In the twenty-ninth chapter of Genesis we read the account of Jacob's arrangement with his Uncle Laban for the hand of his daughter, Rachel. Jacob had travelled all the way to Haran at his parents' behest; and there he met Rachel at the well. Now he asks for her to wife.
What will a man give for a beautiful and well-endowed wife? Jacob was willing to give seven years of his labor. He cut to the chase, giving his best offer without negotiation. I, by contrast, would have gone along these lines:
Me: Sir, I would like to have your daughter, Rachel. Would you give me her hand in marriage?
Laban: Ahem, you are a fine young man, bone of my bone, your mother my dear sister. I would be amenable to an offer.
Me: Perhaps I could work in your service for a reasonable and appropriate length of time?
Laban: Capital idea, my boy. Let's say, fourteen years would be about right, and you will at the end of that time still be a young man, virile and strong, to provide me with grandchildren.
Me: I was thinking more along the lines of six months, Uncle, so that I might be back in Shebah by spring time.
Laban: I take your point. It is desirable that at some date you might visit the 'rents again. Let's say ten years.
Me: Oh, sir. I do love Rachel so. I would be willing to go to three years.
Laban: Oh, never mind, you scalawag. I think I will betroth her to Jacob.
Me: (sobs, heartbroken; turns to go.)Laban: Fare thee well, lad. Better luck next time. And never undervalue the prize, nor yet overvalue yourself.
Part One in a series