You will remember *from last time* that Jacob, while on the way to Haran (in Mesopotamia) to escape his terrifying brother Esau, stopped off for the night at the little town of Luz. While sleeping, he thought he saw Esau standing over him. This so terrified Jacob that his bowels loosened. Jacob’s momentarily later realising it was God, not Esau, who had been standing over him was too late for his very smelly garments and bedding, which he had no option but to clean as best he could.
The next morning Jacob resumed his journey to Haran. He came across some tribesman giving their sheep water to drink from a well. Jacob spoke to one of the tribesmen – a fellow with a crooked nose and a missing front tooth.
“Where are you all from?” said Jacob.
“Goodness me” said Jacob, “Haran is the very town I’m headed for. Tell me, do any of you fellows know Laban, who lives there?”
“Why do you want to know?” said the tribesman.
“Well, Laban is my uncle whom I’ll be staying with for a while.”
“Yes, we do know Laban.”
“Is he well?”
“He is, as far as we know.”
Jacob noticed a young woman coming towards them while herding a flock of sheep.
“Who’s she?” said Jacob.
“Rachel, a daughter of your Uncle Laban” said the tribesman.
When Rachel, with her flock – Laban’s flock, actually – came to where Jacob and the tribesman were, Jacob went to her and kissed her.
“Aren’t you being a little forward?” said Rachel, “for I know not who you are.”
“I’m Jacob, your father’s nephew and your first cousin.”
“Oh, then I suppose it was alright for you to kiss me. I hope you won’t take offence, cousin, but you do smell awfully bad. When did you last wash?”
“It’s too long a story to go into right now. Perhaps I’ll tell you of it sometime, but not before I’ve introduced myself to my Uncle Laban, who I do hope you will now lead me to.”
Rachel accordingly led Jacob to the home of her father, Laban. When they reached the dwelling, Rachel went inside to explain to her father who Jacob was. Then Laban came out and warmly embraced his nephew, and welcomed him to his home.
“Before you come in, though” said Laban, “you must have a thorough wash, and your clothes too, for the pong that emanates from you would stink out my home, and I can’t have that. Go to that tree over there, strip off your clothes, and I’ll have a servant pour water over you and scrub you down until the smell is gone. Then we’ll have dinner, and you can tell me more about yourself.”
Source: Genesis 29, 1-14