Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy: “We support biblical families.”

Today’s Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day: Jacob & Leah & Rachel & Zilpah & Bilhah (Genesis 29:15-30)

Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?’ Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, ‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.’ Laban said, ‘It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.’ So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.’ So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?’ Laban said, ‘This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me for another seven years.’ Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. (Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid.) So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He served Laban for another seven years.

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  • Robyrt

    I always loved the bit of poetry in verse 20: “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.”

    Also note, a few verses earlier, that Leah apparently needed glasses, providing at least half an excuse for the ancient “switcheroo on the wedding night” trope in this case.

  • PandaRosa

    Like I said, Chick-Fil-A should give special discount rates for polygamists and their entire families. Jacob fills the bill here, what with four wives, twelve sons and a daughter, whew!
    Considering he worked fourteen years to earn Rachel’s hand I’d like to think she was quite the girl, but then I’m just being naive. And with my weak eyes I know I am a Leah (who was probably the better cook).

  • aunursa

    One woman is plenty.  I can’t imagine how I would be able to keep my beautiful wife and her lovely sister both happy.

  • Lori

    I never got the impression that keeping Leah happy was a major priority for Jacob, or anyone else.

  • Aiwhelan

     I always loved the take on this in The Red Tent, where it’s the sisters who do the switch, because they both love Jacob and don’t want to be separated from each other.

  • aunursa

    While we’re on a biblical subject:
    San Francisco Giants complete a Biblical comeback

    How did the Giants generate momentum from nothing, fuel from a barren landscape and belief after never leading one single inning in two dispiriting defeats at home?

    With the Old Testament. Of course.

    “It was the Gideon speech,” Giants third base coach Tim Flannery said. “That’s where it started.”

    Flannery has heard the speech before, whenever manager Bruce Bochy’s team faced hopeless odds. The old base coach can almost mouth the words. “Gideon was hopelessly outnumbered by the Midianites, armed only with his shofar…”

  • Ben English

    I can’t help but feel sorry for Leah, whose own desires are irrelevant in the power game between Jacob and Laban.

  • Lori

    ITA. It always bugged me the way Jacob & Rachel are presented as this great love story, with no real regard to how badly Leah was treated.

  • Barry_D

     “I can’t help but feel sorry for Leah, whose own desires are irrelevant in the power game between Jacob and Laban.”

    Being a man back then was rough and brutal; being a woman was much harder.

  • Ursula L

    I can’t help but feel sorry for Leah, whose own desires are irrelevant in the power game between Jacob and Laban.

    They don’t seem to care much for the feelings of Rachel, either.  For her to agree with the ruse so that Jacob would marry Leah, with no guarantee that he’d stick around for her – she can’t have been looking forward to this marriage.  

    If she’d wanted to marry Jacob, I’d think that she could have managed to get a message to him warning him of the planned substitution.  

  • Carstonio

    Somewhat OT: My district’s House representative, who holds a high post in the party, just announced his support for our state’s new same-sex marriage law. He had originally voted for DOMA but had pushed to end DADT. My state delegate was one of the yes votes for the marriage law. This may be of interest to Fred – the congresscritter is a Baptist.

  • chris the cynic

    If you don’t mind saying, which state?

  • Carstonio
  • chris the cynic

    Ah, I’m from Maine, if you were wondering.

  • LL

    There certainly is a whole lot more swinging going on in the Bible than I was aware of. And giving away of maidservants. The rationale for the current Republican opinions on vaginas and slavery are becoming clearer now. We can’t have women determining what to do with their own vaginas, that’s for their fathers to decide.  And the slavery thing, well, that’s just efficient distribution of resources. 

  • Barry_D

     The saying was that ‘traditional marriage’ was ‘one man, and as many women as he could afford’.

  • PandaRosa

    And now comes the dawn, the dreams of every Trad Val Fundy Male…

  • vsm

    Showtime should totally turn Genesis into a tawdry historical soap opera that would make The Borgias look classy.

  • chris the cynic

    It’s not a Biblical marriage unless there are multiple wives and slaves.

