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Genesis 30

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1But Rachel had not borne Jacob any children, and so she became jealous of her sister and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I will die.”
2Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, “I can't take the place of God. He is the one who keeps you from having children.”
3She said, “Here is my slave Bilhah; sleep with her, so that she can have a child for me. In this way I can become a mother through her.” 4So she gave Bilhah to her husband, and he had intercourse with her. 5Bilhah became pregnant and bore Jacob a son. 6Rachel said, “God has judged in my favor. He has heard my prayer and has given me a son”; so she named him Dan.#30.6: Dan: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “judge in favor.” 7Bilhah became pregnant again and bore Jacob a second son. 8Rachel said, “I have fought a hard fight with my sister, but I have won”; so she named him Naphtali.#30.8: Naphtali: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “fight.”
9When Leah realized that she had stopped having children, she gave her slave Zilpah to Jacob as his wife. 10Then Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11Leah said, “I have been lucky”; so she named him Gad.#30.11: Gad: This name in Hebrew means “luck.” 12Zilpah bore Jacob another son, 13and Leah said, “How happy I am! Now women will call me happy”; so she named him Asher.#30.13: Asher: This name in Hebrew means “happy.”
14During the wheat harvest Reuben went into the fields and found mandrakes,#30.14: mandrakes: Plants which were believed to produce fertility and were used as love charms. which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son's mandrakes.”
15Leah answered, “Isn't it enough that you have taken away my husband? Now you are even trying to take away my son's mandrakes.”
Rachel said, “If you will give me your son's mandrakes, you can sleep with Jacob tonight.”
16When Jacob came in from the fields in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You are going to sleep with me tonight, because I have paid for you with my son's mandrakes.” So he had intercourse with her that night.
17God answered Leah's prayer, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18Leah said, “God has given me my reward, because I gave my slave to my husband”; so she named her son Issachar.#30.18: Issachar: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “a man is hired” and “there is reward.” 19Leah became pregnant again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20She said, “God has given me a fine gift. Now my husband will accept me, because I have borne him six sons”; so she named him Zebulun.#30.20: Zebulun: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “accept” and “gift.” 21Later she bore a daughter, whom she named Dinah.
22Then God remembered Rachel; he answered her prayer and made it possible for her to have children. 23She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She said, “God has taken away my disgrace by giving me a son. 24May the Lord give me another son”; so she named him Joseph.#30.24: Joseph: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “may he give another” and “he has taken away.”
Jacob's Bargain with Laban
25After the birth of Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Let me go, so that I can return home. 26Give me my wives and children that I have earned by working for you, and I will leave. You know how well I have served you.”
27Laban said to him, “Let me say this: I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you. 28Name your wages, and I will pay them.”
29Jacob answered, “You know how I have worked for you and how your flocks have prospered under my care. 30The little you had before I came has grown enormously, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I went.#30.30: wherever I went; or because of me. Now it is time for me to look out for my own interests.”
31“What shall I pay you?” Laban asked.
Jacob answered, “I don't want any wages. I will continue to take care of your flocks if you agree to this suggestion: 32Let me go through all your flocks today and take every black lamb#30.32: One ancient translation every black lamb; Hebrew every spotted and speckled lamb, and every black lamb. and every spotted or speckled young goat. That is all the wages I want. 33In the future you can easily find out if I have been honest. When you come to check up on my wages, if I have any goat that isn't speckled or spotted or any sheep that isn't black, you will know that it has been stolen.”
34Laban answered, “Agreed. We will do as you suggest.” 35But that day Laban removed the male goats that had stripes or spots and all the females that were speckled and spotted or which had white on them; he also removed all the black sheep. He put his sons in charge of them, 36and then went away from Jacob with this flock as far as he could travel in three days. Jacob took care of the rest of Laban's flocks.
37Jacob got green branches of poplar, almond, and plane trees and stripped off some of the bark so that the branches had white stripes on them. 38He placed these branches in front of the flocks at their drinking troughs. He put them there, because the animals mated when they came to drink. 39So when the goats bred in front of the branches, they produced young that were streaked, speckled, and spotted.
40Jacob kept the sheep separate from the goats and made them face in the direction of the streaked and black animals of Laban's flock. In this way he built up his own flock and kept it apart from Laban's.
41When the healthy animals were mating, Jacob put the branches in front of them at the drinking troughs, so that they would breed among the branches. 42But he did not put the branches in front of the weak animals. Soon Laban had all the weak animals, and Jacob all the healthy ones. 43In this way Jacob became very wealthy. He had many flocks, slaves, camels, and donkeys.
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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.