1 Continuing his journey, Jacob reached the Land of the Easterners.
2 And there, out in the open, he saw a well with three flocks of sheep lying beside it; this well was used for watering the flocks. Now the stone on the mouth of the well was a large one,
3 and only when all the flocks had collected there, did they roll the stone off the mouth of the well and water the sheep; then they would replace the stone over the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob said to the shepherds, ‘Friends, where are you from?’ They replied, ‘We are from Haran.’
5 He asked them, ‘Do you know Laban son of Nahor?’ They replied, ‘We do.’
6 Then he asked them, ‘Is he well?’ ‘He is,’ they replied, ‘and here comes his daughter Rachel with the flock.’
7 Then he said, ‘But it is still broad daylight, not the time to round up the animals. Why don’t you water the sheep and take them back to graze?’
8 To which, they replied, ‘We can’t, until all the shepherds have assembled to roll the stone off the mouth of the well; then we can water the sheep.’
9 He was still talking to them, when Rachel arrived with her father’s flock, for she was a shepherdess.
10 As soon as Jacob saw Rachel, his uncle Laban’s daughter, with his uncle Laban’s flock, he went up and, rolling the stone off the mouth of the well, watered his uncle Laban’s sheep.
11 Jacob then kissed Rachel and burst into tears.
12 He told Rachel he was her father’s kinsman and Rebekah’s son, and she ran to tell her father.
13 As soon as he heard her speak of his sister’s son Jacob, Laban ran to greet him, embraced him, kissed him and took him to his house. Jacob told Laban everything that had happened,
14 and Laban said to him, ‘You are indeed my bone and flesh!’ After Jacob had been staying with him for a month,
15 Laban said to Jacob, ‘Just because you are my kinsman, why should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what wages you want.’
16 Now Laban had two daughters, the elder named Leah, and the younger Rachel.
17 Leah had lovely eyes, but Rachel was shapely and beautiful,
18 and Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel. So his answer was, ‘I shall work for you for seven years in exchange for your younger daughter Rachel.’
19 Laban replied, ‘It is better for me to give her to you than to a stranger; stay with me.’
20 So Jacob worked for seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him like a few days because he loved her so much.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, ‘Give me my wife, for my time is up and I should like to go to her.’
22 Laban gathered all the people of the place together, and gave a banquet.
23 But when night came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he slept with her.
24 (Laban gave his slave-girl Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her slave.)
25 When morning came, it was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, ‘What have you done to me? Did I not work for you for Rachel? Why then have you tricked me?’
26 Laban replied, ‘It is not the custom in our place to marry off the younger before the elder.
27 Finish this marriage week and I shall give you the other one too in return for your working for me for another seven years.’
28 Jacob agreed and, when he had finished the week, Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife.
29 (Laban gave his slave-girl Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her slave.)
30 So Jacob slept with Rachel too, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He worked for Laban for another seven years.
31 When Yahweh saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb, while Rachel remained barren.
32 Leah conceived and gave birth to a son whom she named Reuben, meaning ‘Yahweh has seen my misery’; and she said, ‘Now my husband will love me.’
33 Conceiving again, she gave birth to a son and said, ‘Yahweh heard that I was unloved, and so he has given me this one too’; and she named him Simeon.
34 Again she conceived and gave birth to a son, and said, ‘This time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.’ Accordingly, she named him Levi.
35 Again she conceived and gave birth to a son, and said, ‘Now I shall praise Yahweh!’ Accordingly, she named him Judah. Then she had no more children.
1 Rachel, seeing that she herself gave Jacob no children, became jealous of her sister. And she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I shall die!’
2 This made Jacob angry with Rachel, and he retorted, ‘Am I in the position of God, who has denied you motherhood?’
3 So she said, ‘Here is my slave-girl, Bilhah. Sleep with her and let her give birth on my knees; through her, then, I too shall have children!’
4 So she gave him her slave-girl Bilhah as concubine. Jacob slept with her,
5 and Bilhah conceived and gave birth to a son by Jacob.
6 Then Rachel said, ‘God has done me justice; yes, he has heard my prayer and given me a son.’ Accordingly she named him Dan.
7 Again Rachel’s slave-girl Bilhah conceived and gave birth to a second son by Jacob.
8 Then Rachel said, ‘I have fought a fateful battle with my sister, and I have won!’ So she named him Naphtali.
9 Now Leah, seeing that she had ceased to bear children, took her slave-girl Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as concubine.
