3 Feb. Genesis 30:25-43

3 Feb. Jacob tricks his Uncle Laban

"After the birth of Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, 'Now let me go to my own home and country. Give me my wives and my children and let me go. I have earned them by working for you, and you know that I have served you well.'"

"Laban said to him, 'If I have pleased you, please stay. I know the LORD has blessed me because of you. Tell me what I should pay you, and I will give it to you.'"

"Jacob answered, 'You know that I have worked hard for you, and your flocks have grown while I cared for them. When I came, you had little, but now you have much. Every time I did something for you, the LORD blessed you. But when will I be able to do something for my own family?'"

"Laban asked, 'Then what should I give you?' Jacob answered, 'I don't want you to give me anything. Just do this one thing, and I will come back and take care of your flocks. Today let me go through all your flocks. I will take every speckled or spotted sheep, every black lamb and every speckled or spotted goat. That will be my pay.'"

"' In the future you can easily see if I am honest. When you come to look at my flocks, if I have any goat that isn't speckled or spotted or any lamb that isn't black, you will know I stole it.'"

"Laban answered, 'Agreed! We will do what you ask.' But that day Laban took away all the male goats that had streaks or spots, all the speckled and spotted female goats (all those that had white on them), and all the black sheep. He told his sons to watch over them. Then he took these animals to a place that was three days' journey away from Jacob..."

"So Jacob cut green branches from poplar, almond and plane trees, and peeled off some of the bark so that the branches had white stripes on them. He put the branches in front of the flocks at the watering places. When the animals came to drink, they also mated there, so the flocks mated in front of the branches. Then the young that were born were streaked, speckled or spotted..."

"When the stronger animals in the flock were mating, Jacob put the branches before their eyes so they would mate near the branches. But when the weaker animals mated, Jacob did not put the branches there. So the animals born from the weaker animals were Laban's, and those born from the stronger animals were Jacob's. In this way Jacob became very rich."

          (Genesis 30:25-43)


After fourteen years working for his Uncle Laban at Harran, Jacob had twelve sons, but little else to show for all his labour. So he asked his uncle if he could return to his home country, Canaan, and take his wives and children with him.

His uncle was reluctant to let Jacob and his daughters go, so Jacob suggested a compromise; he agreed to stay and work for his uncle if he was allowed to keep the speckled sheep and goats in the flocks as his own.

Laban initially agreed, but then cheated Jacob by removing all the speckled and black animals from the flocks.

So Joseph, in return, tricked his uncle. By selective breeding, he ensured that most of the new lambs were speckled, and so buildt up his own flocks at Laban’s expense.

The photo (by Evelyn Simak) shows an old breed of black and white speckled sheep which are still known today as ‘Jacob’s Sheep’.

You can read more about Jacob and Laban @ The Bible Journey | Jacob cheats Esau and flees to Mesopotamia

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