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Genesis 31

31
Jacob runs from Laban
1Jacob heard that Laban's sons were complaining, “Jacob is now a rich man, and he got everything he owns from our father.” 2Jacob also noticed that Laban was not as friendly as he had been before. 3One day the LORD said, “Jacob, go back to your relatives in the land of your ancestors, and I will bless you.”
4Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah to meet him in the field where he kept his sheep, 5and he told them:
Your father isn't as friendly with me as he used to be, but the God my ancestors worshipped has been on my side. 6You know that I have worked hard for your father 7and that he keeps cheating me by changing my wages time after time. But God has protected me. 8When your father said the speckled sheep would be my wages, all of them were speckled. And when he said the spotted ones would be mine, all of them were spotted. 9That's how God has taken sheep and goats from your father and given them to me.
10Once, when the flocks were mating, I dreamed that all the rams were either spotted or speckled. 11Then God's angel called me by name. I answered, 12and he said, “Notice that all the rams are either spotted or speckled. I know everything Laban is doing to you, 13and I am the God you worshipped at Bethel,#31.13 you…Bethel: Or “who appeared to you at Bethel”. when you poured olive oil on a rock and made a promise to me. Leave here straight away and return to the land where you were born.”#Gn 28.18-22.
14Rachel and Leah said to Jacob:
There's nothing left for us to inherit from our father. 15He treats us like foreigners and has even cheated us out of the bride price#31.15 bride price: Usually the husband-to-be paid a bride price to the father of the bride. But Jacob didn't pay Laban a bride price for either Rachel or Leah. Instead he was tricked into working fourteen years to get the bride he loved. So there was no money for either of Laban's daughters. that should have been ours. 16Now do whatever God tells you to do. Even the property God took from our father and gave to you really belongs to us and our children.
17Then Jacob, his wives, and his children got on camels and left 18for the home of his father Isaac in Canaan. Jacob took all the flocks, herds, and other property that he had got in northern Syria.#31.18 northern Syria: See the note at 24.10.
19Before Rachel left, she stole the household idols#31.19 household idols: These were thought to protect the household from danger. It is also possible that the person who had them would inherit the family property. while Laban was out shearing his sheep.
20Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean#31.20 the Aramean: Meaning someone from northern Syria (see the note at 24.10). by not saying that he intended to leave. 21When Jacob crossed the River Euphrates and headed for the hill country of Gilead, he took with him everything he owned.
Laban catches up with Jacob
22Three days later Laban found out that Jacob had gone. 23So he took some of his relatives along and chased after Jacob for seven days, before catching up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24But God appeared to Laban in a dream that night and warned, “Don't say a word to Jacob. Don't make a threat or a promise.”
25Jacob had set up camp in the hill country of Gilead, when Laban and his relatives came and set up camp in another part of the hill country. Laban went to Jacob 26and said:
Look what you've done! You've tricked me and run off with my daughters like a kidnapper. 27Why did you sneak away without telling me? I would have given you a going-away party with singing and with music on tambourines and harps. 28You didn't even give me a chance to kiss my own grandchildren and daughters goodbye. That was really foolish. 29I could easily hurt you, but the God your father worshipped has warned me not to make any threats or promises.
30I can understand why you were eager to return to your father, but why did you have to steal my idols?
31Jacob answered, “I left secretly because I was afraid you would take your daughters from me by force. 32If you find that any one of us has taken your idols, I'll have that person killed. Let your relatives be witnesses. Show me what belongs to you, and you can take it back.” Jacob did not realize that Rachel had stolen the household idols.
33Laban searched the tents of Jacob, Leah, and the two servant women,#31.33 two servant women: Bilhah and Zilpah (see 30.4,9). but did not find the idols. Then he started for Rachel's tent. 34She had already hidden them in the cushion she used as a saddle and was sitting on it. Laban searched everywhere and did not find them. 35Rachel said, “Father, please don't be angry with me for not getting up; I am having my period.” Laban kept on searching, but still did not find the idols.
36Jacob became very angry and said to Laban:
What have I done wrong? Have I committed some crime? Is that why you hunted me down? 37After searching through everything I have, did you find anything of yours? If so, put it here, where your relatives and mine can see it. Then we can decide what to do.
38In all the twenty years that I've worked for you, not one of your sheep or goats has had a miscarriage, and I've never eaten even one of your rams. 39If a wild animal killed one of your sheep or goats, I paid for it myself. In fact, you demanded the full price, whether the animal was killed during the day or at night.#31.39 you demanded…night: A shepherd was not responsible for sheep and goats killed by wild animals, if the shepherd could supply proof of how they were killed. 40I sweated every day, and I couldn't sleep at night because of the cold.
