Ishaq [peace be upon him], the son of Abraham [peace be upon him], married Rifqa/Rebekah at the age of about forty. Ishaq [peace be upon him] had not had children for a very long time and therefore made a supplication which led to him having twins. He had sons ‘Isu and Yakub [peace be upon him]. Yakub [peace be upon him] was born second and held his brother’s heel. His name comes from the word Qab, which means heel. Another name of Yakub [peace be upon him] is Israil, which means servant of Allah. Yakub [peace be upon him] had twelve sons, who were to be the twelve ancestors of the Israelites. These tribes are called Bani Isra’il, children of Israel. He had ten of these children from one woman and he had Joseph and Bunyamin from another woman.
Supplication for Yakub
Ishaq [peace be upon him] became somewhat weaker in old age and one day he called ‘Isu and asked him if he could prepare food for him. If he did this, he would supplicate for him. His wife Rifqa heard this and instructed Yakub [peace be upon him] to prepare two goats for his father so that supplication would be made for him. He did this and Ishaq [peace be upon him] made a supplication that he [Yakub [peace be upon him]] would have many children and a large tribe. After Ishaq [peace be upon him] ate of the meat, ‘Isu came with his share for his father. Ishaq [peace be upon him] asked him why he had brought him food when it had already been served.
Then ‘Isu found out that his little brother Yakub [peace be upon him] was ahead of him and therefore became angry with Yakub [peace be upon him]. Their mother Rifqa advised Yakub [peace be upon him] to leave for Harran, their original hometown, so that the situation would not escalate. They still had relatives in Harran, including Labaan, Rifqa’s uncle. On the way to Harran, he stopped in Jerusalem to rest, seeing in his dream that light came from heaven. He also saw angels who started to worship Allah. Thereupon he vowed that he would establish a sacred place there. Hence we also call Jerusalem [al-Quds] Bayt al-Maqdis, house of holiness.
Living in Harran (Southern Turkey)
After arriving in Harran and staying there for seven years, he married one [the eldest of the two named Raheel] of the two daughters of Labaan. During those seven years he had to work for Labaan, whose family consisted of shepherds. After those seven years he was finally allowed to get married, but on the wedding night he found out that his father-in-law had married him to Raheel’s older sister named Layla. The father-in-law had done this, because it was customary at that time that the younger daughter was not allowed to marry if the eldest was still unmarried. However, Yakub [peace be upon him] did not want to marry her and complained to his father-in-law, who had actually made fun of him. His father-in-law said he could marry his younger daughter, but he had to serve him for another seven years. He had done this too, after which he married Raheel.
More than 10 children
The children Yakub [peace be upon him] had by his first wife, Layla/Leah, were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. From Raheel/Rachel, Yakub [peace be upon him] had no children at the beginning, so she married him to her maid Belha/Bilhah. From her he got Dan and Naphtali. Yakub [peace be upon him] also married Layla’s maid named Zulfa/Zilpa after this. From her he got Gad and Asher.
Yusuf and Bunyamin were born
Eventually, he also had two children with Raheel, named Joseph and Benjamin. These were the twelve children of Yakub [peace be upon him], with whom he resided in Harran. After twenty years he asked Labaan for permission so that he could go to his father Ishaq [peace be upon him], his mother Rifqa and his brother ‘Isu. He agreed with this and also gave him all newborn animals of that year with him. Yakub [peace be upon him] begged Allah for help to his brother ‘Isu, who may have been still angry with him. Yakub [peace be upon him] gave the various animals he had been given to various servants and ordered them to go towards ‘Isu. If ‘Isu then saw them, they had to indicate that those animals are a gift from Yakub [peace be upon him]. This had to be done in such a way that he would see and receive a new herd of animals each time. At this the heart of ‘Isu softened and when Yakub [peace be upon him] came and asked his forgiveness, he forgave him. They went together to their father Ishaq [peace be upon him] and lived there with all his children.
Read more about Yakub (as) in the life of Prophet Yusuf (as).