in motion; so that the Euphrates was passed, and three days journey performed without interruption. But the march of so large a cavalcade could not be concealed; Laban heard of it, and immediately pursuing, he overtook them encamped on Mount Gilead, and warmly expostulated with Jacob for having carried off his daughters, and his grand-children, without allowing him to dismiss them with paternal embraces, and with feasting and music, agreeably to their customs. It was still in his power, he said, to injure him, but he would abstain, because he had been warned by God, not to touch his servant. It was to that impenetrable shield he was indebted for his safety.
Jacob plainly replied; the man whose perfidy he had already more than once felt, he must always distrust; and had therefore withdrawn in silence. The acrimony of their mutual upbraidings, however, at length gave way to tender recollections; and, after they had agreed to separate in peace, they built a pillar of stones on the Mount, as a memorial of their friendship.
CHARLES. I am impatient to know how his brother