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Genesis 31

31
Jacob’s household leaves Laban
1Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob took everything our father owned and from it he produced all of this wealth.” 2And Jacob saw that Laban no longer liked him as much as he used to.
3Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your ancestors and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
4So Jacob sent for Rachel and Leah and summoned them into the field where his flock was. 5He said to them, “I am aware that your father no longer likes me as much as he used to. But my father’s God has been with me. 6You know that I’ve worked for your father as hard as I could. 7But your father cheated me and changed my payment ten times. Yet God didn’t let him harm me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled ones will be your payment,’ the whole flock gave birth to speckled young. And if he said, ‘The striped ones will be your payment,’ the whole flock gave birth to striped young. 9God took away your father’s livestock and gave them to me. 10When the flocks were mating, I looked up and saw in a dream that the male goats that mounted the flock were striped, speckled, and spotted. 11In the dream, God’s messenger said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I said, ‘I’m here.’ 12He said, ‘Look up and watch all the striped, speckled, and spotted male goats mounting the flock. I’ve seen everything that Laban is doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a sacred pillar and where you made a solemn promise to me. Now, get up and leave this country and go back to the land of your relatives.’”
14Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there any share or inheritance left for us in our father’s household? 15Doesn’t he think of us as foreigners since he sold us and has even used up the payment he received for us? 16All of the wealth God took from our father belongs to us and our children. Now, do everything God told you to do.”
17So Jacob got up, put his sons and wives on the camels, 18and set out with all of his livestock and all of his possessions that he had acquired#31.18 LXX; MT includes he had acquired, the livestock in his possession. in Paddan-aram in order to return to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. 19Now, while Laban was out shearing his sheep, Rachel stole the household’s divine images that belonged to her father. 20Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not sending word to him that he was leaving. 21So Jacob and his entire household left. He got up, crossed the river, and set out directly for the mountains of Gilead.
22Three days later, Laban found out that Jacob had gone, 23so Laban took his brothers with him, chased Jacob for seven days, and caught up with him in the mountains of Gilead. 24That night, God appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and said, “Be careful and don’t say anything hastily to Jacob one way or the other.”
25Laban reached Jacob after Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountains. So Laban and his brothers also pitched theirs in the mountains of Gilead. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me and taken off with my daughters as if they were prisoners of war. 27Why did you leave secretly, deceiving me, and not letting me know? I would’ve sent you off with a celebration, with songs and tambourines and harps. 28You didn’t even let me kiss my sons and my daughters good-bye. Now you’ve acted like a fool, 29and I have the power to punish you. However, your father’s God told me yesterday, ‘Be careful and don’t say anything hastily to Jacob one way or the other.’ 30You’ve rushed off now because you missed your father’s household so much, but why did you steal my gods?”
31Jacob responded to Laban, “I was afraid and convinced myself that you would take your daughters away from me. 32Whomever you find with your divine images won’t live. Identify whatever I have that is yours, in front of your brothers, and take it.” Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen them. 33Laban went into Jacob’s tent, Leah’s tent, and her two servants’ tent and didn’t find them.
So he left Leah’s tent and went into Rachel’s. 34Now Rachel had taken the divine images and put them into the camel’s saddlebag and sat on them. Laban felt around in the whole tent but couldn’t find them. 35Rachel said to her father, “Sir, don’t be angry with me because I can’t get up for you; I’m having my period.” He searched but couldn’t find the divine images.
36Jacob was angry and complained to Laban, “What have I done wrong and what’s my crime that you’ve tracked me down like this? 37You’ve now felt through all of my baggage, and what have you found from your household’s belongings? Put it in front of our relatives, and let them decide between us. 38For these twenty years I’ve been with you, your female sheep and goats haven’t miscarried, and I haven’t eaten your flock’s rams. 39When animals were killed, I didn’t bring them to you but took the loss myself. You demanded compensation from me for any animals poached during the day or night. 40The dry heat consumed me during the day, and the frost at night; I couldn’t sleep. 41I’ve now spent twenty years in your household. I worked for fourteen years for your two daughters and for six years for your flock, and you changed my pay ten times. 42If the God of my father—the God of Abraham and the awesome one of Isaac—hadn’t been with me, you’d have no doubt sent me away without anything. God saw my harsh treatment and my hard work and reprimanded you yesterday.”
Jacob and Laban’s treaty
43Laban responded and told Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. Everything you see is mine. But what can I do now about my daughters and about their sons? 44Come, let’s make a treaty, you and me, and let something be our witness.”#31.44 Or convenant or testimony
45So Jacob took a stone, set it up as a sacred pillar, 46and said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” So they took stones, made a mound, and ate there near the mound. 47Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha,#31.47 Or mound of witness (Aram) but Jacob called it Galeed.#31.47 Or mound of witness
48Laban said, “This mound is our witness today,” and, therefore, he too named it Galeed. 49He also named it Mizpah,#31.49 Or observation because he said, “The LORD will observe both of us when we are separated from each other. 50If you treat my daughters badly and if you marry other women, though we aren’t there, know that God observed our witness.”
