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Genesis 30

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1 Then Rachel, discerning that she was infertile, envied her sister, and so she said to her husband, "Give me children, otherwise I will die."
2 Jacob, being angry, responded to her, "Am I in the place of God, who has deprived you of the fruit of your womb?"
3 But she said: "I have a handmaid Bilhah. Go in to her, so that she may give birth upon my knees, and I may have sons by her."
4 And she gave him Bilhah in marriage.
5 And when her husband had gone in to her, she conceived and bore a son.
6 And Rachel said, "The Lord has judged for me, and he has heeded my voice, giving me a son." And because of this, she called his name Dan.
7 And conceiving again, Bilhah bore another,
8 about whom Rachel said, "God has compared me with my sister, and I have prevailed." And she called him Naphtali.
9 Leah, perceiving that she had desisted from child-bearing, delivered Zilpah, her handmaid, to her husband.
10 And she, after having borne a son with difficulty,
11 said: "Happiness!" And for this reason, she called his name Gad.
12 Likewise, Zilpah bore another.
13 And Leah said, "This one is for my happiness. Indeed, women will call me blessed." Because of this, she called him Asher.
14 Then Reuben, going out into the field at the time of the wheat harvest, found mandrakes. These he brought to his mother Leah. And Rachel said, "Give me a portion of your son's mandrakes."
15 She responded, "Does it seem like such a small matter to you, that you have usurped from me my husband, unless you will also take my son's mandrakes?" Rachel said, "He will sleep with you this night because of your son's mandrakes."
16 And when Jacob returned from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and she said, "You will enter to me, because I have hired you for the reward of my son's mandrakes." And he slept with her that night.
17 And God heard her prayers. And she conceived and bore a fifth son.
18 And she said, "God has given a reward to me, because I gave my handmaid to my husband." And she called his name Issachar.
19 Conceiving again, Leah bore a sixth son.
20 And she said: "God has endowed me with a good dowry. And now, at this turn, my husband will be with me, because I have conceived six sons for him." And therefore she called his name Zebulun.
21 After him, she bore a daughter, named Dinah.
22 The Lord, likewise remembering Rachel, heeded her and opened her womb.
23 And she conceived and bore a son, saying, "God has taken away my reproach."
24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, "The Lord has added to me another son."
25 But when Joseph was born, Jacob said to his father-in-law: "Release me, so that I may return to my native country and to my land.
26 Give me my wives, and my children, for whom I have served you, so that I may depart. You know the servitude with which I have served you."
27 Laban said to him: "May I find grace in your sight. I have learned by experience that God has blessed me because of you.
28 Choose your wages, which I will give you."
29 But he responded: "You know how I have served you, and how great your possession became in my hands.
30 You had little before I came to you, and now you have achieved riches. And the Lord has blessed you since my arrival. It is just, therefore, that at sometime I also should provide for my own house."
31 And Laban said, "What shall I give to you?" But he said, "I want nothing. But if you will do what I ask, I will feed and guard your sheep again.
32 Go around through all your flocks and separate all the sheep of variegated or spotted fleece; and whatever will be darkened or blemished or variegated, as much among the sheep as among the goats, will be my wages.
33 And my justice will answer on my behalf tomorrow, when the time of settlement arrives before you. And all that is not variegated or blemished or darkened, as much among the sheep as among the goats, these will prove me to be a thief."
34 And Laban said, "I hold favor for this request."
35 And on that day he separated the she-goats, and the sheep, and the he-goats, and the rams with variegations or with blemishes. But every one of the flock which was of one color, that is, of white or of black fleece, he delivered into the hands of his sons.
36 And he established a distance of three days journey between himself and his son-in-law, who pastured the remainder of his flock.
37 Then Jacob, taking green branches of poplar, and almond, and sycamore trees, debarked them in part. And when the bark was pulled off, in the parts that were stripped, there appeared whiteness, yet the parts that were left whole, remained green. And so, in this way the color was made variegated.
