30 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she envied her sister. “Give me sons, or I will die!” she said to Jacob.2 Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, “Am I in God’s place, who has withheld offspring[a] from you?”3 Then she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah. Go sleep with her, and she’ll bear children for me[b] so that through her I too can build a family.” 4 So Rachel gave her slave Bilhah to Jacob as a wife, and he slept with her. 5 Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; yes, he has heard me and given me a son,” so she named him Dan.[c]7 Rachel’s slave Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Rachel said, “In my wrestlings with God,[d] I have wrestled with my sister and won,” and she named him Naphtali.[e]9 When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her slave Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah’s slave Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!” [f] and she named him Gad.[g]12 When Leah’s slave Zilpah bore Jacob a second son, 13 Leah said, “I am happy that the women call me happy,” so she named him Asher.[h]14 Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field. When he brought them to his mother Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”15 But Leah replied to her, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband? Now you also want to take my son’s mandrakes?”“Well then,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”16 When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So Jacob slept with her that night.17 God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, “God has rewarded me for giving my slave to my husband,” and she named him Issachar.[i]19 Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 “God has given me a good gift,” Leah said. “This time my husband will honor me because I have borne six sons for him,” and she named him Zebulun.[j] 21 Later, Leah bore a daughter and named her Dinah.22 Then God remembered Rachel. He listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son, and she said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” 24 She named him Joseph[k] and said, “May the Lord add another son to me.”
Jacob’s Flocks Multiply
25 After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so that I can return to my homeland. 26 Give me my wives and my children that I have worked for, and let me go. You know how hard I have worked for you.”27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor with you, stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.” 28 Then Laban said, “Name your wages, and I will pay them.”29 So Jacob said to him, “You know how I have served you and how your herds have fared with me. 30 For you had very little before I came, but now your wealth has increased. The Lord has blessed you because of me. And now, when will I also do something for my own family?”31 Laban asked, “What should I give you?”And Jacob said, “You don’t need to give me anything. If you do this one thing for me, I will continue to shepherd and keep your flock. 32 Let me go through all your sheep today and remove every sheep that is speckled or spotted, every dark-colored sheep among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the female goats. Such will be my wages. 33 In the future when you come to check on my wages, my honesty will testify for me. If I have any female goats that are not speckled or spotted, or any lambs that are not black, they will be considered stolen.”34 “Good,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.”35 That day Laban removed the streaked and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats—every one that had any white on it—and every dark-colored one among the lambs, and he placed his sons in charge of them. 36 He put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob. Jacob, meanwhile, was shepherding the rest of Laban’s flock.37 Jacob then took branches of fresh poplar, almond, and plane wood, and peeled the bark, exposing white stripes on the branches. 38 He set the peeled branches in the troughs in front of the sheep—in the water channels where the sheep came to drink. And the sheep bred when they came to drink. 39 The flocks bred in front of the branches and bore streaked, speckled, and spotted young. 40 Jacob separated the lambs and made the flocks face the streaked sheep and the completely dark sheep in Laban’s flocks. Then he set his own stock apart and didn’t put them with Laban’s sheep.41 Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob placed the branches in the troughs, in full view of the flocks, and they would breed in front of the branches. 42 As for the weaklings of the flocks, he did not put out the branches. So it turned out that the weak sheep belonged to Laban and the stronger ones to Jacob. 43 And the man became very rich.[l] He had many flocks, female and male slaves, and camels and donkeys.