  • JustoneK

    Tangentially related, re: being for biblical families:
    “I did not say that I wanted to execute parents on welfare and give their kids up for adoption.I said that it would be better to execute the parents of an illegitimate child and put their child up for adoption.”

  • PandaRosa

    I’m not saying I agree, but there are some cases where the parents are indeed so irresponsible, horrid  and abusive that you begin to wonder if this might be a good idea.

  • Dave

    there are some cases where the parents are indeed so irresponsible, horrid  and abusive that you begin to wonder if this might be a good idea.

    To the extent that this is true, the word “illegitimate” has no business in the sentence… irresponsible, horrid  and abusive parents are just as likely to be “legitimate” in the sense Mr.Russell means.

  • JustoneK

    standards on all three of those adjectives vary wildly.

  • Redwood Rhiadra

    He doesn’t want to execute them for being irresponsible, horrid, and abusive. He wants to execute them for *having sex out of wedlock*. (All parents of illegitimate children, not just abusive parents).

  • Randy Owens

    Further refinement: All parents of illegitimate children *on welfare*.  If you’re rich and have a few by-blows, that’s no problem.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Off-topic: –a
    kid who earned Eagle Scout, who happens to be gay and who admitted that in public before his Eagle Court of Honor, and who is consequently being denied the rank he earned, another Eagle Scout sent him an Eagle Scout pin. This is the sort of thing that gives me hope for the world. That and the other Eagles who are returning their rank symbols to the Boy Scouts in solidarity with kids like this one.

  • Lori

    another Eagle Scout sent him an Eagle Scout pin.  

    Aww. What a good guy. He’s the kind of person the Boy Scouts say they want to mold (as opposed to what they model). I was already verklempt about how his folks are standing up for him. (So many gay kids still get throw out on the street for coming out to their parents that I always get a little misty when I see folks being all PFLAG for their child.)

  • Original Lee

    OTOH, Leah was, after seven years and despite being older than Rachel, still in her father’s house.  My impressions from reading this whole story have always been a dynamic where Leah was all, if Rachel wants it, I want it too, and first.  I see it sort of like The Learned Ladies where the older sister plays hard to get until little sister falls in love.

  • Lori

    Considering that even God felt sorry for her, I don’t see anything in the story to indicate that the fault lay with Leah. There’s nothing in it to suggest that Labon conned  Jacob for Leah’s benefit. Given how things worked at the time I don’t see any reason to assume that Labon gave a crap what Leah wanted, so I really don’t see any reason to think events had much to do with her wanting what her little sister had.

    IIRC Leah turns rather unpleasant later in the story, but I suspect that most people stuck in the house of “Rachel’s the bestest ever” would eventually have trouble finding their happy place.

  • Dave


    My impressions from reading this whole story have always been a dynamic
    where Leah was all, if Rachel wants it, I want it too, and first. 

    Interesting. I’m not sure how one can read that story and come out of it with any sense of Leah having much agency at all. Can you say more about how you arrive at that?

  • Invisible Neutrino

    The other thing I have to wonder is if Laban had an idea of how desirable his daughters were and wanted to get free labor out of Jacob.

  • Lori

    I think Labon clearly knew how desirable Rachel was, especially to Jacob.That was the entire point of the original deal. Labon knew he had a valuable commodity in his younger daughter and he drove a hard bargain. Either Jacob was a really good worker or Labon was an incredible asshole, or more likely both, because Labon figured out a way to get even more work out of the deal.

     No one in the story thought that Leah was desirable or had any real value at all. Jacob did exactly zero work for her and Labon apparently felt he couldn’t get anyone else to work for her either, so just used her as a pawn to get 7 more years in addition to the 7 Jacob originally agreed to do for Rachel.

  • LL

    From the version Fred quotes above, Leah’s eyes were “lovely.” That’s something you say about an ugly or fat chick when you want to be nice and not call her ugly or fat. Since these are desert dwellers way back in the day, I assume she wasn’t fat. So, she wasn’t a looker. And her dad was having a hard time getting any takers for her “hand.” 

