Bible: Genesis 29-31

The Marriages of Jacob

29:1 So Jacob moved on 1  and came to the land of the eastern people. 2  29:2 He saw 3  in the field a well with 4  three flocks of sheep lying beside it, because the flocks were watered from that well. Now 5  a large stone covered the mouth of the well. 29:3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds 6  would roll the stone off the mouth of the well and water the sheep. Then they would put the stone back in its place over the well’s mouth.

29:4 Jacob asked them, “My brothers, where are you from?” They replied, “We’re from Haran.” 29:5 So he said to them, “Do you know Laban, the grandson 7  of Nahor?” “We know him,” 8  they said. 29:6 Is he well?” 9  Jacob asked. They replied, “He is well. 10  Now look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” 29:7 Then Jacob 11  said, “Since it is still the middle of the day, 12  it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. You should water the sheep and then go and let them graze some more.” 13  29:8 We can’t,” they said, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stone is rolled off the mouth of the well. Then we water 14  the sheep.”

29:9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep, for she was tending them. 15  29:10 When Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban, 16  and the sheep of his uncle Laban, he 17  went over 18  and rolled the stone off the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of his uncle Laban. 19  29:11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep loudly. 20  29:12 When Jacob explained 21  to Rachel that he was a relative of her father 22  and the son of Rebekah, she ran and told her father. 29:13 When Laban heard this news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he rushed out to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob 23  told Laban how he was related to him. 24  29:14 Then Laban said to him, “You are indeed my own flesh and blood.” 25  So Jacob 26  stayed with him for a month. 27 

29:15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Should you work 28  for me for nothing because you are my relative? 29  Tell me what your wages should be.” 29:16 (Now Laban had two daughters; 30  the older one was named Leah, and the younger one Rachel. 29:17 Leah’s eyes were tender, 31  but Rachel had a lovely figure and beautiful appearance.) 32  29:18 Since Jacob had fallen in love with 33  Rachel, he said, “I’ll serve you seven years in exchange for your younger daughter Rachel.” 29:19 Laban replied, “I’d rather give her to you than to another man. 34  Stay with me.” 29:20 So Jacob worked for seven years to acquire Rachel. 35  But they seemed like only a few days to him 36  because his love for her was so great. 37 

29:21 Finally Jacob said 38  to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time of service is up. 39  I want to have marital relations with her.” 40  29:22 So Laban invited all the people 41  of that place and prepared a feast. 29:23 In the evening he brought his daughter Leah 42  to Jacob, 43  and Jacob 44  had marital relations with her. 45  29:24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) 46 

29:25 In the morning Jacob discovered it was Leah! 47  So Jacob 48  said to Laban, “What in the world have you done to me! 49  Didn’t I work for you in exchange for Rachel? Why have you tricked 50  me? 29:26 It is not our custom here,” 51  Laban replied, “to give the younger daughter in marriage 52  before the firstborn. 29:27 Complete my older daughter’s bridal week. 53  Then we will give you the younger one 54  too, in exchange for seven more years of work.” 55 

29:28 Jacob did as Laban said. 56  When Jacob 57  completed Leah’s bridal week, 58  Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 59  29:29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 60  29:30 Jacob 61  had marital relations 62  with Rachel as well. He loved Rachel more than Leah, so he worked for Laban 63  for seven more years. 64 

The Family of Jacob

29:31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, 65  he enabled her to become pregnant 66  while Rachel remained childless. 29:32 So Leah became pregnant 67  and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, 68  for she said, “The Lord has looked with pity on my oppressed condition. 69  Surely my husband will love me now.”

29:33 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “Because the Lord heard that I was unloved, 70  he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. 71 

29:34 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “Now this time my husband will show me affection, 72  because I have given birth to three sons for him.” That is why he was named Levi. 73 

29:35 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” That is why she named him Judah. 74  Then she stopped having children.

