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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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Jacob’s Children
1When Rachel saw that she could not bear children to Jacob, Rachel envied her sister. And she said to Jacob, “Give me children—if not, I will die!” 2And Jacob became angry#Literally “became hot of nose” with Rachel. And he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3Then she said, “Here is my servant girl Bilhah; go in to her that she may bear children as my surrogate.#Literally “upon my knees” Then I will even have children#Literally “be built up” by her.” 4Then she gave him Bilhah, her female servant, as a wife, and Jacob went in to her 5And Bilhah conceived and gave birth to a son for Jacob. 6Then Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice, and has given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan. 7And Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, conceived again and bore a second son to Jacob. 8And Rachel said, “I have struggled a mighty struggle with my sister and have prevailed.” And she called his name Naphtali. 9When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took Zilpah her female servant and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10And Zilpah, the female slave of Leah, bore a son to Jacob. 11Then Leah said, “Good fortune!” And she called his name Gad. 12And Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, bore a second son to Jacob. 13Then Leah said, “How happy am I! For women have called me happy.” So she called his name Asher.
14And in the days of the wheat harvest, Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and he brought them to Leah his mother. And Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15And she said to her, “Is your taking my husband such a small thing that you will also take the mandrakes of my son?” Then Rachel said, “Then he may sleep with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 16When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him. And she said, “Come in to me, for I have hired#Literally “I have fully paid for” you with my son’s mandrakes.” And he slept with her that night. 17And God listened to Leah and she conceived and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob. 18Then Leah said, “God has given me my wage since I gave my servant girl to my husband.” And she called his name Issachar. 19And Leah conceived again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob. 20And Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good gift. This time my husband will acknowledge me, because I bore him six sons.” And she called his name Zebulun. 21And afterward she gave birth to a daughter. And she called her name Dinah. 22Then God remembered Rachel and listened to her, and God opened her womb. 23And she conceived and gave birth to a son. And she said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24And she called his name Joseph, saying, “Yahweh has added to me another son.”
Jacob’s Prosperity
25And it happened that as soon as Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away that I may go to my place and my land. 26Give me my wives and my children for which I have served you, and let me go. For you yourself know my service that I have rendered to you.” 27But Laban said to him, “Please, if I have found favor in your eyes, I have learned by divination that Yahweh has blessed me because of you.” 28And he said, “Name your wage to me and I will give it.” 29Then he said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you and how your livestock have been with me.#I.e., “How well they have done under my care” 30For you had little before me, and it has increased abundantly. And Yahweh has blessed you wherever I turned.#Literally “to my foot” So then, when shall I provide for my own family also?” 31And he said, “What shall I give you?” And Jacob said, “Do not give me anything. If you will do this thing for me, I will again feed your flocks and keep them. 32Let me pass through all your flocks today, removing all the speckled and spotted sheep from them, along with#Or “and” every dark-colored sheep among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats. That#Or “it” shall be my wages. 33And my righteousness will answer for me later#Literally “on the day tomorrow” when you come concerning my wages before you. Every one that is not speckled or spotted among the goats, or dark-colored among the sheep shall be stolen if it is with me.” 34Then Laban said, “Look! Very well. It shall be according to your word.” 35But that day he#That is, Laban removed the streaked and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats, all that had white on it, and every dark-colored ram, and put them in the charge of his sons.#Literally “he gave into the hands of his sons” 36And he put a journey of three days between him and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the remainder of Laban’s flock. 37Then Jacob took fresh branches of poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled white strips on them, exposing the white which was on the branches. 38And he set the branches that he had peeled in front of the flocks, in the troughs and in the water containers. And they were in heat when they came to drink. 39And the flocks mated by the branches, so the flocks bore streaked, speckled, and spotted. 40And Jacob separated the lambs and turned the faces of the flocks toward the streaked and all the dark-colored in Laban’s flocks. And he put his own herds apart, and did not put them with the flocks of Laban. 41And whenever any of the stronger of the flocks were in heat, Jacob put the branches in full view#Literally “before the eyes of” of the flock in the troughs that they might mate among the branches. 42But with the more feeble of the flock he would not put them there. So the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger were Jacob’s. 43And the man became exceedingly#Literally “very, very” rich and had large flocks, female slaves, male slaves, camels, and donkeys.