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 favour. 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 favour”. 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 learnt 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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Good News Bible. Scripture taken from the Good News Bible (r) (Today's English Version Second Edition, UK/British Edition). Copyright © 1992 British & Foreign Bible Society. Used by permission.
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