"But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn." (Genesis 29:26)

This is an interesting justification. Laban uses the custom of marrying the first born as the reason for his deception. But think about it, could he not have made this clear to Jacob seven years prior. Perhaps Laban was hoping that Leah would be married by that time. In any event, after Jacob completed his part of the agreement, Laban tricked him and then used the local custom as justification for breaking his word.

Some attempt to justify Laban's actions by pointing to Jacob's trickery to gain the birth right blessing. But Jacob's bad behavior does not justify Laban's bad behavior.

The real tragedy of this story is not the trickery to Jacob but what it does to Leah. If Jacob is so taken with Rachel that he will work seven years for the right to marry her, then Laban should know that this love is powerful and enduring. For Leah to be cast into this mix by lies, deceit and trickery will only make her life more difficult.

So let's be honest. Laban's actions reveal it is not really about what's best for Leah, it all about Laban. Laban wants to be able to keep his status in his community. He wants to be able to say, "I married Leah before Rachel" even if this creates a dysfunctional climate for Leah.

The greater lesson here is we are all Laban. We have all done this. We have all taken the easy road and then justified it by pointing to a custom or by pointing to the actions of other's to justify our lack of character and courage. Pointing to a custom can never justify an unethical act – for Laban or for us.

When we act in this way we never take into account the truly destructive nature of our decisions.

© 2010, VoiceWind. . .Greg Loveless. All rights reserved.

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