Exit Parallel Mode
 

Genesis 31

31
Jacob Flees from Laban
1Now Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken away all that belonged to our father and built all this wealth at our father’s expense.” 2And Jacob saw from the countenance of Laban that his attitude toward him had changed.
3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.”
4So Jacob sent word and called Rachel and Leah to the field where his flocks were, 5and he told them, “I can see from your father’s countenance that his attitude toward me has changed; but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all my strength. 7And although he has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, God has not allowed him to harm me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled will be your wages,’ then the whole flock bore speckled offspring. If he said, ‘The streaked will be your wages,’ then the whole flock bore streaked offspring. 9Thus God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me.
10When the flocks were breeding, I saw in a dream that the streaked, spotted, and speckled males were mating with the females. 11In that dream the angel #31:11 Or Angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’
And I replied, ‘Here I am.’
12‘Look up,’ he said, ‘and see that all the males that are mating with the flock are streaked, spotted, or speckled; for I have seen all that Laban has done to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and made a solemn vow to Me. Now get up and leave this land at once, and return to your native land.’”
14And Rachel and Leah replied, “Do we have any portion or inheritance left in our father’s house? 15Are we not regarded by him as outsiders? Not only has he sold us, but he has certainly squandered what was paid for us. 16Surely all the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. So do whatever God has told you.”
17Then Jacob got up and put his children and his wives on camels, 18and he drove all his livestock before him, along with all the possessions he had acquired in Paddan-aram,#31:18 That is, northwest Mesopotamia to go to his father Isaac in the land in Canaan.
19Now while Laban was out shearing his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household idols. 20Moreover, Jacob deceived #31:20 Or stole the heart of; also in verses 26 and 27 Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was running away. 21So he fled with all his possessions, crossed the Euphrates,#31:21 Hebrew the River and headed for the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Pursues Jacob
22On the third day Laban was informed that Jacob had fled. 23So he took his relatives with him, pursued Jacob for seven days, and overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24But that night God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream and warned him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”
25Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there as well. 26Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me and carried off my daughters like captives of war! 27Why did you run away secretly and deceive me, without even telling me? I would have sent you away with joy and singing, with tambourines and harps. 28But you did not even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. Now you have done a foolish thing.
29I have power to do you great harm, but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30Now you have gone off because you long for your father’s house. But why have you stolen my gods?”
31“I was afraid,” Jacob answered, “for I thought you would take your daughters from me by force. 32If you find your gods with anyone here, he shall not live! In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself if anything is yours, and take it back.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the idols.
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent, then Leah’s tent, and then the tents of the two maidservants, but he found nothing. Then he left Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken Laban’s household idols, put them in the saddlebag of her camel, and was sitting on them. And Laban searched everything in the tent but found nothing.
35Rachel said to her father, “Sir, do not be angry that I cannot stand up before you; for I am having my period.” So Laban searched, but could not find the household idols.
36Then Jacob became incensed and challenged Laban. “What is my crime?” he said. “For what sin of mine have you so hotly pursued me? 37You have searched all my goods! Have you found anything that belongs to you? Put it here before my brothers and yours, that they may judge between the two of us.
38I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten the rams of your flock. 39I did not bring you anything torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for what was stolen by day or night. 40As it was, the heat consumed me by day and the frost by night, and sleep fled from my eyes.
41Thus for twenty years I have served in your household—fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks—and you have changed my wages ten times! 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, surely by now you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, and last night He rendered judgment.”
Jacob’s Covenant with Laban
43But Laban answered Jacob, “These daughters are my daughters, these sons are my sons, and these flocks are my flocks! Everything you see is mine! Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine or the children they have borne? 44Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between you and me.”
45So Jacob picked out a stone and set it up as a pillar, 46and he said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” So they took stones and made a mound, and there by the mound they ate. 47Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed.#31:47 The Aramaic Jegar-Sahadutha and the Hebrew Galeed both mean heap of witnesses.
48Then Laban declared, “This mound is a witness between you and me this day.”
Therefore the place was called Galeed. 49It was also called Mizpah,#31:49 Mizpah means watchtower. because Laban said, “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are absent from each other. 50If you mistreat my daughters or take other wives, although no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me.”
51Laban also said to Jacob, “Here is the mound, and here is the pillar I have set up between you and me. 52This mound is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this mound to harm you, and you will not go past this mound and pillar to harm me. 53May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.”
So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.
