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Genesis chapter 29

New International Version

1 Then Jacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the eastern peoples. 2 There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well's mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob asked the shepherds, 'My brothers, where are you from?' 'We're from Harran,' they replied.
5 He said to them, 'Do you know Laban, Nahor's grandson?' 'Yes, we know him,' they answered.
6 Then Jacob asked them, 'Is he well?' 'Yes, he is,' they said, 'and here comes his daughter Rachel with the sheep.'
7 Look,' he said, 'the sun is still high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water the sheep and take them back to pasture.'
8 We can't,' they replied, 'until all the flocks are gathered and the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will water the sheep.'
9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherd. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban's sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle's sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.
13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister's son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things.
14 Then Laban said to him, 'You are my own flesh and blood.' After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, 'Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.'
16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, 'I'll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.'
19 Laban said, 'It's better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.' 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, 'Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.'
22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, 'What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?'
26 Laban replied, 'It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.'
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. 30 Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.
31 When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, 'It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.'
33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, 'Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.' So she named him Simeon.
34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, 'Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.' So he was named Levi.
35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, 'This time I will praise the LORD.' So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
English Standard Version

1 Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. 2 As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, 3 and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where do you come from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” 5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” 6 He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!” 7 He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them.” 8 But they said, “We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”
9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kinsman, and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.
15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” 22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. 23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. 24 (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) 25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” 28 Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.
31 When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” 33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. 34 Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.
King James Version

1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east. 2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth. 3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place. 4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we. 5 And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. 6 And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep. 7 And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them. 8 And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep.
9 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: for she kept them. 10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. 11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father. 13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things. 14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.
15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be? 16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. 18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. 19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. 20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her. 21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her. 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. 24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid. 25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? 26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. 28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also. 29 And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid. 30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. 32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me. 33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. 34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi. 35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.
New American Standard Bible

1 Then Jacob set out on his journey, and went to the land of the people of the east. 2 He looked, and saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it, because they watered the flocks from that well. Now the stone on the mouth of the well was large. 3 When all the flocks were gathered there, they would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep. Then they would put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob said to them, 'My brothers, where are you from?' And they said, 'We are from Haran.' 5 So he said to them, 'Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?' And they said, 'We know him.' 6 And he said to them, 'Is it well with him?' And they said, 'It is well, and here is his daughter Rachel coming with the sheep.' 7 Then he said, 'Look, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.' 8 But they said, 'We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered, and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.'
9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of his mother’s brother Laban, and the sheep of his mother’s brother Laban, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well, and watered the flock of his mother’s brother Laban. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and raised his voice and wept. 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.
13 So when Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Then he told Laban all these things. 14 And Laban said to him, 'You certainly are my bone and my flesh.' And he stayed with him a month.
15 Then Laban said to Jacob, 'Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?' 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in figure and appearance. 18 Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, 'I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.' 19 Laban said, 'It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.' 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him like only a few days because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, 'Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may have relations with her.' 22 So Laban gathered all the people of the place and held a feast. 23 Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to him; and Jacob had relations with her. 24 Laban also gave his female slave Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a slave. 25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, 'What is this that you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?' 26 But Laban said, 'It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me, for another seven years.' 28 Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 29 Laban also gave his female slave Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her slave. 30 So Jacob had relations with Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.
31 Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was unable to have children. 32 Leah conceived and gave birth to a son, and named him Reuben, for she said, 'Because the LORD has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.' 33 Then she conceived again and gave birth to a son, and said, 'Because the LORD has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.' So she named him Simeon. 34 And she conceived again and gave birth to a son, and said, 'Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.' Therefore he was named Levi. 35 And she conceived again and gave birth to a son, and said, 'This time I will praise the LORD.' Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
New Living Translation