30:1 When Rachel saw that she could not give Jacob children, she 75  became jealous of her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children 76  or I’ll die! 30:2 Jacob became furious 77  with Rachel and exclaimed, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children? 78  30:3 She replied, “Here is my servant Bilhah! Have sexual relations with 79  her so that she can bear 80  children 81  for me 82  and I can have a family through her.” 83 

30:4 So Rachel 84  gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob had marital relations with 85  her. 30:5 Bilhah became pregnant 86  and gave Jacob a son. 87  30:6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me. He has responded to my prayer 88  and given me a son.” That is why 89  she named him Dan. 90 

30:7 Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, became pregnant again and gave Jacob another son. 91  30:8 Then Rachel said, “I have fought a desperate struggle with my sister, but I have won.” 92  So she named him Naphtali. 93 

30:9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she gave 94  her servant Zilpah to Jacob as a wife. 30:10 Soon Leah’s servant Zilpah gave Jacob a son. 95  30:11 Leah said, “How fortunate!” 96  So she named him Gad. 97 

30:12 Then Leah’s servant Zilpah gave Jacob another son. 98  30:13 Leah said, “How happy I am, 99  for women 100  will call me happy!” So she named him Asher. 101 

30:14 At the time 102  of the wheat harvest Reuben went out and found some mandrake plants 103  in a field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 30:15 But Leah replied, 104 Wasn’t it enough that you’ve taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes too?” “All right,” 105  Rachel said, “he may sleep 106  with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 30:16 When Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must sleep 107  with me because I have paid for your services 108  with my son’s mandrakes.” So he had marital relations 109  with her that night. 30:17 God paid attention 110  to Leah; she became pregnant 111  and gave Jacob a son for the fifth time. 112  30:18 Then Leah said, “God has granted me a reward 113  because I gave my servant to my husband as a wife.” 114  So she named him Issachar. 115 

30:19 Leah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a son for the sixth time. 116  30:20 Then Leah said, “God has given me a good gift. Now my husband will honor me because I have given him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. 117 

30:21 After that she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.

30:22 Then God took note of 118  Rachel. He paid attention to her and enabled her to become pregnant. 119  30:23 She became pregnant 120  and gave birth to a son. Then she said, “God has taken away my shame.” 121  30:24 She named him Joseph, 122  saying, “May the Lord give me yet another son.”

The Flocks of Jacob

30:25 After Rachel had given birth 123  to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send 124  me on my way so that I can go 125  home to my own country. 126  30:26 Let me take my wives and my children whom I have acquired by working for you. 127  Then I’ll depart, 128  because you know how hard I’ve worked for you.” 129 

30:27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, please stay here, 130  for I have learned by divination 131  that the Lord has blessed me on account of you.” 30:28 He added, “Just name your wages – I’ll pay whatever you want.” 132 

30:29You know how I have worked for you,” Jacob replied, 133 and how well your livestock have fared under my care. 134  30:30 Indeed, 135  you had little before I arrived, 136  but now your possessions have increased many times over. 137  The Lord has blessed you wherever I worked. 138  But now, how long must it be before I do something for my own family too? 139 

30:31 So Laban asked, 140  “What should I give you?” “You don’t need to give me a thing,” 141  Jacob replied, 142 but if you agree to this one condition, 143  I will continue to care for 144  your flocks and protect them: 30:32 Let me walk among 145  all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb, 146  and the spotted or speckled goats. 147  These animals will be my wages. 148  30:33 My integrity will testify for me 149  later on. 150  When you come to verify that I’ve taken only the wages we agreed on, 151  if I have in my possession any goat that is not speckled or spotted or any sheep that is not dark-colored, it will be considered stolen.” 152  30:34 Agreed!” said Laban, “It will be as you say.” 153 

30:35 So that day Laban 154  removed the male goats that were streaked or spotted, all the female goats that were speckled or spotted (all that had any white on them), and all the dark-colored lambs, and put them in the care 155  of his sons. 30:36 Then he separated them from Jacob by a three-day journey, 156  while 157  Jacob was taking care of the rest of Laban’s flocks.