10 So Leah’s slave-girl Zilpah gave birth to a son by Jacob.
11 Then Leah exclaimed, ‘What good fortune!’ So she named him Gad.
12 Leah’s slave-girl Zilpah gave birth to a second son by Jacob.
13 Then Leah said, ‘What blessedness! Women will call me blessed!’ So she named him Asher.
14 One day, at the time of the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachelsaid to Leah, ‘Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.’
15 Leah replied, ‘Is it not enough to have taken my husband, without your taking my son’s mandrakes as well?’ So Rachel said, ‘Very well, he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.’
16 When Jacob came back from the fields that night, Leah went out to meet him and said, ‘You must come to me, for I have hired you at the price of my son’s mandrakes.’ So he slept with her that night.
17 God heard Leah, and she conceived and gave birth to a fifth son by Jacob.
18 Then Leah said, ‘God has given me my reward for giving my slave-girl to my husband.’ So she named him Issachar.
19 Again Leah conceived and gave birth to a sixth son by Jacob,
20 and said, ‘God has given me a fine gift; now my husband will bring me presents, for I have borne him six sons.’ So she named him Zebulun.
21 Later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.
22 Then God remembered Rachel; he heard her and opened her womb.
23 She conceived and gave birth to a son, and said, ‘God has taken away my disgrace!’
24 She named him Joseph, saying, ‘May Yahweh add another son for me!’
25 When Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, ‘Release me and let me go home to my own country.
26 Give me my wives for whom I have worked for you, and my children, and let me go. You are well aware how long I have worked for you.’
27 Laban replied, ‘If I have done what pleases you . . . I have learnt by divination that Yahweh has blessed me because of you.
28 So name your wages,’ he added, ‘and I will pay.’
29 He replied, ‘You know how hard I have worked for you, and how your stock has fared in my charge.
30 The little you had before I came has increased enormously, and Yahweh has blessed you wherever I have been. When am I to provide for my own household too?’
31 Laban said, ‘How much am I to pay you?’ Jacob replied, ‘You need not pay me anything. I shall change my mind and go on tending your flock, if you do this one thing for me.
32 ‘Go through your entire flock today and remove every black animal among the sheep, and every speckled or spotted one among the goats. These will be my wages,
33 and my uprightness will answer for me later: when you come to check my wages, every goat I have that is not speckled or spotted, and every sheep that is not black will count as stolen by me.’
34 Laban replied, ‘Good, just as you say.’
35 That same day he removed the striped and speckled he-goats and all the spotted and speckled she-goats, every one that had white on it, and all the black sheep, and entrusted these to his sons.
36 Then he put a three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob grazed the rest of Laban’s flock.
37 Jacob then got fresh shoots from poplar, almond and plane trees, and peeled them in white strips, laying bare the white part of the shoots.
38 He set up the shoots he had peeled in front of the animals, in the troughs, in the water-holes where the animals came to drink. Since they mated when they came to drink,
39 the goats thus mated in front of the shoots and so the goats produced striped, spotted and speckled young.
40 The ewes, on the other hand, Jacob kept apart and made these face whatever was striped or black in Laban’s flock. Thus he built up droves of his own which he did not put with Laban’s flocks.
41 Furthermore, whenever the sturdier animals were mating, Jacob put the shoots where the animals could see them, in the troughs, so that they would mate in front of the shoots.
42 But when the animals were feeble, he did not put them there; so Laban got the feeble, and Jacob the sturdy.
43 Thus the man grew extremely rich, and came to own large flocks, men and women slaves, camels and donkeys.
1 Job spoke next. He said:
2 How much longer are you going to torment me and crush me by your speeches?
3 You have insulted me ten times already: have you no shame at maltreating me?
4 Even if I had gone astray, my error would still be my own affair.
5 But, whereas you take this superior attitude and claim that my disgrace is my own fault,
6 I tell you that God has wronged me and enveloped me in his net.
7 If I protest against such violence, I am not heard, if I appeal against it, judgement is never given.
8 He has built an impassable wall across my path and covered my way with darkness.
9 He has deprived me of my glory and taken the crown from my head.
10 He assails me from all directions to make me vanish; he uproots my hope as he might a tree.
11 Inflamed with anger against me, he regards me as his foe.
12 His troops have come in force, directing their line of advance towards me, they are now encamped round my tent.
13 He has alienated my brothers from me, my relatives take care to avoid me,
14 my intimate friends have gone away and the guests in my house have forgotten me.
