Council of Relatives in Family Interactions
In this bible study we learn about Jacob’s first seven years in Paddan Aram, where he lived with his uncle Laban. The passage illustrates the role of family as a structure for regulation of human interactions. This function often is performed through the Council of Relatives, constituted by informally selecting family members to represent each family. The Council of Relatives is still the same and plays the same roles today as in the days of this bible incident. The council is referred to as Umunna among the Igbo people of Nigeria, for example.
In the passage, Laban convened the Council of Relatives to witness his daughter’s marriage to Jacob. He had an agreement whereby Jacob will serve him for seven years and marry Rachel thereafter, using the seven-year labor as payment for the marriage. Jacob served the seven years. However, on the wedding night, Laban gave Leah instead of Rachel to Jacob. When Jacob realized the switch and protested, Laban pleaded with him to complete the process of marrying Leah and, thereafter, marry Rachel also and pay for the marriage by serving him for another seven years. Jacob accepted and married Leah and Rachel.