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.
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1#Ge 29:31; 37:11When Rachel saw that she could not give Jacob children, she became jealous of her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I will die.”
2#Ge 16:2; 1Sa 1:5Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”
3#Ge 50:23; Job 3:12Then she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah. Have relations with her so that she may bear a child on my knees,#From the Septuagint, a cloak with long sleeves, a full-length cloak, or an embroidered cloak, showing favoritism. so that I may also have children through her.”
4So she gave him Bilhah her maidservant as a wife, and Jacob had relations with her. 5Bilhah conceived and gave Jacob a son. 6#Ps 35:24; 43:1Rachel said, “God has vindicated me, and He has also heard my voice and has given me a son.” Therefore she called his name Dan.
7Bilhah, Rachel’s maid, conceived again and gave Jacob a second son. 8#Ge 49:21; Mt 4:13Then Rachel said, “With great wrestling have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed.” So she called his name Naphtali.
9#Ge 30:4When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10Zilpah, Leah’s maid, gave Jacob a son. 11#Ge 49:19Then Leah said, “How fortunate!” So she called his name Gad.
12Zilpah, Leah’s maid, gave Jacob a second son. 13#Lk 1:48; Ge 49:20Then Leah said, “Happy am I, for women will call me happy.” So she called his name Asher.
14#SS 7:13At the time of the wheat harvest, Reuben went and found 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#Nu 16:13Leah said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?”
So Rachel said, “All right, he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”
16When Jacob came out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must sleep with me, because I have paid for you with my son’s mandrakes.” And he slept with her that night.
17God listened to Leah, and she conceived and gave Jacob a fifth son. 18Leah said, “God has given me my reward because I have given my maid to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.
19Leah conceived again and gave Jacob a sixth son. 20#Mt 4:13; Ge 35:23Leah said, “God has given me a good gift. Now my husband will dwell with me, because I have given him six sons.” So she called his name Zebulun.
21Afterwards she gave birth to a daughter and called her name Dinah.
22#Ge 29:31; 8:1; 1Sa 1:19–20Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23#Isa 4:1; Lk 1:25She conceived and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24#Ge 35:24; 37:2And she called his name Joseph, saying, “The Lord will add to me another son.”
Jacob’s Agreement With Laban
25#Ge 24:54; 24:56When Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, so that I may go to my own place, to my country. 26#Ge 29:30; Hos 12:12Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served you, and let me go. For you know the service that I have given you.”
27#Ge 26:24; Isa 61:9Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. For I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me on account of you.” 28#Ge 29:15He said, “Name me your wages, and I will give it.”
29#Ge 31:6; 31:38–40Jacob said to him, “You know how I have served you, and how your livestock have fared with me. 30#1Ti 5:8For you had little before I came, and it is now increased to a multitude. The Lord has blessed you since I came, and now when may I also provide for my own house?”
31Laban said, “What may I give you?”
And Jacob said, “You may not give me anything, but if you will do this one thing for me, I will continue to feed and keep your flock. 32#Ge 31:8I will pass through all your flock today, removing from it all the speckled and spotted sheep, and every brown sheep from among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats. These shall be my wages. 33So my integrity will answer for me in time to come. When you come to examine my wages, every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep that are with me will be considered stolen.”
34Laban said, “Agreed. Let it be according to your word.” 35He removed that day the male goats that were striped and spotted and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had some white in it, and all the brown ones among the sheep, and gave them into the care of his sons. 36He put three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.
37Then Jacob took rods of fresh-cut poplar, almond, and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white which was in the rods. 38He set the rods which he had peeled before the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink, so that they would mate when they came to drink. 39The flocks mated before the rods and gave birth to young that were striped, speckled, and spotted. 40Jacob separated the lambs and made the flocks face toward the striped and all the brown in the flock of Laban. He put his own flocks by themselves and did not put them with Laban’s sheep. 41Whenever the stronger sheep mated, Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the sheep in the troughs, so that they might mate among the rods. 42But when the livestock were feeble, he did not put them in. So the weaker were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s. 43#Ge 24:35; 26:13–14The man became exceedingly prosperous and had many sheep and female servants and male servants and camels and donkeys.
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