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history. When Laban heard that Jacob had come, he ran and welcomed him, and took him to his own home.
When he had been there about a month, Laban said to him one day, “I do not wish thee to work for me for nought. What shall thy wages be?” Now Laban, as the account says, had two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Already an attachment had sprung up between Jacob and the latter of these daughters, and having no gift to bestow on Laban for her, he said, frankly, “I will serve thee seven years for Rachel.” To this Laban consented, and a contract was entered into accordingly. At this time, Jacob was seventyseven years old, and Rachel was in extreme youth. The wisdom of Jacob in waiting so long before forming a matrimonial connection may be questioned; but no one will dispute that he was wiser than many boys and girls now, who, before their physical constitutions are developed, before they have any settled and well-defined ideas of life, before they have any business which will tolerably support themselves, rush into an alliance which involves them in pecuniary liabilities, that keep them poor as long as they live. This, however, must be said for Jacob, that, comparing the whole length of his life with ours, he was not older when married than most of us are. The lover worked out his seven years, living all that time in the same family with Rachel. But when the seven years were ended, Laban took Leah, and by deceit induced Jacob to wed her; and when the plot had succeeded, laughed at him, and told him he must serve him seven years more if he wanted Rachel, and he was obliged to submit. Some have said this served Jacob right, for his deception towards his father, and for which Laban had well repaid him. The strength of Jacob's affection for Rachel cannot be questioned. Leah he seems never to have loved; but through all the changes of fourteen years, his heart clung to her younger sister -- to Rachel, whom he saw first and loved most. “ Something more,” remarks an eloquent female writer, “than Rachel's beauty, marvellous as that was, must have so retained Jacob's love for her in those seven years of domestic intercourse, as to make the time appear but a few days. Beauty may attract and win, if the time of courtship be too brief to require no other charm ; but it is not sufficient, of itself, to retain affection. Gift from God as it is, how may it be abused, and how may it be wasted, in caring only for the lovely shape without, and leaving the rich, invisible gems within uncared for and unused !” “And if there be one,” remarks the same writer, “ of beauty exceeding as that of Rachel, who holdeth in her possession this rich gift of God, let her remember that he will demand of her how she hath used it; that its abuse, its pretended neglect, yet in reality proud value, will pass not unnoticed by its beneficent Giver. It has been granted for some end; for if to look on a beautiful flower will excite emotions of admiration and love, and consequently enjoyment, how much more deeply would such feelings be called forth by a beautiful face, could we but behold it as the hands of God had formed it, unshaded by the impress of those emotions of pride, contempt, or self-sufficiency, or that utter void of intellect, which are but too often its concomitants, from the mistaken notion that outward beauty is omnipotent, and needs no help within!"
At the end of the second term of seven years, Jacob took his wife Rachel, Laban requiring no further service of him. He had now made the common mistake, and entered into contract with a plurality of wives. Henceforth his home was a scene of contention and recrimination, the two sisters, who never had one word of variance before, now being unable to agree. Still, Jacob continued to live with Laban until a large family of children had gathered around him. Troubles between himself and his father-in-law arising, he took his flocks and herds, and departed towards Mount Gilead. Laban, finding his retreat, pursued him, and overtaking him, forced him to a compromise, which he willingly made. As they left the house of Laban, Rachel stole several images of gold, probably the gods which had been worshipped, and which were now used as ornaments. To keep these images, she was obliged to use deceit, thus coupling two enormous sins, for the sake of these miserable images, which were probably worth but little to her. How her husband felt when he discovered her guilt, the account does not tell us; but we have every evidence to believe that her conduct filled him with sorrow. Every wife is bound so to live that she bring no disgrace upon her husband. By a common law of life, a man may do wrong, and no disgrace attach itself to his family. The feeling for them is one of pity and commiseration. But when a wife is found guilty of wrong, the disgrace does attach itself, however unjustly, to her partner; and under the existence of this state of society, woman is bound to double circumspection. Not only her own happiness, but the honor of her husband and the welfare of her children, are bound up in her deportment.
We hear little more of Rachel, after Jacob's return from the country of Laban, until we are called to mourn over her death. Joseph was born while she was at home, in the house of Laban; in the hour that gave birth to Benjamin, the spirit of the mother passed from earth. Among the noticeable things connected with the life of Rachel is the trial which Jacob made of her capabilities before he married her. Fourteen long years were spent in the same family with her. He knew well her habits, her industry, her temper and disposition. Every point of her character was tried; every gauge of her soul was taken; and long before he secured her hand, he knew her worth and excellence. How differently is this now conducted! The young man becomes acquainted with the lady at some festival or party, and weds her without any knowledge of her abilities or her temperament. The result is, that a few months of married life cause the parties better to understand each other, and then there is found to be a total want of fitness and appropriateness in the engagement. Unless the parties exercise the utmost forbearance, misery and wretchedness is the result.
It is very true, as some one justly remarks, marriage should never be the result of fancy. The ball room and the evening party rarely develop real character. Under the exhilarating influence of the dance, the glare of lights, the merry quib and joke, the dissolute young man may appear amiable, and the slatternly scold