Genesis 28-31 Common English Bible (CEB)
28 So Isaac summoned Jacob, blessed him, and gave him these orders: “Don’t marry a Canaanite woman. 2 Get up and go to Paddan-aram, to the household of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and once there, marry one of the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 God Almighty[a] will bless you, make you fertile, and give you many descendants so that you will become a large group of peoples. 4 He will give you and your descendants Abraham’s blessing so that you will own the land in which you are now immigrants, the land God gave to Abraham.” 5 So Isaac sent Jacob off, and he traveled to Paddan-aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean and brother of Rebekah, Jacob and Esau’s mother.
6 Esau understood that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan-aram to marry a woman from there. He recognized that, when Isaac blessed Jacob, he had ordered him, “Don’t marry a Canaanite woman,” 7 and that Jacob had listened to his father and mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 8 Esau realized that his father Isaac considered Canaanite women unacceptable. 9 So he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth, in addition to his other wives.
Jacob’s dream at Bethel
10 Jacob left Beer-sheba and set out for Haran. 11 He reached a certain place and spent the night there. When the sun had set, he took one of the stones at that place and put it near his head. Then he lay down there. 12 He dreamed and saw a raised staircase, its foundation on earth and its top touching the sky, and God’s messengers were ascending and descending on it. 13 Suddenly the Lord was standing on it[b] and saying, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will become like the dust of the earth; you will spread out to the west, east, north, and south. Every family of earth will be blessed because of you and your descendants. 15 I am with you now, I will protect you everywhere you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done everything that I have promised you.”
16 When Jacob woke from his sleep, he thought to himself, The Lord is definitely in this place, but I didn’t know it. 17 He was terrified and thought, This sacred place is awesome. It’s none other than God’s house and the entrance to heaven. 18 After Jacob got up early in the morning, he took the stone that he had put near his head, set it up as a sacred pillar, and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He named that sacred place Bethel,[c] though Luz was the city’s original name. 20 Jacob made a solemn promise: “If God is with me and protects me on this trip I’m taking, and gives me bread to eat and clothes to wear, 21 and I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God. 22 This stone that I’ve set up as a sacred pillar will be God’s house, and of everything you give me I will give a tenth back to you.”
Jacob meets Rachel
29 Jacob got to his feet and set out for the land of the easterners. 2 He saw a well in the field in front of him, near which three flocks of sheep were lying down. That well was their source for water because the flocks drank from that well. A huge stone covered the well’s opening. 3 When all of the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the well’s opening, water the sheep, and return the stone to its place at the well’s opening. 4 Jacob said to them, “Where are you from, my brothers?”
They said, “We’re from Haran.”
5 Then he said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?”
They said, “We know him.”
6 He said to them, “Is he well?”
They said, “He’s fine. In fact, this is his daughter Rachel now, coming with the flock.”
7 He said to them, “It’s now only the middle of the day. It’s not time yet to gather the animals. Water the flock, and then go, put them out to pasture.”
8 They said to him, “We can’t until all the herds are gathered, and then we[d] roll the stone away from the well’s opening and water the flock.”
9 While he was still talking to them, Rachel came with her father’s flock since she was its shepherd. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his uncle, and the flock of Laban, Jacob came up, rolled the stone from the well’s opening, and watered the flock of his uncle Laban. 11 Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was related to her father and that he was Rebekah’s son. She then ran to tell her father. 13 When Laban heard about Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him. Laban embraced him, kissed him, and invited him into his house, where Jacob recounted to Laban everything that had happened. 14 Laban said to him, “Yes, you are my flesh and blood.”
Jacob marries Leah and Rachel
After Jacob had stayed with Laban for a month, 15 Laban said to Jacob, “You shouldn’t have to work for free just because you are my relative. Tell me what you would like to be paid.”
16 Now Laban had two daughters: the older was named Leah and the younger Rachel. 17 Leah had delicate eyes,[e] but Rachel had a beautiful figure and was good-looking. 18 Jacob loved Rachel and said, “I will work for you for seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter.”
19 Laban said, “I’d rather give her to you than to another man. Stay with me.”
20 Jacob worked for Rachel for seven years, but it seemed like a few days because he loved her. 21 Jacob said to Laban, “The time has come. Give me my wife so that I may sleep with her.” 22 So Laban invited all the people of that place and prepared a banquet. 23 However, in the evening, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24 Laban had given his servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her servant. 25 In the morning, there she was—Leah! Jacob said to Laban, “What have you done to me? Didn’t I work for you to have Rachel? Why did you betray me?”
26 Laban said, “Where we live, we don’t give the younger woman before the oldest. 27 Complete the celebratory week with this woman. Then I will give[f] you this other woman too for your work, if you work for me seven more years.” 28 So that is what Jacob did. He completed the celebratory week with this woman, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 29 Laban had given his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her servant. 30 Jacob slept with Rachel, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He worked for Laban seven more years.
