Genesis 29:23

ESV But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her.
NIV But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her.
NASB Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to him; and Jacob had relations with her.
CSB That evening, Laban took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and he slept with her.
NLT But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her.
KJV And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.

What does Genesis 29:23 mean?

Laban's betrayal of Jacob and, arguably, of his own daughter Rachel, takes place in this verse. Jacob had offered to work for seven years, free of wages, in order to marry Rachel (Genesis 29:18–19). When the appointed time came, however, Laban finds a way to substitute Leah, the older daughter, instead!

For the modern reader, it's difficult to understand exactly how Jacob could have missed this key detail on his wedding night. Clearly, this supports the idea that he and Rachel had not been intimate before this point (Genesis 29:21). Somehow, Laban switched Rachel for Leah in Jacob's chambers before they had consummated their marriage. The fact that Jacob slept with Leah without realizing she was not Rachel may be explained by wedding customs that would have involved the veiling of the bride. Likewise, cultural attitudes towards modesty might have meant her identity was unclear during the night. Also, a celebration involving wine can sometimes lead to a lack of judgment.

All of these are speculation, however. All we know for sure is that Laban successfully tricks Jacob into consummating—and therefore, by that culture's customs, marrying—someone other than the woman he had worked seven years for. As painful as this would have been to Jacob, his own past was one of deception and trickery (Genesis 27:33–41). Like it or not, Jacob is now learning what it feels like to be cheated.
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