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29 Jacob traveled on, finally arriving in the land of the East. He saw in the distance three flocks of sheep lying beside a well in an open field, waiting to be watered. But a heavy stone covered the mouth of the well. (The custom was that the stone was not removed until all the flocks were there. After watering them, the stone was rolled back over the mouth of the well again.) Jacob went over to the shepherds and asked them where they lived.

“At Haran,” they said.

“Do you know a fellow there named Laban, the son of Nahor?”

“We sure do.”

“How is he?”

“He’s well and prosperous. Look, there comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.”

“Why don’t you water the flocks so they can get back to grazing?” Jacob asked. “They’ll be hungry if you stop so early in the day!”

“We don’t roll away the stone and begin the watering until all the flocks and shepherds are here,” they replied.

As this conversation was going on, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 And because she was his cousin—the daughter of his mother’s brother—and because the sheep were his uncle’s, Jacob went over to the well and rolled away the stone and watered his uncle’s flock. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and started crying! 12-13 He explained about being her cousin on her father’s side, and that he was her Aunt Rebekah’s son. She quickly ran and told her father, Laban, and as soon as he heard of Jacob’s arrival, he rushed out to meet him and greeted him warmly and brought him home. Then Jacob told him his story.

14 “Just think, my very own flesh and blood,” Laban exclaimed.

After Jacob had been there about a month, 15 Laban said to him one day, “Just because we are relatives is no reason for you to work for me without pay. How much do you want?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters, Leah, the older, and her younger sister, Rachel. 17 Leah had lovely eyes, but Rachel was shapely, and in every way a beauty. 18 Well, Jacob was in love with Rachel. So he told her father, “I’ll work for you seven years if you’ll give me Rachel as my wife.”

19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to someone outside the family.”

20 So Jacob spent the next seven years working to pay for Rachel. But they seemed to him but a few days, he was so much in love. 21 Finally the time came for him to marry her.

“I have fulfilled my contract,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife, so that I can sleep with her.”

22 So Laban invited all the men of the settlement to celebrate with Jacob at a big party. 23 Afterwards, that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24 (And Laban gave to Leah a servant girl, Zilpah, to be her maid.) 25 But in the morning—it was Leah!

“What sort of trick is this?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked for seven years for Rachel. What do you mean by this trickery?”

26 “It’s not our custom to marry off a younger daughter ahead of her sister,” Laban replied smoothly.[a] 27 “Wait until the bridal week is over and you can have Rachel too—if you promise to work for me another seven years!”

28 So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. Then Laban gave him Rachel, too. 29 And Laban gave to Rachel a servant girl, Bilhah, to be her maid. 30 So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her more than Leah, and stayed and worked the additional seven years.

31 But because Jacob was slighting Leah, Jehovah let her have a child, while Rachel was barren. 32 So Leah became pregnant and had a son, Reuben (meaning “God has noticed my trouble”), for she said, “Jehovah has noticed my trouble—now my husband will love me.” 33 She soon became pregnant again and had another son and named him Simeon (meaning “Jehovah heard”), for she said, “Jehovah heard that I was unloved, and so he has given me another son.” 34 Again she became pregnant and had a son, and named him Levi (meaning “Attachment”) for she said, “Surely now my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!” 35 Once again she was pregnant and had a son and named him Judah (meaning “Praise”), for she said, “Now I will praise Jehovah!” And then she stopped having children.


  1. Genesis 29:26 Laban replied smoothly, implied from context.

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