Old Testament Story List

Jacob's Family

Jacob continued 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.

After Joseph's 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 Canaan.

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 Israel.

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.


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