New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Arrival in Haran.[a] 1 (A)After Jacob resumed his journey, he came to the land of the Kedemites. 2 Looking about, he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep huddled near it, for flocks were watered from that well. A large stone covered the mouth of the well.(B) 3 When all the shepherds were assembled there they would roll the stone away from the mouth of the well and water the sheep. Then they would put the stone back again in its place over the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We are from Haran,” they replied. 5 Then he asked them, “Do you know Laban, son of Nahor?” “We do,” they answered.(C) 6 He inquired further, “Is he well?” “He is,” they answered; “and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.” 7 Then he said: “There is still much daylight left; it is hardly the time to bring the animals home. Water the sheep, and then continue pasturing them.” 8 They replied, “We cannot until all the shepherds are here to roll the stone away from the mouth of the well; then can we water the flocks.”
9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep, for she was the one who tended them. 10 As soon as Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of Laban, he went up, rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well, and watered Laban’s sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s relative, Rebekah’s son. So she ran to tell her father. 13 When Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him. After embracing and kissing him, he brought him to his house. Jacob then repeated to Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him, “You are indeed my bone and my flesh.”[b]
Marriage to Leah and Rachel. After Jacob had stayed with him a full month, 15 [c]Laban said to him: “Should you serve me for nothing just because you are a relative of mine? Tell me what your wages should be.” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the older was called Leah, the younger Rachel. 17 Leah had dull eyes,[d] but Rachel was shapely and beautiful. 18 Because Jacob loved Rachel, he answered, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”[e] 19 Laban replied, “It is better to give her to you than to another man. Stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, yet they seemed to him like a few days because of his love for her.(D)
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, that I may consummate my marriage with her, for my term is now completed.” 22 So Laban invited all the local inhabitants and gave a banquet. 23 At nightfall he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he consummated the marriage with her. 24 Laban assigned his maidservant Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her maidservant. 25 In the morning, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban: “How could you do this to me! Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why did you deceive me?” 26 Laban replied, “It is not the custom in our country to give the younger daughter before the firstborn. 27 Finish the bridal week[f] for this one, and then the other will also be given to you in return for another seven years of service with me.”(E)
28 Jacob did so. He finished the bridal week for the one, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife. 29 Laban assigned his maidservant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maidservant. 30 Jacob then consummated his marriage with Rachel also, and he loved her more than Leah. Thus he served Laban another seven years.(F)
Jacob’s Children.[g] 31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he made her fruitful, while Rachel was barren. 32 Leah conceived and bore a son, and she named him Reuben;[h] for she said, “It means, ‘The Lord saw my misery; surely now my husband will love me.’”(G) 33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “It means, ‘The Lord heard that I was unloved,’ and therefore he has given me this one also”; so she named him Simeon.[i] 34 Again she conceived and bore a son, and she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, since I have now borne him three sons”; that is why she named him Levi.[j] 35 Once more she conceived and bore a son, and she said, “This time I will give thanks to the Lord”; therefore she named him Judah.[k] Then she stopped bearing children.(H)
Jacob’s arrival in Haran. The sight of Rachel inspires Jacob to the superhuman feat of rolling back the enormous stone by himself. The scene evokes the meeting of Abraham’s steward and Jacob’s mother Rebekah at a well (24:11–27).
The verse begins the story of Jacob’s time in Mesopotamia (29:1–31:54), which is framed on either side by Jacob’s time in Canaan, 25:19–28:22 and 32:1–36:43. In these chapters, Jacob suffers Laban’s duplicity as Esau had to suffer his, though eventually Jacob outwits Laban and leaves Mesopotamia a wealthy man. An elaborate chiastic (or envelope) structure shapes the diverse material: (A) Jacob’s arrival in Haran in 29:1–4; (B) contract with Laban in 29:15–20; (C) Laban’s deception of Jacob in 29:21–30; (D) the center, the birth of Jacob’s children in 29:31–30:24; (C′) Jacob’s deception of Laban in 30:25–43; (B′) dispute with Laban in 31:17–42; (A′) departure from Laban in 31:43–54. As the chiasm reverses, so do the fortunes of Laban and Jacob. Kedemites: see note on 25:6.
