But Jacob soon learned that Laban’s sons were grumbling about him. “Jacob has robbed our father of everything!” they said. “He has gained all his wealth at our father’s expense.” 2 And Jacob began to notice a change in Laban’s attitude toward him.
3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.”
4 So Jacob called Rachel and Leah out to the field where he was watching his flock. 5 He said to them, “I have noticed that your father’s attitude toward me has changed. But the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know how hard I have worked for your father, 7 but he has cheated me, changing my wages ten times. But God has not allowed him to do me any harm. 8 For if he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wages,’ the whole flock began to produce speckled young. And when he changed his mind and said, ‘The striped animals will be your wages,’ then the whole flock produced striped young. 9 In this way, God has taken your father’s animals and given them to me.
10 “One time during the mating season, I had a dream and saw that the male goats mating with the females were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 11 Then in my dream, the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I replied, ‘Yes, here I am.’
12 “The angel said, ‘Look up, and you will see that only the streaked, speckled, and spotted males are mating with the females of your flock. For I have seen how Laban has treated you. 13 I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, the place where you anointed the pillar of stone and made your vow to me. Now get ready and leave this country and return to the land of your birth.’”
14 Rachel and Leah responded, “That’s fine with us! We won’t inherit any of our father’s wealth anyway. 15 He has reduced our rights to those of foreign women. And after he sold us, he wasted the money you paid him for us. 16 All the wealth God has given you from our father legally belongs to us and our children. So go ahead and do whatever God has told you.”
17 So Jacob put his wives and children on camels, 18 and he drove all his livestock in front of him. He packed all the belongings he had acquired in Paddan-aram and set out for the land of Canaan, where his father, Isaac, lived. 19 At the time they left, Laban was some distance away, shearing his sheep. Rachel stole her father’s household idols and took them with her. 20 Jacob outwitted Laban the Aramean, for they set out secretly and never told Laban they were leaving. 21 So Jacob took all his possessions with him and crossed the Euphrates River, heading for the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Pursues Jacob
22 Three days later, Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23 So he gathered a group of his relatives and set out in hot pursuit. He caught up with Jacob seven days later in the hill country of Gilead. 24 But the previous night God had appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and told him, “I’m warning you—leave Jacob alone!”
25 Laban caught up with Jacob as he was camped in the hill country of Gilead, and he set up his camp not far from Jacob’s.26 “What do you mean by deceiving me like this?” Laban demanded. “How dare you drag my daughters away like prisoners of war?27 Why did you slip away secretly? Why did you deceive me? And why didn’t you say you wanted to leave? I would have given you a farewell feast, with singing and music, accompanied by tambourines and harps. 28 Why didn’t you let me kiss my daughters and grandchildren and tell them good-bye? You have acted very foolishly! 29 I could destroy you, but the God of your father appeared to me last night and warned me, ‘Leave Jacob alone!’ 30 I can understand your feeling that you must go, and your intense longing for your father’s home. But why have you stolen my gods?”
31 “I rushed away because I was afraid,” Jacob answered. “I thought you would take your daughters from me by force. 32 But as for your gods, see if you can find them, and let the person who has taken them die! And if you find anything else that belongs to you, identify it before all these relatives of ours, and I will give it back!” But Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the household idols.
33 Laban went first into Jacob’s tent to search there, then into Leah’s, and then the tents of the two servant wives—but he found nothing. Finally, he went into Rachel’s tent. 34 But Rachel had taken the household idols and hidden them in her camel saddle, and now she was sitting on them. When Laban had thoroughly searched her tent without finding them, 35 she said to her father, “Please, sir, forgive me if I don’t get up for you. I’m having my monthly period.” So Laban continued his search, but he could not find the household idols.
36 Then Jacob became very angry, and he challenged Laban. “What’s my crime?” he demanded. “What have I done wrong to make you chase after me as though I were a criminal? 37 You have rummaged through everything I own. Now show me what you found that belongs to you! Set it out here in front of us, before our relatives, for all to see. Let them judge between us!
