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Genesis 31

31
Jacob Flees from Laban
1Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what was our father’s he has acquired all this #Ps. 49:16wealth.” 2And Jacob saw the #Gen. 4:5countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not #Deut. 28:54favorable toward him as before. 3Then the Lord said to Jacob, #Gen. 28:15, 20, 21; 32:9“Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will #Gen. 46:4be with you.”
4So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock, 5and said to them, #Gen. 31:2, 3“I see your father’s countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father #Gen. 21:22; 28:13, 15; 31:29, 42, 53; Is. 41:10; Heb. 13:5has been with me. 6And #Gen. 30:29; 31:38–41you know that with all my might I have served your father. 7Yet your father has deceived me and #Gen. 29:25; 31:41changed my wages #Num. 14:22; Neh. 4:12; Job 19:3; Zech. 8:23ten times, but God #Gen. 15:1; 20:6; 31:29; Job 1:10; Ps. 37:28; 105:14did not allow him to hurt me. 8If he said thus: ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore speckled. And if he said thus: #Gen. 30:32‘The streaked shall be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked. 9So God has #Gen. 31:1, 16taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me.
10“And it happened, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams which leaped upon the flocks were streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted. 11Then #Gen. 16:7–11; 22:11, 15; 31:13; 48:16the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for #Gen. 31:42; Ex. 3:7; Ps. 139:3; Eccl. 5:8I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, #Gen. 28:16–22; 35:1, 6, 15where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now #Gen. 31:3; 32:9arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.’ ”
14Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, #Gen. 2:24“Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? 15Are we not considered strangers by him? For #Gen. 29:15, 20, 23, 27; Neh. 5:8he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money. 16For all these riches which God has taken from our father are really ours and our children’s; now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.”
17Then Jacob rose and set his sons and his wives on camels. 18And he carried away all his livestock and all his possessions which he had gained, his acquired livestock which he had gained in Padan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of #Gen. 17:8; 33:18; 35:27Canaan. 19Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel had stolen the #Gen. 31:30, 34; 35:2; Judg. 17:5; 1 Sam. 19:13; Hos. 3:4household idols that were her father’s. 20And Jacob stole away, unknown to Laban the Syrian, in that he did not tell him that he intended to flee. 21So he fled with all that he had. He arose and crossed the river, and #Gen. 46:28; 2 Kin. 12:17; Luke 9:51, 53headed toward the mountains of Gilead.
Laban Pursues Jacob
22And Laban was told on the third day that Jacob had fled. 23Then he took #Gen. 13:8his brethren with him and pursued him for seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the mountains of Gilead. 24But God #Gen. 20:3; 31:29; 46:2–4; Job 33:15; Matt. 1:20had come to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said to him, “Be careful that you #Gen. 24:50; 31:7, 29speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.”
25So Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountains, and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mountains of Gilead.
26And Laban said to Jacob: “What have you done, that you have stolen away unknown to me, and #1 Sam. 30:2carried away my daughters like captives taken with the sword? 27Why did you flee away secretly, and steal away from me, and not tell me; for I might have sent you away with joy and songs, with timbrel and harp? 28And you did not allow me #Gen. 31:55; Ruth 1:9, 14; 1 Kin. 19:20; Acts 20:37to kiss my sons and my daughters. Now #1 Sam. 13:13you have done foolishly in so doing. 29It is in my power to do you harm, but the #Gen. 28:13; 31:5, 24, 42, 53God of your father spoke to me #Gen. 31:24last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’ 30And now you have surely gone because you greatly long for your father’s house, but why did you #Gen. 31:19; Josh. 24:2; Judg. 17:5; 18:24steal my gods?”
31Then Jacob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was #Gen. 26:7; 32:7, 11afraid, for I said, ‘Perhaps you would take your daughters from me by force.’ 32With whomever you find your gods, #Gen. 44:9do not let him live. In the presence of our brethren, identify what I have of yours and take it with you.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.
33And Laban went into Jacob’s tent, into Leah’s tent, and into the two maids’ tents, but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the household idols, put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. And Laban searched all about the tent but did not find them. 35And she said to her father, “Let it not displease my lord that I cannot #Ex. 20:12; Lev. 19:32rise before you, for the manner of women is with me.” And he searched but did not find the household idols.
