Genesis 30:25-43Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Jacob and Laban
25 After Joseph was born, Jacob said to Laban, “Release me from our agreement[a] and let me return to my own country. 26 You know how hard I’ve worked for you, so let me take my wives and children and leave.”
27-28 But Laban told him, “If you really are my friend, stay on, and I’ll pay whatever you ask. I’m sure[b] the Lord has blessed me because of you.”
29 Jacob answered:
You’ve seen how hard I’ve worked for you, and you know how your flocks and herds have grown under my care. 30 You didn’t have much before I came, but the Lord has blessed everything I have ever done for you. Now it’s time for me to start looking out for my own family.
31 “How much do you want me to pay you?” Laban asked.
Then Jacob told him:
I don’t want you to pay me anything. Just do one thing, and I’ll take care of your sheep and goats. 32 Let me go through your flocks and herds and take the sheep and goats that are either spotted or speckled[c] and the black lambs. That’s all you need to give me. 33 In the future you can easily find out if I’ve been honest. Just look and see if my animals are either spotted or speckled, or if the lambs are black. If they aren’t, they’ve been stolen from you.
34 “I agree to that,” was Laban’s response. 35 Before the end of the day, Laban had separated his spotted and speckled animals and the black lambs from the others and had put his sons in charge of them. 36 Then Laban made Jacob keep the rest of the sheep and goats at a distance of three days' journey.
37 Jacob cut branches from some poplar trees and from some almond and evergreen trees. He peeled off part of the bark and made the branches look spotted and speckled. 38 Then he put the branches where the sheep and goats would see them[d] while they were drinking from the water trough. The goats mated there 39 in front of the branches, and their young were spotted and speckled.
40 Some of the sheep that Jacob was keeping for Laban were already spotted. And when the others were ready to mate, he made sure that they faced in the direction of the spotted and black ones. In this way, Jacob built up a flock of sheep for himself and did not put them with the other sheep.
41 When the stronger sheep were mating near the drinking place, Jacob made sure that the spotted branches were there. 42 But he would not put out the branches when the weaker animals were mating. So Jacob got all of the healthy animals, and Laban got what was left. 43 Jacob soon became rich and successful. He owned many sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys, as well as a lot of slaves.
30.25Release. . . agreement: Jacob had agreed to work seven years for each of Laban’s two daughters (see 29.18).
30.27,28I’m sure: The Hebrew text means to find out by some kind of magic, such as fortunetelling.
30.32spotted or speckled: In ancient times sheep were usually white, and goats were usually black or dark brown; only a few sheep would have black spots, and only a few goats would have white spots.
30.38would see them: It was believed by some that what sheep and goats saw at the time of breeding would determine the color of their young.
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