38 “For twenty years I have been with you, caring for your flocks. In all that time your sheep and goats never miscarried. In all those years I never used a single ram of yours for food. 39 If any were attacked and killed by wild animals, I never showed you the carcass and asked you to reduce the count of your flock. No, I took the loss myself! You made me pay for every stolen animal, whether it was taken in broad daylight or in the dark of night.
40 “I worked for you through the scorching heat of the day and through cold and sleepless nights. 41 Yes, for twenty years I slaved in your house! I worked for fourteen years earning your two daughters, and then six more years for your flock. And you changed my wages ten times! 42 In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side—the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac—you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!”
Jacob’s Treaty with Laban
43 Then Laban replied to Jacob, “These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, and these flocks are my flocks—in fact, everything you see is mine. But what can I do now about my daughters and their children? 44 So come, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and it will be a witness to our commitment.”
45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument. 46 Then he told his family members, “Gather some stones.” So they gathered stones and piled them in a heap. Then Jacob and Laban sat down beside the pile of stones to eat a covenant meal. 47 To commemorate the event, Laban called the place Jegar-sahadutha (which means “witness pile” in Aramaic), and Jacob called it Galeed (which means “witness pile” in Hebrew).
48 Then Laban declared, “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.” This explains why it was called Galeed—“Witness Pile.” 49 But it was also called Mizpah (which means “watchtower”), for Laban said, “May the Lord keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight. 50 If you mistreat my daughters or if you marry other wives, God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us.
51 “See this pile of stones,” Laban continued, “and see this monument I have set between us. 52 They stand between us as witnesses of our vows. I will never pass this pile of stones to harm you, and you must never pass these stones or this monument to harm me. 53 I call on the God of our ancestors—the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of my grandfather Nahor—to serve as a judge between us.”
So Jacob took an oath before the fearsome God of his father, Isaac, to respect the boundary line. 54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice to God there on the mountain and invited everyone to a covenant feast. After they had eaten, they spent the night on the mountain.
55 Laban got up early the next morning, and he kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.
As Jacob started on his way again, angels of God came to meet him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he exclaimed, “This is God’s camp!” So he named the place Mahanaim.
Jacob Sends Gifts to Esau
3 Then Jacob sent messengers ahead to his brother, Esau, who was living in the region of Seir in the land of Edom. 4 He told them, “Give this message to my master Esau: ‘Humble greetings from your servant Jacob. Until now I have been living with Uncle Laban,5 and now I own cattle, donkeys, flocks of sheep and goats, and many servants, both men and women. I have sent these messengers to inform my lord of my coming, hoping that you will be friendly to me.’”
6 After delivering the message, the messengers returned to Jacob and reported, “We met your brother, Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you—with an army of 400 men!” 7 Jacob was terrified at the news. He divided his household, along with the flocks and herds and camels, into two groups. 8 He thought, “If Esau meets one group and attacks it, perhaps the other group can escape.”
9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’ 10 I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick. Now my household fills two large camps! 11 O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau. I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children. 12 But you promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many to count.’”
13 Jacob stayed where he was for the night. Then he selected these gifts from his possessions to present to his brother, Esau:14 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 15 30 female camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys, and 10 male donkeys. 16 He divided these animals into herds and assigned each to different servants. Then he told his servants, “Go ahead of me with the animals, but keep some distance between the herds.”
17 He gave these instructions to the men leading the first group: “When my brother, Esau, meets you, he will ask, ‘Whose servants are you? Where are you going? Who owns these animals?’ 18 You must reply, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob, but they are a gift for his master Esau. Look, he is coming right behind us.’”
19 Jacob gave the same instructions to the second and third herdsmen and to all who followed behind the herds: “You must say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Look, your servant Jacob is right behind us.’”
