Jacob Runs Away From Laban
1Jacob heard what Laban’s sons were saying. “Jacob has taken everything our father owned,” they said. “He has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2Jacob noticed that Laban’s feelings toward him had changed.
3Then the Lord spoke to Jacob. He said, “Go back to your father’s land and to your relatives. I will be with you.”
4So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah. He told them to come out to the fields where his flocks were. 5He said to them, “I see that your father’s feelings toward me have changed. But the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I’ve worked for your father with all my strength. 7But your father has cheated me. He has changed my pay ten times. In spite of everything that’s happened, God hasn’t let him harm me. 8Sometimes Laban would say, ‘The speckled ones will be your pay.’ Then all the flocks had little ones with speckles. At other times he would say, ‘The striped ones will be your pay.’ Then all the flocks had little ones with stripes. 9So God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me.
10“Once during the mating season I had a dream. In my dream I looked and saw male goats mating with the flock. The goats had stripes, speckles or spots. 11The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 12He said, ‘Look around you. See the male goats mating with the flock. All of them have stripes, speckles or spots. That’s because I have seen everything that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel. That is where you poured olive oil on a sacred stone. There you made a promise to me. Now leave this land. Go back to your own land.’ ”
14Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we still have any share of our father’s property? 15Doesn’t our father think of us as outsiders? First he sold us. Now he has used up what he was paid for us. 16All the wealth God took away from our father really belongs to us and our children. So do what God has told you to do.”
17Then Jacob put his children and wives on camels. 18He drove all his livestock ahead of him. He also took with him everything he had acquired in Paddan Aram. He left to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
19Laban had gone to clip the wool from his sheep. While he was gone, Rachel stole the statues of the family gods that belonged to her father. 20And that’s not all. Jacob tricked Laban, the Aramean. He didn’t tell him he was running away. 21So Jacob ran off with everything he had. He crossed the Euphrates River. And he headed for the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Chases Jacob
22On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had run away. 23He took his relatives with him and went after Jacob. Seven days later he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24Then God came to Laban, the Aramean, in a dream at night. He said to him, “Be careful. Do not say anything to Jacob, whether it is good or bad.”
25Jacob had set up his tent in the hill country of Gilead. That’s where Laban caught up with him. Laban and his relatives camped there too. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have tricked me. You have taken my daughters away like prisoners of war. 27Why did you run away in secret and trick me? Why didn’t you tell me? Then I could have sent you away happily. We could have sung to the music of tambourines and harps. 28You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You have done a foolish thing. 29I have the power to harm you. But last night the God of your father spoke to me. He said, ‘Be careful. Do not say anything to Jacob, whether it is good or bad.’ 30Now you have run away. You longed to go back to your father’s home. But why did you have to steal the statues of my gods?”
31Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid. I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. 32But if you find anyone who has the statues of your gods, that person will not remain alive. While our relatives are watching, look for yourself. See if there’s anything of yours here with me. If you find anything belonging to you, take it.” But Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen the statues.
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and Leah’s tent. He went into the tent of their two female servants. But he didn’t find anything. After he came out of Leah’s tent, he entered Rachel’s tent. 34Rachel was the one who had taken the statues of Laban’s family gods. She had put them inside her camel’s saddle. She was sitting on them. Laban searched the whole tent. But he didn’t find anything.
35Rachel said to her father, “I’m sorry, sir. I can’t get up for you right now. But don’t be angry with me. I’m having my monthly period.” So he searched everywhere but couldn’t find the statues of his gods.
36Jacob was very angry with Laban. “What is my crime?” he asked. “What have I done to you that you hunt me down like this? 37You have searched through all my things. What have you found that belongs to your family? Put it here in front of your relatives and mine. Let them decide between the two of us.
38“I’ve been with you for 20 years now. The little ones of your sheep and goats were not dead when they were born. I haven’t eaten rams from your flocks. 39I didn’t bring you animals torn apart by wild beasts. I made up for the loss myself. Also, you made me pay for anything stolen by day or night. 40And what was my life like? The heat burned me in the daytime. And it was so cold at night that I froze. I couldn’t sleep. 41That’s what it was like for the 20 years I was living with you. I worked for 14 years to marry your two daughters. I worked for six years to get my share of your flocks. You changed my pay ten times. 42But the God of my father was with me. He is the God of Abraham and the God Isaac worshiped. If he hadn’t been with me, you would surely have sent me away without anything to show for all my work. But God has seen my hard times. He has seen all the work my hands have done. So last night he warned you.”
43Laban answered Jacob, “The women are my daughters. The children are my children. The flocks are my flocks. Everything you see is mine. But what can I do today about these daughters of mine? What can I do about the children they’ve had? 44Come now. Let’s make a formal agreement, you and I. Let it be a witness between us.”
45So Jacob set up a stone as a way to remember. 46He said to his relatives, “Get some stones.” So they took stones and put them in a pile. And they ate there by it. 47Laban named the pile of stones Jegar Sahadutha. Jacob named it Galeed.
48Laban said, “This pile of stones is a witness between you and me today.” That’s why it was named Galeed. 49It was also called Mizpah. That’s because Laban said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. 50Don’t treat my daughters badly. Don’t get married to any women besides my daughters. There isn’t anyone here to see what we’re doing. But remember that God is a witness between you and me.”
51Laban also said to Jacob, “Here is this pile of stones. And here is this stone I’ve set up. I’ve set them up between you and me. 52This pile is a witness. And this stone is a witness. They are witnesses that I won’t go past this pile to harm you. And they are witnesses that you won’t go past this pile and this stone to harm me. 53The God of Abraham and Nahor is also the God of their father. May their God decide which of us is right.”
So Jacob made a promise using the name of the God his father Isaac worshiped. 54He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country. And he invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there.
55Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters. He gave them his blessing. Then he left and returned home.