Exit Parallel Mode
 

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
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.