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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
1-2Jacob 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.