30:37 But Jacob took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees. He made white streaks by peeling them, making the white inner wood in the branches visible. 30:38 Then he set up the peeled branches in all the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink. He set up the branches in front of the flocks when they were in heat and came to drink. 158  30:39 When the sheep mated 159  in front of the branches, they 160  gave birth to young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 30:40 Jacob removed these lambs, but he made the rest of the flock face 161  the streaked and completely dark-colored animals in Laban’s flock. So he made separate flocks for himself and did not mix them with Laban’s flocks. 30:41 When the stronger females were in heat, 162  Jacob would set up the branches in the troughs in front of the flock, so they would mate near the branches. 30:42 But if the animals were weaker, he did not set the branches there. 163  So the weaker animals ended up belonging to Laban 164  and the stronger animals to Jacob. 30:43 In this way Jacob 165  became extremely prosperous. He owned 166  large flocks, male and female servants, camels, and donkeys.

Jacob’s Flight from Laban

31:1 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining, 167 Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father! He has gotten rich 168  at our father’s expense! 169  31:2 When Jacob saw the look on Laban’s face, he could tell his attitude toward him had changed. 170 

31:3 The Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers 171  and to your relatives. I will be with you.” 172  31:4 So Jacob sent a message for Rachel and Leah 173  to come to the field 174  where his flocks were. 175  31:5 There he said to them, “I can tell that your father’s attitude toward me has changed, 176  but the God of my father has been with me. 31:6 You know that I’ve worked for your father as hard as I could, 177  31:7 but your father has humiliated 178  me and changed my wages ten times. But God has not permitted him to do me any harm. 31:8 If he said, 179 The speckled animals 180  will be your wage,’ then the entire flock gave birth to speckled offspring. But if he said, ‘The streaked animals will be your wage,’ then the entire flock gave birth to streaked offspring. 31:9 In this way God has snatched away your father’s livestock and given them to me.

31:10Once 181  during breeding season I saw 182  in a dream that the male goats mating with 183  the flock were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 31:11 In the dream the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ ‘Here I am!’ I replied. 31:12 Then he said, ‘Observe 184  that all the male goats mating with 185  the flock are streaked, speckled, or spotted, for I have observed all that Laban has done to you. 31:13 I am the God of Bethel, 186  where you anointed 187  the sacred stone and made a vow to me. 188  Now leave this land immediately 189  and return to your native land.’

31:14 Then Rachel and Leah replied to him, “Do we still have any portion or inheritance 190  in our father’s house? 31:15 Hasn’t he treated us like foreigners? He not only sold us, but completely wasted 191  the money paid for us! 192  31:16 Surely all the wealth that God snatched away from our father belongs to us and to our children. So now do everything God has told you.”

31:17 So Jacob immediately put his children and his wives on the camels. 193  31:18 He took 194  away all the livestock he had acquired in Paddan Aram and all his moveable property that he had accumulated. Then he set out toward the land of Canaan to return to his father Isaac. 195 

31:19 While Laban had gone to shear his sheep, 196  Rachel stole the household idols 197  that belonged to her father. 31:20 Jacob also deceived 198  Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was leaving. 199  31:21 He left 200  with all he owned. He quickly crossed 201  the Euphrates River 202  and headed for 203  the hill country of Gilead.

