“When Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, ‘Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go. You know very well the service I have given you.’ But Laban said to him, ‘If you will allow me to say so, I have learned by divination that Yahweh has blessed me because of you. Name your wages, and I will give it.’ Jacob said to him, ‘You yourself know how I have served you, and how your cattle have fared with me. You had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly. Yahweh has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall I provide for my own household also?’ He said, ‘What shall I give you?’ Jacob said, ‘You shall not give me anything. If you will do this for me, I will again feed your flock and keep it. Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats. Such shall be my wages. So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Everyone that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen.’ Laban said, ‘Good! Let it be as you have said.’ But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, everyone that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in the charge of his sons. He set a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob was pasturing the rest of Laban’s flock.”
Jacob wanted to leave Laban after Joseph was born. Laban said that he would give him his due wages. Jacob responded that he had made Laban rich because Yahweh had blessed them with abundance. Jacob wanted to take every speckled sheep, black lamb, and goats, so Laban said fine. However, Laban took all these animals from his flock and gave them to his sons. There always seems to be problems with Laban and Jacob. They do not trust each other.
“Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the rods. He set the rods that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the runnels, that is, the watering places where the flocks came to drink. Since they bred when they came to drink, the flocks bred in front of the rods, and so the flocks produced young that were striped, speckled, and spotted. Jacob separated the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and completely black animals in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock. Whenever the stronger animals of the flock were breeding, Jacob laid the rods in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, so that they might breed among the rods, but for the feebler animals of the flock he did not lay them there. So the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. Thus the man grew exceedingly rich, and had large flocks, male and female slaves, and camels and donkeys.”
Jacob put some peeled fresh rods of popular, almond, and plane by the watering hole where the flocks came to drink. The flocks bred in front of the rods and produced young animals that were ‘striped, speckled, and spotted.’ In this complicated passage, the ancient belief was that animals would produce the color of what they were looking at when they were breeding. He then separated them out from Laban’s flock and made sure that the strong animals had the rods in front of them when they were breeding. This is how Jacob got rich with large flocks, slaves, camels, and donkeys. He and Laban were always at odds with each other since he had so many wives and children to take care of.