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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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CHAPTER 30
1Forsooth Rachel saw, that she was unfruitful, and she had envy to her sister, and said to her husband, Give thou free children to me, else I shall die.
2To whom Jacob was wroth, and answered, Whether I am for God, which have deprived thee from the fruit of thy womb?
3And she said, I have an handmaid Bilhah; enter thou [in] to her that she child on my knees, and that I have sons of her.
4And she gave to him Bilhah into matrimony; and when her husband had entered [in] to her,
5she conceived, and childed a son.
6And Rachel said, The Lord hath deemed to me, and hath heard my prayer, and gave a son to me; and therefore she called his name Dan.
7And again Bilhah conceived, and childed another son,
8for whom Rachel said, The Lord hath made me like my sister, and I [have] waxed strong; and she called him Naphtali.
9Leah feeled that she ceased to bear child, and she gave Zilpah, her handmaid, to her husband.
10And when Zilpah, after conceiving, childed a son,
11Leah said, Blessedly; and therefore she called his name Gad.
12Also Zilpah childed another son,
13and Leah said, This is for my bliss, for all women shall say me blessed; therefore she called him Asher.
14Forsooth Reuben went out into the field in the time of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes, which he brought to Leah, his mother. And Rachel said, Give thou to me a part of the mandrakes of thy son.
15Leah answered, Whether it seemeth little to thee, that thou hast ravished my husband from me, no but thou take also the mandrakes of my son? Rachel said, The husband sleep with thee in this night for the mandrakes of thy son.
16And when Jacob came again from the field at the eventide, Leah went out into his meeting, and said, Thou shalt enter [in] to me, for I have hired thee with hire for the mandrakes of my son. He slept with her in that night;
17and God heard her prayers, and she conceived, and childed the fifth son;
18and said, God hath given meed to me, for I gave mine handmaid to mine husband; and she called his name Issachar.
19Again Leah conceived, and childed the sixth son,
20and said, The Lord hath made me rich with a good dower; also in this time mine husband shall be with me, for I have engendered six sons to him; and therefore she called his name Zebulun.
21After whom she childed a daughter, Dinah by name.
22Also the Lord had mind on Rachel, and he heard her, and opened her womb.
23And she conceived, and childed a son, and said, God hath taken away my shame;
24and she called his name Joseph, and said, The Lord give to me another son.
25Soothly when Joseph was born, Jacob said to his wife’s father, Deliver thou me, that I turn again to my country, and to my land.
26Give thou to me my wives, and my free children, for which I have served thee, that I go; forsooth thou knowest the service by which I have served thee.
27Laban said to him, Find I grace in thy sight; I have learned by experience, that God hath blessed me for thee;
28ordain thou the meed which I shall give to thee.
29And Jacob answered, Thou knowest how I have served thee, and how great thy possession was in mine hands;
30thou haddest little before that I came to thee, and now thou art made rich, and the Lord [hath] blessed thee at mine entering; therefore it is just that I purvey sometime also for mine house.
31And Laban said, What shall I give to thee? And Jacob said, I will or desire nothing, that is, of thy gift, but if thou doest that that I ask, again I shall feed and keep thy sheep.
32Go about all thy flocks, and separate thou all diversely-coloured sheep, and of spotted fleeces, and whatever thing shall be of dun hue, and spotted, and diverse of colour, as well in sheep as in goats; that shall be my meed.
33And my rightfulness [or rightwise-ness] shall answer to me tomorrow, when the time of covenant shall come before thee; and all that be not diverse, and spotted, and dunned, as well in sheep as in goats, be found at me thou shalt reprove me of theft.
34And Laban said, I have it acceptable that that thou askest.
35And Laban separated in that day [the] goats, and sheep, goat bucks, and rams, diverse and spotted. Soothly he betook all the flock of one colour, that is, of white, and of black fleece, into the hands of his sons;
36and he set the space of a way of three days betwixt his sons, and the husband of his daughters, that fed his other flocks.
37Therefore Jacob took green rods of poplars, and of almonds, and of planes, and in part he did away the rind of them; and when the rinds were drawn away, either shaved, whiteness appeared in these that were made bare; soothly those that were whole dwelled green, and by this manner the colour was made diverse.
38And Jacob put those rods in the troughs, where the water was poured out, that when the flocks should come to drink,
39they should have the rods before their eyes, and they should conceive in [the] sight of the rods. And it was done that in that heat of riding, or engendering, the sheep should behold those rods, and that they should bring forth spotted beasts, and diverse, and besprinkled with diverse colour.
40And Jacob separated the flock, and put the rods in the [water] troughs, before the eyes of the rams. Soothly all the white and [the] black were Laban’s; soothly all the others were Jacob’s; for the flocks were separated betwixt themselves.
41Therefore when the sheep were ridden in the first time, Jacob put the rods in the water troughs before the eyes of rams, and of ewe sheep, that they should conceive in the sight of the rods.
42Forsooth when the late mixing, or engendering, and the last conceivings were, Jacob put not those rods; and those that were late engendered, were made Laban’s, and those that were of the first time engendered, were Jacob’s.
43And Jacob was made full rich, and had many flocks, handmaids, and menservants, camels, and asses.