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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 realized she was unable to give Jacob any children she was jealous of her sister. She complained to Jacob, “I'll die if you don't give me children!”
2Jacob became angry with Rachel and told her, “Am I God? Do you think I'm the one stopping you having children?”
3“Here's my personal maid Bilhah,” Rachel replied. “Sleep with her and she can have children for me so I'll have a family too.” 4She gave her personal maid Bilhah to him as a wife and Jacob slept with her. 5Bilhah became pregnant and had a son for Jacob. 6Rachel said, “God has judged in my favor! He listened to me and gave me a son.” So she named him Dan.#30:6. Dan means “judge.” 7Rachel's personal maid Bilhah became pregnant again and had second son for Jacob. 8Rachel said, “I've had a hard struggle with my sister, but I've won.” So she named him Naphtali.#30:8. Naphtali means “struggle.”
9Leah realized she wasn't having any more children, so she gave her personal maid Zilpah to Jacob as a wife. 10Zilpah had a son for Jacob. 11Leah said, “I'm really fortunate!” So she named him Gad.#30:11. Gad means “fortunate.” 12Leah's personal maid Zilpah became pregnant again and had a second son for Jacob. 13Leah said, “I'm so happy, and the other women will say I'm happy too!” So she named him Asher.#30:13. Asher means “happy.”
14At the time of the wheat harvest Reuben found some mandrake plants when he was out in the fields. He took them back to his mother Leah. Rachel asked Leah, “Please give me some of the mandrakes your son found.”
15“Aren't you satisfied with stealing my husband?” Leah replied. “Are you going to take my son's mandrakes too?”
“Fine, he can sleep with you tonight if you give me some mandrakes in return,” Rachel responded.
16When Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You have to sleep with me because I've paid for you with my son's mandrakes,” she told him. So he slept with her that night. 17God heard Leah's request, and she became pregnant and had a fifth son for Jacob. 18Leah said, “The Lord has rewarded me for giving my personal maid to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.#30:18. Issachar means “reward.” 19Then Leah became pregnant again and had a sixth son for Jacob. 20Leah said, “God has given me a good gift. Now my husband will honor me because I've given him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.#30:20. Zebulun is related to both the words for “gift” and “honor.” 21Later she had a daughter she named Dinah.
22Then God paid attention to Rachel and listened to her appeals, and helped her to have children. 23She became pregnant and had a son. “God has removed my disgrace,” she said. 24She named him Joseph,#30:24. Joseph may mean both “may he add,” and “he takes away,” referring to Rachel's “disgrace.” saying, “May the Lord give me an additional son.”
25Once Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Let me leave so I can return to my home and my own country. 26Give me my wives and children because I worked for you to have them. Let me go now because you know very well how much work I've done for you.”
27“Please be so kind as to stay,” Laban replied, “because I have discovered#30:27. “Discovered”: or “learned by divination.” that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28Then Laban continued, “Tell me how much to pay you and I'll give it to you.”
29“You certainly know how much work I've done for you, and how well your flocks have done under my care. 30You hardly had anything before I arrived, but now you have so much! The Lord has blessed you through what I've done. When am I going to be able to provide for my own family?”
31“Well, what do you propose I give you?” Laban asked again.
“You don't have to give me anything,” Jacob replied. “If you want to do something for me, then how about this: I'll go on looking after your flocks, making sure they're fed. 32Let me go through your flocks today and take all the sheep that are speckled or spotted, and all the dark ones, as well as all the speckled and spotted goats. They'll be my wages. 33In the future you'll be able to prove that I've been honest. When you check my flock, any goats that don't have speckles or spots, or any sheep that aren't dark will be considered stolen from you.”
34“Very good,” Laban agreed. “We'll do as you say.” 35However, the same day Laban went and removed all the striped and spotted male goats, all the speckled and spotted female goats, and all the dark sheep. He had his sons look after them and sent them away— 36a three day journey between them and Jacob, while Jacob was looking after the rest of Laban's flocks.
37Then Jacob cut some sticks from poplar, almond, and plane trees that had white wood under the bark. He peeled off some of the bark, making the sticks look streaked with white. 38He put the sticks he'd peeled in the water troughs where the flocks came to drink because that's where they mated. 39The flocks mated in front of the sticks and gave birth to young that were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 40Jacob separated all these ones out. Then he made his flock face towards those in Laban's flock that were streaked and dark. This is the way he kept his flocks apart from Laban's flock.
41When the strong females were ready to breed, Jacob put the sticks in the troughs where the flocks could see them when they mated. 42He didn't do this for the weaker females. The weaker ones went to Laban, and the strong ones went to Jacob. 43In this way Jacob became an extremely rich man with large flocks, and many male and female slaves, camels, and donkeys.