Jacob thought, “I will try to appease him by sending gifts ahead of me. When I see him in person, perhaps he will be friendly to me.” 21 So the gifts were sent on ahead, while Jacob himself spent that night in the camp.
Jacob Wrestles with God
22 During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. 23 After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions.
24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 “What is your name?” the man asked.
He replied, “Jacob.”
28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
29 “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.
“Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.
30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” 31 The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip. 32 (Even today the people of Israel don’t eat the tendon near the hip socket because of what happened that night when the man strained the tendon of Jacob’s hip.)
Then Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with his 400 men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. 2 He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.3 Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. 4 Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.
5 Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, “Who are these people with you?”
“These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied. 6 Then the servant wives came forward with their children and bowed before him. 7 Next came Leah with her children, and they bowed before him. Finally, Joseph and Rachel came forward and bowed before him.
8 “And what were all the flocks and herds I met as I came?” Esau asked.
Jacob replied, “They are a gift, my lord, to ensure your friendship.”
9 “My brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered. “Keep what you have for yourself.”
10 But Jacob insisted, “No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God! 11 Please take this gift I have brought you, for God has been very gracious to me. I have more than enough.” And because Jacob insisted, Esau finally accepted the gift.
12 “Well,” Esau said, “let’s be going. I will lead the way.”
13 But Jacob replied, “You can see, my lord, that some of the children are very young, and the flocks and herds have their young, too. If they are driven too hard, even for one day, all the animals could die. 14 Please, my lord, go ahead of your servant. We will follow slowly, at a pace that is comfortable for the livestock and the children. I will meet you at Seir.”
15 “All right,” Esau said, “but at least let me assign some of my men to guide and protect you.”
Jacob responded, “That’s not necessary. It’s enough that you’ve received me warmly, my lord!”
16 So Esau turned around and started back to Seir that same day. 17 Jacob, on the other hand, traveled on to Succoth. There he built himself a house and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place was named Succoth (which means “shelters”).
18 Later, having traveled all the way from Paddan-aram, Jacob arrived safely at the town of Shechem, in the land of Canaan. There he set up camp outside the town. 19 Jacob bought the plot of land where he camped from the family of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for 100 pieces of silver. 20 And there he built an altar and named it El-Elohe-Israel.
One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the young women who lived in the area. 2 But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped her. 3 But then he fell in love with her, and he tried to win her affection with tender words. 4 He said to his father, Hamor, “Get me this young girl. I want to marry her.”
5 Soon Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter, Dinah. But since his sons were out in the fields herding his livestock, he said nothing until they returned. 6 Hamor, Shechem’s father, came to discuss the matter with Jacob. 7 Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the field as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious that their sister had been raped. Shechem had done a disgraceful thing against Jacob’s family, something that should never be done.
8 Hamor tried to speak with Jacob and his sons. “My son Shechem is truly in love with your daughter,” he said. “Please let him marry her. 9 In fact, let’s arrange other marriages, too. You give us your daughters for our sons, and we will give you our daughters for your sons. 10 And you may live among us; the land is open to you! Settle here and trade with us. And feel free to buy property in the area.”
11 Then Shechem himself spoke to Dinah’s father and brothers. “Please be kind to me, and let me marry her,” he begged. “I will give you whatever you ask. 12 No matter what dowry or gift you demand, I will gladly pay it—just give me the girl as my wife.”
13 But since Shechem had defiled their sister, Dinah, Jacob’s sons responded deceitfully to Shechem and his father, Hamor. 14 They said to them, “We couldn’t possibly allow this, because you’re not circumcised. It would be a disgrace for our sister to marry a man like you! 15 But here is a solution. If every man among you will be circumcised like we are, 16 then we will give you our daughters, and we’ll take your daughters for ourselves. We will live among you and become one people. 17 But if you don’t agree to be circumcised, we will take her and be on our way.”
18 Hamor and his son Shechem agreed to their proposal. 19 Shechem wasted no time in acting on this request, for he wanted Jacob’s daughter desperately. Shechem was a highly respected member of his family, 20 and he went with his father, Hamor, to present this proposal to the leaders at the town gate.