41I had to work fourteen of these twenty long years to earn your two daughters and another six years to buy your sheep and goats. During that time you kept changing my wages. 42If the fearsome God#31.42 fearsome God: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. worshipped by Abraham and my father Isaac had not been on my side, you would have sent me away without a thing. But God saw my hard work, and he knew the trouble I was in, so he helped me. Then last night he told you how wrong you were.
Jacob and Laban make an agreement
43Laban said to Jacob, “Leah and Rachel are my daughters, and their children belong to me. All these sheep you are taking are really mine too. In fact, everything you have belongs to me. But there is nothing I can do to keep my daughters and their children. 44So I am ready to make an agreement with you, and we will pile up some large rocks here to remind us of the agreement.”
45After Jacob had set up a large rock, 46he told his men to get some more rocks and pile them up next to it. Then Jacob and Laban ate a meal together beside the rocks. 47Laban named the pile of rocks Jegar Sahadutha.#31.47 Jegar Sahadutha: In Aramaic “Jegar Sahadutha” means “a pile of rocks to remind us”. But Jacob named it Galeed.#31.47 Galeed: In Hebrew “Galeed” means “a pile of rocks to remind us”. 48Laban said to Jacob, “This pile of rocks will remind us of our agreement.” That's why the place was named Galeed. 49Laban also said, “This pile of rocks means that the LORD will watch us both while we are apart from each other.” So the place was also named Mizpah.#31.49 Mizpah: In Hebrew “Mizpah” sounds like “a place from which to watch”.
50Then Laban said:
If you ill-treat my daughters or marry other women, I may not know about it, but remember, God is watching us! 51-52Both this pile of rocks and this large rock have been set up between us as a reminder. I must never go beyond them to attack you, and you must never go beyond them to attack me. 53My father Nahor, your grandfather Abraham, and their ancestors all worshipped the same God, and he will make sure that we each keep the agreement.
Then Jacob made a promise in the name of the fearsome God#31.53 fearsome God: See the note at 31.42. his father Isaac had worshipped. 54Jacob killed an animal and offered it as a sacrifice there on the mountain, and he invited his men to eat with him. After the meal they spent the night on the mountain. 55Early the next morning, Laban kissed his daughters and his grandchildren goodbye, then he left to go back home.
31
1But then he heard what Lavan’s sons were saying: “Ya‘akov has taken away everything that our father once had. It’s from what used to belong to our father that he has gotten so rich.” 2He also saw that Lavan regarded him differently than before. 3Adonai said to Ya‘akov, “Return to the land of your ancestors, to your kinsmen; I will be with you.” 4So Ya‘akov sent for Rachel and Le’ah and had them come to the field where his flock was. 5He said to them, “I see by the way your father looks that he feels differently toward me than before; but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all my strength, 7and that your father has belittled me and has changed my wages ten times; but God did not allow him to do me any damage. 8If he said, ‘The speckled will be your wages,’ then all the animals gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, ‘The streaked will be your wages,’ then all the animals gave birth to streaked young. 9This is how God has taken away your father’s animals and given them to me. 10Once, when the animals were mating, I had a dream: I looked up and there in front of me the male goats which mated with the females were streaked, speckled and mottled. 11Then, in the dream, the angel of God said to me, ‘Ya‘akov!’ and I replied, ‘Here I am.’ 12He continued, ‘Raise your eyes now, and look: all the male goats mating with the females are streaked, speckled and mottled; for I have seen everything Lavan has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Beit-El, where you anointed a standing-stone with oil, where you vowed your vow to me. Now get up, get out of this land, and return to the land where you were born.’” 14Rachel and Le’ah answered him, “We no longer have any inheritance from our father’s possessions; 15and he considers us foreigners, since he has sold us; moreover, he has consumed everything he received in exchange for us. 16Nevertheless, the wealth which God has taken away from our father has become ours and our children’s anyway; so whatever God has told you to do, do.”
(vi) 17Then Ya‘akov got up, put his sons and wives on the camels, 18and carried off all his livestock, along with all the riches he had accumulated, the livestock in his possession which he had acquired in Paddan-Aram, to go to Yitz’chak his father in the land of Kena‘an.