Jacob Separates from Laban
31 Now Jacob heard what Laban’s sons were saying: “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s and has built this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2 And Jacob saw from Laban’s face that his attitude toward him was not the same as before.3 The Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.”4 Jacob had Rachel and Leah called to the field where his flocks were. 5 He said to them, “I can see from your father’s face that his attitude toward me is not the same as before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that with all my strength I have served your father 7 and that he has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God has not let him harm me. 8 If he said, ‘The spotted sheep will be your wages,’ then all the sheep were born spotted. If he said, ‘The streaked sheep will be your wages,’ then all the sheep were born streaked. 9 God has taken away your father’s herds and given them to me.10 “When the flocks were breeding, I saw in a dream that the streaked, spotted, and speckled males were mating with the females. 11 In that dream the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12 And he said, ‘Look up and see: all the males that are mating with the flocks are streaked, spotted, and speckled, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you poured oil on the stone marker and made a solemn vow to me. Get up, leave this land, and return to your native land.’”14 Then Rachel and Leah answered him, “Do we have any portion or inheritance in our father’s family? 15 Are we not regarded by him as outsiders? For he has sold us and has certainly spent our purchase price. 16 In fact, all the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. So do whatever God has said to you.”17 So Jacob got up and put his children and wives on the camels. 18 He took all the livestock and possessions he had acquired in Paddan-aram, and he drove his herds to go to the land of Canaan, to his father Isaac. 19 When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household idols. 20 And Jacob deceived[m] Laban the Aramean, not telling him that he was fleeing. 21 He fled with all his possessions, crossed the Euphrates, and headed for[n] the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Overtakes Jacob
22 On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23 So he took his relatives with him, pursued Jacob for seven days, and overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24 But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night. “Watch yourself!” God warned him. “Don’t say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”25 When Laban overtook Jacob, Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban and his relatives also pitched their tents in the hill country of Gilead. 26 Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me and taken my daughters away like prisoners of war! 27 Why did you secretly flee from me, deceive me, and not tell me? I would have sent you away with joy and singing, with tambourines and lyres, 28 but you didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters. You have acted foolishly. 29 I could do you great harm, but last night the God of your father said to me: ‘Watch yourself! Don’t say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30 Now you have gone off because you long for your father’s family—but why have you stolen my gods?”31 Jacob answered, “I was afraid, for I thought you would take your daughters from me by force. 32 If you find your gods with anyone here, he will not live! Before our relatives, point out anything that is yours and take it.” Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the idols.33 So Laban went into Jacob’s tent, Leah’s tent, and the tents of the two concubines,[o] but he found nothing. When he left Leah’s tent, he went into Rachel’s tent. 34 Now Rachel had taken Laban’s household idols, put them in the saddlebag of the camel, and sat on them. Laban searched the whole tent but found nothing.35 She said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I am having my period.” So Laban searched, but could not find the household idols.
Jacob’s Covenant with Laban
36 Then Jacob became incensed and brought charges against Laban. “What is my crime?” he said to Laban. “What is my sin, that you have pursued me? 37 You’ve searched all my possessions! Have you found anything of yours?[p] Put it here before my relatives and yours, and let them decide between the two of us. 38 I’ve been with you these twenty years. Your ewes and female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams from your flock. 39 I did not bring you any of the flock torn by wild beasts; I myself bore the loss. You demanded payment from me for what was stolen by day or by night. 40 There I was—the heat consumed me by day and the frost by night, and sleep fled from my eyes. 41 For twenty years in your household I served you—fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks—and you have changed my wages ten times! 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, certainly now you would have sent me off empty-handed. But God has seen my affliction and my hard work,[q] and he issued his verdict last night.”43 Then Laban answered Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters; the sons, my sons; and the flocks, my flocks! Everything you see is mine! But what can I do today for these daughters of mine or for the children they have borne? 44 Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I. Let it be a witness between the two of us.”45 So Jacob picked out a stone and set it up as a marker. 46 Then Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a mound, then ate there by the mound. 47 Laban named the mound Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob named it Galeed.[r]48 Then Laban said, “This mound is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore the place was called Galeed 49 and also Mizpah,[s] for he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are out of each other’s sight. 50 If you mistreat my daughters or take other wives, though no one is with us, understand that God will be a witness between you and me.” 51 Laban also said to Jacob, “Look at this mound and the marker I have set up between you and me. 52 This mound is a witness and the marker is a witness that I will not pass beyond this mound to you, and you will not pass beyond this mound and this marker to do me harm. 53 The God of Abraham, and the gods of Nahor—the gods of their father[t]—will judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac. 54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat a meal. So they ate a meal and spent the night on the mountain. 55 Laban got up early in the morning, kissed his grandchildren and daughters, and blessed them. Then Laban left to return home.
Laban shows himself to be very selfish in chapter 30. Jacob then devised a plan and God blessed his plan for breeding speckled and spotted sheep. Laban and his sons accused Jacob of acting unfairly and the word comes from God to Jacob to go back to his hometown area.The bottom line of the reading today is we have no idea what God has in store for us, but we can be assured God wants to bless and take care of His people.
People will act unfairly and selfishly toward you. Let it not be said of God followers that we would act in this way. Do what is right and God will always take care of you.