1When Rachel saw that she wasn’t having any children for Jacob, she became jealous of her sister. She pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
2Then Jacob became furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asked. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!”
3Then Rachel told him, “Take my maid, Bilhah, and sleep with her. She will bear children for me,#30:3 Hebrew bear children on my knees. and through her I can have a family, too.” 4So Rachel gave her servant, Bilhah, to Jacob as a wife, and he slept with her. 5Bilhah became pregnant and presented him with a son. 6Rachel named him Dan,#30:6 Dan means “he judged” or “he vindicated.” for she said, “God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son.” 7Then Bilhah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a second son. 8Rachel named him Naphtali,#30:8 Naphtali means “my struggle.” for she said, “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!”
9Meanwhile, Leah realized that she wasn’t getting pregnant anymore, so she took her servant, Zilpah, and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10Soon Zilpah presented him with a son. 11Leah named him Gad,#30:11 Gad means “good fortune.” for she said, “How fortunate I am!” 12Then Zilpah gave Jacob a second son. 13And Leah named him Asher,#30:13 Asher means “happy.” for she said, “What joy is mine! Now the other women will celebrate with me.”
14One day during the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakes growing in a field and brought them to his mother, Leah. Rachel begged Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15But Leah angrily replied, “Wasn’t it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son’s mandrakes, too?”
Rachel answered, “I will let Jacob sleep with you tonight if you give me some of the mandrakes.”
16So that evening, as Jacob was coming home from the fields, Leah went out to meet him. “You must come and sleep with me tonight!” she said. “I have paid for you with some mandrakes that my son found.” So that night he slept with Leah. 17And God answered Leah’s prayers. She became pregnant again and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob. 18She named him Issachar,#30:18 Issachar sounds like a Hebrew term that means “reward.” for she said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife.” 19Then Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob. 20She named him Zebulun,#30:20 Zebulun probably means “honor.” for she said, “God has given me a good reward. Now my husband will treat me with respect, for I have given him six sons.” 21Later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22Then God remembered Rachel’s plight and answered her prayers by enabling her to have children. 23She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. “God has removed my disgrace,” she said. 24And she named him Joseph,#30:24 Joseph means “may he add.” for she said, “May the Lord add yet another son to my family.”
Jacob’s Wealth Increases
25Soon after Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Please release me so I can go home to my own country. 26Let me take my wives and children, for I have earned them by serving you, and let me be on my way. You certainly know how hard I have worked for you.”
27“Please listen to me,” Laban replied. “I have become wealthy, for#30:27 Or I have learned by divination that. the Lord has blessed me because of you. 28Tell me how much I owe you. Whatever it is, I’ll pay it.”
29Jacob replied, “You know how hard I’ve worked for you, and how your flocks and herds have grown under my care. 30You had little indeed before I came, but your wealth has increased enormously. The Lord has blessed you through everything I’ve done. But now, what about me? When can I start providing for my own family?”
31“What wages do you want?” Laban asked again.
Jacob replied, “Don’t give me anything. Just do this one thing, and I’ll continue to tend and watch over your flocks. 32Let me inspect your flocks today and remove all the sheep and goats that are speckled or spotted, along with all the black sheep. Give these to me as my wages. 33In the future, when you check on the animals you have given me as my wages, you’ll see that I have been honest. If you find in my flock any goats without speckles or spots, or any sheep that are not black, you will know that I have stolen them from you.”
34“All right,” Laban replied. “It will be as you say.” 35But that very day Laban went out and removed the male goats that were streaked and spotted, all the female goats that were speckled and spotted or had white patches, and all the black sheep. He placed them in the care of his own sons, 36who took them a three-days’ journey from where Jacob was. Meanwhile, Jacob stayed and cared for the rest of Laban’s flock.
37Then Jacob took some fresh branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled off strips of bark, making white streaks on them. 38Then he placed these peeled branches in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, for that was where they mated. 39And when they mated in front of the white-streaked branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 40Jacob separated those lambs from Laban’s flock. And at mating time he turned the flock to face Laban’s animals that were streaked or black. This is how he built his own flock instead of increasing Laban’s.
41Whenever the stronger females were ready to mate, Jacob would place the peeled branches in the watering troughs in front of them. Then they would mate in front of the branches. 42But he didn’t do this with the weaker ones, so the weaker lambs belonged to Laban, and the stronger ones were Jacob’s. 43As a result, Jacob became very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, female and male servants, and many camels and donkeys.