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Genesis 31

31
Jacob Leaves Secretly for Canaan
1Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying: “Jacob has taken away everything that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has acquired all this wealth and honor.” 2Jacob noticed [a change in] the #Lit face.attitude of Laban, and saw that it was not friendly toward him as before. 3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your people, and I will be with you.” 4So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to his flock in the field, 5and he said to them, “I see [a change in] your father’s attitude, that he is not friendly toward me as [he was] before; but the God of my father [Isaac] has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all my strength. 7Yet your father has cheated me [as often as possible] and changed my wages ten times; but God did not allow him to hurt me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then the entire flock gave birth to speckled [young]; and if he said, ‘The streaked shall be your wages,’ then the entire flock gave birth to streaked [young]. 9Thus God has taken away the flocks of your father and given them to me. 10And it happened at the time when the flock conceived that I looked up and saw in a dream that the rams which mated [with the female goats] were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 11And the #See note 16:7. Note especially Gen 31:13, where the Angel says, “I am the God of Bethel.”Angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12He said, ‘Look up and see, all the rams which are mating [with the flock] are streaked, speckled, and spotted; for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar, and where you made a vow to Me; now stand up, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’ ” 14Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? 15Are we not counted by him as foreigners? For he sold us [to you in marriage], and has also entirely used up our purchase price. 16Surely all the riches which God has taken from our father are ours and our children’s. Now then, whatever God has told you to do, do it.”
17Then Jacob stood [and took action] and put his children and his wives on camels; 18and he drove away all his livestock and [took along] all his property which he had acquired, the livestock he had obtained and accumulated in Paddan-aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. 19When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel [went inside the house and] stole her father’s #Possession of these pagan figurines implied or conferred a right of inheritance.household gods. 20And Jacob #Lit stole the heart of.deceived Laban the Aramean (Syrian) by not telling him that he intended to leave and he slipped away secretly. 21So he fled with everything that he had, and got up and crossed the river [Euphrates], and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead [east of the Jordan River].
Laban Pursues Jacob
22On the third day [after his departure] Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23So he took his relatives with him and pursued him for seven days, and they overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob, either good or bad.”
25Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent on the hill, and Laban with his relatives camped on the same hill of Gilead. 26Then Laban said to Jacob, “What do you mean by deceiving me and leaving without my knowledge, and carrying off my daughters as if [they were] captives of the sword? 27Why did you run away secretly and deceive me and not tell me, so that [otherwise] I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with [music on the] tambourine and lyre? 28And why did you not allow me to kiss my #Lit sons.grandchildren and my daughters [goodbye]? Now you have done a foolish thing [in behaving like this]. 29It is in my power to harm you, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30Now [I suppose] you felt you must go because you #Lit longed greatly.were homesick for your father’s house and family; but why did you steal my [household] #Laban was upset because possession of the father’s household gods played an important role in inheritance. In the region where Laban lived, a son-in-law who possessed the family gods could appear before a judge and make a claim to the estate of his father-in-law. Since Jacob’s possession of the household gods implied the right to inherit Laban’s wealth, one can understand why he followed Jacob to recover the idols.gods?” 31Jacob answered Laban, “[I left secretly] because I was afraid, for I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. 32The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our relatives [search my possessions and] point out whatever you find that belongs to you and take it.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the idols.
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them. Then he came out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddlebag and sat on them. Laban searched through all her tent, but did not find them. 35So Rachel said to her father, “Do not be displeased, my lord, that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is on me and I am unwell.” He searched [further] but did not find the household idols.
36Then Jacob became angry and argued with Laban. And he said to Laban, “What is my fault? What is my sin that you pursued me like this? 37Although you have searched through all my possessions, what have you found of your household goods? Put it here before my relatives and your relatives, so that they may decide [who has done right] between the two of us. 38These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not lost their young, nor have I eaten the rams of your flocks. 39I did not bring you the torn carcasses [of the animals attacked by predators]; I [personally] took the loss. You required of me [to make good] everything that was stolen, whether it occurred by day or night. 40This was my situation: by day the heat consumed me and by night the cold, and #Lit sleep fled from my eyes.I could not sleep. 41These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for [my share of] your flocks, and you have #I.e. cheated me as often as possible.changed my wages ten times. 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and [the Feared One] of Isaac, had not been with me, most certainly you would have sent me away now empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and humiliation and the [exhausting] labor of my hands, so He rendered judgment and rebuked you last night.”
