Jacob’s Wages

Genesis 30:25-43

With the birth of Joseph, Jacob decides the time has come to return to his homeland. The Israel Bible explains that according to a verse in Obadiah (1:18), Joseph is compared to a flame and Esau to “a house of straw”. Thus, once the “flame” destined to combat Esau is born, Jacob could confront his brother and fulfil his commitment to God to return to the land of his fathers.


Jacob asks his father-in-law’s permission to return, but Laban convinces him to extend his stay, this time to earn his own living and not leave empty-handed. He tells Jacob to set his wages. Jacob acknowledges he has not had time to amass his own fortune, and tells Laban he should remove any speckled or spotted sheep from his current flock. From this point forward, any spotted sheep born will be Jacob’s. Laban agrees to the terms and Jacob sets out to tend Laban’s spotless sheep.


Jacob prepares an elaborate system to encourage the birth of speckled sheep, and it works. Additionally, he arranges for his sheep to be born among the strongest of the flock, leaving Laban with the weaker animals.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Do you think Jacob’s manipulation of the sheep actually affected the outcome? Why or why not? If not, why do you think Jacob did those things?

Comments ( 9 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • Like the women in Ja’acov’s household were manipulating so Jaá cov himself was manipulating the flock of his father in law. Just like the one was the other. In all this HaShem blessed Ja’acov . It seems that HaShem kind of had ratified all this. The outcome of the manipulations of the flock should not have gotten a good outcome if HaShem should have been against it.

  • Jacob chose the speckled and spotted sheep of Laban's flocks. It should be noted these are usually inferior and weak–"black sheep" of the family, if you will. The pure colored sheep were considered most valuable and strong. Jacob took what was weak and inferior and created value and strength, while Laban's "pure" sheep became weak and of less value.
    Take this information and apply a spiritual spin on it for us today. Because of the sin of Adam, all men are born into sin and hopelessly lost–inferior and weak. However, as did Jacob, our spotted and speckled blemishes notwithstanding, our Messiah chooses us. He made Himself a sacrifice for us and transforms us to His image, if we'll just believe in Him. Then, with the care of a Gentle Shepherd, He cares for and nurtures us, endowing us with His strength and value.
    Therefore, don't worry if you're inferior and weak in the eyes of the "pure" sheep. Your spots and speckles only prove you're a child of Jacob–Israel. Baruch HaShem

  • Our commentator refers to Yosef as a “flame” and Esau as “a house of straw”. He is absolutely correct in this statement. However, the truth goes a lot deeper. In combination with v. 26, the "Aleph/Tav" symbol appears Joseph, before "his wives", "his and children", and before "his faithful service". As I have mentioned in other comments, Joseph, in the family of Jacob, is a type of the Messiah. Prophetically, his life looks forward to and speaks of a Messiah Who would come from the lineage of David and offer salvation to ALL the families of the earth–Jew, sojourner, and alien alike. His very Name is Salvation.

  • I think Jacob's handling of the sheep most certainly affected the outcome. He showed his superior talent as a shepherd. According to the account given, it was this superiority that caused Laban to be even more profitable. I believe Jacob served Laban honestly from the beginning. There was no thought of deception or other "ulterior motives" in his thinking. However, Laban, from the beginning, was focused on "bottom line" thinking–what's in it for me?
    On the other side of the coin, Jacob spent 20 years putting up with Laban's dirty business dealings. Laban's shepherding skills were questionable upon Jacob's arrival. They were obviously no better when he left. Jacob's skills were superior when he arrived and only grew exponentially upon his departure. Laban thought he had a "sucker" in Jacob. As it turns out, Laban was the real "sucker". He got trampled at his own game. What goes around comes around–in this case, an honorable and righteous outcome.

  • Having sat through a very detailed scientific analysis of selective breeding and the methods that Ya'acov used to insure that the speckled sheep would prefer to breed with other speckled sheep, I believe that he was a man before his time and his methodology worked in his favor. He was able to successfully build up his own herd and create wealth for himself which is one of the promises of Elohim to HIS children.
    I also don't believe that Laban was harmed in this matter at all. Ya'acov did nothing to harm the other sheep and Laban continued to prosper as his herds had always done under Ya'acov's management of them. I think that Laban was only angry and resentful that Ya'acov has somehow managed to also prosper. This is common to the "spirit of Laban" and we've seen it many times in our own lives.
    Baruch Hashem.

    • Great comments. I'm especially drawn to your assessment that Laban was resentful that Jacob also prospered. Truly, this "spirit of Laban" is alive and well today. We are bombarded continually with rogue nations like Iran that want to "wipe Israel from the map". We must listen continually to these "nefarious" souls that don't want the peace of a "two state solution". They want Israel to cease existing. They really don't want the Land for themselves. They just don't want Jacob to have it.
      That's why Laban was excited when Jacob proposed his wages. Laban was moved by greed, and elation at the thought of Jacob leaving with virtually nothing. Such is the folly of the Laban's and Esau's of our day. I'm certain Laban thought Jacob was somehow deprived of his senses. As we see, Jacob had the last laugh. It is Hashem that will have the last laugh on His enemies of today. Read Psalms 83.

    • I agree, Yaakov was ahead of his time the fact that he used this kind of breeding; today it is called genetic engineering. The lesson for us is that the fear of Adonai is surely the beginning of wisdom; He gives us wisdom ahead of our times.

  • Sheila

    Throughout the six years described Laban continued to cheat Jacob and tipped the scales in his favour. However Jacob was exercising faith in action which he associated with the rods. I believe that the Lord gave this idea to Jacob and honoured his faith which was confirmed by the Angel of the Lord —Gen:31:11-13. The result was that Jacob became a wealthy man inhis own right through the hand of God’s covenant blessings and he was now in I a financial position to leave with his wives and family and return to his father and the land of promise.

  • Jesse

    Jacob was a smart guy. He understood how to selectively breed and by making the preparations that he did, he ensured successful breeding. God also made him prosper in this way perhaps as a form of repaying Laban for his deceit. Jacob grew stronger while Laban grew weaker. This contrast would indicate further that God was with Jacob.

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