Genesis 29

Jacob and Laban

1 Jacob continued on his journey. He came to the land where the people from the east live. 2 He saw a well in a field. Three groups of sheep lay by the well. They lay there because the sheep had water from that well. A large stone covered the top of the well. 3 Shepherds waited until all the sheep were there. Then they removed the stone from the well. And they gave their sheep water to drink. After this, they put the stone back on the top of the well.

29:3Shepherds are people who keep sheep safe.

4 Jacob asked the shepherds ‘My brothers, where are you from?’ The shepherds replied, ‘We are from Haran.’ 5 Jacob said, ‘Do you know Laban? He is Nahor's grandson.’ The shepherds replied ‘Yes, we know him.’ 6 Jacob asked them ‘Is he in good health?’ They replied ‘Yes he is. Here comes his daughter with the sheep. Her name is Rachel.’ 7 Jacob said, ‘Look. The sun is high in the sky. It is not the right time to bring all the sheep together. Give the sheep water. And take them back to the fields.’ 8 The shepherds said, ‘We cannot do that. We have to wait until all the sheep are here. Then we can remove the stone and give the sheep water.’

9 When Jacob was speaking, Rachel came. She brought her father's sheep with her. She was a shepherdess.

29:9A shepherdess is a woman who keeps sheep safe.

10 Jacob saw Rachel. She was the daughter of Laban. Laban was Jacob's mother's brother. Jacob saw Laban's sheep. So Jacob went to the stone on the well. He removed it from the well. Then he gave water to Laban's sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel. He began to cry aloud.

29:11Jacob cried because he was happy to find his relatives.

12 Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of Laban. He told him that he was a son of Rebekah. And Rachel ran in front of Jacob. She told her father.

13 Laban heard what Rachel said. He hurried to meet Jacob. Jacob was the son of Laban's sister. He put his arms round Jacob. And he kissed him. Laban brought Jacob to his home. And Jacob told Laban why he had come to him. 14 Then Laban said, ‘You are my own relative.’ Jacob stayed with Laban for a whole month.

15 Then Laban said to Jacob ‘You should not work for me for nothing because you are my relative. Tell me what I should pay you.’ 16 Laban had 2 daughters. The name of the older daughter was Leah. The name of the younger daughter was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes. But Rachel was beautiful. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. He said, ‘I will work for you for 7 years. In return, I want your daughter Rachel.’ 19 Laban said, ‘It is better to give her to you than to another man. Stay here with me.’ 20 Jacob worked for 7 years to have Rachel. But the years passed quickly. They seemed like a few days to Jacob because he loved Rachel very much.

Jacob marries

21 After 7 years, Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife. My time is finished. And I want to marry her.’ 22 Laban called all the people in that place together. He gave a feast. 23 Evening came. But Laban took his daughter Leah. And he gave her to Jacob. And Jacob married her. 24 Laban gave his female servant to Leah. Her name was Zilpah. Zilpah was now Leah's servant. 25 When morning came, Jacob saw Leah! Jacob said to Laban, ‘What have you done to me? I worked for you to have Rachel. Why have you deceived me?’ 26 Laban replied ‘In this land, we do not give the younger daughter first. We do not give her before the older daughter. 27 Finish Leah's marriage week. Then we will give you the younger daughter also. And you must work for another 7 years.’

29:27Jacob deceived Isaac. Now Laban has deceived Jacob. (For ‘deceive’, see 27:36.)
29:27A marriage week was the 7 days of the feast. A feast is a time of eating and drinking.

28 So Jacob did this. He finished the week with Leah. 29 Then Laban gave Rachel to Jacob to be his wife. Laban give his female servant Bilhah to Rachel. Bilhah was now one of Rachel's servants. 30 Jacob married Rachel also. He loved Rachel more than he loved Leah. Jacob worked for Laban. He worked for 7 more years.

31 The Lord saw that Jacob did not love Leah. So he let her give birth to children. But the Lord did not let Rachel give birth to children. 32 Leah became pregnant. She gave birth to a son. She called him Reuben. She said, ‘It is because the Lord has heard. He has heard how sad I am. My husband will love me now because I have given birth to a son.’ 33 Leah became pregnant again. She gave birth to another son. She said, ‘The Lord gave me another son. Because he knows that I am not loved.’ She called this son Simeon. 34 Leah became pregnant again. And again she gave birth to a son. She said, ‘I have given my husband 3 sons. So now he will want to stay with me.’ She called this son Levi. 35 Leah became pregnant again. She gave birth to a son. She said, ‘This time I will praise the Lord.’ She called this son Judah. Then she stopped having children.