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Genesis 30

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1When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I’ll die!’
2Jacob became angry with her and said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?’
3Then she said, ‘Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.’
4So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6Then Rachel said, ‘God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.’ Because of this she named him Dan.#30:6 Dan here means he has vindicated.
7Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8Then Rachel said, ‘I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.’ So she named him Naphtali.#30:8 Naphtali means my struggle.
9When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11Then Leah said, ‘What good fortune!’#30:11 Or ‘A troop is coming!’ So she named him Gad.#30:11 Gad can mean good fortune or a troop.
12Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13Then Leah said, ‘How happy I am! The women will call me happy.’ So she named him Asher.#30:13 Asher means happy.
14During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.’
15But she said to her, ‘Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?’
‘Very well,’ Rachel said, ‘he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.’
16So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. ‘You must sleep with me,’ she said. ‘I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ So he slept with her that night.
17God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18Then Leah said, ‘God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.’ So she named him Issachar.#30:18 Issachar sounds like the Hebrew for reward.
19Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20Then Leah said, ‘God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honour, because I have borne him six sons.’ So she named him Zebulun.#30:20 Zebulun probably means honour.
21Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. 23She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, ‘God has taken away my disgrace.’ 24She named him Joseph,#30:24 Joseph means may he add. and said, ‘May the Lord add to me another son.’
Jacob’s flocks increase
25After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, ‘Send me on my way so that I can go back to my own homeland. 26Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.’
27But Laban said to him, ‘If I have found favour in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.’ 28He added, ‘Name your wages, and I will pay them.’
29Jacob said to him, ‘You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. 30The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?’
31‘What shall I give you?’ he asked.
‘Don’t give me anything,’ Jacob replied. ‘But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-coloured lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-coloured, will be considered stolen.’
34‘Agreed,’ said Laban. ‘Let it be as you have said.’ 35That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-coloured lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.
37Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. 38Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, 39they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 40Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-coloured animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals. 41Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so that they would mate near the branches, 42but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.
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Problems between Rachel and Leah
1Rachel was very jealous of Leah for having children, and she said to Jacob, “I'll die if you don't give me some children!”
2But Jacob became upset with Rachel and answered, “Don't blame me! I'm not God.”
3“Here, take my servant Bilhah,” Rachel told him. “Have children by her, and I'll let them be born on my knees to show that they are mine.”
4Then Rachel let Jacob marry Bilhah, 5and they had a son. 6Rachel named him Dan,#30.6 Dan: In Hebrew “Dan” means “judge”. because she said, “God has answered my prayers. He has judged me and given me a son.” 7When Bilhah and Jacob had a second son, 8Rachel said, “I've struggled hard with my sister, and I've won!” So she named the boy Naphtali.#30.8 Naphtali: In Hebrew “Naphtali” means “struggle” or “contest”.
9When Leah realized she could not have any more children, she let Jacob marry her servant Zilpah, 10and they had a son. 11“I'm really lucky,” Leah said, and she named the boy Gad.#30.11 Gad: In Hebrew “Gad” means “lucky”. 12When they had another son, 13Leah exclaimed, “I'm happy now, and all the women will say how happy I am.” So she named him Asher.#30.13 Asher: In Hebrew “Asher” means “happy”.
Love flowers
14During the time of the wheat harvest, Reuben found some love flowers#30.14 love flowers: Also called “mandrakes”, a flowering plant that was thought to give sexual powers. and took them to his mother Leah. Rachel asked Leah for some of them, 15but Leah said, “It's bad enough that you stole my husband! Now you want my son's love flowers too.”
“All right,” Rachel answered. “Let me have the flowers, and you can sleep with Jacob tonight.”
16That evening when Jacob came in from the fields, Leah told him, “You're sleeping with me tonight. I hired you with my son's love flowers.”
They slept together that night, 17and God answered Leah's prayers by giving her a fifth son. 18Leah shouted, “God has rewarded me for letting Jacob marry my servant,” and she named the boy Issachar.#30.18 Issachar: In Hebrew “Issachar” sounds like “reward”.
19When Leah had another son, 20she exclaimed, “God has given me a wonderful gift, and my husband will praise me for giving him six sons.” So she named the boy Zebulun.#30.20 Zebulun: In Hebrew “Zebulun” sounds like “give” and “praise”. 21Later, Leah had a daughter and named her Dinah.
22-23Finally, God remembered Rachel—he answered her prayer by giving her a son. “God has taken away my disgrace,” she said. 24“I'll name the boy Joseph,#30.24 Joseph: In Hebrew “Joseph” sounds like “take away” and “add”. and I'll pray that the LORD will give me another son.”
Jacob and Laban
25After Joseph was born, Jacob said to Laban, “Release me from our agreement#30.25 Release…agreement: Jacob had agreed to work seven years for each of Laban's two daughters (see 29.18). and let me return to my own country. 26You know how hard I've worked for you, so let me take my wives and children and leave.”
27-28But Laban told him, “If you really are my friend, stay on, and I'll pay whatever you ask. I'm sure#30.27,28 I'm sure: The Hebrew text means to find out by some kind of magic, such as fortune-telling. the LORD has blessed me because of you.”
29Jacob answered:
You've seen how hard I've worked for you, and you know how your flocks and herds have grown under my care. 30You didn't have much before I came, but the LORD has blessed everything I have ever done for you. Now it's time for me to start looking after my own family.
31“How much do you want me to pay you?” Laban asked.
Then Jacob told him:
I don't want you to pay me anything. Just do one thing, and I'll take care of your sheep and goats. 32Let me go through your flocks and herds and take the sheep and goats that are either spotted or speckled#30.32 spotted or speckled: In ancient times sheep were usually white, and goats were usually black or dark brown; only a few sheep would have black spots, and only a few goats would have white spots. and the black lambs. That's all you need to give me. 33In the future you can easily find out if I've been honest. Just look and see if my animals are either spotted or speckled, or if the lambs are black. If they aren't, they've been stolen from you.
34“I agree to that,” was Laban's response. 35Before the end of the day, Laban had separated his spotted and speckled animals and the black lambs from the others and had put his sons in charge of them. 36Then Laban made Jacob keep the rest of the sheep and goats at a distance of three days' journey.
37Jacob cut branches from some poplar trees and from some almond and evergreen trees. He peeled off part of the bark and made the branches look spotted and speckled. 38Then he put the branches where the sheep and goats would see them#30.38 would see them: It was believed by some that what sheep and goats saw at the time of breeding would determine the colour of their young. while they were drinking from the water trough. The goats mated there 39in front of the branches, and their young were spotted and speckled.
40Some of the sheep that Jacob was keeping for Laban were already spotted. And when the others were ready to mate, he made sure that they faced in the direction of the spotted and black ones. In this way, Jacob built up a flock of sheep for himself and did not put them with the other sheep.
41When the stronger sheep were mating near the drinking place, Jacob made sure that the spotted branches were there. 42But he would not put out the branches when the weaker animals were mating. So Jacob got all the healthy animals, and Laban got what was left. 43Jacob soon became rich and successful. He owned many sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys, as well as a lot of slaves.