Lesson: Jacob, the Ladder, Laban, Leah, and Rachel

November 15, 2010

for Saturday, 20 November 2010 — 10 kids present

Volunteers: Colleen, Paul, Alyssa, Kaitlyn

Driver: Jennifer

Primary Scriptures: Genesis 28 – 31

Memory work: Psalm 146:5-6

Themes: God’s kindness despite Jacob’s sins, per His sovereign decision to bless Jacob; Jacob’s early signs of repentance


  • Setup
  • (10:00am) name tags, new memory and songs into mini-albums, two coloring pages
  • together: Matthew 6 “Lord’s prayer
  • Sing — Apostles’ Creed; “Supplanter” song
  • memory verse (Ps. 146:5-6)
  • Lesson (see below) —
  • Craft Colleen has prepared a chocolate bar “Jacob’s ladder” craft
  • (11:00 am) SNACK/BREAK
  • (11:20 am) activity(See “Activities” section below)
  • stickers or bookmarks
  • Singing: “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” (Augment 2), and psalm 105 stanzas 1, 3, and 4; Ps 8 or 116 if time; “Abram”
  • Praying: [Colleen]
  • (11:50 am) tidy


1. Review Genesis 27 — [Paul]

  • Jacob and Esau, twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah;
  • Esau married two Canaanite women when he was age 40;
  • Isaac and Rebekah were not pleased about Esau’s marriages;
  • As the older son, the birthright (firstborn son’s right, or entitlement, to a larger inheritance than his siblings, and to be the next family leader) belonged to Esau, but he traded it to Jacob for the lentil soup;
  • The older son usually receives the blessing (God’s favor/gift of a larger part of the family inheritance, given [declared] by the human father) as well — Isaac certainly wanted to bless Esau, his favorite son, but this was not God’s plan;
  • old weak-eyed Isaac called Esau to hunt and serve him some wild meat, and then he would bless Esau;
  • Rebekah overheard them talking and told Jacob what to do;
  • Rebekah prepared goat meat;
  • Jacob wore his brother’s clothing;
  • Rebekah put goatskin on Jacob’s hands and neck;
  • Jacob brought the meat to his father Isaac;
  • Jacob pretended to be Esau — Isaac touched him and smelled him — believing him to be Esau, Isaac blessed him;
  • Esau then came in from hunting, prepared some food, and brought it to Isaac;
  • Isaac trembled and Esau cried;
  • Esau planned to murder Jacob;

2. Jacob Flees to Paddan-Aram, and Jacob’s Dream — [Colleen]

  • “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.” [27:41]
  • Rebekah heard of Esau’s plan and warned Jacob to flee to Haran where his uncle Laban lived;
  • Isaac told his son Jacob to never marry one of these Canaanite women (as Esau had), but to take one of Laban’s daughters as his wife;
  • He also prayed for Jacob, even that God would give this land (Canaan) to Jacob;
  • When Esau heard about this, he married another woman — a daughter of Ishmael;
  • (Recall Ishmael, son of Hagar, who married an Egyptian and learned archery);
  • Jacob was 77(?) years old when he journeyed to Haran to find a wife, and to flee from Esau. The one who loved to stay at home now needed to travel about seven hundred kilometers all alone!

Show Jacob’s travels on a map:

(this map provided free by ebibleteacher.com)

  • on his way to Haran, Jacob stopped for the night at a place called Luz
  • rested his head on [or beside] a large rock and fell asleep
  • in a dream, Jacob saw a ladder, or staircase, that reached from earth to heaven, and God’s angels were going up and down on it
  • (show display from “Other Resources” section below)
  • (explain the words of our Lord from John 1:51: Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.)
  • God was standing beside the ladder
  • “I am the LORD God who was worshiped by Abraham and Isaac. I will give to you and your family the land on which you are now sleeping. Your descendants will spread over the earth in all directions and will become as numerous as the specks of dust. Your family will be a blessing to all people. Wherever you go, I will watch over you, then later I will bring you back to this land. I won’t leave you–I will do all I have promised.” [from CEV translation]
  • (Note that the promise to Abraham is with Jacob)
  • Jacob woke up
  • “The LORD is in this place, and I didn’t even know it.”
  • Jacob was afraid
  • “This is a fearsome place! It must be the house of God and the ladder to heaven.”
  • Early the next morning, Jacob took the same rock and set it up like a pillar to mark this as a place of worship
  • poured olive oil on the rock to dedicate it to God
  • renamed Luz to “Bethel,” which means “house of God”
  • Jacob made a promise to God that is like a bargain: “If you go with me and watch over me as I travel, and if you give me food and clothes and bring me safely home again, you will be my God. This rock will be your house, and I will give back to you a tenth of everything you give me.”
  • (Contrast Jacob’s with Abraham’s reaction to God’s promises — Abraham believed the Lord and it was counted as righteousness [15:6])

3. Jacob Arrives at Paddan-Aram — [Paul]

[Genesis 29]

  • One day as Jacob was traveling, he saw a well in a field, the kind of well where shepherds take their sheep for water
  • the well was covered with a large rock that could be rolled away once the sheep had gathered
  • [this is probably basically a hole in the ground with a huge stone covering it]
  • there were three flocks of sheep were lying around the well
  • “Where are you from?”
  • “We’re from Haran”
  • “Do you know Laban?”
  • “Yes we do”
  • “How is he?”
  • He’s fine… and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.”
  • “Look, the sun is still high up in the sky, and it’s too early to bring in the rest of the flocks. Water your sheep and take them back to the pasture.”
  • “We can’t do that until they all get here, and the rock has been rolled away from the well.”
  • Rachel came with her father (Laban)’s sheep
  • Jacob rolled the rock away and watered the sheep — it was a LARGE stone, and Jacob’s strength would impress Laban
  • He kissed Rachel and started crying because he was so happy
  • “I am the son of your aunt Rebekah”
  • Rachel ran and told Laban
  • Laban ran out to meet Jacob
  • Laban hugged and kissed him and brought him to his home
  • Jacob told him everything
  • “You are my nephew, and you are like one of my own family”

4. Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel — [Colleen]

  • Laban had two daughters, Leah (the older) and Rachel
  • Rachel was more beautiful to Jacob than Leah
  • Jacob was in love with Rachel
  • Jacob lived at Laban’s house and helped him
  • After a month, Laban said, “I should pay you for your work. What would you like?”
  • “Let me marry Rachel, and I’ll work seven years for you”
  • “I’d rather you marry Rachel than somebody else! Yes, stay and work for me”
  • Jacob worked seven years
  • The time went fast, because he loved Rachel so much
  • “The time is up, and I want to marry Rachel now!”
  • Laban gave a big feast and invited all the neighbors
  • But Laban had Leah wear the bridal veil (recall Rebekah wearing one of these veils so her bridegroom Isaac could not see her face until after the marriage)
  • (Notice that Laban had also waited until it was dark — Jacob is tricked here in a similar manner to how he tricked his blind father)
  • Jacob did not know that Laban had tricked him and given Leah instead of Rachel until the next morning when he saw Leah’s face
  • Leah and Rachel, however, had not been tricked — they were upset that their father had cheated them [see 31:14-16]
  • Jacob was married to Leah instead of Rachel!
  • “Why did you do this to me? Didn’t I work to get Rachel? Why did you trick me?”
  • “Because the older daughter must get married first. After a week, you may also marry Rachel. But you will have to work for me another seven years.”
  • After a week, Jacob married Rachel — it was custom to have a wedding party for a week — Jacob, Leah, and Rachel probably weren’t in a partying mood, though
  • Laban also gave one of his servants to Leah and one to Rachel — the names of the servants were Zilpah and Bilhah
  • God knew that Jacob loved Rachel more than he did Leah
  • Leah also knew this, and she was sad about it
  • God gave children to Leah, but not to Rachel
  • Leah and Jacob’s first child was a boy who they named Reuben
  • Leah had a second son and named him Simeon
  • Leah had a third son, and he was named Levi
  • Leah had a fourth son and named him Judah
  • Rachel was jealous of Leah
  • “I’ll die if you don’t give me some children!” (Rachel said to Jacob)
  • “Don’t blame me! I’m not God.” (said Jacob)
  • (Compare that to Isaac, who prayed for barren Rebekah!)
  • “Here, take my servant Bilhah; have children by her, and I will adopt them as my children.”
  • (Ask kids if they remember anybody else — Sarah — with a similar plan)
  • Jacob married Bilhah
  • Bilhah had a son, and Rachel named him Dan
  • Bilhah had a  second son, and Rachel named the boy Naphtali
  • Leah was no longer able to have children, so she let Jacob marry her servant Zilpah
  • Zilpah had a son, and Leah named the boy Gad
  • Zilpah had another son, and Leah named him Asher
  • Leah prayed, and God granted another son — her fifth — and she named him Issachar
  • Leah had a sixth son, and she named him Zebulun
  • Leah had a daughter, and named her Dinah
  • God then answered Rachel’s prayers, and she gave birth to her first child! It was a boy, and she named him Joseph
  • Rachel credited God for the birth of Joseph [30:23]
  • Rachel prayed for another son after Joseph was born
  • [add to the family tree: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, Bilhah, and these first 11 sons and 1 daughter — see image:]

