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Genesis 31

31
Chapter 31
Jacob runs away from Laban
1Jacob heard that Laban's sons were complaining about him. They were saying, ‘Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father. He has taken things from our father and he has become rich himself.’
2And Jacob could see that Laban was not as nice to him as he had been before.
3Then the Lord said to Jacob, ‘Go back to the land where your father and grandfather lived. Go back to your relatives. I will be with you there.’ 4Jacob sent a message to Rachel and Leah. He said that they must come to the field where he was taking care of his animals. 5Jacob said to Rachel and Leah, ‘I see that your father is not as nice to me now, as he was before. But the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have worked very hard for your father. I have worked as well as I can. 7But your father has cheated me many times. He has changed what I receive for my work at least 10 times. But God has not let him hurt me. 8Sometimes Laban said, “I will pay you with the animals that have different colours on their skin.” If he said that, all the animals gave birth to babies with different colours on their skins. Sometimes he said, “I will pay you with the animals that have marks on them.” Then all the animals would give birth to babies with marks on them. 9In this way God took away your father's animals, and he gave them to me.
10One night I had a dream. It was at the time when the animals were becoming pregnant. In the dream, I saw that the male goats had marks and different colours on their skin. 11The angel of God spoke to me in the dream. He said, “Jacob.” I replied, “Yes, here I am.” 12The angel said, “Look carefully. See all the male goats that are having sex with the female goats. They all have marks and different colours on their skin. I am helping you because I have seen the bad things that Laban has done to you. 13I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel. That is where you poured oil on the special stone and you made a promise to me. Now I am telling you to leave this land. Go back to the land where you were born.” ’
14When Jacob told that to Rachel and Leah, they replied, ‘Our father will not give us anything more when he dies. 15He now thinks of us as if we are foreign people. You worked hard for him so that we could become your wives. He has cheated us as well as you! 16So everything that God has taken away from our father really belongs to us, and to our children. So you must do everything that God has told you to do.’
17So Jacob put his children and wives on his camels. 18He put together all his animals, and everything that he had received in Paddan Aram. He took them with him to go to the land of Canaan. He left to go to back to his father Isaac. 19Before they left, Laban had gone to cut the wool from his sheep. While he was away from the house, Rachel took the idols that Laban worshipped in his house. #31:19 These idols were small gods that someone made from wood or metal. Laban worshipped these gods.
20Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean. He did not tell Laban that he was going away. 21Jacob went away quickly and he took all his things. He went across the Euphrates river. He went towards the hill country of Gilead.
22After three days, someone told Laban that Jacob had gone away. 23So Laban took his relatives with him and he followed Jacob. After seven days he found him in the hill country of Gilead. 24Then God appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night. God warned him, ‘Be careful what you say to Jacob. Do not say anything good or bad against him.’
25Jacob had put up his tent in the hill country of Gilead. That is where Laban found him. So Laban and his relatives also put up their tents in that place. 26Laban said to Jacob, ‘Why did you do that? You have deceived me. You have taken my daughters away as if you had caught them in a war. 27Why did you go away secretly? Yes, you have deceived me. You should have told me that you were leaving. Then I would have prepared a big meal. We would have been happy together, with songs and music. 28But you did not even let me say “goodbye” to my daughters or my grandchildren. What you have done is not right. 29I have the power to hurt you. But last night the God of your father appeared to me. He told me, “Be careful what you say to Jacob. Do not say anything good or bad against him.” 30I know that you want very much to return to your father's house. That is why you have left my home. But why did you take my idols?’
31Jacob replied, ‘I left secretly because I was afraid. I thought that you might fight me to take your daughters away from me. 32But if you find your idols with anyone here, that person must die. While our relatives watch, you may look for anything that belongs to you. If you find anything then take it.’
Jacob did not know that Rachel had taken her father's idols.
33So Laban went into Jacob's tent. Then he went into Leah's tent. He also went into the female servants' tent. But he did not find the idols. When he left Leah's tent, he went into Rachel's tent. 34Rachel had taken the idols and she had put them inside her camel's seat. Now she sat on them. Laban looked everywhere in Rachel's tent but he did not find the idols. 35Rachel said to him, ‘Do not be angry with me, sir. I cannot stand up in front of you. It is the time of my monthly blood loss.’ #31:35 In Old Testament times, when a woman had her monthly blood loss, she was unclean. And anything that she sat on was unclean. See Leviticus 15:20. So, Laban looked everywhere for the idols, but he did not find them.