    So he tricked Jacob into “being with” the ugly, older one. So when Jacob says, “WTF? You promised me the hottie!” the dad says, “Hey, just suck it up for a week, then you can have the other one. With 7 more years of labor.” And Jacob was stupid enough to go for this deal. 

    So basically, this Laban guy is a real dick to everyone and makes out like a bandit. He pimps his daughters out in exchange for 7 years of labor, everybody but him loses.  I mean, that’s a very favorable exchange rate, when 1 daughter = 7 years of labor. I don’t know what that’d be in current dollars, but probably a significant sum. He probably wished he had more daughters to hand out. I wonder what he’d have done if he had nothing but sons. 

  • JustoneK

    I didn’t know that era was strictly No Fat Chicks.

  • TheFaithfulStone

     Sounds like something Mitt Romney would do. BADA-BING!

  • Wednesday

    For some context, the “seven years of labor” thing is probably not so much “Laban pimps out his daughters” as “the culture has bride service/bride price” (the opposite of a dowry, basically) — in which case, if Jacob wants to marry at all, he’s going to have to work for or pay the bride’s family.  Marriage has historically been an economic contract, after all.

    So Laban isn’t pimping out (ie, renting) his daughters, he’s selling them, a full-fledged transfer of ownership.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’d rather have bride price than dowry, personally. Not that either is a good thing (unless we’re working with both bride price and dowry so that both individuals/families pay and the money/property goes to setting up the new household), but it’s the difference between ‘she is valuable to us, you must compensate us for what we lose when she goes to you’ and ‘let us pay you to take her off our hands’.

  • Amaryllis

    it’s the difference between ‘she is valuable to us, you must compensate
    us for what we lose when she goes to you’ and ‘let us pay you to take
    her off our hands’.

    Yes, especially in some modern practices it can give that impression.

    But in some traditional societies, dowry could be a form of protection for the woman, if it was expected to be returned to her or her family if the marriage ended for any reason. The idea was that her husband wouldn’t mistreat her so badly that she left and took her dowry with her. And if he divorced her or he died, she and her children would have some means of support.

    And bride-price could be seen as less a compensation for the woman herself, and more for any children she might have– her clan loses them and his clan gains them.

  • ohiolibrarian

    LEAH had the bad eyes? Jacob not only wasn’t bright enough to bring a lamp to the bedchamber; he also was incapable of recognizing his “beloved” with any of his other senses. Humpf.

  • Lunch Meat

    Whenever people, particularly women, say that it’s the government’s responsibility to define marriage according to the way it was in the past and that it’s wrong to “redefine” it to something new, I ask whether they’d be fine with it if the majority wanted to keep the old definition, in which marriage meant the husband legally owned all the property, including the wife.

  • Jessica_R

    Yeah Leah is one of those characters that I’d love to read a novel or short story from her point of view. Especially when she gets snippy later in the this story. It’s totally presented as look how Verna/Hattie she is! When to the modern reader it feels like an understandably unhappy woman, who has never been loved or wanted by anyone, lashing out. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m pretty sure I have read a book from Leah’s PoV, actually. Hold while I poke at Amazon.

  • EllieMurasaki
  • Invisible Neutrino

    As soon as I saw the author’s name I joined you in your expostulation. (-_-)

  • Ross

     There is such a book, apparently; it’s part of Orson Scott Card’s “Women of Genesis” series.  So, it’s by Orson Scott Card, which is a bad sign to begin with. According to my wife, it’s quite good, though it annoys her that he does not finish the story.

  • EllieMurasaki

    He was at some point planning a fourth entitled The Wives of Jacob. Don’t know whether that’s still in the works. Don’t much care either.

  • esmerelda_ogg

     Try The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (well, actually, it’s the story of ALL the women from the perspective of Dinah, the daughter, but it does give Leah her point of view, and tries to slightly shift the presentation of Jacob…Laban is still a jerk, as always).

  • victoria

    I would also highly recommend “The Red Tent.”  Making the daughter Dinah the narrator provides a sympathetic yet unvarnished depiction of both Leah and Rachel.  (And yes, Laban is still an asshole).

