And [Jacob] Left
Genesis 28:10−32:3
Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary (CCAR Press)


28:10] And Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11] Coming upon a [certain] place, he passed the night there, for the sun was setting; taking one of the stones of the place, he made it his head-rest as he lay down in that place. 12] He dreamed, and lo—a ladder was set on the ground, with its top reaching to heaven, and lo—angels of God going up and coming down on it. 13] And lo—the Eternal stood up above it, and said, “I, the Eternal, am the God of your father Abraham and God of Isaac: the land on which you are lying I will give to you and to your descendants. 14] And your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west and the east and the north and the south. Through you and your descendants all the families of the earth shall find blessing. 15] And here I am, with you: I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this soil. I will not let go of you as long as I have yet to do what I have promised you.”

16] Waking from his sleep, Jacob said, “Truly, the Eternal is in this place, and I did not know it!” 17] He was awestruck, and said, “How awe-inspiring is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

18] Rising early that morning, Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a monument. He then poured oil on its top. 19] He named that place Beth El. (But originally the town’s name was Luz.) 20] Jacob then made this vow: “If God is with me and watches over me on this path that I am taking and gives me bread to eat and clothes to wear, 21] and if I return safely to my father’s house, then will the Eternal be my God; 22] and this stone that I have set up as a monument shall be a house of God. And [of] all that You give me, I will dedicate a tenth to You.”

29:1] Jacob then moved on and headed for the land of the people of Kedem. 2] He looked and lo—a well in the field, with three flocks of sheep lying at rest by it, because this was the well from which they watered the flocks; a good-sized rock lay on the mouth of the well. 3] When all the flocks were gathered there, they [the shepherds] would roll the stone off the well’s mouth and water the flocks. Then they would put the stone back in place over the well’s mouth.

4] Jacob said to them, “My friends, where are you from?” “We are from Haran,” they said. 5] He said to them, “Do you know Laban son of Nahor?” And they said, “We do know [him].” 6] “Is he well?” said he to them. “He is well,” said they, “and there is his daughter Rachel, coming with the flock.” 7] He said, “Since the day is still young, [and] not yet the time for rounding up the livestock, why don’t you water the flock and then take them out to pasture?” 8] But they said, “We can’t do that until all the flocks are rounded up and they [the shepherds] roll the stone off the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep.”

9] While he was still talking with them, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep—she was a shepherd. 10] When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, with his uncle Laban’s flock, Jacob went over, rolled the stone off the well’s mouth, and watered his uncle Laban’s flock. 11] Now Jacob kissed Rachel, and began to cry in a loud voice. 12] Jacob then told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.

13] Upon hearing the news of his sister’s son Jacob, Laban ran to greet him; hugging and kissing him, he brought him into his house. Then [Jacob] told Laban everything that had happened, 14] and Laban said to him, “Truly, you are my bone and my flesh!” So he stayed with him a whole month.

15] Laban then said to Jacob, “Just because you are my kin, should you serve me for nothing? Tell me what you want to be paid.” 16] Now Laban had two daughters; the elder was named Leah, and the younger was named Rachel. 17] Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and of face. 18] Jacob was in love with Rachel, so he said, “I will work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”

19] Laban answered, “I would rather give her to you than to any other man; stay [here] with me.” 20] So Jacob labored seven years for Rachel; yet in his love for her they seemed to him but a few days. 21] Jacob then said to Laban, “Let me have my wife; I have filled my term; now I want to make love to her.”

22] So Laban invited all the people of the place and made a feast. 23] In the evening, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to [Jacob], who made love to her. 24] (And Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) 25] In the morning, look—it was Leah! and [Jacob] said to Laban, “What have you done to me? Wasn’t it for Rachel that I [agreed to] serve you? Why did you deceive me?”

26] And Laban replied, “This is not done in our region, to give the younger before the first-born. 27] Fulfill this [additional] seven-year term, and that one, too, will be given you in exchange for the additional seven years of work that you will do for me.” 28] Jacob did so; he fulfilled this [additional] term of seven years; whereupon [Laban] gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.

