on his journey until he came to Laban's house in Haran. There
Jacob lived with his uncle, helping with the cattle and goats.
At the end of a
month, Laban spoke to him: Because you are my nephew, you should
not be expected to contribute your labor for nothing. What wages
shall I pay you?"
Jacob, who loved
Rachel, Laban's younger daughter, said he would work for seven
years if Rachel could then become his wife. Laban agreed, and
Jacob worked for seven years, caring for his uncle's herds and
flocks. At the end of that time, Laban refused to let him marry
Rachel, but gave him instead his older daughter, Leah.
Jacob was very
unhappy, for he loved Rachel and did not love Leah. So Laban
agreed to give Rachel for a wife, too, if he would stay and work
fro another seven years.
Leah bore Jacob
six sons and daughters before Rachel had any children. When
Rachel's first baby was born, he was called Joseph, and Jacob
loved him more than all the others, for he was Rachel's son.
birth, Jacob wanted to leave the land of Haran and go back to
Canaan. But each time he mentioned it to his uncle, Laban promised
him better wages, cattle and goats for himself, if he would stay.
So gradually, Jacob acquired herds and flocks of his own, and
camels and servants.
Laban's sons, who
were no so successful as Jacob, began to protest to their father,
and the families were not happy together. Then one night, an angel
of God appeared to Jacob in a dream, and told him to go back to
One day, when
Laban had gone off to the fields to shear his sheep, Jacob
gathered all the flocks and herds which Laban had promised him. He
set his wives and children on camels, and without saying anything
to his uncle, he departed.
Jacob and his
family continued on their way until they approached the land of
Edom, through which they had to pass. Jacob's brother, Esau, had
settled in Edom, and he too was now wealthy and had great flocks
and herds and many servants.
Jacob was afraid,
for even after all these years he remembered how he had cheated
his brother, and that Esau had vowed to kill him. Thinking to
soften his brother's heart, he sent ahead servants with rich
presents for Esau, more than two hundred goats and lambs, camels,
cattle and bulls and asses.
That night, God
appeared again to Jacob and told him that his name should be
called Israel, because he had power from God, and that his
descendants and their tribes would be called the children of
In the morning,
Jacob saw Esau coming toward him with four hundred men. Fearful,
he stepped out in front of everyone and bowed himself to the
ground seven times before his brother. Esau ran to meet him, and
kissed him and wept. He was no longer bitter or angry, and long
ago had forgiven Jacob. Jacob learned that his father, Isaac, was
still living, but that Rebekah, his mother, had died.
Esau and Jacob
parted in peace, and Jacob and his family went on to Canaan.
Soon after Jacob
arrived in Canaan, Isaac died. Esau came from Edom, and the two
brothers buried their father. And Jacob, in fulfillment of his
father's last prayer and blessing, settled in the land of Canaan,
where once, long ago, his grandfather Abraham had been a stranger.