19Now Lavan had gone to shear his sheep, so Rachel stole the household idols that belonged to her father, 20and Ya‘akov outwitted Lavan the Arami by not telling him of his intended flight. 21So he fled with everything he had: he departed, crossed the [Euphrates] River and set out for the hill-country of Gil‘ad. 22Not until the third day was Lavan told that Ya‘akov had fled.
23Lavan took his kinsmen with him and spent the next seven days pursuing Ya‘akov, overtaking him in the hill-country of Gil‘ad. 24But God came to Lavan the Arami in a dream that night and said to him, “Be careful that you don’t say anything to Ya‘akov, either good or bad.”
25When Lavan caught up with Ya‘akov, Ya‘akov had set up camp in the hill-country; so Lavan and his kinsmen set up camp in the hill-country of Gil‘ad. 26Lavan said to Ya‘akov, “What do you mean by deceiving me and carrying off my daughters as if they were captives taken in war? 27Why did you flee in secret and deceive me and not tell me? I would have sent you off with joy and singing to the music of tambourines and lyres. 28You didn’t even let me kiss my sons and daughters good-bye! What a stupid thing to do! 29I have it in my power to do you harm; but the God of your father spoke to me last night and said, ‘Be careful that you don’t say anything to Ya‘akov, either good or bad.’ 30Granted that you had to leave, because you longed so deeply for your father’s house; but why did you steal my gods?” 31Ya‘akov answered Lavan, “Because I was afraid. I said, ‘Suppose you take your daughters away from me by force?’ 32But if you find your gods with someone, that person will not remain alive. So with our kinsmen to witness, if you spot anything that I have which belongs to you, take it back.” Ya‘akov did not know that Rachel had stolen them. 33Lavan went into Ya‘akov’s tent, then into Le’ah’s tent and into the tent of the two slave-girls; but he did not find them. He left Le’ah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the household gods, put them in the saddle of the camel and was sitting on them. Lavan felt all around the tent but did not find them. 35She said to her father, “Please don’t be angry that I’m not getting up in your presence, but it’s the time of my period.” So he searched, but he didn’t find the household gods.
36Then Ya‘akov became angry and started arguing with Lavan. “What have I done wrong?” he demanded. “What is my offense, that you have come after me in hot pursuit? 37You have felt around in all my stuff, but what have you found of all your household goods? Put it here, in front of my kinsmen and yours, so that they can render judgment between the two of us! 38I have been with you for these twenty years! Your female sheep and goats haven’t aborted their young, and I haven’t eaten the male animals in your flocks. 39If one of your flock was destroyed by a wild animal, I didn’t bring the carcass to you but bore the loss myself. You demanded that I compensate you for any animal stolen, whether by day or by night. 40Here’s how it was for me: during the day thirst consumed me, and at night the cold — my sleep fled from my eyes. 41These twenty years I’ve been in your house — I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock; and you changed my wages ten times! 42If the God of my father, the God of Avraham, the one whom Yitz’chak fears, had not been on my side, by now you would certainly have already sent me away with nothing! God has seen how distressed I’ve been and how hard I’ve worked, and last night he passed judgment in my favor.”
(vii) 43Lavan answered Ya‘akov, “The daughters are mine, the children are mine, the flocks are mine, and everything you see is mine! But what can I do today about these daughters of mine or the children they have borne? 44So now, come, let’s make a covenant, I and you; and let it stand as a testimony between me and you.” 45Ya‘akov took a stone and set it upright as a standing-stone. 46Then Ya‘akov said to his kinsmen, “Gather some stones”; and they took stones, made a pile of them and ate there by the pile of stones. 47Lavan called it Y’gar-Sahaduta [“pile of witness” in Aramaic], while Ya‘akov called it Gal-‘Ed [“pile of witness” in Hebrew].
48Lavan said, “This pile witnesses between me and you today.” This is why it is called Gal-‘Ed 49and also HaMitzpah [the watchtower], because he said, “May Adonai watch between me and you when we are apart from each other. 50If you cause pain to my daughters, or if you take wives in addition to my daughters, then, even if no one is there with us, still God is witness between me and you.” 51Lavan also said to Ya‘akov, “Here is this pile, and here is this standing-stone, which I have set up between me and you. 52May this pile be a witness, and may the standing-stone be a witness, that I will not pass beyond this pile to you, and you will not pass beyond this pile and this standing-stone to me, to cause harm. 53May the God of Avraham and also the god of Nachor, the god of their father, judge between us.” But Ya‘akov swore by the One his father Yitz’chak feared. 54Ya‘akov offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his kinsmen to the meal. They ate the food and spent the whole night on the mountain.