YAAKUB (AS) (JACOB)
He is Yaakub bin Ishaaq bin Ibrahim (AS), the grandson of Ibrahim (AS); he had a twin brother by the name of Ays. One day Yaakub (AS) came to his father, who was very old at the time, and complained to him about his brother and said to him: "0 my father! I came to complain to you about my brother Ays for what he is doing to me. He has become very jealous of me ever since you seem to have taken more care in my upbringing. He is showing off to me his two wives whom he has married from the Kanaan people, and does not seem to like me at all. I have therefore come to you so you can judge us with your wise knowledge."
When Ishaaq (AS) felt that the argument between his two sons was not getting any better, he thought and then said to Yaakub (AS): "0 my son! As you can see I have grown old and in this argument with your brother I can not help you. I feel it is better that you leave home and go away from here for a while. Go to Araam in Iraq to your maternal uncle Labaan bin Batwaiyl. Go there and stay with him and you can marry one of his daughters. You will be happy there with him. I will pray God to that you have better life than your brother, go my son and God, be with you."
Yaakub (AS) therefore left home and went towards Iraq as told by his father. He traveled across the desert for many days until he reached Araam, and as he was a stranger in a new town, he asked the people if anyone knew Labaan bin Batwaiyl. The town's people replied: "Who does not know Labaan, the brother-in-law of Prophet Ishaaq (AS). He is the chief of his people here."
He asked to be shown his house, and that time a beautiful girl by the name of Rahil appeared and was asked to escort him. The girl was one of Labaan's daughters. When Yaakub (AS) saw this most beautiful, well-bred girl, he was amazed. With the powers of his clean heart, it made him not to think with temptation towards her. He approached her and said "We are relatives. My name is Yaakub, I am the son of Ishaaq the Prophet, and my mother is Rifqat the daughter of Batwaiyl, your grandfather, I am therefore your cousin. I have travelled across the desert from the town of the Kanaan to meet my uncle."
As he was walking along with her he felt in his heart that he had fallen in love with her, but tried to control his heart not to think badly towards her. When he reached his uncle's house and met him, he greeted him and gave him his father's regards. He also told him that after seeing Rahil, he liked her and wanted to marry her.
His uncle said to him: "That is very good news my son, and I agree, but on a condition that you stay and work for me for seven years as a herdsman to look after my flock so that you can earn your money for the dowry." Yaakub (AS) accepted this condition and stayed with his uncle looking after the sheep.
Labaan had two daughters Layya and Rahil. Rahil was younger than Labaan. According to the culture of the people there, a younger daughter could not be married before the elder one, or For one to marry two sisters at the same time. Neither was it the intention of Labaan to let the younger daughter be married first. However, Labaan could not disappoint his nephew since it was his choice that he wanted Rahil. When Yaakub (AS) completed his seven years he approached his uncle for Rahil's hand. Labaan found a way out of the problem so he said to him: "0 my son! My heart does not feel that I should let you marry Rahil before her sister, Layya, who is older and the rules do not allow this. If you like Rahil for her beauty then Layya is more intelligent and matured than her so take her as your wife. However, if you still feel that you want Rahil then you have to serve me for another seven years."
Yaakub (AS) could not refuse his uncle, since his heart was set on Rahil, he agreed to the condition and stayed with his uncle for another period of seven years and then married Rahil. But it is also believed that he first married Layya and when she died he married Rahil, and God is the most Knowledgeable. Labaan had given to each of his daughters a woman slave to work for them, and Yaakub (AS) also married these women.
Yaakub (AS) had twelve sons from his four wives. From Layya he had six and they were Rawabyn, Shamoun, Laawy, Yahudha, Riyaaloun and Yashjab. From Rahil he had two, Yusuf and Benyamin (Benjamin). From Rahil's slave he had two, Dana and Naftayl, and Born Layya's slave he had two, Jaad and Ashyr. All these were born in Araan except for Benyamin the youngest who was born in Kanaan.
These twelve sons are known as Asbaat (plural for Sibt in Arabic meaning clan) and are mentioned in the Quraan. However, these Asbaat who are mentioned in Quraan are their offspring since they became as twelve well-known clans, and among them there were Prophets.
How Yaakub (AS) Came to be Known as Israiyl (Israel)
He was called Yaakub because he was born after his twin brother. In Arabic the word Aqib) means that which follows, and he had followed his twin brother in coming out of his mother's womb during birth.
Yaakub (AS) used to work in Baitil-Maqdis (the temple) and used to be the first to arrive and the last to go out after the Prayers. He usually used to light the lanterns and put them off before going out. One night he remained behind and fell asleep, while he was asleep a Jinni came and put the lanterns off and then kidnapped him and made him a prisoner. In the morning when the people came, they found him a prisoner of this Jinni known as Iyl. In Arabic the word Asyr means prisoner, therefore came the word Asyr-Iyl (or Israiyl) meaning prisoner of Iyl. However, it is also known that Iyl means God, therefore Israiyl means the slave of God. Also it might have the meaning that Isra means power and Israiyl means power of God; and The Almighty knows better. Those who are known as Bani Israiyl the Children of Israiyl are the ancestors of Yaakub the Prophet.
Reference: The Twenty five Prophets (The Parable of the Apostles Mentioned in the Holy Quraan)", by Nassir ibn Issa ibn Said Al-Kindy. (p 64-67)