I'm having a little trouble understanding this story of Jacob
The only thing that I understand is that Jacob ended up with a large herd of livestock after working for Laban.
What was the difference between his "wages" and his "hire". What was the difference between speckled, spotted, ringstraked(striped), and grisled(spotted)? Why did it use the two different words spotted and grisled(spotted)?
So here Jacob started off tending only sheep of normal color and goats with no markings. However, he worked hard and did what he thought would increase the number of off-colored animals. He took green sapling staffs of the storax, almond, and plane trees, and peeled the barks of these in such a way as to give them a striped, spotty appearance. These he placed in the gutters of the animals’ drinking troughs, apparently with the idea that if the animals looked at the stripes when in heat there would be a prenatal influence that would make the offspring mottled or abnormal in color. Jacob also took care to place the sticks in the troughs only when the stronger robust animals were in heat.—Gen 30:37-42.
Results? The offspring abnormally marked or colored, and therefore Jacob’s wages, proved to be more numerous than those of normal solid color, which were to be Laban’s. Since the desired results were obtained, Jacob probably thought his stratagem with the striped sticks was responsible. In this he no doubt shared the same misconception commonly held by many people, namely, that such things can have an effect on the offspring. However, in a dream his Creator instructed him otherwise.
In his dream Jacob learned that certain principles of genetics, and not the sticks, were responsible for his success. Whereas Jacob was tending only solid-colored animals, yet the vision revealed that the male goats were striped, speckled, and spotty. How could this be? Apparently they were hybrids even though of uniform color, the result of crossbreeding in Laban’s flock before Jacob began being paid. So certain of these animals carried in their reproductive cells the hereditary factors for spotting and speckling future generations, according to the laws of heredity discovered by Gregor Mendel.—Gen 31:10-12." (Insight on the Scriptures. WTS)
"Generally, compensation paid to laborers for their work or services. (Lev 19:13) As a verb, “hire” means to employ someone (Matt 20:1) or to rent something. (Exodus 22:14,*15; Ac 28:30) “Wages” may be synonymous with “reward.” For example, King Nebuchadrezzar’s (Nebuchadnezzar’s) wages or reward for his service as Jehovah’s executioner in destroying Tyre was the conquest of Egypt with all its wealth for him to plunder. (Ezek 29:18,*19; see also Ruth 2:12; Isa 61:8; 62:11.) In fulfillment of Zechariah 11:12, Judas Iscariot received 30 pieces of silver from the priests (if shekels, $66) as “wages” for betraying Jesus Christ. (Matt 26:14-16; 27:3-10; Ac 1:18) Also, “wages” at times denotes “recompense.” “The wages sin pays is death.”—Rom 6:23; see also Psalm 109:20; Isa 65:6,*7.I still want to know the difference between "wages" and "hire".
Hire was paid not only in the form of money or silver (2Chron 24:11,*12; 25:6) but also in domestic animals, agricultural products, and so forth. Jacob’s wages for 14 years of work were his two wives, Leah and Rachel. Additionally, he served six years for the agreed-upon part of Laban’s flock. (Gen 29:15, 18,*27; 31:41) Leah, in giving her son’s mandrakes to Rachel, “hired” Jacob to have relations with her, and for this reason she referred to the son born to her as “hireling’s wages.” (Gen 30:14-18) In the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the usual daily wage for agricultural workers was evidently one denarius (74 cents).—Mt 20:2.
God’s law to Israel required that hired laborers be paid at the close of the workday. (Lev 19:13; De 24:14,*15) The Scriptures severely censure those dealing dishonestly with the wages of hired workers.—Jer 22:13; Mal 3:5; Jas 5:4.
Care must be exercised when hiring others to be sure that those hired are competent. Hence the proverb: “As an archer piercing everything is the one hiring someone stupid or the one hiring passersby.”—Pr 26:10." (Insight on the Scriptures. WTS)
Hope that helps.
The Biblical idea that you can magically change the appearance of an animal by the use of so-called "sympathetic magic" (which is an anthropological term and not a new age term) shows that Jacob knew about certain secret ancient practices that are today viewed as pure superstition (especially by scientists). This ancient 'law' simply states that "like attracts like", and this same idea occurs in all early and many later religions.
The idea of Anthroplogical "Sympathetic Magic" being used in the Bible is proof of its use in ancient times but more importantly relates to the idea of anthropological sympathetic practices appearing in quite important circumstances. The most important being the Crucifixion where "sin was symbolically nailed to the cross" as acted out by Jesus in His masterful use of the ancient scapegoat "like attracts like" or sympathetic principle. The ancient scapegoat ceremony was preceded by rituals designed to transfer the sins of the community onto the sacrificial goat by the anthropological sympathetic system.
Another example is the likening of wine to blood due to similarity of colour and consistency (remembering that wine in ancient times was thick and viscious like cordial and later mixed with water). And of course wine also lasts a very long time so it bears a 'like attracts like" principle to eternal life etc etc.
Paradoxically the idea of "like attracts like" is the basis of the modern understanding of gravity!!