Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Harran,” they replied. He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,” they answered. Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?” “Yes, he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.” “We can’t,” they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.” While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd. When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep. Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father. As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.” – Genesis 29:1-14 (NIV)
Once again a well is the focal point of a story and the central location around which people and animals gather. Jacob was sent to this region and well by Isaac to find a wife from his relatives. The well was covered with a stone. Presumably the stone was to keep it from getting contaminated with things that could fall into it and/or to prevent casual use of the water.
The description of the shepards rolling away the stone to access the well is an interesting parallel or foreshadowing of the stone being rolled away from the tomb where Jesus was placed. The stone these Shepard’s moved gave them access to life-giving water. The stone that was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb gave everyone in the world access to the living water that is present in Christ Jesus.
It sounds like moving the stone from the well was not a one person job and thus required several strong people to accomplish. This seems like a good metaphor for our role as Christians in sharing the Good News of Christ’s resurrection. We cannot accomplish the task on our own, it must be done in community with other Christians.
Prayer: God grant us the wisdom and patience to seek out other Christians who we can work with the “roll away the stone” to reveal and share the Good News of Christ.