38 And he placed them in the troughs, where the water was poured out, so that when the flocks had arrived to drink, they would have the branches before their eyes, and in their sight they might conceive.
39 And it happened that, in the very heat of joining together, the sheep looked upon the branches, and they bore the blemished and the variegated, those speckled with diverse color.
40 And Jacob divided the flock, and he set the branches in the troughs before the eyes of the rams. Now whatever was white or black belonged to Laban, but, in truth, the others belonged to Jacob, for the flocks were dispersed among one another.
41 Therefore, when the first to arrive were climbing on the ewes, Jacob placed the branches in the troughs of water before the eyes of the rams and the sheep, so that they might conceive while they were gazing upon them.
42 Yet when the late arrivals and the last to conceive were let in, he did not place these. And so those that arrived late became Laban's, and those that arrived first became Jacob's.
43 And the man was enriched beyond limit, and he had many flocks, women servants and men servants, camels and donkeys.
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1When Rachel saw that she had not borne children to Jacob, she became envious of her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children or I shall die!”#Prv 30:16. 2Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, “Can I take the place of God, who has denied you the fruit of the womb?”#2 Kgs 5:7. 3She replied, “Here is my maidservant Bilhah. Have intercourse with her, and let her give birth on my knees,#On my knees: in the ancient Near East, a father would take a newborn child in his lap to signify that he acknowledged it as his own; Rachel uses the ceremony in order to adopt the child and establish her legal rights to it. so that I too may have children through her.”#Gn 16:2–4. 4So she gave him her maidservant Bilhah as wife,#As wife: in 35:22 Bilhah is called a “concubine” (Heb. pilegesh). In v. 9, Zilpah is called “wife,” and in 37:2 both women are called wives. The basic difference between a wife and a concubine was that no bride price was paid for the latter. The interchange of terminology shows that there was some blurring in social status between the wife and the concubine. and Jacob had intercourse with her. 5When Bilhah conceived and bore a son for Jacob, 6Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; indeed he has heeded my plea and given me a son.” Therefore she named him Dan.#Dan: explained by the term dannanni, “he has vindicated me.” 7Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah conceived again and bore a second son for Jacob, 8and Rachel said, “I have wrestled strenuously with my sister, and I have prevailed.” So she named him Naphtali.#Naphtali: explained by the Hebrew term naftulim, lit., “contest” or “struggle.”
9When Leah saw that she had ceased to bear children, she took her maidservant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as wife. 10So Leah’s maidservant Zilpah bore a son for Jacob. 11Leah then said, “What good luck!” So she named him Gad.#Gad: explained by the Hebrew term begad, lit., “in luck,” i.e., “what good luck!” 12Then Leah’s maidservant Zilpah bore a second son to Jacob; 13and Leah said, “What good fortune, because women will call me fortunate!” So she named him Asher.#Asher: explained by the term be’oshri, lit., “in my good fortune,” i.e., “what good fortune,” and by the term ye’ashsheruni, “they call me fortunate.”
14One day, during the wheat harvest, Reuben went out and came upon some mandrakes#Mandrakes: an herb whose root was thought to promote conception. The Hebrew word for mandrakes, duda’im, has erotic connotations, since it sounds like the words daddayim (“breasts”) and dodim (“sexual pleasure”). in the field which he brought home to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15Leah replied, “Was it not enough for you to take away my husband, that you must now take my son’s mandrakes too?” Rachel answered, “In that case Jacob may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 16That evening, when Jacob came in from the field, Leah went out to meet him. She said, “You must have intercourse with me, because I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So that night he lay with her, 17and God listened to Leah; she conceived and bore a fifth son to Jacob. 18Leah then said, “God has given me my wages for giving my maidservant to my husband”; so she named him Issachar.#Issachar: explained by the terms, sekari, “my reward,” and in v. 16, sakor sekartika, “I have hired you.” 19Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Jacob; 20and Leah said, “God has brought me a precious gift. This time my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons”; so she named him Zebulun.#Zebulun: explained by the terms, zebadani…zebed tob, “he has brought me a precious gift,” and yizbeleni, “he will honor me.” 21Afterwards she gave birth to a daughter, and she named her Dinah.
