Jacob Arrives in Northwest Mesopotamia
1Then Jacob continued his journey and came to the land of the people of the East. 2He looked and saw a well in the field and three flocks of sheep lying nearby, because they drank water from this well. A large stone covered the mouth of the well. 3When all 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 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, because it was her job to care for the sheep. 10When Jacob saw Laban’s daughter Rachel and Laban’s sheep, he went to the well and rolled the stone from its mouth and 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 and 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, he ran to meet him. Laban hugged him and kissed him and brought him to his house, where Jacob told Laban everything that had happened.
14Then Laban said, “You are my own flesh and blood.”
Jacob Is Tricked
Jacob stayed there a month. 15Then Laban said to Jacob, “You are my relative, but it is not right for you to work 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 like just a few days to him 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 he brought his daughter Leah to Jacob, and they had sexual relations. 24(Laban gave his slave girl Zilpah to his daughter to be her servant.) 25In the morning when Jacob saw that he had had sexual 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, and I will give you Rachel to marry also. But you must serve me another seven years.”
28So Jacob did this, and when he had completed the week with Leah, 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 sexual relations with Rachel also, and Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Jacob worked for Laban for another seven years.
Jacob’s Family Grows
31When the Lord saw that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, he made it possible for Leah to have children, but not Rachel. 32Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, 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 and said, “The Lord has heard that I am not loved, so he has given me this son.”
34Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Levi and said, “Now, surely my husband will be close to me, because I have given him three sons.”
35Then Leah gave birth to another son. She named him Judah, because she said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Then Leah stopped having children.