Genesis 31 Jacob Left Laban, Laban Pursued Jacob

Jacob Left Laban (vs 1-21)
Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons.

Laban’s sons: Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s; and from that which was our father’s he has gotten all this glory (wealth).

Jacob looked at Laban’s face, and it was not toward him as before.

Laban was no longer pleased and it showed on his face.

The Lord (to Jacob): Return to the land of your fathers, and to your kindred; and I will be with you.

Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah to come to the field where he was tending his flock.

Jacob: I see your father’s face is not toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my power. And your father has deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God did not allow him to hurt me. If your father said, The speckled shall be your wages; then all the cattle bore speckled offspring: and if he said, The ring-streaked shall be your hire; then all the cattle bore ring-streaked offspring. In this manner, God has taken away the cattle of your father and given them to me. At the time that the cattle conceived, I lifted up my eyes, and saw in a dream, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ring-streaked, speckled, and grisled. And the angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, “Jacob, lift up your eyes and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ring-streaked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban does to you. I am the God of Beth–el, where you anointed the pillar, and where you vowed a vow to me. Now arise and get out of this land and return to the land of your kindred.”

Rachel and Leah: Is there any inheritance for us in our father’s house? Are we counted as strangers to him? He has sold us and has devoured our money. All the riches which God has taken from our father is ours and our children’s. Whatever God has said to you, do.

Jacob put his sons and his wives upon camels, and he carried away all his cattle and goods which he had gotten in Paddan–aram to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.

When Laban went to shear his sheep, Rachel had stolen his images (idols).

Jacob did not tell Laban that he fled. He left secretly, and Laban the Syria was unaware of his departure. He fled with all that he had and passed over the river and headed toward the mountain Gilead.

Laban Pursued Jacob (vs 22-42)

On the third day, Laban was told that Jacob had fled. Laban took his brethren with him and pursued after Jacob seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.

God came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night.

God: Take heed that you do speak neither good nor bad to Jacob.

Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren also pitched in the mount of Gilead.

Laban (to Jacob): What have you done, that you have stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword? Why did you flee away secretly and not tell me, that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs and with music of tambourines and harps? And you did not allow me to kiss my daughters, my grandsons and my granddaughters good-bye. You have done foolishly in so doing. It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spoke to me yesternight, saying, Take heed that you speak neither good nor bad to Jacob. Though you need to be gone, because you long after your father’s house, why have you stolen my gods?

Jacob: I left secretly because I was afraid that you might take your daughters from me by force. As for your gods, I know nothing of this. With whomever you find them, let him not live. Discern before our brethren what is yours with me and take it.

Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the idols

Laban went into Jacob’s tent to search for the stolen idols, and into the two maidservants’ tents (Bilhah’s and Zilpah’s), and into Leah’s tent; but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and entered into Rachel’s tent.

Rachel had taken the images and put them in the camel’s saddle and sat on them. Laban searched all the tent but did not find them.

Rachel (to her father): Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before you; for the custom of women is upon me.

Rachel was saying that she was on her period. Since a man could not touch anything that a woman sat on while she was menstruating without becoming unclean, Laban did not search or even touch the camel’s saddle.

Leviticus 15:25-27 (NKJV)
If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her as the bed of her impurity; and whatever she sits on shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her impurity. Whoever touches those things shall be unclean; he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.

Laban did not find the images.

Jacob was angry and chided Laban.

Jacob: What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued after me? You have searched all my stuff, and what have you found of that belongs to you? Set it here before my brethren and your brethren, that they may judge between us. For twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your she goats have not miscarried. And I have not eaten the rams of your flock. That which was torn by beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it. You required it of my hand, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night.

A general rule among owners and the hired hands who watch over the flocks and herds was this: if an animal was stolen or killed by a beast during the day, the hireling was responsible for the loss. But if it was stolen or torn by night, the hireling was not responsible; the owner suffered the loss. Laban did not honor this rule; he held Jacob responsible for any loss.

The hireling was allowed to eat young rams of the flock. Jacob did not eat the rams.

Jacob (continued): Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from my eyes. Thus have I been twenty years in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your cattle: and you have changed my wages ten times. Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely you would have sent me away now empty. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you yesternight.

A Covenant (vs 43-55)

Laban: These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and these cattle are my cattle, and all that you see is mine: and what can I do this day to these my daughters, or to their children which they have born? Come, let us make a covenant, I and you; and let it be for a witness between me and you.

Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar.

Jacob (to his brethren): Gather stones.

And they took stones, and made an heap: and they ate there upon the heap.

And Laban called it Jegar–sahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.

Jegar–sahadutha means pile of testimony in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic. The Hebrew equivalent is Galeed.

Laban: This heap is a witness between me and you this day.

Therefore it was named Galeed And Mizpah.

Mizpah means the watch tower or the lookout.

Laban: The Lord watch between me and you, when we are absent one from another. If you shall afflict my daughters, or if you shall take other wives beside my daughters, no man is with us to see, God is witness between me and you.

Laban: Behold this heap, and behold this pillar, which I have cast between me and you. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and that you shall not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.

Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac. Then Jacob offered sacrifice on the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they ate bread, and tarried all night in the mount.

Early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his grandsons and his daughters and his granddaughter, and blessed them. Laban departed, and returned to his place.


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