Yaakov (Jacob) leaves his hometown Be'er Sheva and journeys to Charan. On the way, he encounters "the place" and sleeps there, dreaming of a ladder connecting heaven and earth, with angels climbing and descending on it; God appears and promises that the land upon which he lies will be given to his descendents. In the morning, Yaakov raises the stone on which he laid his head as an altar and monument, pledging that it will be made the house of God.
In Charan, Yaakov stays with and works for his uncle Lavan (Laban), tending Lavan's sheep. Lavan agrees to give him his younger daughter Rochel (Rachel) -- whom Yaakov loves -- in marriage, in return for seven years' labor. But on the wedding night, Lavan gives him his elder daughter, Leah, instead -- a deception Yaakov discovers only in the morning. Yaakov marries Rochel, too, a week later, after agreeing to work another seven years for Lavan.
Leah gives birth to six sons -- Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehudah, Issachar and Zevulun -- and a daughter, Dinah, while Rochel remains barren. Rochel gives Yaakov her handmaid, Bilhah, as a wife to bear children in her stead, and two more sons, Dan and Naphtali, are born. Leah does the same with her handmaid, Zilpah, who gives birth to Gad and Asher. Finally, Rochel's prayers are answered and she gives birth to Yosef (Joseph).
Yaakov has now been in Charan for fourteen years and wishes to return home, but Lavan persuades him to remain, now offering him sheep in return for his labor. Yaakov prospers, despite Lavan's repeated attempts to swindle him. After six years, Yaakov leaves Charan in stealth, fearing that Lavan would prevent him from leaving with the family and property for which he labored. Lavan pursues Yaakov, but is warned by God in a dream not to harm him. Lavan and Yaakov make a pact on Mount Gal-Ed, attested to by a pile of stones, and Yaakov proceeds to the Holy Land, where he is met by angels.