By Mary Vee
Jacob gulped down the last of his breakfast, tickled little Joseph and Dinah, laughed with his older nine sons then set out to the pasture.
"Time to relieve the night watch." He yawned and stretched. "Today's gonna be a great day. Once my flock is built up to a reasonable size, I'm moving back to the land God gave my family."
Jacob hiked out to his uncle Laban's sheep. He rubbed his hands together and got to work. "Good, here are some rods of green poplar, almond, and chestnut trees." He took each rod and cut a wedge to expose a white strip inside.
He gathered the rods and stood them up in the flock's watering troughs. He stepped back and smiled at his work. "Yes, that looks right."
Each day the sheep came to drink, they saw the striped rods.
Even though Laban had been mean, Jacob gave his best care to Laban's sheep. He made sure they were safe, had plenty to eat and drink, and slept. He wanted them to stay healthy. He taught his sons how to care for their own flock.
Laban hardly spent any time with Jacob any more. Jacob didn't mind. He liked being in charge of the flock. About five months later, new lambs were born. Their fur had streaks, spots, or specks of color!
Since the lambs weren't a solid color, Jacob took the lambs and put them with his other sheep. "Here you go little ones. Laban said I could have all the streaked, spotted, and speckled sheep. So, you are mine."
The next day, Jacob had an idea. He took new poplar, almond, and chestnut tree rods, cut a wedge to show a white stripe and only set them in the sheep's watering trough when strong livestock came to drink.
When the strong livestock had newborns, the baby animals had streaks, spots, or speckles in their fur. The weak livestock's babies did not.
Jacob continued to separate his newborn livestock from Laban's. It didn't take long before he had large flocks, camels and donkeys, and many servants to help.
Leah and Rachel felt proud. Their children had everything they needed and much more.
One day when Jacob tended the sheep he heard Laban's sons talking. "That Jacob is no good! Why, he's taken away everything that belongs to Father. All his riches have come from our land! We've got to do something about this."
Jacob shook his head. How can they say that? I've worked hard. Uncle Laban said I could have all the spotted, speckled, and streaked livestock.
He watched Laban's sons talking to their father later in the afternoon. They waved their hands as they talked. Whew! They're really angry!
Laban shook his head and stroked his beard. He balled up his fist and pounded it into his other hand.
Jacob's eyes grew wide. He turned away and guided one sheep back to the flock. Laban's really angry.
He gazed up at the clouds. "What should I do?"
God spoke to him. "Go back to the land I gave to your fathers. Return to your family and I will be with you."
Finally, the time has come for Jacob to go home to the land God gave his family. He must be happy. God blessed him while he cared for Laban's flock and gave him enough to start his own home back in the land where he grew up. Jacob worked hard, even though Laban tricked him. What reward did Jacob get for working hard even though his uncle treated him mean?
Jacob left his home with his parents because he tricked his brother Esau. Now he plans to leave this place because Laban tricked him. Jacob has learned a lot about hard work, but do you think he has learned not to be mean to others?