Genesis 30

Jacob's family

1 Rachel now knew that she could not have any children. She knew that she could not give Jacob any children. So, she did not like her sister because her sister had children. Rachel said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I will die.’

30:1In Old Testament times, it was very important for women to have children. It was a blessing.

2 Jacob became angry with Rachel. He said, ‘Am I God? God has stopped you from giving birth to children!’ 3 Rachel said, ‘Here is Bilhah. She is my female servant. Have sex with her so that she can have children for me. Through her, I can build a family.’

30:3This is like what Sarah did with Hagar.

4 So Rachel gave her servant Bilhah to Jacob. Jacob took her as a wife. 5 She became pregnant. And she gave Jacob a son. 6 Rachel said, ‘God has done what is right to me. He has listened to me. And he has given me a son.’ Because of this, she called the baby Dan. 7 Rachel's servant Bilhah became pregnant again. She gave Jacob another son. 8 Rachel said, ‘I have fought with my sister. And I have won.’ She called this baby Naphtali.

9 Leah saw that she had stopped having children. So she took her female servant. Her name was Zilpah. She gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Zilpah became pregnant. And she gave Jacob a son. 11 Leah said, ‘This is very good.’ And she called the baby Gad. 12 Leah's servant gave Jacob another son. 13 Leah said, ‘I am very happy! Women will call me happy.’ So she called this baby Asher.

14 It was the time to get the wheat in from the fields. Reuben went out into the fields. He found some mandrake plants. He brought them to Leah, his mother. Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me some of the mandrake plants that your son gave to you.’

30:14Wheat is part of a plant. People use it to make flour.
30:14People thought that mandrake plants could help a woman become pregnant.
30:14Rachel thought that the plants would help her to have a child. That is why she wanted them. But only God could give her a child.

15 But Leah said to Rachel ‘You took my husband. Was not that enough? Now you want my son's mandrakes too!’ Rachel said, ‘You must give me some of your son's mandrakes. Then Jacob can sleep with you tonight.’ 16 In the evening, Jacob came in from the fields. Leah went out to meet him. She said, ‘You must sleep with me tonight. I have bought you with my son's mandrakes.’ So Jacob slept with Leah that night. 17 God listened to Leah. And she became pregnant. She gave Jacob a 5th son. 18 Leah said, ‘God has paid me because I gave my servant to Jacob.’ She called her son Issachar. 19 Leah became pregnant again. And she gave Jacob a 6th son. 20 Leah said, ‘God has given me this valuable gift. Now my husband will want to stay with me because I have given him 6 sons.’ She called this son Zebulun. 21 Some time passed. And Leah became pregnant again. She gave birth to a daughter. She called her daughter Dinah. 22 Then God remembered Rachel. He listened to her. And he let her give birth to children. 23 She became pregnant. She gave birth to a son. Rachel said, ‘I am not ashamed any more because God has given me a son.’ 24 Rachel called her son Joseph. She said, ‘May the Lord give me another son.’

25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob spoke to Laban. He said, ‘Let me go on my way. Let me go so that I can go back to my own land. 26 Give me my wives. Give me my children. I have worked for you to have them. Then I will go on my journey. You know how much I have worked for you.’ 27 Laban said to Jacob ‘If you are happy with me then please stay. I know that the Lord has blessed me. That is because you are here.’ 28 Laban continued, ‘Say what you want. And I will pay it.’ 29 Jacob said, ‘You know how much I have worked for you. And you know how many more animals you have. 30 You had a small number of sheep and goats before I came. Now the number of them is much bigger. And anywhere that I have been, the Lord has blessed you. But now I want to give my family what they need.’ 31 Laban asked ‘What must I give you?’ Jacob replied, ‘Do not give me anything. But do one thing for me. Then I will still care for your animals. And I will see that nothing bad happens to them. 32 Let me go among all your animals today. And let me remove any animal that has a mark on it. Let me remove any animal that has more than one colour on its skin. I will take them from your sheep and from your goats. These animals will be what I receive from you. 33 And this will show that I am honest. You can check on my animals when you want to. I may have a sheep or a goat that does not have more than one colour on its skin. Then you can say that I have taken it from you.’ 34 Laban said, ‘I agree to this. It will be as you have said.’ 35 On that same day, Laban went to his animals. He quickly removed any animal that had more than one colour on its skin. And he gave them to his sons to care for. 36 Then Laban went away. It would take Jacob 3 days to reach Laban. While this was happening, Jacob cared for the rest of Laban's animals.

30:36Laban has deceived Jacob. He has taken all the animals that should be Jacob's. And he has given them to his own sons to care for. Then he has gone away before Jacob knows what he has done.

37 Jacob took branches cut from trees. He took them from the poplar tree, the almond tree and the plane tree. He made white lines on them. He did this by taking the outside part of the wood from some of the branch. Then he could see the white part of the branch. 38 Then he put the branches in the place where the animals drank. They were in front of the animals when they came to drink. Sometimes it was the right time when the animals came to drink. 39 They would have sex and become pregnant. They did this in front of the branches. And they gave birth to young ones that had more than one colour on their skin. 40 Jacob kept the animals separate from Laban's animals. Then he separated Laban's animals. He separated the female animals from the male animals. And he would only let the female animals have sex with his own black male sheep. 41 Jacob waited until the time was right for the stronger female animals. Then he put the branches in front of them, when they had sex with his own black male animals. 42 But if the female animals were weak, he did not put the branches in front of the animals. So Jacob put the weak animals with Laban's animals. But Jacob kept the strong animals. 43 By doing this, Jacob became very rich. He had many animals, female servants and male servants and camels and donkeys.