36Then Jacob was angry and rebuked Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban: “What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me? 37Although you have searched all my things, what part of your household things have you found? Set it here before my brethren and your brethren, that they may judge between us both! 38These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried their young, and I have not eaten the rams of your flock. 39#Ex. 22:10That which was torn by beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it. #Ex. 22:10–13You required it from my hand, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40There I was! In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes. 41Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I #Gen. 29:20, 27–30served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and #Gen. 31:7you have changed my wages ten times. 42#Gen. 31:5, 29, 53; Ps. 124:1, 2Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and #Gen. 31:53; Is. 8:13the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. #Gen. 29:32; Ex. 3:7God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and #Gen. 31:24, 29; 1 Chr. 12:17rebuked you last night.”
Laban’s Covenant with Jacob
43And Laban answered and said to Jacob, “These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and this flock is my flock; all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne? 44Now therefore, come, #Gen. 21:27, 32; 26:28let us make a covenant, #Josh. 24:27you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.”
45So Jacob #Gen. 28:18; 35:14; Josh. 24:26, 27took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46Then Jacob said to his brethren, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there on the heap. 47Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 48And Laban said, #Josh. 24:27“This heap is a witness between you and me this day.” Therefore its name was called Galeed, 49also #Judg. 10:17; 11:29; 1 Sam. 7:5, 6Mizpah, because he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another. 50If you afflict my daughters, or if you take other wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us—see, God is witness between you and me!”
51Then Laban said to Jacob, “Here is this heap and here is this pillar, which I have placed between you and me. 52This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. 53The God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, and the God of their father #Gen. 16:5judge between us.” And Jacob #Gen. 21:23swore by #Gen. 31:42the Fear of his father Isaac. 54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his brethren to eat bread. And they ate bread and stayed all night on the mountain. 55And early in the morning Laban arose, and #Gen. 29:11, 13; 31:28, 43kissed his sons and daughters and #Gen. 28:1blessed them. Then Laban departed and #Gen. 18:33; 30:25; Num. 24:25returned to his place.
31
1Jacob found out that Laban's sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father. All the wealth he has actually came from our father.” 2Jacob also noticed that Laban was treating him differently to the way he had before.
3The Lord told Jacob, “Go back to the country of your forefathers, to your family home. I will be with you.”
4Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah, telling them to come and meet him out in the fields where he was with his flock. 5“I've noticed that your father is treating me differently to the way he did before,” he told them. “But the God of my father will be with me. 6You both know very well how hard I worked for your father. 7But he's been cheating me—he's reduced my wages ten times! However, God hasn't let him hurt me. 8If he said, ‘You can have the speckled ones as your wages,’ then the whole flock had speckled young. If he said, ‘You can have the streaked ones as your wages,’ then the whole flock had streaked young. 9This is how God took your father's livestock and gave them to me. 10During the time the flock was breeding I had a dream where I saw that the male goats mating with the flock were all streaked, speckled, or spotted. 11Then in the dream the angel of the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘Jacob!’ I replied, ‘I'm here.’
12He told me, ‘Take a look and you'll see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I've been watching everything that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you poured olive oil on the stone pillar and made a solemn promise to me. Now get ready to leave this land and go back to your homeland.’”
14“There's nothing for us to inherit from our father's estate anyway,” Rachel and Leah replied. 15“He treats us like foreigners because he sold us to you, and now he's spent all that money. 16All the wealth that God has taken from him belongs to us and our children, so do whatever God has told you to do!”
17So Jacob got ready. He helped his children and his wives onto the camels, 18and drove all his livestock in front of him. He took with him all his possessions and livestock he'd gained during his time in Paddan-aram, and left to go back to his father in the country of Canaan.
19While Laban was away from home shearing his sheep, Rachel stole the household idols#31:19. “Household idols”: small figurines considered important and “lucky,” representative of pagan gods and consulted for making decisions. Often they were female figures, and associated with fertility. They also seem to be significant in determining issues of ownership of property and land, which is perhaps another reason why Rachel took them and why Laban was so keen to have them returned. that belonged to her father. 20Jacob also deceived Laban the Aramean by not informing him that he was going to run away. 21So Jacob left in a hurry with everything he had, crossed the Euphrates River, and headed towards the hill country of Gilead.
