281Isaac called Jacob, greeted him, and said to him, “Don't marry a Canaanite woman. 2Go instead to Mesopotamia, to the home of your grandfather Bethuel, and marry one of the young women there, one of your uncle Laban's daughters. 3May Almighty God bless your marriage and give you many children, so that you will become the father of many nations! 4
May he bless you and your descendants as he blessed Abraham, and may you take possession of this land, in which you have lived and which God gave to Abraham!” 5Isaac sent Jacob away to Mesopotamia, to Laban, who was the son of Bethuel the Aramean and the brother of Rebecca, the mother of Jacob and Esau.
6Esau learnt that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Mesopotamia to find a wife. He also learnt that when Isaac blessed him, he commanded him not to marry a Canaanite woman. 7He found out that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Mesopotamia. 8Esau then understood that his father Isaac did not approve of Canaanite women. 9So he went to Ishmael son of Abraham and married his daughter Mahalath, who was the sister of Nebaioth.
10Jacob left Beersheba and started towards Haran. 11At sunset he came to a holy place28.11 a holy place; or a place. and camped there. He lay down to sleep, resting his head on a stone. 12
He dreamt that he saw a stairway reaching from earth to heaven, with angels going up and coming down on it. 13
And there was the LORD standing beside him.28.13 beside him; or on it. “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham and Isaac,” he said. “I will give to you and to your descendants this land on which you are lying. 14
They will be as numerous as the specks of dust on the earth. They will extend their territory in all directions, and through you and your descendants I will bless all the nations.28.14 through you… nations; or all the nations will ask me to bless them as I have blessed you and your descendants. 15Remember, I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done all that I have promised you.”
16Jacob woke up and said, “The LORD is here! He is in this place, and I didn't know it!” 17He was afraid and said, “What a terrifying place this is! It must be the house of God; it must be the gate that opens into heaven.”
18Jacob got up early next morning, took the stone that was under his head, and set it up as a memorial. Then he poured olive oil on it to dedicate it to God. 19He named the place Bethel.28.19 Bethel: This name in Hebrew means “house of God”. (The town there was once known as Luz.) 20Then Jacob made a vow to the LORD: “If you will be with me and protect me on the journey I am making and give me food and clothing, 21and if I return safely to my father's home, then you will be my God. 22This memorial stone which I have set up will be the place where you are worshipped, and I will give you a tenth of everything you give me.”
291Jacob continued on his way and went towards the land of the East. 2Suddenly he came upon a well out in the fields with three flocks of sheep lying round it. The flocks were watered from this well, which had a large stone over the opening. 3Whenever all the flocks came together there, the shepherds would roll the stone back and water them. Then they would put the stone back in place.
4Jacob asked the shepherds, “My friends, where are you from?”
“From Haran,” they answered.
5He asked, “Do you know Laban, grandson of Nahor?”
“Yes, we do,” they answered.
6“Is he well?” he asked.
“He is well,” they answered. “Look, here comes his daughter Rachel with his flock.”
7Jacob said, “Since it is still broad daylight and not yet time to bring the flocks in, why don't you water them and take them back to pasture?”
8They answered, “We can't do that until all the flocks are here and the stone has been rolled back; then we will water the flocks.”
9While Jacob was still talking to them, Rachel arrived with the flock. 10When Jacob saw Rachel with his uncle Laban's flock, he went to the well, rolled the stone back, and watered the sheep. 11Then he kissed her and began to cry for joy. 12He told her, “I am your father's relative, the son of Rebecca.”
She ran to tell her father; 13and when he heard the news about his nephew Jacob, he ran to meet him, hugged him and kissed him, and brought him into the house. When Jacob told Laban everything that had happened, 14Laban said, “Yes, indeed, you are my own flesh and blood.” Jacob stayed there a whole month.
15Laban said to Jacob, “You shouldn't work for me for nothing just because you are my relative. How much pay do you want?” 16Laban had two daughters; the elder was named Leah, and the younger Rachel. 17Leah had lovely29.17 lovely; or weak. eyes, but Rachel was shapely and beautiful.
18Jacob was in love with Rachel, so he said, “I will work seven years for you, if you will let me marry Rachel.”
19Laban answered, “I would rather give her to you than to anyone else; stay here with me.” 20Jacob worked seven years so that he could have Rachel, and the time seemed like only a few days to him, because he loved her.
21Then Jacob said to Laban, “The time is up; let me marry your daughter.” 22So Laban gave a wedding feast and invited everyone. 23But that night, instead of Rachel, he took Leah to Jacob, and Jacob had intercourse with her. 24(Laban gave his slave woman Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her maid.) 25Not until the next morning did Jacob discover that it was Leah. He went to Laban and said, “Why did you do this to me? I worked to get Rachel. Why have you tricked me?”
26Laban answered, “It is not the custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the elder. 27Wait until the week's marriage celebrations are over, and I will give you Rachel, if you will work for me another seven years.”
28Jacob agreed, and when the week of marriage celebrations was over, Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 29(Laban gave his slave woman Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid.) 30Jacob had intercourse with Rachel also, and he loved her more than Leah. Then he worked for Laban another seven years.