15 My slave-girls regard me as an intruder, a stranger as far as they are concerned.
16 My servant does not answer when I call him, I am obliged to beg favours from him!
17 My breath is unbearable to my wife, my stench to my own brothers.
18 Even the children look down on me, whenever I stand up, they start jeering at me.
19 All my dearest friends recoil from me in horror: those I loved best have turned against me.
20 My flesh is rotting under my skin, my bones are sticking out like teeth.
21 Pity me, pity me, my friends, since I have been struck by the hand of God.
22 Must you persecute me just as God does, and give my body no peace?
23 Will no one let my words be recorded, inscribed on some monument
24 with iron chisel and engraving tool, cut into the rock for ever?
25 I know that I have a living Defender and that he will rise up last, on the dust of the earth.
26 After my awakening, he will set me close to him, and from my flesh I shall look on God.
27 He whom I shall see will take my part: my eyes will be gazing on no stranger. My heart sinks within me.
28 When you say, ‘How can we confound him? What pretext can we discover against him?’
29 You yourselves had best beware the sword, since the wrath bursts into flame at wicked deeds and then you will learn that there is indeed a judgement!
1 Zophar of Naamath spoke next. He said:
2 My thoughts urge me to reply to this, and hence the impatience that grips me.
3 I have put up with prating that outrages me and now my mind inspires me with an answer.
4 Do you not know, that since time began and human beings were set on the earth,
5 the triumph of the wicked has always been brief, and the sinner’s gladness has never lasted long?
6 Towering to the sky he may have been, his head touching the clouds;
7 but he vanishes, like a phantom, once for all, while those who used to see him, ask, ‘Where is he?’
8 Like a dream that leaves no trace he takes his flight, like a vision in the night he flies away.
9 The eye accustomed to see him sees him no more, his home will never set eyes on him again.
10 His sons will have to reimburse the poor and his children pay back his riches.
11 His bones used to be full of youthful vigour: and there it lies, in the dust with him, now!
12 Evil was sweet to his mouth, he would shelter it under his tongue;
13 cultivating it carefully, he would let it linger on his palate.
14 Such food goes bad in his belly, working inside him like the poison of a viper.
15 Now he has to vomit up the wealth that he has swallowed, God makes him disgorge it.
16 He used to suck vipers’ venom, and the tongue of the adder kills him.
17 No more will he know the streams of oil or the torrents of honey and cream.
18 When he gives back his winnings, his cheerfulness will fade, and the satisfied air he had when business was thriving.
19 Since he once destroyed the huts of the poor, plundering houses instead of building them up,
20 since his avarice could never be satisfied, now all his hoarding will not save him;
21 since nothing could escape his greed, his prosperity will not last.
22 When he has everything he needs, want will seize him, and misery will light on him with all its force.
23 On him God looses all his burning wrath, hurling against his flesh a hail of arrows.
24 If he escapes the weapons of iron, the bow of bronze will transfix him.
25 Out of his back sticks an arrow, from his gall a shining point. The terrors advance on him,
26 all the hidden darknesses are waiting to carry him off. A fire unlit by human hand devours him, and consumes what is left in his tent.
27 The heavens lay bare his iniquity, and the earth rises up against him.
28 The income of his house pours away, like the torrents, on the day of retribution.
29 Such is the fate God reserves for the wicked, the inheritance he assigns to the accursed!
Proverbs 3 [5-8]
5 Trust wholeheartedly in Yahweh, put no faith in your own perception;
6 acknowledge him in every course you take, and he will see that your paths are smooth.
7 Do not congratulate yourself on your own wisdom, fear Yahweh and turn your back on evil:
8 health-giving, this, to your body, relief to your bones.
Thoughts and Reflection
This was a lot to read and understand what exactly was going on. These chapters shows us that God’s own family is broken and flawed. Here we have two sisters where one is more beautiful than the other. Jacob loves Rachel, but Leah is simply being tolerated by him. We may see this type of toleration from both other people we have in our lives and perhaps even God. Leah is able to have children, while Rachel cannot. Leah hopes that Jacob will now love her more than Rachel. This does not happen.
The story of Job continues his path of questioning. Now his friends are questioning him about his honesty and righteousness. Job assures his friends he has been faithful serving God although it may seem that God doesn’t care for Job anymore.
Have you ever felt unloved and tolerated? Have you been questioned about your righteousness from others? These are heavy topics that transcends the ages to today. We all continue to have these feelings and we must believe that through the grace of God we will be loved and trusted.
About This Project
For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!