29] Laban then gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her maid. 30] [Jacob] made love with Rachel, too; he loved Rachel—for whom he had served [Laban] yet another seven years—so much more than Leah.

31] Now, seeing that Leah was disfavored, the Eternal opened her womb, while Rachel was childless. 32] Leah thus became pregnant and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, “The Eternal saw my plight; yes, now my husband will love me.” 33] Again she became pregnant and bore a son and said, “The Eternal heard that I am despised and has given me this one too”; so she named him Simeon. 34] Again she became pregnant and bore a son and said, “Now, this time, my husband will be attached to me, for I have borne to him three sons.” She therefore named him Levi. 35] Again she became pregnant and bore a son and said, “This time I give thanks to the Eternal.” She therefore named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.

30:1] When Rachel saw that she was not bearing [children] to Jacob, Rachel came to envy her sister. She said to Jacob, “Let me have children; otherwise I am a dead woman!” 2] Jacob grew angry with Rachel and said, “Am I in place of God who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3] But she said, “Here is my maid Bilhah; couple with her and let her give birth on my knees, so that I too may have a son, through her.” 4] So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob coupled with her. 5] Bilhah became pregnant and bore a son to Jacob. 6] Rachel said, “God has judged me and has also listened to my plea and given me a son.” She therefore named him Dan. 7] Again Rachel’s maid Bilhah became pregnant; she bore a second son to Jacob. 8] Rachel then said, “A mighty rivalry have I waged with my sister; moreover, I have prevailed.” She therefore named him Naphtali.

9] When Leah saw that she was no longer bearing children, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10] And Zilpah, Leah’s maid, bore a son to Jacob. 11] Leah said, “Fortune has come!” She therefore named him Gad. 12] And Zilpah, Leah’s maid, bore a second son to Jacob. 13] Leah then said, “How happy I am—yes, women will call me happy!” She therefore named him Asher.

14] In the time of the wheat harvest, Reuben went out and found mandrakes in the field. When he brought them to his mother Leah, Rachel said to Leah, “Pray give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15] She replied, “Isn’t it enough that you took my husband, and now you want to take my son’s mandrakes!” And Rachel said, “Very well, let him sleep with you tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.” 16] When Jacob came in from the field [that] evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “I am the one you will bed [tonight], for I have bought you with my son’s mandrakes.” That night he slept with her, 17] and God now listened to Leah; she became pregnant and bore a fifth son to Jacob. 18] Leah said, “God has given me my reward for giving my maid to my husband.” She therefore named him Issachar. 19] Again Leah became pregnant; she bore a sixth son to Jacob. 20] Leah then said, “God has given me a fine gift. Now my husband will [finally] give me the [wedding] gift due me, for I have borne him six sons.” She therefore named him Zebulun. 21] Afterward she bore a daughter and named her Dinah.

22] God now remembered Rachel; God listened to her and opened her womb, 23] so she became pregnant and bore a son. She said, “God has removed my disgrace.” 24] She therefore named him Joseph, saying, “May the Eternal add on another son for me.”

25] Now, after Rachel bore Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Release me; let me go to my [own] place, my [own] land. 26] Let me have my wives and children for whom I toiled under you, and let me go, for you know the service I have rendered you.” 27] Laban then said to him, “Please [hear this]: I have prospered and the Eternal has blessed me on your account.” 28] He added, “Indicate your wages to me, and I will pay them.”

29] [Jacob] said to him, “You know [the result] of my labors for you and how your livestock fared with me: 30] What little you had before I came along has increased greatly; the Eternal has blessed you at my every step; but now, when shall I provide for myself, for my own household?” 31] [Laban] said, “What should I pay you?”