22Three days later Laban found out that Jacob had run away. 23Taking some of his relatives with him, he chased after Jacob and caught up with him seven days later in the hill country of Gilead. 24But during the night God came to Laban in a dream and told him, “Watch what you say to Jacob. Don't try to persuade him to come back, and don't threaten him either.”#31:24. “Don't try to get him to come back, and don't threaten him either”: literally, “from good to bad.” This idiomatic expression covered the range of possible approaches Laban might have been tempted to take, from trying to induce Jacob to return by offering some reward, to threatening him with force or some kind of penalty.
25Jacob had set up his tents in the hill country of Gilead when Laban caught up with him, so Laban and his relatives did the same. 26“Why did you deceive me like this?” Laban asked Jacob. “You carried off my daughters as if they were some prisoners captured by the sword! 27Why did you run away in secret, trying to trick me? Why didn't you come and tell me? I would have given you a good send-off, a celebration with singing and the music of tambourines and lyres. 28You didn't even let me kiss my grandchildren and daughters goodbye! You've really acted stupidly! 29I could really punish you badly, but the God of your father spoke to me last night and told me, ‘Watch what you say to Jacob. Don't try to persuade him to come back, and don't threaten him either.’ 30Clearly you wanted to leave and go back to your family home, but why did you have to steal my idols?”
31“I ran away because I was afraid,” Jacob explained to Laban. “I was worried that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32As for your idols, anyone you find who has them will die. You can search everything in the presence of our relatives, and if you find I have anything that belongs to you, you can take it.” (Jacob didn't know that Rachel had stolen the household idols.)
33Laban searched the tents of Jacob, Leah, and the two personal maids, but didn't find anything. He left Leah's tent and went into Rachel's tent. 34Rachel had put the household idols in a camel's saddlebag and was sitting on it. Laban carefully searched the whole tent but couldn't find them. 35She said to her father, “Sir, please don't get upset with me for not standing up in your presence, but I have my period.” He looked everywhere but didn't find the idols.
36Jacob got angry with Laban and confronted him, saying, “What crime am I guilty of? What wrong have I done to you that you've come hunting me down? 37You've searched through all my possessions. Did you find anything belonging to you? If you did, bring it out here before my relatives and yours so they can decide who's right!
38I've worked for you for these past twenty years. During that time none of your sheep and goats miscarried, and I haven't eaten a single ram from your flock. 39If any of them were killed by wild animals, I never even brought you the carcass to prove the loss—I bore the loss myself. But you on the other hand always made me compensate you for any animals that were stolen, whether at night or in broad daylight.
40Whether it was sweating in the heat of the day, or freezing in the cold of the night when I couldn't sleep, I went on working for you for twenty years in your home. 41I worked fourteen years for your two daughters, and six more years with your flocks. You reduced my wages ten times! 42If it weren't for the God of my father, the God of Abraham, the awesome God#31:42. “The awesome God”: literally “the Fear.” of Isaac, who took care of me, you would have dismissed me with nothing. But God saw my suffering, how hard I worked, and he condemned you last night.”
43Laban replied, “These are my daughters and these are my children and these are my flocks! In fact, everything you see here is mine! However, what can I do now about my daughters and their children? 44So let's make a solemn agreement between you and I, and it will be a witness to our mutual commitment.”
45Jacob took a stone and set it upright as a pillar. 46Then he told his relatives, “Go and collect some stones.” They all#31:46. “They all”: including both groups. made a pile of stones and then sat beside it to eat a meal. 47Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, while Jacob called it Galeed.#31:47. Both names mean “pile of stones,” the first in Aramaic, the second in Hebrew.
48Laban announced, “This pile of stone serves as a witness between me and you.” This is why it was called Galeed. 49It was also called Mizpah,#31:49. “Mizpah”: meaning “watchtower.” for as Laban said, “May the Lord keep a close eye on both of us when we're not together. 50If you treat my daughters badly or marry more wives in addition to them, God will see what you do even if no one else finds out!”
51Then Laban told Jacob, “Look at this pile of stones and this pillar that I have set up as a memorial of the agreement#31:51. “A memorial of the agreement”: supplied for clarity. between you and me. 52They also act as a witness to our solemn promises to each other: I will not come past them to attack you; and you will not come past them to attack me. 53May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor—the God of our forefathers—be the one to judge between us in any dispute.” Jacob in turn made his solemn promise in the name of the awesome God of his father Isaac.
54Then he offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited all his relatives to eat a meal there. They spent the night on the mountain. 55Laban got up early in the morning and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters goodbye. He blessed them, and then left to go back home.