21 “These men are our friends,” they said. “Let’s invite them to live here among us and trade freely. Look, the land is large enough to hold them. We can take their daughters as wives and let them marry ours. 22 But they will consider staying here and becoming one people with us only if all of our men are circumcised, just as they are. 23 But if we do this, all their livestock and possessions will eventually be ours. Come, let’s agree to their terms and let them settle here among us.”
24 So all the men in the town council agreed with Hamor and Shechem, and every male in the town was circumcised. 25 But three days later, when their wounds were still sore, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, who were Dinah’s full brothers, took their swords and entered the town without opposition. Then they slaughtered every male there, 26 including Hamor and his son Shechem. They killed them with their swords, then took Dinah from Shechem’s house and returned to their camp.
27 Meanwhile, the rest of Jacob’s sons arrived. Finding the men slaughtered, they plundered the town because their sister had been defiled there. 28 They seized all the flocks and herds and donkeys—everything they could lay their hands on, both inside the town and outside in the fields. 29 They looted all their wealth and plundered their houses. They also took all their little children and wives and led them away as captives.
30 Afterward Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have ruined me! You’ve made me stink among all the people of this land—among all the Canaanites and Perizzites. We are so few that they will join forces and crush us. I will be ruined, and my entire household will be wiped out!”
31 “But why should we let him treat our sister like a prostitute?” they retorted angrily.
Then God said to Jacob, “Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau.”
2 So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify yourselves, and put on clean clothing. 3 We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.”
4 So they gave Jacob all their pagan idols and earrings, and he buried them under the great tree near Shechem. 5 As they set out, a terror from God spread over the people in all the towns of that area, so no one attacked Jacob’s family.
6 Eventually, Jacob and his household arrived at Luz (also called Bethel) in Canaan. 7 Jacob built an altar there and named the place El-bethel (which means “God of Bethel”), because God had appeared to him there when he was fleeing from his brother, Esau.
8 Soon after this, Rebekah’s old nurse, Deborah, died. She was buried beneath the oak tree in the valley below Bethel. Ever since, the tree has been called Allon-bacuth (which means “oak of weeping”).
9 Now that Jacob had returned from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again at Bethel. God blessed him, 10 saying, “Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.” So God renamed him Israel.
11 Then God said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Be fruitful and multiply. You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants! 12 And I will give you the land I once gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give it to you and your descendants after you.” 13 Then God went up from the place where he had spoken to Jacob.
14 Jacob set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to him. Then he poured wine over it as an offering to God and anointed the pillar with olive oil. 15 And Jacob named the place Bethel (which means “house of God”), because God had spoken to him there.
The Deaths of Rachel and Isaac
16 Leaving Bethel, Jacob and his clan moved on toward Ephrath. But Rachel went into labor while they were still some distance away. Her labor pains were intense. 17 After a very hard delivery, the midwife finally exclaimed, “Don’t be afraid—you have another son!” 18 Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni (which means “son of my sorrow”). The baby’s father, however, called him Benjamin (which means “son of my right hand”). 19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Jacob set up a stone monument over Rachel’s grave, and it can be seen there to this day.
21 Then Jacob traveled on and camped beyond Migdal-eder. 22 While he was living there, Reuben had intercourse with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Jacob soon heard about it.
These are the names of the twelve sons of Jacob:
23 The sons of Leah were Reuben (Jacob’s oldest son), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
24 The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.
25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, were Dan and Naphtali.
26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant, were Gad and Asher.
These are the names of the sons who were born to Jacob at Paddan-aram.
27 So Jacob returned to his father, Isaac, in Mamre, which is near Kiriath-arba (now called Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had both lived as foreigners. 28 Isaac lived for 180 years. 29 Then he breathed his last and died at a ripe old age, joining his ancestors in death. And his sons, Esau and Jacob, buried him.