1 Then Jacob hurried on, finally arriving in the land of the east. 2 He saw a well in the distance. Three flocks of sheep and goats lay in an open field beside it, waiting to be watered. But a heavy stone covered the mouth of the well.
3 It was the custom there to wait for all the flocks to arrive before removing the stone and watering the animals. Afterward the stone would be placed back over the mouth of the well.
4 Jacob went over to the shepherds and asked, 'Where are you from, my friends?' 'We are from Haran,' they answered.
5 'Do you know a man there named Laban, the grandson of Nahor?' he asked. 'Yes, we do,' they replied.
6 'Is he doing well?' Jacob asked. 'Yes, he's well,' they answered. 'Look, here comes his daughter Rachel with the flock now.'
7 Jacob said, 'Look, it's still broad daylight--too early to round up the animals. Why don't you water the sheep and goats so they can get back out to pasture?'
8 'We can't water the animals until all the flocks have arrived,' they replied. 'Then the shepherds move the stone from the mouth of the well, and we water all the sheep and goats.'
9 Jacob was still talking with them when Rachel arrived with her father's flock, for she was a shepherd. 10 And because Rachel was his cousin--the daughter of Laban, his mother's brother--and because the sheep and goats belonged to his uncle Laban, Jacob went over to the well and moved the stone from its mouth and watered his uncle's flock. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and he wept aloud. 12 He explained to Rachel that he was her cousin on her father's side--the son of her aunt Rebekah. So Rachel quickly ran and told her father, Laban.
13 As soon as Laban heard that his nephew Jacob had arrived, he ran out to meet him. He embraced and kissed him and brought him home. When Jacob had told him his story,
14 Laban exclaimed, 'You really are my own flesh and blood!' After Jacob had stayed with Laban for about a month, 15 Laban said to him, 'You shouldn't work for me without pay just because we are relatives. Tell me how much your wages should be.'
16 Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. 17 There was no sparkle in Leah's eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. 18 Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, 'I'll work for you for seven years if you'll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.'
19 'Agreed!' Laban replied. 'I'd rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.' 20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.
21 Finally, the time came for him to marry her. 'I have fulfilled my agreement,' Jacob said to Laban. 'Now give me my wife so I can sleep with her.'
22 So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a wedding feast. 23 But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24 (Laban had given Leah a servant, Zilpah, to be her maid.)
25 But when Jacob woke up in the morning--it was Leah! 'What have you done to me?' Jacob raged at Laban. 'I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?'
26 'It's not our custom here to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,' Laban replied. 27 'But wait until the bridal week is over, then we'll give you Rachel, too--provided you promise to work another seven years for me.'
28 So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too. 29 (Laban gave Rachel a servant, Bilhah, to be her maid.) 30 So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years.
31 When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive. 32 So Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, 'The LORD has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.'
33 She soon became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon, for she said, 'The LORD heard that I was unloved and has given me another son.'
34 Then she became pregnant a third time and gave birth to another son. She named him Levi, for she said, 'Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!'
35 Once again Leah became pregnant and gave birth to another son. She named him Judah, for she said, 'Now I will praise the LORD!' And then she stopped having children.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Jacob resumed his journey and went to the eastern country. 2 He looked and saw a well in a field. Three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it because the sheep were watered from this well. But a large stone covered the opening of the well. 3 The shepherds would roll the stone from the opening of the well and water the sheep when all the flocks were gathered there. Then they would return the stone to its place over the well's opening.
4 Jacob asked the men at the well, "My brothers! Where are you from?" "We're from Haran," they answered.
5 "Do you know Laban grandson of Nahor?" Jacob asked them. They answered, "We know him."
6 "Is he well?" Jacob asked. "Yes," they said, "and here is his daughter Rachel, coming with his sheep."
7 Then Jacob said, "Look, it is still broad daylight. It's not time for the animals to be gathered. Water the flock, then go out and let them graze."
8 But they replied, "We can't until all the flocks have been gathered and the stone is rolled from the well's opening. Then we will water the sheep."
9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 As soon as Jacob saw his uncle Laban's daughter Rachel with his sheep, he went up and rolled the stone from the opening and watered his uncle Laban's sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept loudly. 12 He told Rachel that he was her father's relative, Rebekah's son. She ran and told her father.
13 When Laban heard the news about his sister's son Jacob, he ran to meet him, hugged him, and kissed him. Then he took him to his house, and Jacob told him all that had happened.
14 Laban said to him, "Yes, you are my own flesh and blood." After Jacob had stayed with him a month, 15 Laban said to him, "Just because you're my relative, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be."
16 Now Laban had two daughters: the older was named Leah, and the younger was named Rachel. 17 Leah had tender eyes, but Rachel was shapely and beautiful. 18 Jacob loved Rachel, so he answered Laban, "I'll work for you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel."
19 Laban replied, "Better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay with me." 20 So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel, and they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, "Since my time is complete, give me my wife, so I can sleep with her." 22 So Laban invited all the men of the place and sponsored a feast. 23 That evening, Laban took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24 And Laban gave his slave Zilpah to his daughter Leah as her slave.
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So he said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Wasn't it for Rachel that I worked for you? Why have you deceived me?"
26 Laban answered, "It is not the custom in this place to give the younger daughter in marriage before the firstborn. 27 Complete this week of wedding celebration, and we will also give you this younger one in return for working yet another seven years for me."
28 And Jacob did just that. He finished the week of celebration, and Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 29 And Laban gave his slave Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her slave. 30 Jacob slept with Rachel also, and indeed, he loved Rachel more than Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years.
31 When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb; but Rachel was unable to conceive. 32 Leah conceived, gave birth to a son, and named him Reuben, for she said, "The LORD has seen my affliction; surely my husband will love me now."
33 She conceived again, gave birth to a son, and said, "The LORD heard that I am unloved and has given me this son also." So she named him Simeon.
34 She conceived again, gave birth to a son, and said, "At last, my husband will become attached to me because I have borne three sons for him." Therefore he was named Levi.
35 And she conceived again, gave birth to a son, and said, "This time I will praise the LORD." Therefore she named him Judah. Then Leah stopped having children.

