Jacob Arrives in Northwest Mesopotamia
1Then Jacob continued his journey. He came to the land of the people of the East. 2He looked and saw a well in the field. Three flocks of sheep were lying nearby, because they drank water from this well. A large stone covered the mouth of the well. 3All the flocks would gather there. The shepherds would roll the stone away from the well and water the sheep. Then they would put the stone back in its place.
4Jacob said to the shepherds there, “My brothers, where are you from?”
They answered, “We are from Haran.”
5Then Jacob asked, “Do you know Laban grandson of Nahor?”
They answered, “We know him.”
6Then Jacob asked, “How is he?”
They answered, “He is well. Look, his daughter Rachel is coming now with his sheep.”
7Jacob said, “But look, it is still the middle part of the day. It is not time for the sheep to be gathered for the night. So give them water and let them go back into the pasture.”
8But they said, “We cannot do that until all the flocks are gathered. Then we will roll away the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep.”
9While Jacob was talking with the shepherds, Rachel came with her father’s sheep. It was her job to take care of the sheep. 10Then Jacob saw Laban’s daughter Rachel and Laban’s sheep. So he went to the well and rolled the stone from its mouth. Then he watered Laban’s sheep. Now Laban was the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s mother. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel and cried. 12He told her that he was from her father’s family. He said that he was the son of Rebekah. So Rachel ran home and told her father.
13When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, Laban ran to meet him. Laban hugged him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban everything that had happened.
14Then Laban said, “You are my own flesh and blood.”
Jacob Is Tricked
So Jacob stayed there a month. 15Then Laban said to Jacob, “You are my relative. But it is not right for you to keep on working for me without pay. What would you like me to pay you?”
16Now Laban had two daughters. The older was Leah, and the younger was Rachel. 17Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was very beautiful. 18Jacob loved Rachel. So he said to Laban, “Let me marry your younger daughter Rachel. If you will, I will work seven years for you.”
19Laban said, “It would be better for her to marry you than someone else. So stay here with me.” 20So Jacob worked for Laban seven years so he could marry Rachel. But they seemed to him like just a few days. This was because he loved Rachel very much.
21After seven years Jacob said to Laban, “Give me Rachel so that I may marry her. The time I promised to work for you is over.”
22So Laban gave a feast for all the people there. 23That evening Laban brought his daughter Leah to Jacob. Jacob and Leah had intimate relations together. 24(Laban gave his slave girl Zilpah to his daughter to be her servant.) 25In the morning Jacob saw that he had had intimate relations with Leah! He said to Laban, “What have you done to me? I worked hard for you so that I could marry Rachel! Why did you trick me?”
26Laban said, “In our country we do not allow the younger daughter to marry before the older daughter. 27But complete the full week of the marriage ceremony with Leah. I will give you Rachel to marry also. But you must serve me another seven years.”
28So Jacob did this and completed the week with Leah. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. 29(Laban gave his slave girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 30So Jacob had intimate relations with Rachel also. And Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Jacob worked for Laban for another seven years.
Jacob’s Family Grows
31The Lord saw that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. So the Lord made it possible for Leah to have children. But Rachel did not have any children. 32Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,# This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “he has seen my troubles.” because she said, “The Lord has seen my troubles. Surely now my husband will love me.”
33Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon.# This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “has heard.” She said, “The Lord has heard that I am not loved. So he gave me this son.”
34Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Levi.# This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “be close to.” Leah said, “Now, surely my husband will be close to me. I have given him three sons.”
35Then Leah gave birth to another son. She named him Judah.# This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “praise.” Leah named him this because she said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Then Leah stopped having children.