1Jacob went quickly on his way,#29:1. “Went quickly on his way”: literally, “lifted up his feet.” and arrived in the land of the eastern people. 2As he looked around he saw a well in a field with three flocks of sheep lying down beside it, waiting to be given water. A large stone covered the top of the well. 3The usual practice was that#29:3. “The usual practice was that”: supplied for clarity. once all the flocks had arrived, the shepherds would roll away the stone from the well and give their sheep water. Then they would put the stone back again.
4Jacob asked them, “My brothers, where are you from?”
“We're from Haran,” they replied.
5“Do you know Laban, Nahor's grandson?” he asked.
“Yes, we know him,” they replied.
6“How is he?” he asked.
“He's well,” they replied. “Look! In fact here's his daughter Rachel coming with the sheep right now.”
7“Look, there's still plenty of daylight left,” said Jacob. “It's too early to round up the sheep yet. Why not let them drink so they can go back to grazing?”
8“We can't do that until all the flocks have arrived,” they told him. “Then we roll away the stone from the well and let the sheep drink.”
9While he was still talking with them Rachel arrived with the flock she was looking after for her father. 10When Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, he went over and rolled away the stone from the well so Laban's sheep could drink. 11Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept for joy. 12(He had told her that he was a relative of her father, Rebekah's son.) She ran and told her father what had happened.
13As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob he ran out to meet him. He hugged him and kissed him, and took him home. After Jacob had explained everything to Laban, 14Laban told him, “No question about it—you're my own flesh and blood!” Jacob stayed with Laban for a month.
15One day Laban said to him, “You're my relative so you shouldn't be working for me for nothing! Tell me, what should I pay you?”
16Laban had two daughters. The older one was Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. 17Leah had kind#29:17. “Kind”: literally, “soft” or “gentle.” eyes, but Rachel had a shapely figure and beautiful looks. 18Jacob was in love with Rachel so he promised Laban, “I'll do seven years work#29:18. “Seven years work”: in contrast to Abraham's servant Eliezer (chapter 24) Jacob had arrived with no gifts or dowry, so he offers his service as payment in kind. for you for Rachel, your younger daughter.”
19“Well it's better for me to give her to you than anyone else,” Laban replied. “So stay here and work for me.” 20Jacob worked for Laban for seven years, but to him they seemed like just a few days because he really loved her.
21Then Jacob said to Laban, “I've completed the time we agreed. Now give me your daughter to be my wife.”
22So Laban organized a wedding banquet#29:22. “A wedding banquet”: the word actually means “a drinking party,” which is probably the only way the deception could have been successful. and invited everyone around to come. 23But once it was dark Laban brought his daughter Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24(Laban also arranged for his servant Zilpah to be Leah's personal maid.)
25When morning came, he saw it was Leah! He went to Laban and asked angrily, “What have you done to me? It was for Rachel that I worked for you! Why have you deceived me?”
26“Here we don't give the younger daughter in marriage before the firstborn,” Laban replied. 27“Finish this week of wedding celebrations and then I'll give you the other daughter as well, as long as you work another seven years for me.”
28Jacob agreed. He finished the week of wedding celebrations for Leah, and then Laban gave Jacob his daughter Rachel as his wife as well. 29(Laban also arranged for his servant Bilhah to be Rachel's personal maid.) 30So Jacob slept with Rachel as well, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He worked for Laban another seven years for Rachel.
31When the Lord saw that Leah wasn't loved he helped Leah to have children, but not Rachel. 32Leah became pregnant, and had a son she named Reuben,#29:32. “Reuben”: means “Look, a son!” and also sounds like “he saw my suffering.” for she said, “The Lord saw how much I was suffering and now my husband will love me!”
33Then Leah became pregnant again, and had another son. She said, “The Lord has heard that I'm not loved so he gave me this son.” So she named him Simeon.#29:33. “Simeon”: means “he hears.”
34Leah became pregnant for the third time, and had another son. She said, “Finally my husband will be attached to me because now I've given him three sons.” That's why he was named Levi.#29:34. “Levi”: means “attached” or “joined.”
35Once again Leah became pregnant and had another son. She named him Judah,#29:35. “Judah”: means “praise.” for she said, “Now I can really praise the Lord!” After that she had no more children.