At 3:21 a.m. I realized I would soon have to practice the promises I’d made myself
After days of laboring, hearing her snore was a beautiful sound
The only thing I wanted more than her was a coffee
24 hours without nausea celebrated alongside 24 hours of life
Bite of food, side of relief with an exhale from sleep
She is more than an idea, more than clothes in a closet, books on a shelf
From a distance, the architecture resembles steps for a giant
More lights in the windows than stars in the sky
Stacks muffled by shelves on carpet, crammed with books
Lobbies filled with clicking heels
Paper competing with coffee for your senses
But Laban’s sons said “Jacob has robbed our father of everything! He has gained wealth at our father’s expense.” Jacob also began noticing a change in Laban’s attitude toward him.
Then God told Jacob to return to the land of his forefathers.
So Jacob called Rachel and Leah to the field where he was watching his flock. “Your father’s attitude toward me has changed, but God has been with me. You know how hard I’ve worked for him, but he’s changed my wages ten times, so God has given me your father’s animals. God has told me to leave this country and return to the land of my birth.”
Rachel and Leah responded, “Sounds good to us! He has reduced our inheritance and rights to those of foreign women. He wasted the profits from our sale. Everything God has given you belongs to us and our children. So go ahead and do whatever God has told you.”
So Jacob and his wives took all of their belongings and left. Rachel stole her father’s household idols.
Three days later, Laban was told Jacob had fled, so he gathered a group of his relatives and set out in hot pursuit (the Bible’s words, not mine.) He caught up with Jacob 7 days later, but the night before God warned Laban to leave Jacob alone.
Still, Laban demanded, “How dare you drag my daughters away like prisoners of war? Why did you deceive me and slip away secretly? Why didn’t you say you wanted to leave? I would have given you a farewell feast. Why didn’t you let me kiss my daughters and grandchildren bye? You have acted very foolishly! I could destroy you, but God told me to leave you alone. I understand you must go, but why have you stolen my gods?” (Apparently Laban was not Christian and worshiped other Gods.)
“I was afraid you would take your daughters from me by force. As for your gods, if you find them, let the thief die! And if you find anything else of yours, I will give it back!” Jacob didn’t know Rachel had stolen them.
Laban searched the tents but Rachel had hidden the idols in her camel’s saddle, which she was sitting on. She said to her dad, “Forgive me if I don’t get up. I’m having my monthly period.” So Laban couldn’t find the idols.
Then Jacob became angry. “What’s my crime? What has caused you to chase after me as if I’m a criminal? Show me what you found! Let our relatives judge between us! For 20 years I have cared for your flocks. There has never been a miscarriage. I never used a ram of yours for food. If any were killed by wild animals, I took the loss myself! You made me pay for every stolen animal. I slaved for 20 years! Fourteen earning your daughters, and six more for your flock. You changed my wages ten times! If my God hadn’t been on my side you would have left me with nothing. But God has seen your abuse. That’s why he rebuked yo ulast night!”
Laban replied, “These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, and these flocks are mine. Everything you see is mine. Let’s make a covenant.”
Everyone gathered stones and piled them in a heap, then Jacob and Laban sat beside the “witness pile” and ate a covenant meal.
Laban said “May the Lord watch us when we are out of each other’s sight. If you mistreat my daughters or marry other wives, God will see that no one else does. I will never pass this pile to hurt you, and you must never pass to hurt me. I call on the God of our ancestors to serve as judge.”
So Jacob took an oath before God and offered a sacrifice on the mountain. After eating they slept on the mountain.
Laban woke early and kissed his grandchildren and daughters and blessed them. Then he went home.
Rachel became jealous of her sister when she couldn’t have children. She pleased with Jacob, “Give me children or give me death!”
Then Jacob became furious and said “Am I God? He’s the one you should be pleading with!”
Then Rachel told him to have sex with her maid, Bilhah. “Through here I can have a family, too.” Bilhah became pregnant and gave them a son. Rachel named him Dan and said “God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and gave me a son.” Then Bilhaha gave birth to another son. Rachel named him Naphtali and said “I have struggled hard with my sister, and I’m winning!”
Meanwhile, Leah realized she wasn’t getting pregnant anymore, so she let Jacob have sex with her servant, Zilpah. (I always heard sisters fight over the silliest things.) Soon Zilpah gave birth to a son. Leah named him Gad. Zilpah gave birth to another son and Leah named him Asher. She said “What joy is mine! Now the other women will celebrate with me.”
One day during the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakes and brought them to his mother, Leah. Rachel begged Leah, “Please give me some mandrakes.”
But Leah said angrily, “Wasn’t it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son’s mandrakes, too?”
Rachel answered, “Um, no. I was just asking. But I’ll let Jacob sleep with you tonight if you give me some mandrakes.”
So that evening, Leah met Jacob as he was coming home from the fields. “You must sleep with me tonight. I have paid for you with some mandrakes.” They slept together and God answered her prayers. She gave birth to a fifth son, named Issachar. She said “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife.” (Um…I don’t think so.) Then she gave birth to a sixth son named Zebulum. She said “God has given me a good reward. Now my husband will treat me with respect, for I have given him six sons.” Later she gave birth to a daughter named Dinah.
Then God remembered Rachel’s plight (he’d backed himself into a corner with these two) and she gave birth to a son named Joseph. “God has removed my disgrace,” she said. “May the Lord add yet another son to my family.”
Jacob said to Laban, “Please release me so I can go home to my country. Let me take my wives and children, for I have earned them by serving you. You know how hard I’ve worked for you.”
Laban replied, “I have become wealthy because the Lord has blessed me. Tell me how much I owe you. Whatever it is, I’ll pay it.”
“Your flocks and herds have grown under my care. You had little before I came. The Lord has blessed you through everything I’ve done. What about me? When can I start providing for my family?”
“Did you listen to anything I just said. How much do you want?”
“Don’t give me anything.”
“Jesus, why are you making this so difficult?”
“Let me do one thing and I’ll continue to tend and watch over your flocks. Let me remove all the sheep an goats that are speckled or spotted, along with the black sheep. Give these to me as my wages. When you inspect my animals, if you find any that are not speckled, spotted or black, you will know I have stolen from you.”
“Whatever.” But that same day, Laban removed the speckled and spotted goats, along with the black sheep, and gave them to his son who took them far away. Meanwhile, Jacob stayed and cared for the rest of Laban’s flock.
Then Jacob made wizard wands out of tree branches, peeling off strips of bark to make white strips on them. He place these in the watering troughs, for that is where they mated. (Unhygienic.) When they mated in front of the wizard wand, they gave birth to young that were speckled, spotted, streaked and black. Jacob separated those lambs from Laban’s flock. And at mating time he turned the flock to face Laban’s animals that were streaked or black. This is how he built his own flock instead of increasing Laban’s.
Jacob only placed the wands in the watering trough when the strong females were ready to mate, that way Laban would be left with the weaker ones. As a result, he became very wealthy.