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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Vayetseh 7-2

And (he) left

Genesis 29:1-17

While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her fatheršs sheep, for she was a shepherdess.

Gen. 29:9 ESV

Why was Rachel a shepherdess?

The Torah mentions in a specific manner that Rachel was a shepherdess. This is the only instance in which the Scriptures mention a shepherd woman. What is the reason for mentioning this fact?

Of course, it wasn't to support the idea of those who think that women have the same right than men to be leaders of congregations of believers. There are other reasons for the Torah to mention this fact.

The job of a shepherd was considered the lowest in societies of the time of our patriarchs. If a family had servants, they would do that work. If the family didn't have enough resources, normally it would be the younger children who were left with this task, and many times, the daughters. King David was the youngest child in his house and he was in charge of working as the shepherd for his father's sheep (1 Sam. 16:11).

Then, we can conclude that when the Torah mentions that Rachel, the youngest of Lavan's daughters, was a shepherdess, it was to indicate that Lavan wasn't a rich man. He didn’t have servants that could do that job. Later on, Yaakov confirms that Lavan didn't have much when he came (30:30).

Lavan was very interested in possessions; he was into occultism and loved dishonest earnings. Yaakov was a very responsible man and was careful to differentiate possessions that belonged to one or the other. He didn't take advantage at all of the freedom that Lavan had given him as an employee. He didn't eat from Lavan's herd and he made himself responsible for damage done to his employer’s herd, and paid for what was stolen (31:38, 39). When Lavan checked Yaakov and his family's luggage, he couldn't find anything stolen (31:37).

But Lavan wanted to take advantage of others as much as he could. The difference in attitude and conduct between them was huge.

Lavan had the opportunity of his life to be blessed permanently by the presence and example of Yaakov in his house. While Yaakov worked for him, his goods increased considerably (30:30). Lavan could have remained a rich man if he had repented of his greediness and dishonesty. But the Eternal didn't want to bless Lavan if he continued to be so stingy. He has created a spiritual law for the greedy, according to Proverbs 28:22: "A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him." (ESV)

The Eternal eventually showed Yaakov a prophetic method that so through miracles in breeding Lavan's cattle, the healthier, more robust ones, would become Yaakov's. The Eternal didn't want to make Lavan rich in his state of sin and that's why he helped Yaakov to take away his riches in an honest way.

Lavan was poor when Yaakov arrived and was left poor again when Yaakov left. How sad it is to see the curse coming upon a greedy person! How different would the world be if there were no greediness, everyone could be rich!

Dear disciple, run away from greediness which is a form of idolatry, and be faithful in taking care of others' possessions. In this way, you will be in a condition to receive many riches.

May the Eternal bless you and keep you,


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