Jacob replied: “Do not pay me a thing; if you do this for me, I shall return to shepherding, to keeping your flock. 32] Let me pass by all your flock today, removing from it every spotted and speckled kid and every dark lamb among the rams and every speckled and spotted goat; that will be my payment. 33] My honesty shall answer for me on the morrow. When you give me my wages, in your presence [I affirm] that any animal that is not either spotted among the goats or speckled or dark among the young rams is stolen if found in my possession.” 34] “Agreed,” said Laban, “let it but be as you have said.”

35] But that day he [Laban] removed the streaked and speckled he-goats, and all the spotted and speckled she-goats, every one that had white on it and every one of the young rams that was dark, and handed them over to his sons; 36] he then set a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob tended what remained of Laban’s flock.

37] Jacob now took fresh rods of poplar, almond, and plane, and peeled off white strips of bark, stripping the white on the surface of the rods. 38] He set the rods he had just peeled by the water troughs, by the trenches filled with water where the flock was wont to drink, opposite the sheep; and they went into heat as they approached to drink. 39] When the flocks conceived in front of the rods, [they] brought forth young that were striped, speckled, and spotted. 40] And the young rams Jacob kept for himself, turning the faces of the flocks toward all those sheep of Laban’s that were streaked or dark; he set apart herds for himself and did not join them to Laban’s flocks. 41] So when the hardy among the flocks went into heat, Jacob placed the rods in the direct view of the sheep at the water troughs, to bring them into heat by virtue of the rods. 42] But he did not put them among the sickly of the flocks, so that the sickly ones became Laban’s and the hardy, Jacob’s. 43] Thus the man prospered more and more; he had abundant flocks, female slaves and male slaves, camels and donkeys.

31:1] [Jacob] now heard the words of Laban’s sons. They were saying, “Jacob has taken all that belongs to our father; it is from our father’s possessions that he has gained all this wealth!” 2] And Jacob saw Laban’s countenance—plainly, it was no longer [favorable] to him as before. 3] So the Eternal One said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your ancestors, to your birthplace, and I will be with you.”

4] Jacob therefore summoned Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flocks, 5] and said to them, “When I look at your father’s countenance, it no longer is [favorable] to me as in days gone by; but the God of my father has been with me. 6] Now, you are aware that I have labored with all my strength for your father; 7] but your father has deceived me, changing my pay ten times—though God has not let him harm me: 8] so that if he said, ‘The spotted shall be your pay,’ the flocks bore spotted; and if he said, ‘The streaked shall be your pay,’ the flocks bore streaked. 9] God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me. 10] One time, when the flocks were in heat, in a dream I looked up and saw that the male goats mounting the flock were streaked, spotted, and dappled. 11] In that dream an angel of God said to me: ‘Jacob!’ ‘Here I am!’ said I. 12] [The angel] said, ‘Pray look up; see how the male goats mounting the flocks are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban has done to you. 13] I am the God of Beth El, where you anointed a monument, where you made Me a vow; now get up, leave this land and return to your native land.’”

14] Rachel and Leah made this response to him, “Have we any longer a portion or inheritance in our father’s house? 15] Are we not like foreigners to him? He sold us and has completely eaten up our money! 16] Since all the wealth that God has taken away from our father is ours and our children’s, so now do just what God has commanded you!”

17] Jacob then got up and mounted his sons and his wives on camels. 18] He drove all his livestock and all his possessions that he had acquired—the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram—to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. (19] While Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel had stolen her father’s household gods, 20] and Jacob had deceived Laban the Aramean, by not informing him that he was fleeing.) 21] [Jacob] fled with all that was his, going up and crossing the river and setting his face toward the hill country of Gilead.

22] [Not until] the third day was Laban told that Jacob had fled. 23] He then took his kin with him and pursued [Jacob], a seven-day trek, and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24] God then came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night, saying to him, “Beware lest you speak to Jacob, beginning well but ending ill.”