22Then God remembered Rachel. God listened to her and made her fruitful. 23She conceived and bore a son, and she said, “God has removed my disgrace.”#Lk 1:25. 24She named him Joseph,#Joseph: explained by the words yosep, “may he add,” and in v. 23, ’asap, “he has removed.” saying, “May the Lord add another son for me!”
Jacob Outwits Laban.#Jacob’s deception of Laban. Jacob has been living in Laban’s household as an indentured worker paying off the bride price. Having paid off all his obligations, he wants to settle his accounts with Laban. His many children attest to the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise of numerous progeny; the birth of Joseph to his beloved Rachel signals the fulfillment in a special way. To enter into the Lord’s second promise, the land, he must now return to Canaan. 25After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban: “Allow me to go to my own region and land. 26Give me my wives and my children for whom I served you and let me go, for you know the service that I rendered you.” 27Laban answered him: “If you will please! I have learned through divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28He continued, “State the wages I owe you, and I will pay them.” 29Jacob replied: “You know what work I did for you and how well your livestock fared under my care; 30the little you had before I came has grown into an abundance, since the Lord has blessed you in my company. Now, when can I do something for my own household as well?” 31Laban asked, “What should I give you?” Jacob answered: “You do not have to give me anything. If you do this thing for me, I will again pasture and tend your sheep. 32Let me go through your whole flock today and remove from it every dark animal among the lambs and every spotted or speckled one among the goats.#Dark…lambs…spotted or speckled…goats: in the Near East the normal color of sheep is light gray, whereas that of goats is dark brown or black. A minority of sheep in that part of the world have dark patches, and a minority of goats, white markings. Laban is quick to agree to the offer, for Jacob would have received only a few animals. But Jacob gets the better of him, using two different means: (1) he separates out the weaker animals and then provides visual impressions to the stronger animals at mating time (a folkloric belief); (2) in 31:8–12, he transmits the preferred characteristics through controlled propagation. It should be noted that Jacob has been told what to do in a dream (31:10) and that God is behind the increase in his flocks. These will be my wages. 33In the future, whenever you check on my wages, my honesty will testify for me: any animal that is not speckled or spotted among the goats, or dark among the lambs, got into my possession by theft!” 34Laban said, “Very well. Let it be as you say.”
35That same day Laban removed the streaked and spotted he-goats and all the speckled and spotted she-goats, all those with some white on them, as well as every dark lamb, and he put them in the care of his sons.#By giving the abnormally colored animals to his sons, Laban not only deprived Jacob of his first small wages, but he also schemed to prevent the future breeding of such animals in the flock entrusted to Jacob. 36Then he put a three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob was pasturing the rest of Laban’s flock.
37Jacob, however, got some fresh shoots of poplar, almond and plane#Plane: also called the Oriental Plane, a deciduous tree found in riverine forests and marshes. trees, and he peeled white stripes in them by laying bare the white core of the shoots. 38The shoots that he had peeled he then set upright in the watering troughs where the animals came to drink, so that they would be in front of them. When the animals were in heat as they came to drink, 39the goats mated by the shoots, and so they gave birth to streaked, speckled and spotted young. 40The sheep, on the other hand, Jacob kept apart, and he made these animals face the streaked or completely dark animals of Laban. Thus he produced flocks of his own, which he did not put with Laban’s flock. 41Whenever the hardier animals were in heat, Jacob would set the shoots in the troughs in full view of these animals, so that they mated by the shoots; 42but with the weaker animals he would not put the shoots there. So the feeble animals would go to Laban, but the hardy ones to Jacob. 43So the man grew exceedingly prosperous, and he owned large flocks, male and female servants, camels, and donkeys.