Rachel and Leah & Ancient City of Nuzi

A dream like that would be a shocker, especially with You talking. 

So did Jacob really work for seven years for Rachel?

Once the seven years were up they celebrated and that night Laban had Leah sleep with Jacob, and they had sex. 

In the morning when Jacob realized that it was Leah and not Rachel in bed with him he was enraged and angrily questioned Laban. 

His response was that in his country he could not give away the younger before the firstborn.  Jacob worked another seven years to marry Rachel.

“And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. 

And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, 1 he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren” (Gen 29:30-31). 

“Leah gave birth to four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.  These are a third of the 12 tribes of Israelites, which are God’s chosen people. 

These are a portion of the people that God was talking about when He told Abraham that they would have a hard time for 430 years.  You’ll hear more about them later in the Book of Exodus with Moses.

Nuzi Tablets and the Patriarchs
Many in the scholarly world are dismissive about the historicity of the patriarchs. One source that is helpful in understanding the world of the biblical patriarchs is that of the Nuzi Tablets.

Nuzi was a Hurrian administrative center not far from the Hurrian capital at Kirkuk in northern Iraq. The Hurrians are equivalent to the Horites in the Old Testament, also called Hivites and Jebusites.

Excavations were carried out at Nuzi by American teams from 1925 to 1933. The major find was more than 5,000 family and administrative archives spanning six generations, ca. 1450–1350 BC. They deal with the social, economic, religious and legal institutions of the Hurrians.

The tablets tell of practices similar to those in Genesis such as adoption for childless couples (Gn 15:2–3), children by proxy (Gn 16; 21:1–21), inheritance rights (Gn 25:29–34), marriage arrangements (Gn 28–31) and levirate marriage (Gn 38; Dt 25:5–10).

They also demonstrate the significance of the deathbed blessing (Gn 27; 48–49) and household gods (Gn 31:14–19, 30–35).

Some Nuzi tablets, called “tablets of sistership,” have agreements in which a man adopted a woman as a sister. In the society of the Hurrians, a wife enjoyed both greater protection and a superior position when she also had the legal status of a sister. In such a case, two separate documents were drawn up, one for marriage and the other for sistership.

This may explain why both Abraham (Gn 12:10–13; 20:1–2) and Isaac (Gn 26:7) said their wives were their sisters. It is possible that they had previously adopted them to give them higher status, in accordance with the custom of the day.

Family records were highly valued at Nuzi, being passed down from father to son for as many as six generations. Nowhere else in the ancient Near East is this kind of reverence for family documents illustrated, except in the Old Testament.

Indirectly, the practice at Nuzi supports the position that Genesis and the other books of history in the Old Testament are grounded in actual family, clan and tribal records carefully passed from generation to generation.

As with Mari, the Nuzi records demonstrate that the cultural practices recorded in the book of Genesis are authentic. The accounts are not fictional stories written at a much later time, as some critics claim, since the customs were unknown in later periods.

And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. 

And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? 

And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. 

And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her.  And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son” (Gen 30:1-5).

Bilhah gave birth to two sons: Dan and Napthali.  Jacob then slept with Leah’s handmaid, Zilpah, and she gave birth to two sons: Gad and Asher.  This is another third of the 12.

Again, God allowed Leah to have two more boys, Issachar and Zebulun, as well as a girl, Dinah.  He then allowed Rachel to become impregnated and she gave birth to Joseph. 

This is now 11 of the 12 tribes of Israel.  Dinah is not a part of the tribes, they have to be men.  I mention her because there is much bloodshed later because of her.

Jacob was now ready to leave but Laban didn’t want him to.

“And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban, Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country. 

Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service, which I have done thee. 

And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favor in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake. 

And he said, Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it.

And he said unto him, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how thy cattle was with me. 

For it was little which thou hadst before I came, and it is now increased unto a multitude; and the LORD hath blessed thee since my coming: and now when shall I provide for mine own house also? 

And he said, What shall I give thee?  And Jacob said, Thou shalt not give me anything: if thou wilt do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep thy flock” (Gen 30:25-31). 

Laban had done Jacob wrong with the daughters and his wages, so Jacob is going to pay him back.  Since Laban was Jacob’s uncle we can say that scamming was in the bloodline.

“I will pass through all thy flock to day, removing from thence all the speckled and spotted cattle, and all the brown cattle among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats: and of such shall be my hire “(Gen 30:32). 

And Laban  agreed because the speckled and spotted livestock were of less value.

“And he set three days’ journey betwixt himself and Jacob: and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks. 

And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the hazel and chestnut tree; and pilled white strakes in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods.

And he set the rods, which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink. 

And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted. 

And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban’s cattle.

And it came to pass, whensoever the stronger cattle did conceive, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the cattle in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods. 

But when the cattle were feeble, he put them not in: so the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 

And the man increased exceedingly, and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses” (Gen 30:36-43).

1 Leah hadn’t done anything for God, so why did He help her out?  We don’t have to do anything for Him, and actually there’s nothing we can do aside from believe in Jesus, trust Him, and give Him our time. 

God loves everyone, even the evil, unless they blaspheme the Holy Ghost: or haven’t been saved when they die.

“Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:

But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation” (Mk 3:28-29).

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Rom 5:8-11).

