In relation to this question I would like to know how to understand the following verses:

Within Genesis 29 the story around the well is described: Ya'akov looked and saw, and behold (there was) a well in the field, and lo, three flocks of sheep lying there (near) by it, because from that well they watered the flocks; and a great stone was upon the mouth of the well. And thither were all the flocks gathered; and they rolled (withdrew) the stone from the mouth of the well, and watered the sheep, and put the stone back upon the well's mouth in its place.

After asking the shepherds how Lavan is, the sheperds respond by saying: "It is well (shalom is with him); and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep."

Why is it that Ya'akov first repsonse is a question about drawing water?: "Behold, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together; water ye the sheep, and go and feed them"?

And the story continues: The shepherds answered Ya'akov: "We cannot (draw water), until all the flocks be gathered together, and at the time we roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep." While Ya'akov spake with them, Rachel came, with the flock of her father; for she was a shepherdess. And it came to pass, when Ya'akov saw Rachel the daughter of Lavan his mother's brother, and the sheep of Lavan his mother's brother, that Ya'akov went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Lavan his mother's brother. What happened here?

Is this story chronological? Didn't Ya'akov already knew Rachel was coming, and he had to wait till she would arrive? Or did the men told Ya'akov to wait because Rachel had yet to arrive, before they could water the sheeps, and while speaking to them there she already came, so at that point Ya'akov acted accordingly what was said?

(p.s. translation are from Mechon Mamre - JPS translation - and my own interpretation of these verses).

1 Answer 1


It seems that these verses would be chronological. I think you may have gotten somewhat confused with the translation, here, of "...and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep."

I am summarizing some of Rashi"s commentary on some of the verses.

Ya'akov sees the shephereds sitting with their flock by the well. He thought that the day was done for them and they wouldn't shepherd anymore. So, he says, "Hey! why are you just sitting here? The day is still great, and you haven't finished your day's work. Water your herd, and go back and continue shepherding! (In other words, Ya'akov is chastising the shepherds for sitting around.) (Keep in mind, that first he asked them about Lavan, if they knew him, etc.)

In answer to Ya'akov's question, they say, effectively, "We are not just sitting around wasting time. We want to water the sheep, but the stone is heavy, and we need all the shepherds here before we roll of the stone." (Probably a combination of the joint effort involved in rolling off the stone as well as consideration and practicality to have all the shepherds there. Most likely, they knew that Rachel was coming too, as she was also a shepherd, so they were waiting for her, too.) So they say, "Oh, look. Here comes Rachel!"

Then, once Rachel was about there, Ya'akov, himself, rolls off the stone and feeds her sheep.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .