“Unit 7: Day 1, Genesis 28–30,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 7: Day 1,” Old Testament Study Guide
Jacob departed the land of Canaan and journeyed to the land Padan-aram, or Haran, to find a suitable companion to marry in the covenant. While on this journey, Jacob saw a vision of the Lord, who promised him the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant. In Padan-aram, Jacob worked for Laban and married Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah, who eventually bore him 12 sons and one daughter.
Why is it important for you to be married in the temple?
What blessings will you lose if you choose not to be married in the temple?
Read Genesis 28:1–2, looking for the instructions Isaac gave his son Jacob.
Remember that the Canaanites worshipped idols and engaged in other practices offensive to God. A daughter of Canaan would not be worthy to join Jacob in entering into an eternal marriage covenant with the Lord. Marrying a daughter of Canaan would mean marrying out of the covenant.
The phrase “blessing of Abraham” mentioned in Genesis 28:4 refers to the promised blessings of the Abrahamic covenant. The Abrahamic covenant includes the promise that those who marry in the covenant (or receive the sealing ordinance in the temple) and are faithful to their covenants will be able to receive exaltation. Complete the following principle based on what you learned from Genesis 28:1–4: If we marry in the covenant and remain faithful, then we will .
In Genesis 28:5–9 we learn that Jacob obeyed his father by leaving the land of Canaan to find a suitable companion to marry in the covenant. By leaving Canaan, Jacob was also obeying his mother, who had warned Jacob of Esau’s plan to kill him (see Genesis 27:41–42).
After Esau saw that his marriages to Hittite women displeased his father, he married one of Ishmael’s daughters.
Read Genesis 28:10–13, looking for what Jacob saw in a dream as he traveled from Beersheba in Canaan to Haran. (It may help you to understand that Haran was a city located in the land Padan-aram.)
What do you think the ladder symbolizes?
Consider the following insight about what the ladder represents by President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency: “When Jacob traveled from Beersheba toward Haran, he had a dream in which he saw himself on the earth at the foot of a ladder that reached to heaven where the Lord stood above it. He beheld angels ascending and descending thereon, and Jacob realized that the covenants he made with the Lord there were the rungs on the ladder that he himself would have to climb in order to obtain the promised blessings—blessings that would entitle him to enter heaven and associate with the Lord” (“Temples—the Gates to Heaven,” Ensign, Mar. 1971, 16).
The rungs on the ladder represent the saving ordinances of the gospel with their associated covenants. These saving ordinances are necessary for exaltation. From Jacob’s dream we learn that we must receive the saving ordinances of the gospel and keep their associated covenants in order to return to the presence of the Lord.
- To help you further understand this principle, complete the following activity in your scripture study journal:
Draw a ladder. At the bottom of the ladder write Earth and at the top of the ladder write Heaven, or the Lord’s presence and exaltation.
Answer the following question: What do you think were the rungs on the ladder that Jacob would need to climb in order to obtain all of the promised blessings?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–4, and identify the ordinance needed to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.
Read Genesis 28:13–15, looking for what the Lord promised to give Jacob if he kept his covenants.
Remember that Jacob left Canaan not only to find a wife but also to escape the threat of violence from Esau. In doing so he had to leave his family, travel to an unfamiliar land, and meet new people. Consider why the Lord’s promises recorded in verse 15 might have been important to Jacob in his situation.
Read Genesis 28:16–19, 22, looking for how Jacob described the place where he had the dream.
The phrases “he was afraid” and “how dreadful is this place” in verse 17 refer to feelings of reverence and awe. Note that after his experience Jacob named the place Bethel, which means “house of God,” likely indicating that he felt the presence of the Lord there (see verse 19). Jacob also described that sacred place as “the gate of heaven” (verse 17), and he stated, “And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house” (verse 22). This refers to a gateway to God’s presence where we can receive the promise of eternal life.
Where can we go to be in the house of God and prepare for eternal life?
From Jacob’s experience we can learn the following truth: The temple is the house of God and the gate to eternal life.
- Consider again the questions at the beginning of this lesson on the importance of being married in the temple, and then answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Based on what you have learned, what would you tell a friend who asked you why temples are important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
What will you do to better keep the covenants you have already made so you can be prepared to enter the temple and receive additional ordinances of salvation and make additional covenants with the Lord?
In Genesis 28:20–22 we read that Jacob vowed that if the Lord would fulfill His promises, then Jacob would serve Him as his God. As part of this vow, Jacob made a commitment to pay tithing to the Lord (see verse 22).
What is something that you have had to be patient and work hard at in order to achieve?
Jacob had to be patient and work hard to receive the blessings the Lord had promised him.
In Genesis 29:1–14 we learn that when Jacob arrived in Haran, he met Rachel, one of Laban’s daughters, at a well. Laban welcomed Jacob and invited him to stay at his house.
Read Genesis 29:15–20, looking for what Jacob was willing to do so he could marry Rachel.
Jacob’s years of labor demonstrated not only his love for Rachel but also his commitment to marry in the covenant as his father, Isaac, had instructed him (see Genesis 28:1–4).
In Genesis 29:21–29 we learn that after Jacob worked seven years to marry Rachel, Laban tricked him into marrying his older daughter, Leah, instead. Laban justified his actions by claiming that the oldest daughter should be married first. Laban told Jacob he could still marry Rachel after the weeklong wedding feast for Leah, but Jacob would have to agree to work for him another seven years. Jacob agreed to these conditions. Latter-day revelation clarifies that the Lord approved of Jacob’s plural marriages (see D&C 132:37).
- In your scripture study journal, write a principle that answers the following question: What can we learn from Jacob’s example about obtaining the blessings the Lord has promised us?
In Genesis 29–30 we learn of several difficulties that Jacob’s family experienced. What helps you stay faithful when you experience difficulties in life?
Read Genesis 29:30–35 and Genesis 30:1–2, looking for challenges Leah and Rachel experienced. How did the Lord help Leah deal with her challenge? What feelings did Rachel struggle with during this difficult time?
In this time and culture, it was considered a great honor for a wife to bear a male child. Because of this, a competitive spirit developed between Leah and Rachel as well as disappointment and frustration. In Genesis 30:3–21 we learn that because Rachel could not have children, she gave Jacob her servant Bilhah to marry. Leah, afraid that she would no longer have children, likewise gave Jacob her servant Zilpah to marry. In their ancient custom, children born to a handmaid were legally considered children of the wife the handmaid belonged to.
Eventually, Jacob and his wives had 12 sons and 1 daughter. The 12 sons’ posterity became known as the twelve tribes of Israel.
The chart on this page can help you discover which of Jacob’s children were born to which wife. Search the scripture references provided to find the names of the children born to each of Jacob’s four wives, then fill in the “Children” column of the chart with the names you find.
Rachel was the last of all the wives to bear children. Read Genesis 30:22, looking for how Rachel was finally able to bear a child.
Since God does not forget us, what do you think it means that “God remembered Rachel” (Genesis 30:22)?
As we study Rachel’s experience, we are reminded that when we experience challenges, we should realize that God does not forget us.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: When have you felt that God remembered or was mindful of you during a difficult time in your life?
In Genesis 30:25–43 we learn that because Jacob was faithful to his covenants, the Lord blessed him by increasing his wealth.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Genesis 28–30 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: