Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Now Laban had two daughters; the older was Leah, and her younger sister was Rachel. There was no brightness to Leah’s eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful. Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I’ll serve you for seven years in exchange for the hand of your younger daughter Rachel in marriage.” Laban said, “Agreed. I’d rather you have her than any other man I know. You may stay here and work.” So Jacob served Laban for seven years in exchange for Rachel. The years went by quickly and seemed to him to be only a few days because of the immense love he had for her. When the time came, Jacob approached Laban and said, “I have now completed seven years of work for you. I ask you now to give me my wife so that I may consummate my marriage.” Laban gathered together all of the people in the area and prepared a great feast to celebrate the marriage. But in the evening, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob slept with her, thinking she was Rachel. Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant. When morning came, Jacob realized it was Leah and said to Laban, “What have you done to me? Did we not have a deal—seven years of labor in exchange for your daughter Rachel? Why have you deceived me?” Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger in marriage before the firstborn. If you complete this wedding week with Leah, then I will also give you Rachel. But in return, you must serve me another seven years.” Jacob agreed and completed his week with Leah. And then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel in marriage. Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant. Genesis 29:15-29
Did you know that the most massive living organism on Earth can be found on 106 acres off the southwest bank of Fish Lake in Sevier County, Utah? That organism—the largest on our planet—is a collection of aspen trees called the Pando clone. Aspen trees have what is known as a rhizomatic root system, which simply means that when we see a cluster of aspen trees, they are not actually individual trees.
They are connected—all birthed from the same subterranean system of roots and shoots.
An individual aspen tree can live anywhere from 40 to 150 years above ground, but the root system that unites them is extremely long lived, in some cases, thousands of years old. Scientists estimate that the root system of the Pando aspens in Utah is 80,000 years old. It’s that root system—that connection beneath the surface—that provides aspens with a unique ability to survive the above ground elements like pollution, pestilence, and fire. We may look at a forest of aspen trees and see and think of them as individual and separate trees, but that is not reality. That is a delusion. They are united.
They are one.
I would submit to you that to engage in the deceit and dehumanization that followed in their behavior, both Laban and Jacob first had to believe the delusion that they were not connected—that they were not one. In order to deceive and steal from his brother, to scandalize his entire family, Jacob first had to believe the lie that he was somehow detached and disconnected from Esau. He had to believe that Esau was “other.” In order to deceive and violate Jacob and Rachel and Leah, to scandalize his entire family, Laban first had to believe the lie that he was somehow detached and disconnected from Jacob and even his daughters—that they were “other.” This is not to intimate that Laban or Jacob created this delusion or to make them the villains from whom we can detach. In fact, according to the book of Genesis, this delusion of detachment begins in the Garden with Adam and Eve. In the creation poem of Genesis 2 and 3, humanity awakens to the free nature of life, realizing that they have a choice…
…to eat of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, or not.
…to live in the divine reality, or to construct their own reality.
…to trust that they are one in and with the Source of all things, or to convince themselves that is not the case and instead believe a delusion that they are detached from each other and God.
According to Genesis, the freedom to choose this delusion is part of the human condition. It’s part of the nature of freedom. We don’t have to believe what is real and true. According to Genesis...
We have always had the freedom to discard reality and invent our own.
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