Family tree: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob -- twelve tribes of Israel

5. Jacob Flees Laban — [Paul]

  • Jacob spoke to Laban: “You know I’ve worked hard for you — let me return to Canaan with my family now”
  • “If you really are my friend, stay on, and I’ll pay you whatever you like”
  • “You didn’t have much before I came here. But God has blessed all of my hard work for you. Now let me look after my own family.”
  • “How much do you want me to pay you?”
  • “Okay, you can pay me by letting me own any animal from your flocks that is not white. I will look after your sheep and goats if you let me have all the animals that are not white. Any animal that is white will be your property, but any black lamb, or any spotted or speckled sheep or goat will belong to me. This way, I will not be able to steal any from you without you knowing it! Simple — when you come to check my animals, if you see any that are white, you will know that I stole it from you!”
  • “I agree to that”
  • Laban then cheated again — he took all spotted, speckled, or black animals out of the flock and got his sons to secretly keep them; this way, the flock would only be able to have white-wool babies, and Jacob would end up gaining nothing!
  • Laban made Jacob take the sheep and goats, and travel three days’ journey, where he would look after them
  • Jacob had a theory that if the mom and dad sheep and goats looked at spots, they might have spotted babies — Jacob was scheming just like Laban was
  • so, Jacob cut branches from poplar trees, almond trees, and evergreen trees
  • he peeled off part of the bark and made the branches look spotted and speckled
  • Jacob put the branches where the sheep and goats could see them from the water trough
  • the goats and sheep did end up having spotted and speckled babies — God was blessing Jacob, even as He said He would
  • Jacob always took the spotted, speckled, and black animals out of the flock and kept them as his own, just as he had agreed with Laban
  • When weak sheep were out, Jacob took away the spotted branches — this way, the weaker sheep ended up having babies with white wool, and so the animals that belonged to Laban were all the weak ones, but Jacob’s were healthy and strong!
  • this made Jacob rich — he now owned many sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys, and a lot of servants
  • (Note that Laban dished on Jacob a lot of the treachery that Jacob was guilty of.)
  • Laban’s sons complained, “Jacob is now a rich man, and he got everything he owns from our father”
  • Also, Laban was not as friendly with Jacob as he once had been
  • God told Jacob to go back to Canaan: “Jacob, go back to your relatives in the land of your ancestors, and I will bless you.”
  • Jacob told Rachel and Leah to meet him in the field where he kept his sheep — (look! Jacob is finally learning to promptly obey God)
  • “Your father isn’t as friendly with me as he used to be, but the God that my father and grandfather worshiped has been on my side.”
  • (Note how he hasn’t yet considered God as his God!)
  • “You know I’ve worked hard for your father and that he keeps cheating me. But God has looked after me, and now His angel has come to me in a dream and told me that I must leave this place and return to the land where I was born.”
  • Rachel and Leah answered: “There’s nothing left for us to inherit from our father. He treats us like foreigners and has cheated us just as he has cheated you. Now do whatever God tells you to do.”
  • Without telling Laban, Jacob and his family left for the home of his father Isaac in Canaan — Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, Bilhah, all their children, and all of their sheep, goats, and camels — everything that Jacob had ever gotten during his time in the land around Haran.
  • On the way out, Jacob’s wife Rachel stole the family idols (teraphim that pagan Laban worshiped — apparently Rachel hadn’t outgrown them either) while Laban was out shearing his sheep.
  • They crossed the Euphrates River and headed for the hill country of Gilead, taking with them everything they owned — Jacob was on the way to the land that God had promised to him!

