The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Genesis
Rachel, meanwhile, when she found she remained barren, looked with envy on her sister; Thou must needs give me children, said she to her husband, or it will be my death.
What, answered Jacob, angry at her mood, Must I stand in the place of God to thee? It is he that has denied thee motherhood.
Here is Bala, she said, my maid-servant; get her with child instead, and it shall be born on my knees; thus, through her means, I shall have a family of my own.✻
So she gave him Bala as his mate;
and Bala, got with child by Rachel’s husband, bore a son.
Whereupon Rachel said, God has pronounced judgement for me, and listened to my plea, by giving me a son; and she called the boy Dan, as if she would say, He has pronounced judgement.
Afterwards Bala conceived again and bore a second son;
of him Rachel said, God has matched me like a wrestler against my sister, and I have won the bout, so she called him Nephthali, Wrestling.
Lia, too, finding that she was not having any more children, gave her maid-servant Zelpha to her husband for his mate;
and when Zelpha conceived and bore a son,
Lia said, Good fortune has come to me, and called the boy Gad, Fortune.
Zelpha, too, bore Jacob a second son,
and Lia said, Here is a blessing for me; women must needs call me blessed now; so she gave him the name of Aser, Blessedness.
Once, at the time of the wheat harvest, Ruben went out and found some mandrakes, which he brought back to his mother Lia;✻ and Rachel said to Lia, Give me some of the fruit thy son has found.
What, answered she, art thou not content with stealing my husband from me? Must thou have my son’s mandrake fruit as well? And Rachel said, Jacob shall sleep with thee to-night, if I may have some of thy son’s mandrake-fruit.
So, when Jacob came back from work at evening, Lia went out to meet him; Thou art to share my bed to-night, she told him; I have paid thy hire with the mandrake fruit which my son found. So he slept with her that night;
and now God listened to her prayers, so that she conceived again and bore a fifth son.
Whereupon she said, God has paid me too my hire, for the maid-servant I lent to my husband, and she called the boy Issachar, Reward.
And again Lia conceived, and bore a sixth son;
This is a fair dowry, she said, God has endowed me with; once more my husband will dwell with me, now that I have borne him six sons; and she called the boy Zabulon, Dwelling.
She had one more child after this, a daughter called Dina.
Meanwhile, the Lord had not forgotten Rachel; her prayer was answered, and she, too, had issue.
When she conceived and bore a son, her thought was, God has taken away my disgrace.
And she called him Joseph, Increase; If only, she thought, God would increase my household with another son.
After Joseph’s birth, Jacob said to his father-in-law, Give me leave to go back home, to my own country.
And when I go, let me take with me the wives and the children I have earned in thy service; how hard I have worked for thee, none knows better than thou.
Let me ask a favour of thee, said Laban. Proof needs none that it is for thy sake God has made me prosper so.
Work for me still, and name thy own hire.
None knows better than thou, answered Jacob, how hard I have worked for thee, and how these herds of thine have increased under my care.
It was little enough thou hadst before I came to thy house, and now thou hast become rich; the Lord has blessed thee from the day when I came hither. Now it is time that I should think of my own household too.
What shall I give thee? Laban asked. Give me nothing, said he; but I will consent to feed and tend thy herds still on this condition.
Go round all thy flocks, now, and remove from them every sheep that is speckled, or has a blotched fleece. And the hire thou art to pay me shall be all the lambs that are born, even so, grey or spotted or speckled; and so with the kids.
So, later, when our agreement is fulfilled, my honesty shall be on its trial; if I keep for myself any beast except those which are speckled or spotted or grey, whether it be lamb or kid, call me a thief.
Thy request, said Laban, is granted;
and, that same day, he set aside she-goats and ewes, he-goats and rams, that were speckled and spotted; all those, too, that were of one colour, white (among the goats) or black (among the sheep);✻ and these he gave in charge of his own sons.
And he put a distance of three days’ journey between himself and his son-in-law.
Jacob, then, left in charge of the rest of the flocks, did this. He took green branches of poplar, and almond, and plane, and partly peeled them; so that (now the bark had gone) the white shewed through where they had been stripped, whereas the parts he had left untouched remained green; everywhere the colour was varied.
These branches he fitted into the troughs where his flocks were watered, so that when they came to drink, they should have these speckled branches before their eyes, and the dams would conceive in full view of them.
Looking at the branches at the very heat of their coupling, the dams bore spotted and speckled and piebald young.
There, then, were the two flocks divided, and there were Jacob’s branches set up before the very eyes of the rams. All the white (sheep) and all the black (goats) were to be Laban’s, the rest Jacob’s, when the flocks were sorted afresh.
And this was his plan; at the earlier breeding-season he fitted the branches into the troughs, before the eyes of ram and ewe, so that the dams might be looking at them when they conceived;
but when the later breeding happened, and the time for conceiving was at an end, he put the branches there no longer. So all the late-bred (weaklings) belonged to Laban, and all the (strong) early-bred belonged to Jacob.✻
Thus he became rich beyond measure; many were the herds, the men-servants and maid-servants, the camels and asses that were his.✻
The Holy Bible