Jacob's Journey, Marriage and Children
||Jacob set off briskly, and headed toward the land of the people of the East.
||[He came to a place] where he saw a well in a field. Three flocks of sheep were lying beside it, since it was from this well that the flocks were watered. The top of the well was covered with a large stone.
||When all the flocks would come together there, [the shepherds] would roll the stone from the top of the well and water the sheep. Then they would replace the stone on the well.
||[Some shepherds were there.] 'From where do you come, brothers?' asked Jacob.
'We are from Charan.'
||'Do you know Nachor's grandson, Laban?'
'We know him.'
||'Is he doing well?'
Well enough! Here's his daughter Rachel, coming with the sheep.'
||'But it's still the middle of the day. It's not yet time to bring the livestock together. Why not water the sheep and go on grazing?'
||'We can't until all the flocks have come together. [All of us] then roll the stone from the top of the well. Only then can we water the sheep.'
||While he was still conversing with them, Rachel appeared with her father's sheep. She was the shepherdess.
||Jacob looked at his cousin Rachel who was with his uncle Laban's sheep. He stepped forward, and rolled the stone from the top of the well, watering his uncle Laban's sheep.
||Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud.
||He told her that he was Rebecca's son, and thus related to her father. She ran to tell her father.
||When Laban heard the news that Jacob had arrived, he ran to greet him. He embraced and kissed him, and brought him home. [Jacob] told Laban all that had happened.
||'Yes indeed, you are my own flesh and blood,' said Laban.
Jacob remained with him for a month.
||Laban then said to Jacob, 'Just because you are my close relative, does it mean that you must work for me for nothing? Tell me what you want to be paid.'
||Laban had two daughters. The older one's name was Leah, and the younger one's name was Rachel.
||Leah had lovely eyes, while Rachel was shapely and beautiful.
||Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel. 'I will work for you seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter,' he said.
||'Better I should give her to you than to another man,' replied Laban. 'You can stay with me.'
||Jacob worked for seven years for Rachel. But he loved her so much, it seemed like no more than a few days.
||Finally Jacob said to Laban, 'The time is up. Give me my bride and let me marry her.'
||[Laban] invited all the local people and made a wedding feast.
||In the evening, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to [Jacob] who consummated the marriage with her.
||Laban had also given his servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her handmaid.
||In the morning, [Jacob discovered that] it was Leah. He said to Laban, 'How could you do this to me? Didn't I work with you for Rachel? Why did you cheat me?'
||'In our country it is something that is simply not done!' replied Laban. '[We never] give a younger daughter in marriage before the first-born.
||But wait until this week [of wedding celebrations] for [Leah] is over. Then we will give you the other girl - in return for the work that you will do for me for another seven years.'
||Jacob complied and completed the week of celebration for [Leah]. [Laban] then gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.
||To his daughter Rachel, Laban gave his servant Bilhah as a handmaid.
||[Jacob] thus also married Rachel, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He worked for [Laban] another seven years.
||God saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb. Rachel remained barren.
||Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben. 'God has seen my troubles,' she said. 'Now my husband will love me.'
||She became pregnant again and had a son. 'God has heard (shama) that I was unloved,' she said, 'and He also gave me this son.' She named the child Simeon (Shim'on).
||She became pregnant again and had a son. 'Now my husband will become attached (lavah) to me,' she said, 'because I have given him three sons.' [Jacob] therefore named the child Levi.
||She became pregnant again and had a son. She said, 'This time let me praise (odeh) God,' and named the child Judah (Yehudah). She then stopped having children.
|flesh and blood|
Literally, 'bone and flesh;' see Genesis 2:23.
(Targum; Tur). Others have 'weak eyes,' or 'sensitive eyes.'
A servant rather than a slave (Lekach Tov; Josephus, Antiquities 1:19:8).
|week [of wedding celebrations]|
(Rashi; Yov'loth 28:28). See Judges 14:12,17. From here is derived the custom of making seven days of feasts for a bride and groom (sheva berakhoth) even today (Pirkey Rabbi Eliezer 16).
|his daughter Rachel...|
After the Torah was given, it was forbidden to marry two sisters (Leviticus 18:18).
Some say that she was Zilpah's sister (Yov'loth 28:9; Tzavaath Naphtali 1:11). Others say that both Bilhah and Zilpah were also Laban's daughters (Targum Yonathan on 29:24,29; Pirkey Rabbi Eliezer 36).
Reuven in Hebrew. The name can be broken into reu ben, 'see a son,' or 'a son of seeing.' It may also be short for ra'ah be-onyi - '[God] saw my troubles.'
Or 'indebted' (Hirsch).