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Genesis 30

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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.
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1When Rachel saw that she was not bearing children for Ya‘akov, she envied her sister and said to Ya‘akov, “Give me children, or I will die!” 2This made Ya‘akov angry at Rachel; he answered, “Am I in God’s place? He’s the one who is denying you children.” 3She said, “Here is my maid Bilhah. Go, sleep with her, and let her give birth to a child that will be laid on my knees, so that through her I too can build a family.” 4So she gave him Bilhah her slave-girl as his wife, and Ya‘akov went in and slept with her. 5Bilhah conceived and bore Ya‘akov a son. 6Rachel said, “God has judged in my favor; indeed he has heard me and given me a son.” Therefore she called him Dan [he judged].
7Bilhah Rachel’s slave-girl conceived again and bore Ya‘akov a second son. 8Rachel said, “I have wrestled mightily with my sister and won,” and called him Naftali [my wrestling].
9When Le’ah saw that she had stopped having children, she took Zilpah her slave-girl and gave her to Ya‘akov as his wife. 10Zilpah Le’ah’s slave-girl bore Ya‘akov a son; 11and Le’ah said, “Good fortune has come,” calling him Gad [good fortune].
12Zilpah Le’ah’s slave-girl bore Ya‘akov a second son; 13and Le’ah said, “How happy I am! Women will say I am happy!” and called him Asher [happy].
(iv) 14During the wheat harvest season Re’uven went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Le’ah. Rachel said to Le’ah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes [so that I can be fertile].” 15She answered, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken away my husband? Do you have to take my son’s mandrakes too?” Rachel said, “Very well; in exchange for your son’s mandrakes, sleep with him tonight.” 16When Ya‘akov came in from the field in the evening, Le’ah went out to meet him and said, “You have to come and sleep with me, because I’ve hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So Ya‘akov slept with her that night. 17God listened to Le’ah, and she conceived and bore Ya‘akov a fifth son. 18Le’ah said, “God has given me my hire, because I gave my slave-girl to my husband.” So she called him Yissakhar [hire, reward].
19Le’ah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Ya‘akov. 20Le’ah said, “God has given me a wonderful gift. Now at last my husband will live with me, since I have borne him six sons.” And she called him Z’vulun [living together].
21After this, she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah [controversy over rights].
22Then God took note of Rachel, heeded her prayer and made her fertile. 23She conceived, had a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24She called him Yosef [may he add], saying, “May Adonai add to me another son.”
25After Rachel had given birth to Yosef, Ya‘akov said to Lavan, “Send me on my way, so that I can return to my own place, to my own country. 26Let me take my wives, for whom I have served you, and my children; and let me go. You know very well how faithfully I have served you.” 27Lavan answered him, “If you regard me favorably, then please listen: I have observed the signs that Adonai has blessed me on account of you. (v) 28Name your wages,” he said; “I will pay them.” 29Ya‘akov replied, “You know how faithfully I have served you and how your livestock have prospered under my care. 30The few you had before I came have increased substantially; Adonai has blessed you wherever I went. But now, when will I provide for my own household?” 31Lavan said, “What should I give you?” “Nothing,” answered Ya‘akov, “just do this one thing for me: once more I will pasture your flock and take care of it. 32I will also go through the flock and pick out every speckled, spotted or brown sheep, and every speckled or spotted goat; these and their offspring will be my wages. 33And I will let my integrity stand as witness against me in the future: when you come to look over the animals constituting my wages, every goat that isn’t speckled or spotted and every sheep that isn’t brown will count as stolen by me.” 34Lavan replied, “As you have said, so be it.”
35That day Lavan removed the male goats that were streaked or spotted and all the female goats that were speckled or spotted, every one with white on it, and all the brown sheep; turned them over to his sons; 36and put three days’ distance between himself and Ya‘akov. Ya‘akov fed the rest of Lavan’s flocks.
37Ya‘akov took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white streaks on them by peeling off the bark. 38Then he set the rods he had peeled upright in the watering troughs, so that the animals would see them when they came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39the animals mated in sight of the rods and gave birth to streaked, speckled and spotted young. 40Ya‘akov divided the lambs and had the animals mate with the streaked and the brown in the flock of Lavan. He also kept his own livestock separate and did not have them mix with Lavan’s flock. 41Whenever the hardier animals came into heat, Ya‘akov would set up the rods in the watering troughs; so that the animals would see them and conceive in front of them; 42but he didn’t set up the rods in front of the weaker animals. Thus the more feeble were Lavan’s and the stronger Ya‘akov’s. 43In this way the man became very rich and had large flocks, along with male and female slaves, camels and donkeys.