36Then Jacob became angry and he quarrelled with Laban. He asked Laban, ‘What have I done wrong? What sin have I done against you so that you had to catch me? 37Now you have looked through everything that I have. Did you find anything that belongs to you? If you have found anything, put it here in the open. Then your relatives and my relatives can see it. Our relatives can decide which of us is right, you or me!’
38Jacob continued to say to Laban, ‘I have worked for you for 20 years. Your female sheep and goats have all safely given birth to young ones. I have not taken any of your male animals as food for myself. 39If wild animals attacked your sheep or goats, I did not show them to you. I myself paid you for them. If any animal was lost, in the day time or at night, you said that I must pay you for it. 40This is what it was like to work for you: I worked in the strong heat of the sun in the day. I had pain from the cold at night. I could not always sleep. 41It was like this for 20 years as I worked like a slave for you. I worked for 14 years to pay you for your two daughters. Then I worked for six years for your sheep and goats. You changed what you paid me at least 10 times! 42The God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac was with me. #31:42 The God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Fear of Isaac are all names for God. God is very powerful and has authority over everything. If he had not helped me, then you would have sent me away with nothing. But God has seen what you have done to hurt me. He has seen how hard I have worked for you. So last night he told you that you had done wrong.’
43Laban replied to Jacob, ‘These women are my daughters. Their children are my grandchildren. The animals are my animals. Everything that you have with you here belongs to me. But there is nothing that I can do today about my daughters or about their children. 44So we should be friends. Let us make an agreement together. It will show that we have agreed to be friends.’
45So Jacob took a large stone and made it stand up in the ground. 46He said to his relatives, ‘Go and get some stones.’ So they brought some stones and they put them together on the ground. Then they all ate a meal together, near the heap of stones. #31:46 When people made a promise, they often ate a meal together.
47Laban called that place Jegar Sahadutha. Jacob called it Galeed. #31:47 Jegar Sahadutha are Aramaic words. Galeed is a Hebrew word. Both mean that the stones showed that people made an agreement there.
48Laban said, ‘These stones show that we have made an agreement today.’ That is why the place was called Galeed. 49The place was also called ‘Mizpah’. That was because Laban said, ‘May the Lord watch you and me when we are away from each other. 50Remember that God is watching you. If you do wrong to my daughters, God will see it. And if you marry any other women, remember this. God is watching you. Even if no one else sees you, God will know.’
51Laban also said, ‘I have put this special stone here, and the heap of stones near it. They stand there between your land and my land. 52I will not go past the stones to your side to hurt you. And you must not go past them to my side to hurt me. 53Let the God of Abraham, Nahor, and their ancestors decide if one of us is guilty.’
So Jacob made a promise in the name of the God that his father Isaac worshipped. 54He offered a sacrifice to God there in the hill country. He asked his relatives to eat a meal with him. After they had eaten, they stayed the night there.
55Early the next morning, Laban got up to return home. He kissed his grandchildren and his daughters. He said ‘goodbye’ and he blessed them. Then he left and he went back to his home. #31:55 Jacob ran away from Laban because he was afraid. But God had already told Jacob that he would be with him. Jacob should have trusted God to keep him safe.
31
1 JACOB HEARD Laban's sons complaining, Jacob has taken away all that was our father's; he has acquired all this wealth and honor from what belonged to our father.
2 And Jacob noticed that Laban looked at him less favorably than before.
3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, Return to the land of your fathers and to your people, and I will be with you.
4 So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field to his flock,
5 And he said to them, I see how your father looks at me, that he is not [friendly] toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me.
6 You know that I have served your father with all my might and power.
7 But your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.
8 If he said, The speckled shall be your wages, then all the flock bore speckled; and if he said, The streaked shall be your hire, then all the flock bore streaked.
9 Thus God has taken away the flocks of your father and given them to me.
10 And I had a dream at the time the flock conceived. I looked up and saw that the rams which mated with the she-goats were streaked, speckled, and spotted.
11 And the Angel of God said to me in the dream, Jacob. And I said, Here am I.
12 And He said, Look up and see, all the rams which mate with the flock are streaked, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban does to you.
13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you vowed a vow to Me. Now arise, get out from this land and return to your native land.
14 And Rachel and Leah answered him, Is there any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house?
15 Are we not counted by him as strangers? For he sold us and has also quite devoured our money [the price you paid for us].
