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In Gen. 29:21 Jacob did not say, "Give me my wife, for my years are fulfilled." He said plainly, "for my days are fulfilled," implying a certain number of days from the time the contract was made until he could actually have Rachel. The number was always left up to the contracting parties. It couldn’t have been 7 years to fulfill the marriage contract. These years of service were the total dowry, not the customary waiting period. The few days could have been the month of Gen. 29:14, and the contract could have been made at the beginning of these 30 days. From Gen. 29:27-30 we learn that Jacob received both wives within a week of each other. Regarding Leah, he was to "fulfill her week" (Gen. 29:27) and then Rachel would be given to him. Gen. 29:28 states clearly: "Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he (Laban) gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also."

Since Leah became his wife at the beginning of the 14-year dowry period, we know that Rachel became his wife at that time also. It is unreasonable to believe that Jacob received Leah (and Rachel a week later) at the end of the first 7-year period, because that wouldn’t give enough time for so many children to be born. Jacob’s last son before returning to Canaan was Joseph, born the 14th year of his father’s 20-year stay in Haran.

At his birth Jacob desired to return to Canaan, but was persuaded to remain 6 more years (Gen. 30:24-28; 31:41). We know then that all the other children had to be born in either a 7-year period or a 14-year period. These facts establish it as the full 14-year period. Leah herself had seven children, six sons and a daughter, before Joseph was born (Gen. 30:20-21). Furthermore, she had a period when she "left bearing" after having four sons (Gen. 29:35; 30:9). During this unfruitful time (which was at least 2 years) she gave Zilpah her maid to Jacob that she might have more children through her. Zilpah bore two sons before Leah herself began to bear again. It is impossible to account for Leah’s seven children and a 2-year unfruitful period in 7 years.

Therefore, Jacob received his wives at the beginning of the entire 14-year dowry period. Judah couldn’t have been born in the second 7 years, for the events of Gen. 38 (which relate to his life and took place before his family went down into Egypt) required more time. Jacob was 97 when they left Haran (note, Gen. 27:46), and 130 when they entered Egypt (Gen. 47:9). This gave the family only 33 years in Canaan. During that time Judah married and had a son named Er who took a wife and then died. Supposing Er’s widow to be a harlot, Judah later went to her and she gave birth to twins by him. According to Gen. 46:12, those twins were old enough for one of them (Pharez) to be married and have two sons by the time the whole tribe followed Joseph into Egypt. Judah, the fourth son, was perhaps born in the fifth year of Jacob’s married life.

Figuring that Jacob took his wives at the first of the first 7 years of his 20-year stay in Haran, and judging that Judah was born at the end of the first 5 years, it would make this fourth son 15 when his father took him to Canaan. His 15 years added to the 33 years the family stayed in Canaan would allow a total of 48 years for these four generations to come into being: Judah, Er, Pharez, and the two sons of Pharez. Judah, Er, and Pharez would be around 15 or 16 years old at marriage. However, if Judah’s birth was in the second 7 years, he would have been 8 instead of 15 when he went to Canaan, forcing all these births and marriages into a 41-year period, which is not enough time. Therefore, Jacob took his wives at the beginning of the entire 14-year dowry period, working for Laban to pay the dowry while living with both Leah and Rachel. 


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