54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat a meal. And after they had eaten, they spent the night on the mountain. 55Early the next morning, Laban got up and kissed his grandchildren and daughters and blessed them. Then he left to return home.

Genesis 31

31
Flight from Laban. 1#Jacob flees with his family from Laban. The strife that has always accompanied Jacob continues as Laban’s sons complain, “he has taken everything that belonged to our father”; the brothers’ complaint echoes Esau’s in 27:36. Rachel and Leah overcome their mutual hostility and are able to leave together, a harbinger of the reconciliation with Esau in chap. 33. Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father, and he has produced all this wealth from our father’s property.” 2Jacob perceived, too, that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had previously been. 3Then the Lord said to Jacob: Return to the land of your ancestors, where you were born, and I will be with you.#Gn 26:3; 28:15; 32:10.
4So Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah to meet him in the field where his flock was. 5There he said to them: “I have noticed that your father’s attitude toward me is not as it was in the past; but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know well that with all my strength I served your father; 7yet your father cheated me and changed my wages ten times. God, however, did not let him do me any harm.#Jdt 8:26. 8Whenever your father said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wages,’ the entire flock would bear speckled young; whenever he said, ‘The streaked animals will be your wages,’ the entire flock would bear streaked young. 9So God took away your father’s livestock and gave it to me. 10Once, during the flock’s mating season, I had a dream in which I saw he-goats mating that were streaked, speckled and mottled. 11In the dream God’s angel said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I replied, ‘Here I am!’ 12Then he said: ‘Look up and see. All the he-goats that are mating are streaked, speckled and mottled, for I have seen all the things that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a sacred pillar and made a vow to me. Get up now! Leave this land and return to the land of your birth.’”#Gn 28:18.
14Rachel and Leah answered him: “Do we still have an heir’s portion in our father’s house? 15Are we not regarded by him as outsiders?#Outsiders: lit., “foreign women”; they lacked the favored legal status of native women. Used up: lit., “eaten, consumed”; the bridal price that a man received for giving his daughter in marriage was legally reserved as her inalienable dowry. Perhaps this is the reason that Rachel took the household images belonging to Laban. He not only sold us; he has even used up the money that he got for us! 16All the wealth that God took away from our father really belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.”#Wis 10:10–11. 17Jacob proceeded to put his children and wives on camels, 18and he drove off all his livestock and all the property he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
19Now Laban was away shearing his sheep, and Rachel had stolen her father’s household images.#Household images: in Hebrew, teraphim, figurines used in divination (Ez 21:26; Zec 10:2). Laban calls them his “gods” (v. 30). The traditional translation “idols” is avoided because it suggests false gods, whereas Genesis seems to accept the fact that the ancestors did not always live according to later biblical religious standards and laws. #Gn 31:34; 1 Sm 19:13. 20Jacob had hoodwinked#Hoodwinked: lit., “stolen the heart of,” i.e., lulled the mind of. Aramean: the earliest extra-biblical references to the Arameans date later than the time of Jacob, if Jacob is dated to the mid-second millennium; to call Laban an Aramean and to have him speak Aramaic (Jegar-sahadutha, v. 47) is an apparent anachronism. The word may have been chosen to underscore the growing estrangement between the two men and the fact that their descendants will be two different peoples. Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was going to flee. 21Thus he fled with all that he had. Once he was across the Euphrates, he headed for the hill country of Gilead.
22On the third day, word came to Laban that Jacob had fled. 23Taking his kinsmen with him, he pursued him for seven days#For seven days: lit., “a way of seven days,” a general term to designate a long distance; it would actually have taken a camel caravan many more days to travel from Haran to Gilead, the region east of the northern half of the Jordan. The mention of camels in this passage is apparently anachronistic since camels were not domesticated until the late second millennium. until he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. 24But that night God appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and said to him: Take care not to say anything to Jacob.#Wis 10:12.
Jacob and Laban in Gilead. 25When Laban overtook Jacob, Jacob’s tents were pitched in the hill country; Laban also pitched his tents in the hill country of Gilead. 26Laban said to Jacob, “How could you hoodwink me and carry off my daughters like prisoners of war?#Prisoners of war: lit., “women captured by the sword”; the women of a conquered people were treated as part of the victor’s spoil; cf. 1 Sm 30:2; 2 Kgs 5:2. 27Why did you dupe me by stealing away secretly? You did not tell me! I would have sent you off with joyful singing to the sound of tambourines and harps. 28You did not even allow me a parting kiss to my daughters and grandchildren! Now what you have done makes no sense. 29I have it in my power to harm all of you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Take care not to say anything to Jacob!’ 30Granted that you had to leave because you were longing for your father’s house, why did you steal my gods?” 31Jacob replied to Laban, “I was frightened at the thought that you might take your daughters away from me by force. 32As for your gods, the one you find them with shall not remain alive! If, with our kinsmen looking on, you identify anything here as belonging to you, take it.” Jacob had no idea that Rachel had stolen the household images.
33Laban then went in and searched Jacob’s tent and Leah’s tent, as well as the tents of the two maidservants; but he did not find them. Leaving Leah’s tent, he went into Rachel’s. 34#As in chap. 27, a younger child (Rachel) deceives her father to gain what belongs to him. Meanwhile Rachel had taken the household images, put them inside the camel’s saddlebag, and seated herself upon them. When Laban had rummaged through her whole tent without finding them,#Gn 31:19. 35she said to her father, “Do not let my lord be angry that I cannot rise in your presence; I am having my period.” So, despite his search, he did not find the household images.
36Jacob, now angered, confronted Laban and demanded, “What crime or offense have I committed that you should hound me? 37Now that you have rummaged through all my things, what have you found from your household belongings? Produce it here before your kinsmen and mine, and let them decide between the two of us.
38“In the twenty years that I was under you, no ewe or she-goat of yours ever miscarried, and I have never eaten rams of your flock. 39#Ex 22:12. I never brought you an animal torn by wild beasts; I made good the loss myself. You held me responsible for anything stolen by day or night.#Jacob’s actions are more generous than the customs suggested in the Code of Hammurabi: “If in a sheepfold an act of god has occurred, or a lion has made a kill, the shepherd shall clear himself before the deity, and the owner of the fold must accept the loss” (par. 266); cf. Ex 22:12. 40Often the scorching heat devoured me by day, and the frost by night, while sleep fled from my eyes! 41Of the twenty years that I have now spent in your household, I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock, while you changed my wages ten times. 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, you would now have sent me away empty-handed. But God saw my plight and the fruits of my toil, and last night he reproached you.”#Gn 31:24, 29.
43#In this account of the non-aggression treaty between Laban and Jacob, the different objects that serve as witness (sacred pillar in v. 45, cairn of stones in v. 46), their different names (Jegar-sahadutha in v. 47, Mizpah in v. 49), and the two references to the covenant meal (vv. 46, 54) suggest that two versions have been fused. One version is the Yahwist source, and another source has been used to supplement it. Laban replied to Jacob: “The daughters are mine, their children are mine, and the flocks are mine; everything you see belongs to me. What can I do now for my own daughters and for the children they have borne? 44#The treaty is a typical covenant between two parties: Jacob was bound to treat his wives (Laban’s daughters) well, and Laban was bound not to cross Jacob’s boundaries with hostile intent. Come, now, let us make a covenant, you and I; and it will be a treaty between you and me.”
45Then Jacob took a stone and set it up as a sacred pillar.#Gn 28:18; 35:14. 46Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.” So they got stones and made a mound; and they ate there at the mound. 47Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha,#Jegar-sahadutha: an Aramaic term meaning “mound of witness.” Galeed: in Hebrew, “the mound of witness.” but Jacob called it Galeed. 48Laban said, “This mound will be a witness from now on between you and me.” That is why it was named Galeed— 49and also Mizpah,#Mizpah: a town in Gilead; cf. Jgs 10:17; 11:11, 34; Hos 5:1. The Hebrew name mispa (“lookout”) is allied to yisep yhwh (“may the Lord keep watch”), and also echoes the word masseba (“sacred pillar”). for he said: “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are out of each other’s sight. 50If you mistreat my daughters, or take other wives besides my daughters, know that even though no one else is there, God will be a witness between you and me.”
51Laban said further to Jacob: “Here is this mound, and here is the sacred pillar that I have set up between you and me. 52This mound will be a witness, and this sacred pillar will be a witness, that, with hostile intent, I may not pass beyond this mound into your territory, nor may you pass beyond it into mine. 53May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us!” Jacob took the oath by the Fear of his father Isaac.#Fear of…Isaac: an archaic title for Jacob’s God of the Father. 54He then offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his kinsmen to share in the meal. When they had eaten, they passed the night on the mountain.