The Covenant of Mizpah
43Laban answered Jacob, “These #Lit daughters.women [that you married] are my daughters, these children are my #Lit children.grandchildren, these flocks are [from] my flocks, and all that you see [here] is mine. But what can I do today to these my daughters or to their children to whom they have given birth? 44So come now, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between you and me.” 45So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a [memorial] pillar. 46Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a mound [of stones], and they ate [a ceremonial meal together] there on the mound [of stones]. 47Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha (stone monument of testimony in #The language of Laban, who was an Aramean (v 20). The two names chosen by Laban and Jacob were equivalent.Aramaic), but Jacob called it #Heb heap of witness.Galeed. 48Laban said, “This mound [of stones] is a witness [a reminder of the oath taken] today between you and me.” Therefore he [also] called the name Galeed, 49and Mizpah (#The stone mound evidently was tall enough to be considered a place from which one could see at a distance. The thought behind it was that the Lord would watch them when they could not watch each other, and He would see and deal with any mistreatment committed by either of them (see v 50).watchtower), for Laban said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent from one another. 50If you should mistreat (humiliate, oppress) my daughters, or if you should take other wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us [as a witness], see and remember, God is witness between you and me.” 51Laban said to Jacob, “Look at this mound [of stones] and look at this pillar which I have set up between you and me. 52This mound is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this mound to harm you, and that you will not pass by this mound and this pillar to harm me. 53The God of Abraham [your father] and the God of Nahor [my father], and the #Here “god” is put in lowercase because Joshua later declared that Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, was an idolater, serving “other gods” (Josh 24:2). The wording of the Hebrew here indicates that Laban equated the God of Abraham and Nahor with the god of Terah. Whether Laban actually made no distinction in his mind between the true God and false gods, or simply committed an oversight, is not clear. Jacob evidently recognized the ambiguity in Laban’s statement as well, so to avoid any possibility of swearing allegiance to a false god, he swore his own oath by the God of Isaac.god [the image of worship] of their father [Terah, an idolater], judge between us.” But Jacob swore [only] by [the one true God] the Fear of his father Isaac. 54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice [to the Lord] on the mountain, and called his relatives to the meal; and they ate food and spent the night on the mountain. 55Early in the morning Laban got up and kissed his #Lit sons.grandchildren and his daughters [goodbye] and pronounced a blessing [asking God’s favor] on them. Then Laban left and returned home.
31
1-2Jacob learned that Laban’s sons were talking behind his back: “Jacob has used our father’s wealth to make himself rich at our father’s expense.” At the same time, Jacob noticed that Laban had changed toward him. He wasn’t treating him the same.
3That’s when God said to Jacob, “Go back home where you were born. I’ll go with you.”
4-9So Jacob sent word for Rachel and Leah to meet him out in the field where his flocks were. He said, “I notice that your father has changed toward me; he doesn’t treat me the same as before. But the God of my father hasn’t changed; he’s still with me. You know how hard I’ve worked for your father. Still, your father has cheated me over and over, changing my wages time and again. But God never let him really hurt me. If he said, ‘Your wages will consist of speckled animals’ the whole flock would start having speckled lambs and kids. And if he said, ‘From now on your wages will be streaked animals’ the whole flock would have streaked ones. Over and over God used your father’s livestock to reward me.
10-11“Once, while the flocks were mating, I had a dream and saw the billy goats, all of them streaked, speckled, and mottled, mounting their mates. In the dream an angel of God called out to me, ‘Jacob!’
“I said, ‘Yes?’
12-13“He said, ‘Watch closely. Notice that all the goats in the flock that are mating are streaked, speckled, and mottled. I know what Laban’s been doing to you. I’m the God of Bethel where you consecrated a pillar and made a vow to me. Now be on your way, get out of this place, go home to your birthplace.’”
14-16Rachel and Leah said, “Has he treated us any better? Aren’t we treated worse than outsiders? All he wanted was the money he got from selling us, and he’s spent all that. Any wealth that God has seen fit to return to us from our father is justly ours and our children’s. Go ahead. Do what God told you.”