16 For all the riches which God has taken from our father are ours and our children's. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.
17 Then Jacob rose up and set his sons and his wives upon the camels;
18 And he drove away all his livestock and all his gain which he had gotten, the livestock he had obtained and accumulated in Padan-aram, to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan.
19 Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep [possibly to the feast of sheepshearing], and Rachel stole her father's household gods.
20 And Jacob outwitted Laban the Syrian [Aramean] in that he did not tell him that he [intended] to flee and slip away secretly.
21 So he fled with all that he had, and arose and crossed the river [Euphrates] and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.
22 But on the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled.
23 So he took his kinsmen with him and pursued after [Jacob] for seven days, and they overtook him in the hill country of Gilead.
24 But God came to Laban the Syrian [Aramean] in a dream by night and said to him, Be careful that you do not speak from good to bad to Jacob [peaceably, then violently].
25 Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent on the hill, and Laban coming with his kinsmen pitched [his tents] on the same hill of Gilead.
26 And Laban said to Jacob, What do you mean stealing away and leaving like this without my knowing it, and carrying off my daughters as if captives of the sword?
27 Why did you flee secretly and cheat me and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with joy and gladness and with singing, with tambourine and lyre?
28 And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons [grandchildren] and my daughters good-bye? Now you have done foolishly [in behaving like this].
29 It is in my power to do you harm; but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, Be careful that you do not speak from good to bad to Jacob [peaceably, then violently].
30 And now you felt you must go because you were homesick for your father's house, but why did you steal my [household] gods?
31 Jacob answered Laban, Because I was afraid; for I thought, Suppose you would take your daughters from me by force.
32 The one with whom you find those gods of yours, let him not live. Here before our kinsmen [search my possessions and] take whatever you find that belongs to you. For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen [the images].
33 So 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 went from Leah's tent into Rachel's tent.
34 Now Rachel had taken the images (gods) and put them in the camel's saddle and sat on them. Laban searched and felt through all the tent, but did not find them.
35 And [Rachel] said to her father, Do not be displeased, my lord, that I cannot rise up before you, for the period of women is upon me and I am unwell. And he searched, but did not find the gods.
36 Then Jacob became angry and reproached and argued with Laban. And Jacob said to Laban, What is my fault? What is my sin, that you so hotly pursued me?
37 Although you have searched and felt through all my household possessions, what have you found of all your household goods? Put it here before my brethren and yours, that they may judge and decide between us.
38 These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your she-goats have not lost their young, and the rams of your flock have not been eaten by me.
39 I did not bring you [the carcasses of the animals] torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss of it; you required of me [to make good] all that was stolen, whether it occurred by day or by night.
40 This was [my lot]; by day the heat consumed me and by night the cold, and I could not sleep.
41 I have been twenty years in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks; and you have changed my wages ten times.
42 And if the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Dread [lest he should fall] and Fear [lest he offend] of Isaac, had not been with me, surely you would have sent me away now empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and humiliation and the [wearying] labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.
43 Laban answered Jacob, These daughters are my daughters, these children are my children, these flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do today to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne?
44 So come now, let us make a covenant or league, you and I, and let it be for a witness between you and me.
45 So Jacob set up a stone for a pillar or monument.
46 And Jacob said to his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones and made a heap, and they ate [together] there upon the heap. [Prov. 16:7.]
47 Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha [witness heap, in Aramaic ], but Jacob called it Galeed [witness heap, in Hebrew. ]
48 Laban said, This heap is a witness today between you and me. Therefore it was named Galeed.
49 And [the pillar or monument was called] Mizpah [watchpost], for he [Laban] said, May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent and hidden one from another.
50 If you should afflict, humiliate, or lower [divorce] my daughters, or if you should take other wives beside my daughters, although no man is with us [to witness], see (remember), God is witness between you and me.
51 And Laban said to Jacob, See this heap and this pillar, which I have set up between you and me.
52 This heap is a witness and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this heap to you, and that you will not pass by this heap and this pillar to me, for harm.
53 The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, and the god [the object of worship] of their father [Terah, an idolator], judge between us. But Jacob swore [only] by [the one true God] the Dread and Fear of his father Isaac. [Josh. 24:2.]
54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and called his brethren to eat food; and they ate food and lingered all night on the mountain.
55 And early in the morning Laban rose up and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and pronounced a blessing [asking God's favor] on them. Then Laban departed and returned to his home.