Jacob’s sons are born
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb; but Rachel was unable to have children. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben[g] because she said, “The Lord saw my harsh treatment, and now my husband will love me.” 33 She became pregnant again and gave birth to a son. She said, “The Lord heard that I was unloved, so he gave me this son too,” and she named him Simeon.[h] 34 She became pregnant again and gave birth to a son. She said, “Now, this time my husband will embrace me,[i] since I have given birth to three sons for him.” So she named him Levi.[j] 35 She became pregnant again and gave birth to a son. She said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.[k] Then she stopped bearing children.
30 When Rachel realized that she could bear Jacob no children, Rachel became jealous of her sister and said to Jacob, “Give me children! If you don’t, I may as well be dead.”
2 Jacob was angry at Rachel and said, “Do you think I’m God? God alone has kept you from giving birth!”
3 She said, “Here’s my servant Bilhah. Sleep with her, and she will give birth for me. Because of her, I will also have children.” 4 So Rachel gave her servant Bilhah to Jacob as his wife, and he slept with her. 5 Bilhah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Jacob. 6 Rachel said, “God has judged in my favor, heard my voice, and given me a son.” So she named him Dan.[l] 7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah became pregnant again and gave birth to a second son for Jacob. 8 Rachel said, “I’ve competed fiercely with my sister, and now I’ve won.” So she named him Naphtali.[m]
9 When Leah realized that she had stopped bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as his wife. 10 Leah’s servant Zilpah gave birth to a son for Jacob, 11 and Leah said, “What good luck!” So she named him Gad.[n] 12 Leah’s servant Zilpah gave birth to a second son for Jacob, 13 and Leah said, “I’m happy now because women call me happy.” So she named him Asher.[o]
14 During the wheat harvest, Reuben found some erotic herbs[p] in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Give me your son’s erotic herbs.”
15 Leah replied, “Isn’t it enough that you’ve taken my husband? Now you want to take my son’s erotic herbs too?”
Rachel said, “For your son’s erotic herbs, Jacob[q] may sleep with you tonight.”
16 When Jacob came back from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must sleep with me because I’ve paid for you with my son’s erotic herbs.” So he slept with her that night.
17 God responded to Leah. She became pregnant and gave birth to a fifth son for Jacob. 18 Leah said, “God gave me what I paid for, what I deserved for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.[r] 19 Leah became pregnant again and gave birth to a sixth son for Jacob, 20 and she said, “God has given me a wonderful gift. Now my husband will honor me since I’ve borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.[s] 21 After this, she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel, responded to her, and let her conceive. 23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my shame.” 24 She named him Joseph,[t] saying to herself, May the Lord give me another son.
God blesses Jacob and Laban
25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me off so that I can go to my own place and my own country. 26 Give me my wives and children whom I’ve worked for, and I will go. You know the work I’ve done for you.”
27 Laban said to him, “Do me this favor. I’ve discovered by a divine sign that the Lord has blessed me because of you, 28 so name your price and I will pay it.”
29 Jacob said to him, “You know how I’ve worked for you, and how well your livestock have done with me. 30 While in my care, what little you had has multiplied a great deal. The Lord blessed you wherever I took your livestock.[u] Now, when will I be able to work for my own household too?”
31 Laban said, “What will I pay you?”
Jacob said, “Don’t pay me anything. If you will do this for me, I will take care of your flock again, and keep a portion.[v] 32 I will go through the entire flock today, taking out all of the speckled and spotted sheep, all of the black male lambs, and all of the spotted and speckled female goats. That will be my price. 33 I will be completely honest with you: when you come to check on our agreement, every female goat with me that isn’t speckled or spotted and every male lamb with me that isn’t black will be considered stolen.”
34 Laban said, “All right; let’s do it.” 35 However, on that very day Laban took out the striped and spotted male goats and all of the speckled and spotted female goats—any with some white in it—and all of the black male lambs, and gave them to his sons. 36 He put a three-day trip between himself and Jacob, while Jacob was watching the rest of Laban’s flock.
37 Then Jacob took new branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees; and he peeled white stripes on them, exposing the branches’ white color. 38 He set the branches that he had peeled near the watering troughs so that they were in front of the flock when they drank, because they often mated when they came to drink. 39 When the flock mated in front of the branches, they gave birth to striped, speckled, and spotted young. 40 Jacob sorted out the lambs, turning the flock to face the striped and black ones in Laban’s flock but keeping his flock separate, setting them apart from Laban’s flock. 41 Whenever the strongest of the flock mated, Jacob put the branches in front of them near the watering troughs so that they mated near the branches. 42 But he didn’t put branches up for the weakest of the flock. So the weakest became Laban’s and the strongest Jacob’s. 43 The man Jacob became very, very rich: he owned large flocks, female and male servants, camels, and donkeys.
Jacob’s household leaves Laban
31 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob took everything our father owned and from it he produced all of this wealth.” 2 And Jacob saw that Laban no longer liked him as much as he used to.