What does Genesis chapter 29 mean?

After his journey east, Jacob arrives at the home of Laban, his mother's brother. Laban lives in Haran in Mesopotamia, outside of the land God has promised to Abraham, Isaac and, in the previous chapter, to Jacob. Jacob had left his homeland in Canaan, both to find a wife among his father's people (Genesis 28:1–2) and to escape the murderous rage of his older twin brother, Esau (Genesis 27:41). Jacob's plan is to seek out the former household of his mother, Rebekah, and her brother, Laban.

First, though, Jacob comes across a well in a field. He asks some shepherds gathered near the well with their flocks if they know Laban and if he is thriving. They do know him and point to Laban's daughter Rachel arriving with a flock of her own. Jacob immediately rolls the heavy stone away from the well and waters the sheep that belong to Rachel's father (Genesis 29:1–10). This might have been an effort to impress her, as later verses will show that Jacob comes to love Rachel very much.

Jacob becomes emotional about finding these relatives he has never met before. He kisses Rachel and weeps loudly. Finally, he tells her who he is, and she runs to tell Laban. Laban quickly arrives. He hugs and kisses Jacob and welcomes him into his home. Jacob tells Laban some version of his story and how he came to be there, and Laban acknowledges that Jacob is truly his relative (Genesis 29:11–14).

After Jacob has been with the family for a month and working for Laban, the uncle asks the nephew what wages he would ask to continue working for him. The implication is that Jacob is a good worker and very helpful to Laban. Jacob, who has come in part to find a wife, offers to work for seven years in exchange for marrying Laban's younger daughter Rachel, whom Jacob loves (Genesis 29:15–18). This intense love for Rachel will be an important contrast to Jacob's feelings for her younger sister, Leah, later in this chapter.

Laban quickly agrees to this generous offer and the years fly by for Jacob. When the time has passed, Laban throws a wedding feast. On the wedding night, however, Laban manages to switch out Rachel with her older, less attractive sister Leah. Jacob sleeps with Leah without realizing she is not Rachel; apparently in that time and place, this was enough to constitute a legal marriage (Genesis 29:19–25).

When Jacob realizes the next morning what has happened, he demands to know why Laban has committed this outrageous deception. Laban calmly tells Jacob that their custom does not allow the younger daughter to marry first (Genesis 29:26). Obviously, even if this were true, it is information Laban had seven years to pass along to Jacob. The entire arrangement was an obvious ploy on Laban's part. Here, then, is Jacob "getting a taste of his own medicine:" the lying manipulator (Genesis 27:34–36) feeling the sting of deception and fraud.

As if in generosity, Laban offers to allow Jacob to marry Rachel the next week in exchange for another seven years of work. In spite of Laban's manipulation, Jacob agrees (Genesis 29:27–30). Looking back on this passage after reading about Jacob's remaining life, it turns out he has gained four wives (two of whom are really servants or concubines) in the span of a week! Both of the servants given to Laban's daughters, at their weddings, will wind up bearing children to Jacob, as well (Genesis 30:2–3; 30:9–10).

Now married twice over, and with seven more years of unpaid work ahead of him, Jacob settles in. Leah, though, is deeply wounded by the fact that Jacob loves Rachel more than her. In fact, Jacob is said to hate Leah, at least by comparison. Given the circumstances of their marriage, this is hardly a surprise. The Lord, who is always with Jacob, takes notice of Leah's heartbreak and allows her to begin having children while her younger, better-loved sister remains barren (Genesis 29:31).

Jacob's first three sons from his unloved wife are named as a result of her faith. Leah trusts in the God who notices her pain and for her hope, or lack of it, that Jacob will now turn his heart toward her. In spite of Leah bearing Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, however, Jacob apparently remains unloving toward Leah (Genesis 29:32–34).

Leah seems to give up hoping that bearing sons will increase Jacob's love for her. She names her fourth boy Judah, which means "praise" or "may God be praised." Leah's faith in God's goodness remains intact, even while her hope that her husband will love her appears to slip away (Genesis 29:35).

The last verse of this chapter specifically indicates that Leah stopped conceiving children after Judah. This might be due to a temporary time of infertility. However, the next chapter speaks of Rachel's anger that Leah has had children while Rachel has not. This jealousy from his favored wife might have inspired Jacob to withhold himself from Leah in an effort to give Rachel a child to call her own.