When Rachel saw that she wasn't having any children, she became jealous of her sister. "Give me children, or I'll die!" she exclaimed to Jacob.
Jacob flew into a rage. "Am I God?" he asked. "He is the only one able to give you children!"
Then Rachel told him, "Sleep with my servant, Bilhah, and she will bear children for me."
So Rachel gave him Bilhah to be his wife, and Jacob slept with her.
Bilhah became pregnant and presented him with a son.
Rachel named him Dan, a for she said, "God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son."
Then Bilhah became pregnant again and gave Jacob a second son.
Rachel named him Naphtali, b for she said, "I have had an intense struggle with my sister, and I am winning!"
Meanwhile, Leah realized that she wasn't getting pregnant anymore, so she gave her servant, Zilpah, to Jacob to be his wife.
Soon Zilpah presented him with another son.
Leah named him Gad, c for she said, "How fortunate I am!"
Then Zilpah produced a second son,
and Leah named him Asher, d for she said, "What joy is mine! The other women will consider me happy indeed!"
One day during the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakes growing in a field and brought the roots to his mother, Leah. Rachel begged Leah to give some of them to her.
But Leah angrily replied, "Wasn't it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son's mandrake roots, too?"Rachel said, "I will let him sleep with you tonight in exchange for the mandrake roots."
So that evening, as Jacob was coming home from the fields, Leah went out to meet him. "You must sleep with me tonight!" she said. "I have paid for you with some mandrake roots my son has found." So Jacob slept with her.
And God answered her prayers. She became pregnant again and gave birth to her fifth son.
She named him Issachar, e for she said, "God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife."
Then she became pregnant again and had a sixth son.
She named him Zebulun, f for she said, "God has given me good gifts for my husband. Now he will honor me, for I have given him six sons."
Later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
Then God remembered Rachel's plight and answered her prayers by giving her a child.
She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. "God has removed my shame," she said.
And she named him Joseph, g for she said, "May the LORD give me yet another son."
Soon after Joseph was born to Rachel, Jacob said to Laban, "I want to go back home.
Let me take my wives and children, for I have earned them from you, and let me be on my way. You know I have fully paid for them with my service to you."
"Please don't leave me," Laban replied, "for I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because you are here.
How much do I owe you? Whatever it is, I'll pay it."
Jacob replied, "You know how faithfully I've served you through these many years, and how your flocks and herds have grown.
You had little indeed before I came, and your wealth has increased enormously. The LORD has blessed you from everything I do! But now, what about me? When should I provide for my own family?"
"What wages do you want?" Laban asked again.Jacob replied, "Don't give me anything at all. Just do one thing, and I'll go back to work for you.
Let me go out among your flocks today and remove all the sheep and goats that are speckled or spotted, along with all the dark-colored sheep. Give them to me as my wages.
This will make it easy for you to see whether or not I have been honest. If you find in my flock any white sheep or goats that are not speckled, you will know that I have stolen them from you."
"All right," Laban replied. "It will be as you have said."
But that very day Laban went out and removed all the male goats that were speckled and spotted, the females that were speckled and spotted with any white patches, and all the dark-colored sheep. He placed them in the care of his sons,
and they took them three days' distance from where Jacob was. Meanwhile, Jacob stayed and cared for Laban's flock.
Now Jacob took fresh shoots from poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled off strips of the bark to make white streaks on them.
Then he set up these peeled branches beside the watering troughs so Laban's flocks would see them as they came to drink, for that was when they mated.
So when the flocks mated in front of the white-streaked branches, all of their offspring were streaked, speckled, and spotted.
Jacob added them to his own flock, thus separating the lambs from Laban's flock. Then at mating time, he turned the flocks toward the streaked and dark-colored rams in Laban's flock. This is how he built his flock from Laban's.
Whenever the stronger females were ready to mate, Jacob set up the peeled branches in front of them.
But he didn't do this with the weaker ones, so the weaker lambs belonged to Laban, and the stronger ones were Jacob's.
As a result, Jacob's flocks increased rapidly, and he became very wealthy, with many servants, camels, and donkeys.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)