31When the LORD saw that Leah was loved less than Rachel, he made it possible for her to have children, but Rachel remained childless. 32Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She said, “The LORD has seen my trouble, and now my husband will love me”; so she named him Reuben.29.32 Reuben: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “see, a son” and “has seen my trouble”. 33She became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She said, “The LORD has given me this son also, because he heard that I was not loved”; so she named him Simeon.29.33 Simeon: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “hear”. 34Once again she became pregnant and gave birth to another son. She said, “Now my husband will be bound more tightly to me, because I have borne him three sons”; so she named him Levi.29.34 Levi: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “bound”. 35Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She said, “This time I will praise the LORD”; so she named him Judah.29.35 Judah: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “praise”. Then she stopped having children.
301But Rachel had not borne Jacob any children, and so she became jealous of her sister and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I will die.”
2Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, “I can't take the place of God. He is the one who keeps you from having children.”
3She said, “Here is my slave Bilhah; sleep with her, so that she can have a child for me. In this way I can become a mother through her.” 4So she gave Bilhah to her husband, and he had intercourse with her. 5Bilhah became pregnant and bore Jacob a son. 6Rachel said, “God has judged in my favour. He has heard my prayer and has given me a son”; so she named him Dan.30.6 Dan: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “judge in favour”. 7Bilhah became pregnant again and bore Jacob a second son. 8Rachel said, “I have fought a hard fight with my sister, but I have won”; so she named him Naphtali.30.8 Naphtali: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “fight”.
9When Leah realized that she had stopped having children, she gave her slave Zilpah to Jacob as his wife. 10Then Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11Leah said, “I have been lucky”; so she named him Gad.30.11 Gad: This name in Hebrew means “luck”. 12Zilpah bore Jacob another son, 13and Leah said, “How happy I am! Now women will call me happy”; so she named him Asher.30.13 Asher: This name in Hebrew means “happy”.
14During the wheat harvest Reuben went into the fields and found mandrakes,30.14 mandrakes: Plants which were believed to produce fertility and were used as love-charms. which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son's mandrakes.”
15Leah answered, “Isn't it enough that you have taken away my husband? Now you are even trying to take away my son's mandrakes.”
Rachel said, “If you will give me your son's mandrakes, you can sleep with Jacob tonight.”
16When Jacob came in from the fields in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You are going to sleep with me tonight, because I have paid for you with my son's mandrakes.” So he had intercourse with her that night.
17God answered Leah's prayer, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18Leah said, “God has given me my reward, because I gave my slave to my husband”; so she named her son Issachar.30.18 Issachar: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “a man is hired” and “there is reward”. 19Leah became pregnant again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20She said, “God has given me a fine gift. Now my husband will accept me, because I have borne him six sons”; so she named him Zebulun.30.20 Zebulun: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “accept” and “gift”. 21Later she bore a daughter, whom she named Dinah.
22Then God remembered Rachel; he answered her prayer and made it possible for her to have children. 23She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She said, “God has taken away my disgrace by giving me a son. 24May the LORD give me another son”; so she named him Joseph.30.24 Joseph: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “may he give another” and “he has taken away”.
25After the birth of Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Let me go, so that I can return home. 26Give me my wives and children that I have earned by working for you, and I will leave. You know how well I have served you.”
27Laban said to him, “Let me say this: I have learnt by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you. 28Name your wages, and I will pay them.”
29Jacob answered, “You know how I have worked for you and how your flocks have prospered under my care. 30The little you had before I came has grown enormously, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I went.30.30 wherever I went; or because of me. Now it is time for me to look out for my own interests.”
31“What shall I pay you?” Laban asked.
Jacob answered, “I don't want any wages. I will continue to take care of your flocks if you agree to this suggestion: 32Let me go through all your flocks today and take every black lamb30.32 One ancient translation every black lamb; Hebrew every spotted and speckled lamb, and every black lamb. and every spotted or speckled young goat. That is all the wages I want. 33In the future you can easily find out if I have been honest. When you come to check up on my wages, if I have any goat that isn't speckled or spotted or any sheep that isn't black, you will know that it has been stolen.”
34Laban answered, “Agreed. We will do as you suggest.” 35But that day Laban removed the male goats that had stripes or spots and all the females that were speckled and spotted or which had white on them; he also removed all the black sheep. He put his sons in charge of them, 36and then went away from Jacob with this flock as far as he could travel in three days. Jacob took care of the rest of Laban's flocks.
37Jacob got green branches of poplar, almond, and plane trees and stripped off some of the bark so that the branches had white stripes on them. 38He placed these branches in front of the flocks at their drinking troughs. He put them there, because the animals mated when they came to drink. 39So when the goats bred in front of the branches, they produced young that were streaked, speckled, and spotted.
40Jacob kept the sheep separate from the goats and made them face in the direction of the streaked and black animals of Laban's flock. In this way he built up his own flock and kept it apart from Laban's.
41When the healthy animals were mating, Jacob put the branches in front of them at the drinking troughs, so that they would breed among the branches. 42But he did not put the branches in front of the weak animals. Soon Laban had all the weak animals, and Jacob all the healthy ones. 43In this way Jacob became very wealthy. He had many flocks, slaves, camels, and donkeys.