In the biblical scripture reference below, would it be correct to say that Jacob is more driven by sexual urges than the overall need to be married for companionship? The reason I'm asking is because Jacob tells Laban that he wants to "go in to [Rachel]her." It does Not say give her to me as a wife. Moreover, it's even more shocking that during the marriage day's evening, Jacob "went in to [Leah]her", which is really comical because How can any guy Just Not recognize who their sexual partner is during sex. That is incredibly funny. LOL!!! Is my interpretation correct?

Genesis 29:21-27 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” 22 Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. 23 Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. 24 Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. 25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?”

  • 2
    The premise of the question is incorrect. Jacob said to Laban - Give me my wife. It is a perfectly honourable request. As for the circumstances, the narrative states the fact of the deception without giving the intricate details.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 3:25
  • I think you are underestimating how drunk Jacob would have been. The fact that he made it in at all was a win.
    – Karl Smith
    Commented Jan 15 at 2:59

4 Answers 4


There are a lot of implicit, but no explicit reasons why Jacob didn't recognize Leah. Some possibilities:

1.) The feast Laban prepared

Throughout history, many men have been known to get themselves quite intoxicated as they enter into their wedding night. Did Jacob do no less? Was he so out of his mind drunk he couldn't tell the difference between Leah and Rachel?

2.) Was Leah an identical twin to Rachel?

Jacob was a twin, and the occurences of twins within families is high throughout history and the world. Perhaps Leah having "tender eyes" (one translation) suggests the only difference between her and Rachel had to do with either her eyesight, or how her eyes looked physically. If this is so, in the dark, Jacob would not be able to see the remarkably small difference between the two sisters, if they were otherwise identical.

3.) Is it merely a plot device?

Consider: Jacob deceives his father Isaac into thinking that he is Esau, so as to take the blessing, under Rebecca's guidance. Jacob pretends to be someone else to get away with chicanery, so Rebecca's brother does the same to Jacob, showing how easy it is to dupe someone who is already given to duping others. In the first scenario, it's on account of Isaac's blindness that he can't tell it's not Esau, but Jacob. In the second account, Jacob is so "blind" he doesn't even realize it's not Rachel but Leah in his bed on the night of the wedding.

In this way, the plot device serves as a comical turn of events to show that Jacob, but, more importantly us as the readers, that we reap what we sow, and just like Jacob, we more often than not, end up getting what we deserve, especially when we try to pull one over (that is, lie/deceive - a morally reprehensible sin) on another person.

Jacob tricking Isaac was the catalyst that set Jacob up to be tricked by Laban (ostensibly through Leah). This much at least, I believe, is explicit. The rest is a bit of a guessing game, though, if I had to choose, I would go with option 3 as the likeliest.

  • +1. Interesting speculation in your #3. Also, since the phrase "tender eyes" is, at best, a translator's guess, I suggest three things: 1) Leah had strabismus (cross-eyes); 2) she had, unlike perhaps the majority of Middle Eastern women--then and now--pale blue eyes, which turned Jacob off; or 3) she simply could not see well and consequently was always squinting! There are other possibilities, of course, one of which is that Leah was just plain homely. Her younger sister, OTOH, was beautiful and built! All this is based on part speculation and part observation from the text's clues. Don Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 0:13
  • 2
    'A plot device'. Do you think this is a novel, or do you think this is fact recorded in holy scripture. ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 20:07
  • 2
    According to The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, the Jewish scholars who translated this word into Greek, chose the word ασθενείς for Leah's eyes, which translates to weak or sick. Furthermore, the consummation occurred in the dark of night (no electricity and an oil lamp would be pretty dim) under the influence of a generous quantity of wine, so the success of the switch should not be that surprising.
    – Dieter
    Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 22:16
  • 2
    Nigel J, I don't think it's an either/or proposition. If we take the idea that God is the author of all creation, and that He has a destiny for all that which He has created, within which He forms a path upon which we are to trod, to be in His will, then in a real sense, the story of Jacob is both Holy Scripture, but also a novel, one which, however, has a Divine Author doing the writing. There is therefore, a story within a story. The story of the Bible and the life of Jacob, and the story we are supposed to being reading between the lines, if you will, about what Jacob's story means. Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 9:51

How can any guy just not recognize who their sexual partner is during sex ?

Because such activities usually take place during the night, when little or no natural light is available:

Genesis 29:23  And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. 25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah.

Add to this the fact that brides commonly wear a veil on their wedding day,1 even in modern times (thus the inability to recognize her during the wedding ceremony), and the consumption of wine during the preceding wedding celebration (which, along with the dimming of the light and the onset of darkness, explain why he continued to do so even after she unveiled and unclothed herself during their wedding night).

1 Further information on this topic can be found in the answer to this related question, or by consulting encyclopedic articles on the subject.

That is incredibly funny. LOL!!!

What is ? The fact that one fails to pay proper attention to the text one is reading, or the fact that one overestimates the extent to which people living in antiquity made use of artificial lighting ?

Was Jacob so sexually driven that he mistook Leah for Rachel ?

Were that the case, then he would have asked for both, as Esau (Genesis 4:19-23) and Lamech (Genesis 26:34, 28:9, 36:2) have done,2 when marrying two wives form the start.

2 Note that, by contrast, the patriarchs do not employ more than one woman, unless having very good reason to do so (infertility and widowhood for Abraham, deception for Jacob, etc). Indeed, in Esau's case, his inability to control his various appetites ultimately cost him his birthright (Genesis 25:27-34).

  • I like this answer in particular as it addresses Leah could've been using a veil (even though there's no evidence of her using it during intercourse). Since Jacob clearly didn't know it was Leah, that could've been due to the darkness and / or drunkness. (+1) Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 9:31

Jacob was 77 years old when he first met Rachel. He was 84 years old when he mistook Leah for Rachel.

Was Jacob so Sexually driven that He mistook Leah for Rachel?

No. If he were, he wouldn't have asked to work and wait 7 years.

Genesis 29:18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

So what happened?

It was the scheme of Laban. He had a contingency plan for Jacob's wedding night. He had made sure that by the time of consummation, Jacob would have eaten and drunken so much that Jacob couldn't tell the night from the day. It might even involved smoking. Whatever the means, Laban had made sure that Jacob could distinguish Leah from Rachel that night. Laban had thought of all contingencies.

Similar sexual intercoursea occurred earlier with Lot's daughters getting their drunk in

Genesis 19:30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. 32Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”

Unfortunately, drunken and even drugged sex happen all too often in our modern days.


According to the law as Laban states, Leah, as the eldest daughter, must be married off first, before Rachel. Presumably Rachel knew this also, but apparently she didn't inform Jacob about this, she kept silent and went along with the "gag" which is what it turned out to be for Jacob, when he woke up and realized he'd gone into Leah, and was now married to her. But since Jacob "thought" he was marrying Rachel, wanting to and intending to marry Rachel, didn't that constitute his marrying Rachel? Apparently, not. He went into Leah, so that's who he got himself married to . Was this unethical on the part of Laban, and also Rachel? Maybe, but apparently there was some justification on the part of Laban. Some have said that Jacob got so drunk during what he thought was his marriage ceremonial party to Rachel that he couldn't tell them apart "when the rubber met the road". I'll go along with that.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.