What does Genesis 29:8 mean?
ESV: But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”
NIV: We can't,' they replied, 'until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.'
NASB: But they said, 'We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered, and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.'
CSB: But they replied, "We can't until all the flocks have been gathered and the stone is rolled from the well's opening. Then we will water the sheep."
NLT: We can’t water the animals until all the flocks have arrived,' they replied. 'Then the shepherds move the stone from the mouth of the well, and we water all the sheep and goats.'
KJV: And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep.
NKJV: But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together, and they have rolled the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep.”
Verse Commentary:
Jacob has just learned several things at once. His journey has brought him near his destination of Haran and the household of his uncle Laban (Genesis 28:1–2). According to the shepherds standing around a well, Laban is in good health, and his daughter is approaching with a flock of sheep (Genesis 29:5–6).

In the previous verse, Jacob seems to have taken some borrowed ownership of the situation around the well. He ordered the shepherds gathered with their flocks to water the sheep and get back to the pasture. This seems like a brash statement from a stranger, so perhaps the other men were being rude to Jacob. Or, he's simply trying to assert himself in an effort to win over Rachel.

Here, the shepherds respond that Jacob's plan is not how they do things. They wait until all of the sheep have arrived, all of the flocks, then they roll away the well's heavy stone covering and water all of the flocks at once. It's not clear exactly why they do it this way. Some commentators suggest, however, that the first flocks to arrive would usually be the first to be watered. Laban won't follow that practice in the following verses.
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.
Accessed 5/25/2024 12:43:13 AM
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