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Genesis 29

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1Jacob went quickly on his way,#29:1. “Went quickly on his way”: literally, “lifted up his feet.” and arrived in the land of the eastern people. 2As he looked around he saw a well in a field with three flocks of sheep lying down beside it, waiting to be given water. A large stone covered the top of the well. 3The usual practice was that#29:3. “The usual practice was that”: supplied for clarity. once all the flocks had arrived, the shepherds would roll away the stone from the well and give their sheep water. Then they would put the stone back again.
4Jacob asked them, “My brothers, where are you from?”
“We're from Haran,” they replied.
5“Do you know Laban, Nahor's grandson?” he asked.
“Yes, we know him,” they replied.
6“How is he?” he asked.
“He's well,” they replied. “Look! In fact here's his daughter Rachel coming with the sheep right now.”
7“Look, there's still plenty of daylight left,” said Jacob. “It's too early to round up the sheep yet. Why not let them drink so they can go back to grazing?”
8“We can't do that until all the flocks have arrived,” they told him. “Then we roll away the stone from the well and let the sheep drink.”
9While he was still talking with them Rachel arrived with the flock she was looking after for her father. 10When Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, he went over and rolled away the stone from the well so Laban's sheep could drink. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept for joy. 12(He had told her that he was the son of Laban's brother and Rebekah.) She ran and told her father what had happened.
13As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob he ran out to meet him. He hugged him and kissed him, and took him home. After Jacob had explained everything to Laban, 14Laban told him, “No question about it—you're my own flesh and blood!” Jacob stayed with Laban for a month.
15One day Laban said to him, “You're my relative so you shouldn't be working for me for nothing! Tell me, what should I pay you?”
16Laban had two daughters. The older one was Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. 17Leah had kind#29:17. “Kind”: literally, “soft” or “gentle.” eyes, but Rachel had a shapely figure and beautiful looks. 18Jacob was in love with Rachel so he promised Laban, “I'll do seven years work#29:18. “Seven years work”: in contrast to Abraham's servant Eliezer (chapter 24) Jacob had arrived with no gifts or dowry, so he offers his service as payment in kind. for you for Rachel, your younger daughter.”
19“Well it's better for me to give her to you than anyone else,” Laban replied. “So stay here and work for me.” 20Jacob worked for Laban for seven years, but to him they seemed like just a few days because he really loved her.
21Then Jacob said to Laban, “I've completed the time we agreed. Now give me your daughter to be my wife.”
22So Laban organized a wedding banquet#29:22. “A wedding banquet”: the word actually means “a drinking party,” which is probably the only way the deception could have been successful. and invited everyone around to come. 23But once it was dark Laban brought his daughter Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24(Laban also arranged for his servant Zilpah to be Leah's personal maid.)
25When morning came, he saw it was Leah! He went to Laban and asked angrily, “What have you done to me? It was for Rachel that I worked for you! Why have you deceived me?”
26“Here we don't give the younger daughter in marriage before the firstborn,” Laban replied. 27“Finish this week of wedding celebrations and then I'll give you the other daughter as well, as long as you work another seven years for me.”
28Jacob agreed. He finished the week of wedding celebrations for Leah, and then Laban gave Jacob his daughter Rachel as his wife as well. 29(Laban also arranged for his servant Bilhah to be Rachel's personal maid.) 30So Jacob slept with Rachel as well, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He worked for Laban another seven years for Rachel.
31The Lord saw that Leah wasn't loved he helped Leah to have children, but not Rachel. 32Leah became pregnant, and had a son she named Reuben,#29:32. “Reuben”: means “Look, a son!” and also sounds like “he saw my suffering.” for she said, “The Lord saw how much I was suffering and now my husband will love me!”
33Then Leah became pregnant again, and had another son. She said, “The Lord has heard that I'm not loved so he gave me this son.” So she named him Simeon.#29:33. “Simeon”: means “he hears.”
34Leah became pregnant for the third time, and had another son. She said, “Finally my husband will be attached to me because now I've given him three sons.” That's why he was named Levi.#29:34. “Levi”: means “attached” or “joined.”
35Once again Leah became pregnant and had another son. She named him Judah,#29:35. “Judah”: means “praise.” for she said, “Now I can really praise the Lord!” After that she had no more children.
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1-3Jacob set out again on his way to the people of the east. He noticed a well out in an open field with three flocks of sheep bedded down around it. This was the common well from which the flocks were watered. The stone over the mouth of the well was huge. When all the flocks were gathered, the shepherds would roll the stone from the well and water the sheep; then they would return the stone, covering the well.
4Jacob said, “Hello friends. Where are you from?”
They said, “We’re from Haran.”
5Jacob asked, “Do you know Laban son of Nahor?”
“We do.”
6“Are things well with him?” Jacob continued.
“Very well,” they said. “And here is his daughter Rachel coming with the flock.”
7Jacob said, “There’s a lot of daylight still left; it isn’t time to round up the sheep yet, is it? So why not water the flocks and go back to grazing?”
8“We can’t,” they said. “Not until all the shepherds get here. It takes all of us to roll the stone from the well. Not until then can we water the flocks.”
9-13While Jacob was in conversation with them, Rachel came up with her father’s sheep. She was the shepherd. The moment Jacob spotted Rachel, daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, saw her arriving with his uncle Laban’s sheep, he went and single-handedly rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of his uncle Laban. Then he kissed Rachel and broke into tears. He told Rachel that he was related to her father, that he was Rebekah’s son. She ran and told her father. When Laban heard the news—Jacob, his sister’s son!—he ran out to meet him, embraced and kissed him and brought him home. Jacob told Laban the story of everything that had happened.
14-15Laban said, “You’re family! My flesh and blood!”
When Jacob had been with him for a month, Laban said, “Just because you’re my nephew, you shouldn’t work for me for nothing. Tell me what you want to be paid. What’s a fair wage?”
16-18Now Laban had two daughters; Leah was the older and Rachel the younger. Leah had nice eyes, but Rachel was stunningly beautiful. And it was Rachel that Jacob loved.
So Jacob answered, “I will work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”
19“It is far better,” said Laban, “that I give her to you than marry her to some outsider. Yes. Stay here with me.”
20So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel. But it only seemed like a few days, he loved her so much.
21-24Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife; I’ve completed what we agreed I’d do. I’m ready to consummate my marriage.” Laban invited everyone around and threw a big feast. At evening, though, he got his daughter Leah and brought her to the marriage bed, and Jacob slept with her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her maid.)
25Morning came: There was Leah in the marriage bed!
Jacob confronted Laban, “What have you done to me? Didn’t I work all this time for the hand of Rachel? Why did you cheat me?”
26-27“We don’t do it that way in our country,” said Laban. “We don’t marry off the younger daughter before the older. Enjoy your week of honeymoon, and then we’ll give you the other one also. But it will cost you another seven years of work.”
28-30Jacob agreed. When he’d completed the honeymoon week, Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. (Laban gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid.) Jacob then slept with her. And he loved Rachel more than Leah. He worked for Laban another seven years.
31-32When God realized that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb. But Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and had a son. She named him Reuben (Look-It’s-a-Boy!). “This is a sign,” she said, “that God has seen my misery; and a sign that now my husband will love me.”
33-35She became pregnant again and had another son. “God heard,” she said, “that I was unloved and so he gave me this son also.” She named this one Simeon (God-Heard). She became pregnant yet again—another son. She said, “Now maybe my husband will connect with me—I’ve given him three sons!” That’s why she named him Levi (Connect). She became pregnant a final time and had a fourth son. She said, “This time I’ll praise God.” So she named him Judah (Praise-God). Then she stopped having children.