3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your ancestors and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
4 So Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah and summoned them into the field where his flock was. 5 He said to them, “I am aware that your father no longer likes me as much as he used to. But my father’s God has been with me. 6 You know that I’ve worked for your father as hard as I could. 7 But your father cheated me and changed my payment ten times. Yet God didn’t let him harm me. 8 If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your payment,’ the whole flock gave birth to speckled young. And if he said, ‘The striped ones will be your payment,’ the whole flock gave birth to striped young. 9 God took away your father’s livestock and gave them to me. 10 When the flocks were mating, I looked up and saw in a dream that the male goats that mounted the flock were striped, speckled, and spotted. 11 In the dream, God’s messenger said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I said, ‘I’m here.’ 12 He said, ‘Look up and watch all the striped, speckled, and spotted male goats mounting the flock. I’ve seen everything that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a sacred pillar and where you made a solemn promise to me. Now, get up and leave this country and go back to the land of your relatives.’”
14 Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there any share or inheritance left for us in our father’s household? 15 Doesn’t he think of us as foreigners since he sold us and has even used up the payment he received for us? 16 All of the wealth God took from our father belongs to us and our children. Now, do everything God told you to do.”
17 So Jacob got up, put his sons and wives on the camels, 18 and set out with all of his livestock and all of his possessions that he had acquired[w] in Paddan-aram in order to return to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. 19 Now, while Laban was out shearing his sheep, Rachel stole the household’s divine images that belonged to her father. 20 Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not sending word to him that he was leaving. 21 So Jacob and his entire household left. He got up, crossed the river, and set out directly for the mountains of Gilead.
22 Three days later, Laban found out that Jacob had gone, 23 so Laban took his brothers with him, chased Jacob for seven days, and caught up with him in the mountains of Gilead. 24 That night, God appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and said, “Be careful and don’t say anything hastily to Jacob one way or the other.”
25 Laban reached Jacob after Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountains. So Laban and his brothers also pitched theirs in the mountains of Gilead. 26 Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me and taken off with my daughters as if they were prisoners of war. 27 Why did you leave secretly, deceiving me, and not letting me know? I would’ve sent you off with a celebration, with songs and tambourines and harps. 28 You didn’t even let me kiss my sons and my daughters good-bye. Now you’ve acted like a fool, 29 and I have the power to punish you. However, your father’s God told me yesterday, ‘Be careful and don’t say anything hastily to Jacob one way or the other.’ 30 You’ve rushed off now because you missed your father’s household so much, but why did you steal my gods?”
31 Jacob responded to Laban, “I was afraid and convinced myself that you would take your daughters away from me. 32 Whomever you find with your divine images won’t live. Identify whatever I have that is yours, in front of your brothers, and take it.” Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen them. 33 Laban went into Jacob’s tent, Leah’s tent, and her two servants’ tent and didn’t find them.
So he left Leah’s tent and went into Rachel’s. 34 Now Rachel had taken the divine images and put them into the camel’s saddlebag and sat on them. Laban felt around in the whole tent but couldn’t find them. 35 Rachel said to her father, “Sir, don’t be angry with me because I can’t get up for you; I’m having my period.” He searched but couldn’t find the divine images.
36 Jacob was angry and complained to Laban, “What have I done wrong and what’s my crime that you’ve tracked me down like this? 37 You’ve now felt through all of my baggage, and what have you found from your household’s belongings? Put it in front of our relatives, and let them decide between us. 38 For these twenty years I’ve been with you, your female sheep and goats haven’t miscarried, and I haven’t eaten your flock’s rams. 39 When animals were killed, I didn’t bring them to you but took the loss myself. You demanded compensation from me for any animals poached during the day or night. 40 The dry heat consumed me during the day, and the frost at night; I couldn’t sleep. 41 I’ve now spent twenty years in your household. I worked for fourteen years for your two daughters and for six years for your flock, and you changed my pay ten times. 42 If the God of my father—the God of Abraham and the awesome one of Isaac—hadn’t been with me, you’d have no doubt sent me away without anything. God saw my harsh treatment and my hard work and reprimanded you yesterday.”
Jacob and Laban’s treaty
43 Laban responded and told Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. Everything you see is mine. But what can I do now about my daughters and about their sons? 44 Come, let’s make a treaty, you and me, and let something be our witness.”[x]
45 So Jacob took a stone, set it up as a sacred pillar, 46 and said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” So they took stones, made a mound, and ate there near the mound. 47 Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha,[y] but Jacob called it Galeed.[z]
48 Laban said, “This mound is our witness today,” and, therefore, he too named it Galeed. 49 He also named it Mizpah,[aa] because he said, “The Lord will observe both of us when we are separated from each other. 50 If you treat my daughters badly and if you marry other women, though we aren’t there, know that God observed our witness.”
51 Laban said to Jacob, “Here is this mound and here is the sacred pillar that I’ve set up for us. 52 This mound and the sacred pillar are witnesses that I won’t travel beyond this mound and that you won’t travel beyond this mound and this pillar to do harm. 53 The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor[ab] will keep order between us.” So Jacob gave his word in the name of the awesome one of his father Isaac. 54 Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and invited his relatives to a meal. They ate together and spent the night on the mountain. 55 [ac] Laban got up early in the morning, kissed his sons and daughters, blessed them, and left to go back to his own place.