What does Genesis 29:25 mean?Jacob made an extravagant offer to Laban: to work seven years for the right to marry Laban's younger daughter, Rachel (Genesis 29:18–19). The years flew by because of his love for her (Genesis 29:20). But Laban has betrayed Jacob and Rachel by switching Leah for Rachel on their wedding night. Jacob has slept with Leah, believing her to be Rachel. Scripture does not explain exactly how he could have done so without realizing the difference. Genesis 29:17 indicates Rachel was beautiful in both her face and her body, while Leah was less attractive (Genesis 29:16–17). It's possible that too much wine, or elaborate veils, cultural modesty, or Jacob's wedding night nervousness caused him to miss this key fact, but we don't really know.
Now he knows. The phrase given here is almost comical, aside from the tragic implications for Jacob and Rachel. Jacob was truly shocked to discover he had slept with—and by the laws of that culture, legally married—the older sister, Leah. When he understood what had happened, he immediately went to Laban to ask why he had been lied to. Jacob had kept his part of the bargain in full. Why did Laban do this?
Laban's deception seems outrageous, unfair, and even monstrous. And it is. However, it's hard not to see echoes of Jacob's own deception of his dying, blind father Isaac (Genesis 27:19). Isaac and Esau together experienced a similar terrible moment of shock when they realized Jacob had impersonated Esau and had stolen the family blessing (Genesis 27:30–36).
Scripture never explicitly labels this an act of retribution from God for Jacob's deception. It could be argued the parallel is so obvious that it doesn't need to be stated, but the fact is the Bible does not directly say this is a punishment. Perhaps, though, Jacob began to learn empathy for those he had harmed. One would hope this would inspire him not to follow in the footsteps of his mother Rebekah and his uncle Laban.
Later in his life, both Jacob's prior deception and this moment will be reflected in an encounter with God. There, Jacob will be asked to state his name, in order to be blessed (Genesis 32:24–28).