Jacob searches for a wife
1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman.
2 Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.
3 May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples.
4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.”
5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.
Jacob marries Rachel – sorry, no, it’s Leah
1 Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east.
2 As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large,
3 and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.”
5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.”
6 He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!”
7 He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.”
8 But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”
9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess.
10 Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud.
12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things,
14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?”
16 Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.
18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”
19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.”
20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.”
22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast.
23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her.
24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.)
25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.”
28 Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.
29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.)
30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.
Jacob has children, but not with Rachel
31 When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.”
33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon.
34 Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi.
35 And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing
1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
2 Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”
3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”
4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her,
5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son.
6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.
7 Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.
8 Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.
9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife.
10 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son.
11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” So she named him Gad.
12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.
13 Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.
14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?” “Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”
16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.
17 God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son.
18 Then Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.” So she named him Issachar.
19 Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son.
20 Then Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun.
21 Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.
23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.”
24 She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.”
Rachel, Leah and Jacob flee
1 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.”
2 And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.
3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
4 So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were.
5 He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me.
6 You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength,
7 yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me.
8 If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked ones will be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked young.
9 So God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.
10 “In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted.
11 The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’
12 And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.
13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’”
14 Then Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father’s estate?
15 Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us.
16 Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”
17 Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels,
18 and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
19 When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household gods.
20 Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. 21 So he fled with all he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed for the hill country of Gilead.
Laban unknowingly curses Rachel
22 On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled.
23 Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead.
24 Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”
25 Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too.
26 Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You’ve deceived me, and you’ve carried off my daughters like captives in war.
27 Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn’t you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps?
28 You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing.
29 I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’
30 Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father’s household. But why did you steal my gods?”
31 Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force.
32 But if you find anyone who has your gods, that person shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.
33 So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he found nothing. After he came out of Leah’s tent, he entered Rachel’s tent. 34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing.
35 Rachel said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I’m having my period.” So he searched but could not find the household gods.
Rachel dies in childbirth
16 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty.
17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.”
18 As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni (son of my trouble). But his father named him Benjamin (son of my right hand).
19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).
20 Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.
Rachel – links
Bible Women’s Lives
Choosing a husband, marrying him
Is it ever right to lie to someone for their own good?
Make a list of films that explore this question.
Looking for a meditation on Rachel’s story?
Try WHY, GOD?