17-18Jacob did it. He put his children and his wives on camels and gathered all his livestock and everything he had gotten, everything acquired in Paddan Aram, to go back home to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
19-21Laban was off shearing sheep. Rachel stole her father’s household gods. And Jacob had concealed his plans so well that Laban the Aramean had no idea what was going on—he was totally in the dark. Jacob got away with everything he had and was soon across the Euphrates headed for the hill country of Gilead.
22-24Three days later, Laban got the news: “Jacob’s run off.” Laban rounded up his relatives and chased after him. Seven days later they caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. That night God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream and said, “Be careful what you do to Jacob, whether good or bad.”
25When Laban reached him, Jacob’s tents were pitched in the Gilead mountains; Laban pitched his tents there, too.
26-30“What do you mean,” said Laban, “by keeping me in the dark and sneaking off, hauling my daughters off like prisoners of war? Why did you run off like a thief in the night? Why didn’t you tell me? Why, I would have sent you off with a great celebration—music, timbrels, flutes! But you wouldn’t permit me so much as a kiss for my daughters and grandchildren. It was a stupid thing for you to do. If I had a mind to, I could destroy you right now, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, ‘Be careful what you do to Jacob, whether good or bad.’ I understand. You left because you were homesick. But why did you steal my household gods?”
31-32Jacob answered Laban, “I was afraid. I thought you would take your daughters away from me by brute force. But as far as your gods are concerned, if you find that anybody here has them, that person dies. With all of us watching, look around. If you find anything here that belongs to you, take it.” Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen the gods.
33-35Laban went through Jacob’s tent, Leah’s tent, and the tents of the two maids but didn’t find them. He went from Leah’s tent to Rachel’s. But Rachel had taken the household gods, put them inside a camel cushion, and was sitting on them. When Laban had gone through the tent, searching high and low without finding a thing, Rachel said to her father, “Don’t think I’m being disrespectful, my master, that I can’t stand before you, but I’m having my period.” So even though he turned the place upside down in his search, he didn’t find the household gods.
36-37Now it was Jacob’s turn to get angry. He lit into Laban: “So what’s my crime, what wrong have I done you that you badger me like this? You’ve ransacked the place. Have you turned up a single thing that’s yours? Let’s see it—display the evidence. Our two families can be the jury and decide between us.
38-42“In the twenty years I’ve worked for you, ewes and she-goats never miscarried. I never feasted on the rams from your flock. I never brought you a torn carcass killed by wild animals but that I paid for it out of my own pocket—actually, you made me pay whether it was my fault or not. I was out in all kinds of weather, from torrid heat to freezing cold, putting in many a sleepless night. For twenty years I’ve done this: I slaved away fourteen years for your two daughters and another six years for your flock and you changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not stuck with me, you would have sent me off penniless. But God saw the fix I was in and how hard I had worked and last night rendered his verdict.”
43-44Laban defended himself: “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flock is my flock—everything you see is mine. But what can I do about my daughters or for the children they’ve had? So let’s settle things between us, make a covenant—God will be the witness between us.”
45Jacob took a stone and set it upright as a pillar.
46-47Jacob called his family around, “Get stones!” They gathered stones and heaped them up and then ate there beside the pile of stones. Laban named it in Aramaic, Yegar-sahadutha (Witness Monument); Jacob echoed the naming in Hebrew, Galeed (Witness Monument).
48-50Laban said, “This monument of stones will be a witness, beginning now, between you and me.” (That’s why it is called Galeed—Witness Monument.) It is also called Mizpah (Watchtower) because Laban said, “God keep watch between you and me when we are out of each other’s sight. If you mistreat my daughters or take other wives when there’s no one around to see you, God will see you and stand witness between us.”
51-53Laban continued to Jacob, “This monument of stones and this stone pillar that I have set up is a witness, a witness that I won’t cross this line to hurt you and you won’t cross this line to hurt me. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor (the God of their ancestor) will keep things straight between us.”
53-55Jacob promised, swearing by the Fear, the God of his father Isaac. Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and worshiped, calling in all his family members to the meal. They ate and slept that night on the mountain. Laban got up early the next morning, kissed his grandchildren and his daughters, blessed them, and then set off for home.