6. Laban Chases Jacob — [Paul]

  • Laban did not realize that Jacob was gone until after three days
  • Laban and some of his family chased after Jacob for seven days
  • They caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead [look up on map], where Jacob had set up camp
  • Laban and his relatives set up camp in a different part of the hill country
  • God appeared to Laban in a dream and warned him, “Don’t say a word to Jacob. Don’t make a threat or a promise.”
  • Laban went to Jacob:
  • “Look what you’ve done! You’ve tricked me and run off with my daughters like a kidnapper. Why did you sneak away without telling me? I would have given you a going-away party with singing and with music on tambourines and harps. You didn’t even give me a chance to kiss my own grandchildren and daughters good-by. That was really foolish. I could easily hurt you, but the God your father worshiped has warned me not to make any threats or promises. I can understand why you were eager to return to your father, but why did you have to steal my idols?”
  • “I left secretly because I was afraid you would take your daughters from me by force. If you find that any one of us has taken your idols, I’ll have that person killed. Let your relatives be witnesses. Show me what belongs to you, and you can take it back.”
  • — Jacob did not realize that Rachel had stolen the household idols!
  • Rachel hid the idols in a cushion and sat on them (dead false gods can’t look after themselves)
  • Laban searched the tents of Jacob, Leah, and the two servant women, but did not find the idols anywhere
  • When Laban searched Rachel’s tent she was still sitting on the cushion where the idols were hidden, so Laban did not find them
  • (Rachel tricked her father, just as Jacob had tricked his)
  • Jacob became angry with Laban:
  • “What have I done wrong? Have I committed some crime? Is that why you hunted me down? After searching through everything I have, did you find anything of yours? If so, put it here, where your relatives and mine can see it. Then we can decide what to do. I’ve worked for you for twenty years and I have carefully looked after your animals. I sweated for you, I froze for you, I went nights without sleep for you. I paid fourteen years of hard work to earn your daughters, and six more to buy your sheep and goats! And you kept tricking me! Cheating me! If the fearsome God worshiped by Abraham and my father Isaac had not been on my side, you would have sent me away with nothing. But God saw my hard work, and he knew the trouble I was in, so he helped me. Then last night he told you how wrong you were.”

[7. Treaty with Laban — time permitting ]

(Genesis 31:43-55)

Possible Activities

These two ideas are from funandgames.org:

Old favorite, needs a fair amount of space and as there is a risk (depending on skilful the players are) of accidentally treading on somebody else it’s a good idea if those playing don’t wear shoes. Players pair up and sit down facing each other legs outstretched and feet touching so that players legs form the rungs of a ladder. Each pair is then given a number. When their number is called out each pair has to get up, run down the ladder without treading on any legs, back around the outside and then back up the ladder to their original position. Player that gets back first and sitting in position wins.

Story Ladders
Use the same set up as ladders, but needs a lot (or bit) of preparation in advance depending on how good you are at creating stories. Each pair is either given a number or the name of an object. As a narrator tells a story pairs have run when their name or number is called out. If you are using numbers, shopping trips make good subjects for stories. Can also use numbers in phrases such as “…went to (2) the…” or “once (1) there….” very good at seeing who is alert!

“Sons of Jacob” song, public domain lyrics improvised by Kim Dailey:

(to the tune of “Ten Little Indians”)
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah,
Issachar, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali,
Gad and Asher, Joseph, Benjamin –
These are the sons of Jacob.

Possible Coloring Pages

(Click through to sources.)

jacob and ladder

jacob, rachel, laban

jacob meets rachel

laban deals with jacob

jacob's dream -- color + maze


  • Page 2 of Curr025.pdf from calvarychapel.com;
  • “Jacob has a dream” (page 11) of “My Bible Coloring Book” by Shirley Dobson.

Other Resources

  1. Set up this display (idea from Jill Masters’ “Lessons for Life 1”):

    Jacob's Ladder -- Cross -- John 1:15 -- fold, and stand on table

  2. Teaching Aid 10 (poster) from Great Commission curriculum.

One Response to “Lesson: Jacob, the Ladder, Laban, Leah, and Rachel”

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