31:22 Three days later Laban discovered Jacob had left. 204  31:23 So he took his relatives 205  with him and pursued Jacob 206  for seven days. 207  He caught up with 208  him in the hill country of Gilead. 31:24 But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and warned him, 209  “Be careful 210  that you neither bless nor curse Jacob.” 211 

31:25 Laban overtook Jacob, and when Jacob pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead, Laban and his relatives set up camp there too. 212  31:26 What have you done?” Laban demanded of Jacob. “You’ve deceived me 213  and carried away my daughters as if they were captives of war! 214  31:27 Why did you run away secretly 215  and deceive me? 216  Why didn’t you tell me so I could send you off with a celebration complete with singing, tambourines, and harps? 217  31:28 You didn’t even allow me to kiss my daughters and my grandchildren 218  good-bye. You have acted foolishly! 31:29 I have 219  the power to do you harm, but the God of your father told me last night, ‘Be careful 220  that you neither bless nor curse Jacob.’ 221  31:30 Now I understand that 222  you have gone away 223  because you longed desperately 224  for your father’s house. Yet why did you steal my gods? 225 

31:31I left secretly because I was afraid!” 226  Jacob replied to Laban. “I thought 227  you might take your daughters away from me by force. 228  31:32 Whoever has taken your gods will be put to death! 229  In the presence of our relatives 230  identify whatever is yours and take it.” 231  (Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.) 232 

31:33 So Laban entered Jacob’s tent, and Leah’s tent, and the tent of the two female servants, but he did not find the idols. 233  Then he left Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s. 234  31:34 (Now Rachel had taken the idols and put them inside her camel’s saddle 235  and sat on them.) 236  Laban searched the whole tent, but did not find them. 237  31:35 Rachel 238  said to her father, “Don’t be angry, 239  my lord. I cannot stand up 240  in your presence because I am having my period.” 241  So he searched thoroughly, 242  but did not find the idols.

31:36 Jacob became angry 243  and argued with Laban. “What did I do wrong?” he demanded of Laban. 244 What sin of mine prompted you to chase after me in hot pursuit? 245  31:37 When you searched through all my goods, did you find anything that belonged to you? 246  Set it here before my relatives and yours, 247  and let them settle the dispute between the two of us! 248 

31:38I have been with you for the past twenty years. Your ewes and female goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. 31:39 Animals torn by wild beasts I never brought to you; I always absorbed the loss myself. 249  You always made me pay for every missing animal, 250  whether it was taken by day or at night. 31:40 I was consumed by scorching heat 251  during the day and by piercing cold 252  at night, and I went without sleep. 253  31:41 This was my lot 254  for twenty years in your house: I worked like a slave 255  for you – fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, but you changed my wages ten times! 31:42 If the God of my father – the God of Abraham, the one whom Isaac fears 256 had not been with me, you would certainly have sent me away empty-handed! But God saw how I was oppressed and how hard I worked, 257  and he rebuked you last night.”

31:43 Laban replied 258  to Jacob, “These women 259  are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, 260  and these flocks are my flocks. All that you see belongs to me. But how can I harm these daughters of mine today 261  or the children to whom they have given birth? 31:44 So now, come, let’s make a formal agreement, 262  you and I, and it will be 263  proof that we have made peace.” 264 

31:45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a memorial pillar. 31:46 Then he 265  said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” So they brought stones and put them in a pile. 266  They ate there by the pile of stones. 31:47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, 267  but Jacob called it Galeed. 268 

31:48 Laban said, “This pile of stones is a witness of our agreement 269  today.” That is why it was called Galeed. 31:49 It was also called Mizpah 270  because he said, “May the Lord watch 271  between us 272  when we are out of sight of one another. 273  31:50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one else is with us, realize 274  that God is witness to your actions.” 275 

31:51Here is this pile of stones and this pillar I have set up between me and you,” Laban said to Jacob. 276  31:52 This pile of stones and the pillar are reminders that I will not pass beyond this pile to come to harm you and that you will not pass beyond this pile and this pillar to come to harm me. 277  31:53 May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor, 278  the gods of their father, judge between us.” Jacob took an oath by the God whom his father Isaac feared. 279  31:54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice 280  on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat the meal. 281  They ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain.

31:55 282  Early in the morning Laban kissed 283  his grandchildren 284  and his daughters goodbye and blessed them. Then Laban left and returned home. 285 

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