Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men,5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "6
And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says.7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off ?8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:
10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector.12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.17I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.
Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, "It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now."
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." So she named him Simeon.
Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." So he was named Levi.
She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the LORD." So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
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!"
Jacob became angry with her and said, "Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?"
Then she said, "Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family."
So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her,
and she became pregnant and bore him a son.
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.
Rachel's servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son.
Then Rachel said, "I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won." So she named him Naphtali.
When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her maidservant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife.
Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son.
Then Leah said, "What good fortune!" So she named him Gad.
Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.
Then Leah said, "How happy I am! The women will call me happy." So she named him Asher.
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."
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."
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.
God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son.
Then Leah said, "God has rewarded me for giving my maidservant to my husband." So she named him Issachar.
Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son.
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.
Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb.
She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, "God has taken away my disgrace."
She named him Joseph, and said, "May the LORD add to me another son."
After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, "Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland.
Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I've done for you."
But Laban said to him, "If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you."
He added, "Name your wages, and I will pay them."
Jacob said to him, "You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care.
The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?"
"What shall I give you?" he asked. "Don't give me anything," Jacob replied. "But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them:
Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages.
And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen."
"Agreed," said Laban. "Let it be as you have said."
That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons.
Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban's flocks.
Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches.
Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink,
they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.
Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban's animals.
Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches,
but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob.
In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.