“(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;).

For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”  (Rom 9:11 & 15-16). 

God wishes for everyone to accept Jesus and spend eternity with Him.

“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ez 33:11).

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9).

Ancient City of Nuzi

The ancient city of Nuzi (modern Yorghan Tepe), located a few miles southwest of Kirkuk in Iraq, has provided archaeologists, with a wealth of material.

Mesopotamia in 2nd millennium B.C.

Estates of the nobility have yielded exquisite wall paintings, figurines, cylinder seals and ceramics in a style dubbed “Nuzi ware.”

The most significant dis­covery to date, however, has been extensive archives dating to approximately 1500-1350 B.C., during which the Mitanni king­dom controlled Nuzi.

Most of the 3,500 tablets in these archives originated from pri­vate homes and document the lives of the city’s ruling families, as well as providing information regarding the political structure and social conditions of this region and time.

Several Nuzi texts parallel and illumin­ate Biblical accounts of the patriarchs. Not all of the alleged correspondences between the Bible and information gleaned from Nuzi are certain, but at the very least they demonstrate that the context of Genesis is in fact rooted in ancient customs.

Some of the more famous of the proposed congru­encies include:

Enlil was the Mesopotamian god of the atmosphere and ruler of the skies and the Earth.
Enlil was also known as the lord of the wind and the air. He was the child of Ansar and Kisar, the very first set of gods and descendants of primordial beings. Enlil, along with Anu, and Enki, made up the trinity that ruled over the heavens, the Earth and the seas.

It is said he was so powerful that even the other gods could not look at him. His temple in Nippur, which is now south-eastern Iraq, was known as Ekur, or house of the mountain.

Enlil held the “tablets of destiny”, and therefore had power over all of the cosmos and of all of the people. He controlled the prosperity of the land and was credited with the invention of the plow.

In the legends, Enlil assigned Anzu, a massive bird who breathes fire, to guard his bathing chamber. While in the bath, the demon bird steals the tablets of destiny and flies to the top of a mountain to hide them. Enlil’s brother Anu, the chief of the gods, sends a posse of gods to retrieve the tablets and kill Anzu.

Perhaps one of the most famous myths of the storm god is the story of Enlil and Ninlil. He comes across the grain goddess Ninlil while she is bathing. Enlil, having all the charisma and character of a conceited adolescent god, forces himself on her. As punishment for the rape of a goddess, he is banished to the underworld by the council of Anunnaki gods.

Realizing she is pregnant with the child of a very important god, Ninlil decides to follow Enlil down to the underworld. She disguises herself three times and meets with Enlil in each disguise. Each time, he has to beg for her affections and each time she eventually agrees. As the myth continues, he learns to control himself, and court her properly. She learns her worth as a woman and as a goddess. Their first child is born, and is known as Nanna, the god of the moon. The family ascends from the underworld and lives happily ever after.

The myth seems to represent the cycle of crops, beginning with pollination by the wind. The birth and ascent from the underworld represent the cycle and rejuvenation of the crops.

* A childless couple in Nuzi could adopt a servant as an heir (cf. Abram’s assumption that his stave, Eliezer, would inherit his estate since Abram had not yet sired a son).

* Legal tablets demonstrate that an infer­tile primary wife could give her maidservant to her husband for the expressed purpose of providing him an heir, who could subse­quently be adopted by the primary wife.

According to these texts, if she later gave birth to her own son, he would displace the maidservant’s son, as the rightful heir (cf. the accounts of Sarah and Hagar in Gen 16:1 -4, 21:8-10 and of the maidservants of Leah and Rachel in Gen 30:1-13).

Marriage contracts discovered in Nuzi demonstrate that brothers could arrange for their sister’s marriage, although she often had the option to agree or disagree with the proposed union.

Marriage contracts formulated by a father, however, did not require his daughter’s consent. There are also parallels to the institution of levirate marriage (cf. Judah and Tamar’s story).

Prior to discovery of the Nuzi tablets, scholars had assumed that a later editor had added the notes that Laban gave named maidservants to his daughters when they married (Gen 29:22- 24, 28-29).

But researchers have discovered Nuzi marriage contracts stipulating that the bride was to be given a handmaiden, whose name was duly recorded in the contract.

An individual family’s household idols were considered highly important in Nuzi and were handed down to the principal heir.

If the inheritance were disputed in court, possession of the family idols could be accepted as proof that the deceased had intended the possessor to be his heir.

Thus, Rachel’s theft of the family idols could have been construed as a serious crime, an attempt to secure Laban’s wealth for her husband and possible future children (Gen 31:22-37).

Some historians have argued that Nuzi arrangements allowing a man to adopt a young woman as his daughter for the pur­pose of giving her in marriage to his son shed light upon Abraham’s two separate protestations that his wife was in reality his sister (Gen 12:10-20, 20:1-18).

There is some doubt that this is a true parallel, but these incidents at least suggest that the patriarchs’ stories likely had roots in ancient custom of which we may now know little or nothing.

Although the city of Haran, in which Abraham had lived before journeying to Canaan, is some distance from Nuzi, the Hurrians controlled both cities during the second millennium b.c.

Therefore it is not surprising that the Nuzi archives and the Biblical stories of the patriarchs reflect com­mon customs and legal arrangements.