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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 bore no children for Jacob, Rachel was jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me sons—if there are none, I’ll die!”
2But Jacob became furious with Rachel and said, “Am I, instead of God, the one who withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
3So she said, “Here’s my maid-servant Bilhah. Go to her and let her give birth on my knees, so that from her I may also build a family.”
4Then she gave her maid-servant Bilhah to him for a wife, and Jacob went to her.
5Bilhah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Jacob.
6So Rachel said, “God has judged my cause and also heard my voice—and given me a son.” Therefore she named him Dan.
7Then Rachel’s female servant became pregnant again and gave birth to a second son for Jacob.
8So Rachel said, “I’ve surely wrestled greatly with my sister — also I’ve won.” So she named him Naphtali.
9Now Leah saw that she stopped having children, so she took Zilpah her female servant and gave her to Jacob as a wife.
10Then Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, gave birth to a son for Jacob.
11Leah said, “How fortunate!” So she named him Gad.
12Then Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, gave birth to a second son for Jacob.
13Leah said, “How happy am I, for daughters have called me happy.” So she named him Asher.
14Now during the days of the wheat harvest, Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and he brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took my husband away? You’d also take away my son’s mandrakes?” So Rachel said, “That being so, let him lie with you tonight, in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”
16So when Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and she said, “You must come to me. For I’ve actually hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that very night.
17Moreover, God heard Leah, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob.
18Leah said, “God gave me my reward because I gave my female servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.
19Then Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob.
20Leah said, “God has presented me a good gift. This time my husband will honor me for I’ve borne six sons for him.” So she named him Zebulun.
21Afterwards she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22Then God remembered Rachel and God listened to her and opened her womb.
23Then she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. So she said, “God has taken away my disgrace.”
24She named him Joseph saying, “May Adonai add another son for me.”
Jacob Outwits Laban
25Now it was after Rachel gave birth to Joseph that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away so that I can go to my place and to my land.
26Give me my wives and my children for whom I’ve served you, and let me go. For you yourself know my labor—that I’ve served you.”
27But Laban said to him, “If I’ve found favor in your eyes—I’ve looked for good omens, and Adonai has blessed me because of you.”
28Moreover he said, “Name your own price and I’ll pay it.”
29Then he said to him, “You yourself know how I’ve served you and how your livestock fared with me.
30For you had very little before I came, and it has been busting at the seams in abundance. So Adonai blessed you with my every step. So now, when am I myself going to make something for my household also?”
31Then he said, “What can I pay you?” Jacob said, “You don’t need to pay me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will shepherd your flock again and watch it:
32let me pass through your flock today, removing every colorfully spotted lamb from there and every dark-colored lamb among the sheep as well as the colorfully spotted among the goats—and that will be my salary.
33So tomorrow my honesty will testify on my behalf when you come to check on my salary you agreed to. Every one that isn’t colorfully spotted among the goats or dark-colored among the sheep with me, it is stolen.”
34So Laban said, “All right! May it be according to your word.”
35On that day he removed the colorfully striped and colorful billy goats as well as all the colorfully spotted goats—everyone with white on it—and every dark-colored one among the lambs, and he put them in the hand of his sons.
36Then he put a three-day’s journey between them and Jacob, while Jacob was shepherding Laban’s remaining flocks.
37But Jacob took fresh white poplar, almond, and plane tree branches, peeled away white stripped sections on them, exposing the white of the branches.
38Then he set the branches he had peeled in front of the flocks in the drinking troughs and watering channels where the flocks come to drink. Since they were in heat when they came to drink,
39the flocks mated near the branches, and the flocks gave birth to striped, spotted and colorful ones.
40Now Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped ones as well as all the dark-colored ones among Laban’s flocks. Then he set aside the herds for himself and did not put them with Laban’s flocks.
41Whenever the strong flocks mated, Jacob put the branches in the watering troughs before the eyes of the flocks, to have them mate near the branches.
42But when the flocks were sickly, he did not put the branches down—so the sickly ones became Laban’s and the stronger ones became Jacob’s.
43And the man grew exceedingly prosperous and had numerous flocks, along with female and male servants, camels and donkeys.