New International Reader’s Version
Then Jacob continued on his journey. He came to the land where the eastern tribes lived. There he saw a well in the open country. Three flocks of sheep were lying near it. The flocks were given water from the well. The stone over the opening of the well was large. All the flocks would gather there. The shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s opening. They would give water to the sheep. Then they would put the stone back in its place over the opening of the well.
Jacob asked the shepherds, “My friends, where are you from?”
“We’re from Harran,” they replied.
He said to them, “Do you know Nahor’s grandson Laban?”
“Yes, we know him,” they answered.
Then Jacob asked them, “How is he?”
“He’s fine,” they said. “Here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.”
“Look,” he said, “the sun is still high in the sky. It’s not time for the flocks to be brought together. Give water to the sheep and take them back to the grasslands.”
“We can’t,” they replied. “We have to wait until all the flocks are brought together. The stone has to be rolled away from the opening of the well. Then we’ll give water to the sheep.”
He was still talking with them when Rachel came with her father’s sheep. It was her job to take care of the flock. Rachel was the daughter of Laban, Jacob’s uncle. When Jacob saw Rachel with Laban’s sheep, he went over to the well. He rolled the stone away from the opening. He gave water to his uncle’s sheep. Jacob kissed Rachel. Then he began to cry because he was so happy. He had told Rachel he was a relative of her father. He had also said he was Rebekah’s son. Rachel ran and told her father what Jacob had said.
As soon as Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he hurried to meet him. Laban hugged Jacob and kissed him. Then Laban brought him to his home. There Jacob told him everything. Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.”
Jacob stayed with Laban for a whole month. Then Laban said to him, “You are one of my relatives. But is that any reason for you to work for me for nothing? Tell me what your pay should be.”
Laban had two daughters. The name of the older one was Leah. And the name of the younger one was Rachel. Leah was plain, but Rachel was beautiful. She had a nice figure. Jacob was in love with Rachel. He said to Laban, “I’ll work for you for seven years so I can marry your younger daughter Rachel.”
Laban said, “It’s better for me to give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” So Jacob worked for seven years so he could marry Rachel. But they seemed like only a few days to him because he loved her so much.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. I’ve completed my time. I want to sleep with her.”
So Laban brought all the people of the place together and had a feast prepared. But when evening came, he gave his daughter Leah to Jacob. And Jacob slept with her. Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter as her servant.
When Jacob woke up the next morning, there was Leah next to him! So he said to Laban, “What have you done to me? I worked for you so I could marry Rachel, didn’t I? Why did you trick me?”
Laban replied, “It isn’t our practice here to give the younger daughter to be married before the older one. Complete this daughter’s wedding week. Then we’ll give you the younger one also. But you will have to work for another seven years.”
So Jacob completed the week with Leah. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her servant. Jacob slept with Rachel also. He loved Rachel more than he loved Leah. And he worked for Laban for another seven years.
The Lord saw that Jacob didn’t love Leah as much as he loved Rachel. So he let Leah have children. But Rachel wasn’t able to have children. Leah became pregnant. She had a son. She named him Reuben. She said, “The Lord has seen me suffer. Surely my husband will love me now.”
She became pregnant again. She had a son. Then she said, “The Lord heard that Jacob doesn’t love me very much. That’s why the Lord gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon.
She became pregnant again. She had a son. Then she said, “Now at last my husband will value me. I have had three sons by him.” So the boy was named Levi.
She became pregnant again. She had a son. Then she said, “This time I’ll praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.