25] When Laban caught up to Jacob, Jacob had pitched his tent by the mountain. Laban then drove in his tent-pegs among his kinsmen near Mount Gilead. 26] Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done, deceiving me and driving my daughters off like prisoners of war? 27] Why did you flee by stealth and deceive me by not informing me? I would have sent you off with festive songs, with hand-drum and lyre! 28] Nor did you give me a chance to kiss my sons and daughters—how foolishly you acted! 29] It is well within my power to do you an injury, but the God of your fathers said to me last night: Beware lest you speak to Jacob, beginning well but ending ill. 30] Now, then—you have gone away because you yearn so desperately for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?”

31] Jacob responded by saying to Laban, “Because I was afraid—because I said [to myself]—suppose you steal your daughters from me. 32] But the one with whom you find your gods shall not live; see for yourself—in front of our kin—what I have with me and take it back!” Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

33] Laban then entered Jacob’s tent and Leah’s tent and the tent of the two maids and found nothing. He then left Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34] Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel’s saddlebag and was sitting on them as Laban rummaged through everything in the tent and found nothing. 35] She now said to her father, “May my lord not take offense that I cannot get up in your presence, for the way of women is upon me.” He searched but did not find the household gods.

36] Jacob then grew angry and berated Laban; Jacob spoke up by saying to Laban, “What is my transgression? What is my sin, that you pursued me so hotly, 37] that you felt all my goods? What did you find of all your household goods? Put it here before my kin and yours, and let them decide between us! 38] These twenty years that I have been with you your ewes and your she-goats never miscarried, and I never ate the rams of your flocks; 39] I never brought you an animal torn up by wild beasts; I made good the loss from my own possessions, when you demanded it [for] a sheep stolen by day or by night. 40] For me it was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night—and sleep fled from my eyes. 41] Thus it was for me: twenty years I served you in your house—fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flocks; and you changed my pay ten times! 42] Had not the God of my father—the God of Abraham, the Fear of Isaac—been for me, you would right now be driving me away empty-handed; but God saw my affliction and hard labor and warned [you] last night!”

43] Laban then responded by saying to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters and the sons are my sons and the flocks are my flocks; everything that you see is really mine! But as for my daughters, what can I now do about them or the sons that they have borne? 44] So now, come, let us make a pact, you and I, and let it be a witness between us!”

45] Jacob then took a stone and raised it up as a monument. 46] And Jacob said to his kin, “Gather stones”; so they took stones and made a mound; they then ate there by the mound. 47] Laban called it Yegar-sahadutha, while Jacob called it Galeid.

48] Laban said, “This mound is a witness between us today”; therefore he [Jacob] had named it Galeid, 49] and [this is] the Mitzpah about which he [Laban] said, “May the Eternal keep watch between you and me, when we are hidden one from the other! 50] Should you mistreat my daughters or take wives in addition to my daughters, [though] no one else is with us, consider! God is witness between you and me.” 51] And Laban said [additionally] to Jacob, “Behold this mound and behold this monument that I have raised between us. 52] This mound is a witness, this monument is a witness, that I shall never pass this mound toward you [intending harm], and that you shall never pass this mound and this monument toward me, intending harm. 53] Let [both] the god of Abraham and the god of Nahor—the god of each one’s father—judge between us!” And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac. 54] Jacob then offered a sacrifice by the mountain, inviting his kin to eat bread. They ate bread and stayed the night by the mountain.

32:1] In the morning Laban got up early, kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them; then he went home. So Laban returned to his place. 2] Now Jacob went on his way and angels of God met him. 3] And when he saw them, Jacob said, “This is the camp of God!” So he named that place Mahanaim.


Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary, copyright (c) 2016 by CCAR Press. All rights reserved. Translation of Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy from NJPS © 1962, 1985, 1999; CJPS © 2006. Used and adapted by CCAR Press with permission from The Jewish Publication Society and the University of Nebraska Press. No part of this translation may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, distributed, or be transmitted without express written permission from the Central Conference of American Rabbis. For permission, please contact CCAR Press.