- 29:14 Bone and…flesh: the Hebrew idiom for English “flesh and blood” (cf. 2:23; Jgs 9:2; 2 Sm 5:1 = 1 Chr 11:1).
- 29:15–30 Laban’s deception and Jacob’s marriages. There are many ironies in the passage. Jacob’s protest to Laban, “How could you do this to me?” echoes the question put to Abraham (20:9) and Isaac (26:10) when their deceptions about their wives were discovered. The major irony is that Jacob, the deceiver of his father and brother about the blessing (chap. 27), is deceived by his uncle (standing in for the father) about his wife.
- 29:17 Dull eyes: in the language of beauty used here, “dull” probably means lacking in the luster that was the sign of beautiful eyes, as in 1 Sm 16:12 and Sg 4:1.
- 29:18 Jacob offers to render service (Jos 15:16–17; 1 Sm 17:25; 18:17) to pay off the customary bridal price (Ex 22:15–16; Dt 22:29).
- 29:27 The bridal week: an ancient wedding lasted for seven days; cf. Jgs 14:12, 17.
- 29:31–30:24 The note of strife, first sounded between Jacob and Esau in chaps. 25–27, continues between the two wives, since Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah (29:30). Jacob’s neglect of Leah moves God to make her fruitful (29:31). Leah’s fertility provokes Rachel. Leah bears Jacob four sons (Reuben, Levi, Simeon, and Judah) and her maidservant Zilpah, two (Gad and Asher). Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah bears two (Dan and Naphtali). After the mandrakes (30:14–17), Leah bears Issachar and Zebulun and a daughter Dinah. Rachel then bears Joseph and, later in the land of Canaan, Benjamin (35:18).
- 29:32 Reuben: the literal meaning of the Hebrew name is disputed. One interpretation is re’u ben, “look, a son!”, but here in Genesis (as also with the names of all the other sons of Jacob), it is given a symbolic rather than an etymological interpretation. Name and person were regarded as closely interrelated. The symbolic interpretation of Reuben’s name, according to the Yahwist source, is based on the similar-sounding ra’a be‘onyi, “he saw my misery.” In the Elohist source, the name is explained by the similar-sounding ye’ehabani, “he will love me.”
- 29:33 Simeon: in popular etymology, related to shama‘, “he heard.”
- 29:34 Levi: related to yillaweh, “he will become attached.”
- 29:35 Judah: related to ’odeh, “I will give thanks, praise.”
New International Version
Jacob Arrives in Paddan Aram
29 Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples.(A) 2 There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well.(B) The stone(C) over the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone(D) away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep.(E) Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?”(F)
“We’re from Harran,(G)” they replied.
5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban, Nahor’s grandson?”(H)
“Yes, we know him,” they answered.
6 Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?”
7 “Look,” he said, “the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.”
9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep,(M) for she was a shepherd. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel(N) daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone(O) away from the mouth of the well and watered(P) his uncle’s sheep.(Q) 11 Then Jacob kissed(R) Rachel and began to weep aloud.(S) 12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative(T) of her father and a son of Rebekah.(U) So she ran and told her father.(V)
13 As soon as Laban(W) heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him(X) and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. 14 Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.”(Y)
Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel
16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah,(AB) and the name of the younger was Rachel.(AC) 17 Leah had weak[a] eyes, but Rachel(AD) had a lovely figure and was beautiful.(AE) 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel(AF) and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”(AG)
19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel,(AH) but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.(AI)
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.(AJ)”
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast.(AK) 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah(AL) and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah(AM) to his daughter as her attendant.(AN)
26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one.(AQ) 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week;(AR) then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.(AS)”
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.(AT) 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah(AU) to his daughter Rachel as her attendant.(AV) 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah.(AW) And he worked for Laban another seven years.(AX)
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved,(AY) he enabled her to conceive,(AZ) but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.(BA) She named him Reuben,[b](BB) for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery.(BC) Surely my husband will love me now.”
- Genesis 29:17 Or delicate
- Genesis 29:32 Reuben sounds like the Hebrew for he has seen my misery; the name means see, a son.
- Genesis 29:33 Simeon probably means one who hears.
- Genesis 29:34 Levi sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for attached.
- Genesis 29:35 Judah sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for praise.