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Genesis 30:32-43

Context
30:32 Let me walk among 1  all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb, 2  and the spotted or speckled goats. 3  These animals will be my wages. 4  30:33 My integrity will testify for me 5  later on. 6  When you come to verify that I’ve taken only the wages we agreed on, 7  if I have in my possession any goat that is not speckled or spotted or any sheep that is not dark-colored, it will be considered stolen.” 8  30:34 “Agreed!” said Laban, “It will be as you say.” 9 

30:35 So that day Laban 10  removed the male goats that were streaked or spotted, all the female goats that were speckled or spotted (all that had any white on them), and all the dark-colored lambs, and put them in the care 11  of his sons. 30:36 Then he separated them from Jacob by a three-day journey, 12  while 13  Jacob was taking care of the rest of Laban’s flocks.

30:37 But Jacob took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees. He made white streaks by peeling them, making the white inner wood in the branches visible. 30:38 Then he set up the peeled branches in all the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink. He set up the branches in front of the flocks when they were in heat and came to drink. 14  30:39 When the sheep mated 15  in front of the branches, they 16  gave birth to young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. 30:40 Jacob removed these lambs, but he made the rest of the flock face 17  the streaked and completely dark-colored animals in Laban’s flock. So he made separate flocks for himself and did not mix them with Laban’s flocks. 30:41 When the stronger females were in heat, 18  Jacob would set up the branches in the troughs in front of the flock, so they would mate near the branches. 30:42 But if the animals were weaker, he did not set the branches there. 19  So the weaker animals ended up belonging to Laban 20  and the stronger animals to Jacob. 30:43 In this way Jacob 21  became extremely prosperous. He owned 22  large flocks, male and female servants, camels, and donkeys.

1 tn Heb “pass through.”

2 tn Or “every black lamb”; Heb “and every dark sheep among the lambs.”

3 tn Heb “and the spotted and speckled among the goats.”

4 tn Heb “and it will be my wage.” The referent collective singular pronoun (“it) has been specified as “these animals” in the translation for clarity.

5 tn Heb “will answer on my behalf.”

6 tn Heb “on the following day,” or “tomorrow.”

7 tn Heb “when you come concerning my wage before you.”

sn Only the wage we agreed on. Jacob would have to be considered completely honest here, for he would have no control over the kind of animals born; and there could be no disagreement over which animals were his wages.

8 tn Heb “every one which is not speckled and spotted among the lambs and dark among the goats, stolen it is with me.”

9 tn Heb “and Laban said, ‘Good, let it be according to your word.’” On the asseverative use of the particle לוּ (lu) here, see HALOT 521 s.v. לוּ.

10 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Laban) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 tn Heb “and he gave [them] into the hand.”

12 tn Heb “and he put a journey of three days between himself and Jacob.”

sn Three days’ traveling distance from Jacob. E. A. Speiser observes, “Laban is delighted with the terms, and promptly proceeds to violate the spirit of the bargain by removing to a safe distance all the grown animals that would be likely to produce the specified spots” (Genesis [AB], 238). Laban apparently thought that by separating out the spotted, striped, and dark colored animals he could minimize the production of spotted, striped, or dark offspring that would then belong to Jacob.

13 tn The disjunctive clause (introduced by the vav with subject) is circumstantial/temporal; Laban removed the animals while Jacob was taking care of the rest.

14 sn He put the branches in front of the flocks…when they came to drink. It was generally believed that placing such “visual aids” before the animals as they were mating, it was possible to influence the appearance of their offspring. E. A. Speiser notes that “Jacob finds a way to outwit his father-in-law, through prenatal conditioning of the flock by visual aids – in conformance with universal folk beliefs” (Genesis [AB], 238). Nevertheless, in spite of Jacob’s efforts at animal husbandry, he still attributes the resulting success to God (see 31:5).

15 tn The Hebrew verb used here can mean “to be in heat” (see v. 38) or “to mate; to conceive; to become pregnant.” The latter nuance makes better sense in this verse, for the next clause describes them giving birth.

16 tn Heb “the sheep.” The noun has been replaced by the pronoun (“they”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.

17 tn Heb “and he set the faces of.”

18 tn Heb “and at every breeding-heat of the flock.”

19 tn Heb “he did not put [them] in.” The referent of the [understood] direct object, “them,” has been specified as “the branches” in the translation for clarity.

20 tn Heb “were for Laban.”

21 tn Heb “the man”; Jacob’s name has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

22 tn Heb “and there were to him.”



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