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Genesis 30

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1Rachel saw that she could not have children for Jacob, and she became jealous of her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
2Jacob became angry with Rachel and asked, “Can I take the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”
3She said, “Here’s my servant Bilhah. Sleep with her. She can have children for me, and I can build a family for myself through her.” 4So she gave him her slave Bilhah as his wife, and Jacob slept with her. 5Bilhah became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Jacob. 6Rachel said, “Now God has judged in my favor. He has heard my prayer and has given me a son.” So she named him Dan [He Judges].
7Rachel’s slave Bilhah became pregnant again and gave birth to a second son for Jacob. 8Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle  #30:8 Or “I have struggled the struggles of God.” with my sister, and I have won!” So she named him Naphtali [My Struggle].
9When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her slave Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as his wife. 10Leah’s slave Zilpah gave birth to a son for Jacob. 11Leah said, “I’ve been lucky!” So she called him Gad [Luck].
12Leah’s slave Zilpah gave birth to her second son for Jacob. 13Leah said, “I’ve been blessed! Women will call me blessed.” So she named him Asher [Blessing].
14During the wheat harvest Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrakes.#30:14 Mandrakes were considered a source of fertility for women. He brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15Leah replied, “Isn’t it enough that you took my husband? Are you also going to take my son’s mandrakes?”
Rachel said, “Very well, Jacob can go to bed with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”
16As Jacob was coming in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You are to sleep with me,” she said. “You are my reward for my son’s mandrakes.” So he went to bed with her that night. 17God answered Leah’s prayer. She became pregnant and gave birth to her fifth son for Jacob. 18Leah said, “God has given me my reward because I gave my slave to my husband.” So she named him Issachar [Reward].
19She became pregnant again and gave birth to her sixth son for Jacob. 20Leah said, “God has presented me with a beautiful present. This time my husband will honor me because I have given him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun [Honor].
21Later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22Then God remembered Rachel. God answered her prayer and made it possible for her to have children. 23So she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Then she said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24She named him Joseph [May He Give Another] and said, “May the Lord give me another son.”
Jacob’s Flocks Prosper
25After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Let me go home to my own country. 26Give me my wives and my children for whom I’ve worked, and let me go. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”
27Laban replied, “Listen to me. I’ve learned from the signs I’ve seen that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28So he offered, “Name your wages, and I’ll pay them.”
29Jacob responded, “You know how much work I’ve done for you and what has happened to your livestock under my care. 30The little that you had before I came has grown to a large amount. The Lord has blessed you wherever I’ve been. When can I do something for my own family?”
31Laban asked, “What should I give you?”
“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob answered. “Instead, do something for me, then I’ll go back to taking care of and watching your flocks again. 32Let me go through all of your flocks today and take every speckled or spotted sheep, every black lamb, and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33My honesty will speak for itself whenever you come to check on my wages. Any goat I have that isn’t speckled or spotted or any lamb that isn’t black will be considered stolen.”
34Laban answered, “Agreed. We’ll do as you’ve said.” 35However, that same day Laban took out the striped and spotted male goats, all the speckled and spotted female goats (every one with white on it), and every black lamb. He had his sons take charge of them. 36He traveled three days away from Jacob. Jacob continued to take care of the rest of Laban’s flocks.
37Then Jacob took fresh-cut branches of poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled the bark on them in strips of white, uncovering the white which was on the branches. 38He placed the peeled branches in the troughs directly in front of the flocks, at the watering places where the flocks came to drink. When they were in heat and came to drink, 39they mated in front of the branches. Then they gave birth to young that were striped, speckled, or spotted.
40Jacob separated the rams from the flock and made the rest of the sheep face any that were striped or black in Laban’s flocks. So he made separate herds for himself and did not add them to Laban’s flocks. 41Whenever the stronger of the flocks were in heat, Jacob would lay the branches in the troughs in front of them so that they would mate by the branches. 42But when the flocks in heat were weak, he didn’t lay down the branches. So the weaker ones belonged to Laban and the stronger ones to Jacob. 43As a result, Jacob became very wealthy. He had large flocks, male and female 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.