The Sons of Jacob
1 When Rachel saw that she conceived no children for Jacob, she envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I will die.”2 Then Jacob became furious with Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has denied you children?”3 She said, “Here, take my maid Bilhah and go in to her; and [when the baby comes] she shall #This ritual symbolized that the wife was providing the child for her husband through a surrogate mother.deliver it [while sitting] on my knees, so that by her I may also have children [to count as my own].”4 So she gave him Bilhah her maid as a [#I.e. concubine (see note 22:24).secondary] wife, and Jacob went in to her.5 Bilhah conceived and gave birth to a son for Jacob.6 Then Rachel said, “God has judged and vindicated me, and has heard my plea and has given me a son [through my maid].” So she named him Dan (He judged).7 Bilhah, Rachel’s maid, conceived again and gave birth to a second son for Jacob.8 So Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings [in prayer to God] I have struggled with my sister and have prevailed.” So she named him Naphtali (my wrestlings).
9 When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing [children], she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as a [#I.e. concubine (see note 22:24).secondary] wife.10 Zilpah, Leah’s maid, gave birth to a son for Jacob.11 Then Leah said, “How fortunate!” So she named him Gad (good fortune).12 Zilpah, Leah’s maid, gave birth to a second son for Jacob.13 Then Leah said, “I am happy! For women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher (happy).
14 Now at the time of wheat harvest Reuben [the eldest child] went and found some #A narcotic plant thought by ancient peoples to be an aphrodisiac or cure for infertility.mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”15 But Leah answered, “Is it a small thing that you have taken my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?” So Rachel said, “Jacob shall sleep with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”16 When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must sleep with me [tonight], for I have in fact hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.17 God listened and answered [the prayer of] Leah, and she conceived and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob.18 Then Leah said, “God has given me my reward because I have given my maid to my husband.” So she named him #Related to Hebrew for “reward.”Issachar.19 Leah conceived again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob.20 Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good [marriage] gift [for my husband]; now he will live with me [regarding me with honor as his wife], because I have given birth to six sons.” So she named him #Possibly related to Hebrew for “home” or “elevated place.”Zebulun.21 Afterward she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22 Then God remembered [the prayers of] Rachel, and God thought of her and opened her womb [so that she would conceive].23 So she conceived and gave birth to a son; and she said, “God has taken away my disgrace and humiliation.”24 She named him Joseph (may He add) and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”
25 Now when Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go back to my own place and to my own country.26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go; for you know the work which I have done for you.”27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your sight, stay with me; for I have learned [from the omens in divination and by experience] that the Lord has blessed me because of you.”28 He said, “Name your wages, and I will give it [to you].”29 Jacob answered him, “You know how I have served you and how your possessions, your cattle and sheep and goats, have fared with me.30 For you had little before I came and it has increased and multiplied abundantly, and the Lord has favored you with blessings wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own household?”31 Laban asked, “What shall I give you?” Jacob replied, “You shall not give me anything. But if you will do this one thing for me [which I now propose], I will again pasture and keep your flock:32 Let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every dark or black one among the lambs and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and those shall be my wages.33 So my honesty will be evident for me later, when you come [for an accounting] concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and dark among the young lambs, if found with me, shall be considered stolen.”34 And Laban said, “Good! Let it be done as you say.”35 So on that same day Laban [secretly] removed the male goats that were streaked and spotted and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one with white on it, and all the dark ones among the sheep, and put them in the care of his sons.36 And he put [a distance of] three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob was then left in care of the rest of Laban’s flock.
37 Then Jacob took branches of fresh poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white in the branches.38 Then he set the branches which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they mated and conceived when they came to drink.39 So the flocks mated and conceived by the branches, and the flocks #The success of Jacob’s action was undoubtedly the answer to an unrecorded prayer. Later (31:7-12), Jacob gives God the credit for what happened, citing a special dream that he had from God.gave birth to streaked, speckled, and spotted offspring.40 Jacob separated the lambs, and [as he had done with the peeled branches] he made the flocks face toward the streaked and all the dark or black in the [new] flock of Laban; and he put his own herds apart by themselves and did not put them [where they could breed] with Laban’s flock.41 Furthermore, whenever the stronger [animals] of the flocks were breeding, Jacob would place the branches in the sight of the flock in the watering troughs, so that they would mate and conceive among the branches;42 but when the flock was sickly, he did not put the branches there; so the sicker [animals] were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s.43 So Jacob became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks [of sheep and goats], and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.