  • Guest

    That reminds me of when I wrote a narrative poem from Orpah’s perspective, because I always felt like people paint her as horrible and mean when all she did was do what her mother-in-law told her to do. Or maybe it was from Naomi’s perspective, and has a part that praises Orpah for being obedient. I forget, it’s been a long time.

  • Jessica_R

    Yeah, so let me rephrase, “…not written by a homophobic asshat.” (I feel your pain though, there’s plenty of art I like made by people who unfortunately fail at being decent human beings.) 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think the answer is ‘write your own’, sadly.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    I have a possible idea rattling around in my head, like a series of vignettes. *thinking* :)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oooh! *bounce*

  • EllieMurasaki

    Actually: –Leah’s one of the commentators. Not quite what you’re after, I’m sure, but perhaps relevant to your interests nonetheless.

  • Kadh2000

    Unrelated to chikfila, but on a subject that I believe we here find interesting:  the guy who was a member of a Christian church raised to think being gay was a sin.  He went all the way to the extreme of living a year pretending to be gay.  This totally opened his eyes.  Here’s the full story from abcnews. com:

  • Invisible Neutrino

    That reminds me of a fictional equivalent. :)

  • mountainguy

    The penalty for polygamy is having too many mothers-in-law

  • Lliira

    Yet again, Dan Cathy would see no problem with this family.

    Older men in charge. Women as sex toys and breeding stock, not human beings. That is exactly the kind of family Dan Cathy thinks is perfect.

  • vsm

     So which do y’all dislike more, Jacob or Joseph? I think Joseph is probably the worse person, since he uses insider information to hoard food just before a famine and then use his stock to enslave the entire population of Egypt, but Jacob is more punchable from a subjective perspective. He starts his career in douchbaggery by deceiving his father and brother, engages in this bizarre woman-buying business, rapes two slaves and plays blatant favorites with his sons. Bizarrely enough, he seems to consider himself a good person through all this, to the extent that he thinks he of all people has the right to curse his oldest son for dishonoring him (he slept with one of Jacob’s slaves).

  • Samantha C

    This is one that bothered me ever since the day I learned it. I think the version they gave me as a kid didn’t mention the…wedding night. So I was stuck utterly, completely baffled as to how it could possibly be a legal marriage if the groom said I Do to the wrong person. I remember something about there being an extra-thick veil so he couldn’t see her face.

    If they slept together, then at least I understand how it’s not something that can just be undone (the Jewish law I was taught is that the act of having sex is basically an elopement, and you’re automatically married). But raises just more questions. How?

    and re: vsm – I have ALWAYS thought Jacob was  a COLOSSAL ASSHOLE from the Esau story (and it took me a while to realize this was the same Jacob being an asshole to his wives). WHY YES JACOB, you TOTALLY have the right to cheat your brother out of everything because……..because!

    At least Joseph is helping one group of people. At the expense of another, but he can be framed as leading his adopted country. Jacob is just…ugh.

  • Lori


    I remember something about there being an extra-thick veil so he couldn’t see her face.  

    The only positive I ever found in this story was that it’s the origin of the bedekken, which is the veiling ceremony for a Jewish wedding. It happens before the main ceremony and is attended by just close friends and family. IME it’s a nice custom. For one thing, it eliminates all the flapping about the groom not seeing the bride before the ceremony, which makes picture-taking and transportation much less fraught.


      WHY YES JACOB, you TOTALLY have the right to cheat your brother out of everything because……..because!  

    But mom told me to do it!

    What a colossal ass.

  • Antigone10

    Why is it always a “bride price” or “a dowry”?  Why is it, no matter who it’s attached to, it’s always the woman that’s to do with money instead of the husband?

  • Guest

    Meir Shalev quotes this poem to ask if every woman is Rachel the girlfriend who drives you wild and then becomes Leah, the one you settle down with, make children, get a mortgage, the one who’s not fun anymore as if that’s her fault, which it isn’t, because you’re in Grown-up Land now.

  • Guest
  • newenglandsun

    That can’t possibly a Biblical family. They don’t have marriage between one man and one women for life.