July 9, 2021 — The Meeting At The Well

It seems that the village well was the favorite place in ancient times for love to bloom. Jacob found it to be so as well. Please excuse the pun!

The first thing Jacob saw as he approached the settlement of Paddan Aram was a well. According to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “‘Paddan Aram’ and ‘Haran’ may be dialectical variations regarding the same locality as paddan? and harran? are synonyms for…‘caravan route’ in Akkadian.” Wells were commonly dug at low places, nearest the aquifer, whereas towns were built strategically on nearby higher ground. As Jacob took in the scene, he noticed three flocks of sheep lying near the well. Water would be drawn from the well by large jars, then poured into nearby stone troughs from which the sheep would drink. In cooler climates, sheep rarely drink like this; they get sufficient moisture from the dew-laden grass. But in hotter regions, water must be drawn for the flocks. Now the divine Author explains: “A large stone was on the well’s mouth. Now all the flocks would be gathered there; and they would roll the stone from the well’s mouth, water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place” (Gen 29:2-3). Why is this significant? Seemingly it was quite a job to manhandle the large stone off and on the well mouth. They only wanted to do it once, and one of the regular flocks had not yet arrived. While they waited, Jacob enquired about his mother’s older brother, Laban. Yes, said the shepherds, they knew him, “and look,” they said, “his daughter Rachel is coming with the sheep” (v 6). She must have been an inspiring sight, because Jacob single-handedly “rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother” (v 10). With gratitude and relief, Jacob wept as he realized that, even if Rachel was a little behind the others in coming to the well, His God was right on schedule.