What does Genesis 29:4 mean?
ESV: Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.”
NIV: Jacob asked the shepherds, 'My brothers, where are you from?' 'We're from Harran,' they replied.
NASB: Jacob said to them, 'My brothers, where are you from?' And they said, 'We are from Haran.'
CSB: Jacob asked the men at the well, "My brothers! Where are you from? ""We're from Haran," they answered.
NLT: Jacob went over to the shepherds and asked, 'Where are you from, my friends?' 'We are from Haran,' they answered.
KJV: And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we.
NKJV: And Jacob said to them, “My brethren, where are you from?” And they said, “We are from Haran.”
Verse Commentary:
Jacob has traveled from his home in Canaan, escaping his brother (Genesis 27:41) and searching for a wife (Genesis 28:1–2). He has come to this region looking for the town of Haran, where his uncle Laban lives. Coming across a well in a field, he strikes up a conversation with some shepherds gathered nearby with their sheep. He asks where they're from; they tell him Haran. Jacob must have been glad to learn he was so near to his destination.

The fact that this meeting takes place by a well is no accident. In that era, water was important enough to fight over (Genesis 21:25–27), and wells would have been natural meeting places. Because they represent life and nourishment, wells are often used in Scripture to symbolize God's blessing.

The shepherds here are waiting for all of the sheep to arrive before drawing water (Genesis 29:3). This well is capped with a large stone, probably to keep other animals and debris out of it (Genesis 29:3).
Verse Context:
Genesis 29:1–30 describes Jacob's arrival at his uncle's household. Laban is happy to see his nephew, likely for the first time. Jacob falls in love with Laban's more attractive daughter, Rachel, and agrees to work for Laban seven years to marry her. On the wedding night, however, Laban treacherously switches Rachel for her older sister Leah. Jacob agrees to marry Rachel the next week, but now must work another seven years.
Chapter Summary:
Jacob's journey from his home brings him to his uncle's household in Haran. He falls in love with Laban's younger daughter Rachel and agrees to work for Laban for seven years to marry her. When the time comes, Laban switches out Rachel for her older, less attractive sister Leah. Jacob is surprised to find he has consummated the marriage with the wrong sister. Manipulative Laban assures Jacob he can still marry Rachel the next week, as long as he will work another seven years. Jacob loves Rachel more than Leah, but with the Lord's help, unloved Leah bears Jacob his first four sons.
Chapter Context:
The previous chapter described Jacob fleeing from home to seek his uncle in Mesopotamia. This was both to escape the rage of his brother, Esau, and to look for a suitable wife. Now Jacob arrives and falls in love with his uncle's daughter Rachel. After working seven years to marry her, Jacob is tricked by his uncle into marrying the older daughter, Leah, instead. Laban allows Jacob to marry Rachel, as well, in exchange for another seven years' work. Though she is unloved by Jacob, the Lord notices Leah's heartbreak and allows her to bear four sons. In the next chapter, Rachel's jealousy sets off something of a birth war, as she and Leah compete to obtain children.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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