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.
1 Then Rachel, discerning that she was infertile, envied her sister, and so she said to her husband, "Give me children, otherwise I will die."
2 Jacob, being angry, responded to her, "Am I in the place of God, who has deprived you of the fruit of your womb?"
3 But she said: "I have a handmaid Bilhah. Go in to her, so that she may give birth upon my knees, and I may have sons by her."
4 And she gave him Bilhah in marriage.
5 And when her husband had gone in to her, she conceived and bore a son.
6 And Rachel said, "The Lord has judged for me, and he has heeded my voice, giving me a son." And because of this, she called his name Dan.
7 And conceiving again, Bilhah bore another,
8 about whom Rachel said, "God has compared me with my sister, and I have prevailed." And she called him Naphtali.
9 Leah, perceiving that she had desisted from child-bearing, delivered Zilpah, her handmaid, to her husband.
10 And she, after having borne a son with difficulty,
11 said: "Happiness!" And for this reason, she called his name Gad.
12 Likewise, Zilpah bore another.
13 And Leah said, "This one is for my happiness. Indeed, women will call me blessed." Because of this, she called him Asher.
14 Then Reuben, going out into the field at the time of the wheat harvest, found mandrakes. These he brought to his mother Leah. And Rachel said, "Give me a portion of your son's mandrakes."
15 She responded, "Does it seem like such a small matter to you, that you have usurped from me my husband, unless you will also take my son's mandrakes?" Rachel said, "He will sleep with you this night because of your son's mandrakes."
16 And when Jacob returned from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him, and she said, "You will enter to me, because I have hired you for the reward of my son's mandrakes." And he slept with her that night.
17 And God heard her prayers. And she conceived and bore a fifth son.
18 And she said, "God has given a reward to me, because I gave my handmaid to my husband." And she called his name Issachar.
19 Conceiving again, Leah bore a sixth son.
20 And she said: "God has endowed me with a good dowry. And now, at this turn, my husband will be with me, because I have conceived six sons for him." And therefore she called his name Zebulun.
21 After him, she bore a daughter, named Dinah.
22 The Lord, likewise remembering Rachel, heeded her and opened her womb.
23 And she conceived and bore a son, saying, "God has taken away my reproach."
24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, "The Lord has added to me another son."
25 But when Joseph was born, Jacob said to his father-in-law: "Release me, so that I may return to my native country and to my land.
26 Give me my wives, and my children, for whom I have served you, so that I may depart. You know the servitude with which I have served you."
27 Laban said to him: "May I find grace in your sight. I have learned by experience that God has blessed me because of you.
28 Choose your wages, which I will give you."
29 But he responded: "You know how I have served you, and how great your possession became in my hands.
30 You had little before I came to you, and now you have achieved riches. And the Lord has blessed you since my arrival. It is just, therefore, that at sometime I also should provide for my own house."
31 And Laban said, "What shall I give to you?" But he said, "I want nothing. But if you will do what I ask, I will feed and guard your sheep again.
32 Go around through all your flocks and separate all the sheep of variegated or spotted fleece; and whatever will be darkened or blemished or variegated, as much among the sheep as among the goats, will be my wages.
33 And my justice will answer on my behalf tomorrow, when the time of settlement arrives before you. And all that is not variegated or blemished or darkened, as much among the sheep as among the goats, these will prove me to be a thief."
34 And Laban said, "I hold favor for this request."
35 And on that day he separated the she-goats, and the sheep, and the he-goats, and the rams with variegations or with blemishes. But every one of the flock which was of one color, that is, of white or of black fleece, he delivered into the hands of his sons.
36 And he established a distance of three days journey between himself and his son-in-law, who pastured the remainder of his flock.
37 Then Jacob, taking green branches of poplar, and almond, and sycamore trees, debarked them in part. And when the bark was pulled off, in the parts that were stripped, there appeared whiteness, yet the parts that were left whole, remained green. And so, in this way the color was made variegated.
38 And he placed them in the troughs, where the water was poured out, so that when the flocks had arrived to drink, they would have the branches before their eyes, and in their sight they might conceive.
39 And it happened that, in the very heat of joining together, the sheep looked upon the branches, and they bore the blemished and the variegated, those speckled with diverse color.
40 And Jacob divided the flock, and he set the branches in the troughs before the eyes of the rams. Now whatever was white or black belonged to Laban, but, in truth, the others belonged to Jacob, for the flocks were dispersed among one another.
41 Therefore, when the first to arrive were climbing on the ewes, Jacob placed the branches in the troughs of water before the eyes of the rams and the sheep, so that they might conceive while they were gazing upon them.
42 Yet when the late arrivals and the last to conceive were let in, he did not place these. And so those that arrived late became Laban's, and those that arrived first became Jacob's.
43 And the man was enriched beyond limit, and he had many flocks, women servants and men servants, camels and donkeys.