Jacob has a rough home life. It’s not surprising. He arrives in Charan having fled the wrath of his brother and is forced to look to his Uncle Lavan for help. Rebecca’s brother, Lavan, is quick to leap at an opportunity just as he did when she was offered the chance to marry Isaac; he looks for how he can exploit the situation.
He’s willing to let Jacob marry his daughter Rachel, but first he will work 7 years and receive no wages. As we all know, he is deceived by his bride and father in law on the wedding night and he is married off to Leah, the older daughter, instead. Lavan gives a pathetic excuse but offers Rachel next week, if Jacob will work another 7 years. You might wonder why he would trust Jacob to keep working after having been cheated; once he has Rachel, won’t he just run? We learn from the end of the Parashah, Jacob has every reason to worry Lavan will run him down and try to steal back his daughters.
So he works another 14 years to earn Rachel and then to earn some wealth for himself. Meantime, his wives vie for his affection trying to produce sons for him. He is often callous to their needs and they are often unforgiving of him. He will go on to have his daughter raped, his favorite son taken from him, his family suffer through famine and other sons almost lost.
Was this what he was looking for when he conned his brother out of the birthright? Was this what he was hoping for when he deceived his father for the blessing? Was it worth it? Of course not. If the only reason he wanted the blessing was for material reward in his lifetime, he must have been sorely disappointed. If he was looking beyond physical gratification and beyond his immediate circumstances, then the millions of descendants that have come from him were surely worth it. The light they have brought to the world guiding it towards God and goodness is a blessing worthy of any hardship.