51Laban said to Jacob, “Here is this mound and here is the sacred pillar that I’ve set up for us. 52This mound and the sacred pillar are witnesses that I won’t travel beyond this mound and that you won’t travel beyond this mound and this pillar to do harm. 53The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor#31.53 LXX; MT includes their father’s God. will keep order between us.” So Jacob gave his word in the name of the awesome one of his father Isaac. 54Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and invited his relatives to a meal. They ate together and spent the night on the mountain. 55#31.55 32:1 in HebLaban got up early in the morning, kissed his sons and daughters, blessed them, and left to go back to his own place.
31
Jacob Flees from Laban
1But Jacob soon learned that Laban’s sons were grumbling about him. “Jacob has robbed our father of everything!” they said. “He has gained all his wealth at our father’s expense.” 2And Jacob began to notice a change in Laban’s attitude toward him.
3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there, and I will be with you.”
4So Jacob called Rachel and Leah out to the field where he was watching his flock. 5He said to them, “I have noticed that your father’s attitude toward me has changed. But the God of my father has been with me. 6You know how hard I have worked for your father, 7but he has cheated me, changing my wages ten times. But God has not allowed him to do me any harm. 8For if he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wages,’ the whole flock began to produce speckled young. And when he changed his mind and said, ‘The striped animals will be your wages,’ then the whole flock produced striped young. 9In this way, God has taken your father’s animals and given them to me.
10“One time during the mating season, I had a dream and saw that the male goats mating with the females were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 11Then in my dream, the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I replied, ‘Yes, here I am.’
12“The angel said, ‘Look up, and you will see that only the streaked, speckled, and spotted males are mating with the females of your flock. For I have seen how Laban has treated you. 13I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel,#31:13 As in Greek version and an Aramaic Targum; Hebrew reads the God of Bethel. the place where you anointed the pillar of stone and made your vow to me. Now get ready and leave this country and return to the land of your birth.’”
14Rachel and Leah responded, “That’s fine with us! We won’t inherit any of our father’s wealth anyway. 15He has reduced our rights to those of foreign women. And after he sold us, he wasted the money you paid him for us. 16All the wealth God has given you from our father legally belongs to us and our children. So go ahead and do whatever God has told you.”
17So Jacob put his wives and children on camels, 18and he drove all his livestock in front of him. He packed all the belongings he had acquired in Paddan-aram and set out for the land of Canaan, where his father, Isaac, lived. 19At the time they left, Laban was some distance away, shearing his sheep. Rachel stole her father’s household idols and took them with her. 20Jacob outwitted Laban the Aramean, for they set out secretly and never told Laban they were leaving. 21So Jacob took all his possessions with him and crossed the Euphrates River,#31:21 Hebrew the river. heading for the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Pursues Jacob
22Three days later, Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23So he gathered a group of his relatives and set out in hot pursuit. He caught up with Jacob seven days later in the hill country of Gilead. 24But the previous night God had appeared to Laban the Aramean in a dream and told him, “I’m warning you—leave Jacob alone!”
25Laban caught up with Jacob as he was camped in the hill country of Gilead, and he set up his camp not far from Jacob’s. 26“What do you mean by deceiving me like this?” Laban demanded. “How dare you drag my daughters away like prisoners of war? 27Why did you slip away secretly? Why did you deceive me? And why didn’t you say you wanted to leave? I would have given you a farewell feast, with singing and music, accompanied by tambourines and harps. 28Why didn’t you let me kiss my daughters and grandchildren and tell them good-bye? You have acted very foolishly! 29I could destroy you, but the God of your father appeared to me last night and warned me, ‘Leave Jacob alone!’ 30I can understand your feeling that you must go, and your intense longing for your father’s home. But why have you stolen my gods?”
31“I rushed away because I was afraid,” Jacob answered. “I thought you would take your daughters from me by force. 32But as for your gods, see if you can find them, and let the person who has taken them die! And if you find anything else that belongs to you, identify it before all these relatives of ours, and I will give it back!” But Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the household idols.
33Laban went first into Jacob’s tent to search there, then into Leah’s, and then the tents of the two servant wives—but he found nothing. Finally, he went into Rachel’s tent. 34But Rachel had taken the household idols and hidden them in her camel saddle, and now she was sitting on them. When Laban had thoroughly searched her tent without finding them, 35she said to her father, “Please, sir, forgive me if I don’t get up for you. I’m having my monthly period.” So Laban continued his search, but he could not find the household idols.
36Then Jacob became very angry, and he challenged Laban. “What’s my crime?” he demanded. “What have I done wrong to make you chase after me as though I were a criminal? 37You have rummaged through everything I own. Now show me what you found that belongs to you! Set it out here in front of us, before our relatives, for all to see. Let them judge between us!
38“For twenty years I have been with you, caring for your flocks. In all that time your sheep and goats never miscarried. In all those years I never used a single ram of yours for food. 39If any were attacked and killed by wild animals, I never showed you the carcass and asked you to reduce the count of your flock. No, I took the loss myself! You made me pay for every stolen animal, whether it was taken in broad daylight or in the dark of night.
40“I worked for you through the scorching heat of the day and through cold and sleepless nights. 41Yes, for twenty years I slaved in your house! I worked for fourteen years earning your two daughters, and then six more years for your flock. And you changed my wages ten times! 42In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side—the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac#31:42 Or and the Fear of Isaac.—you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!”
Jacob’s Treaty with Laban
43Then Laban replied to Jacob, “These women are my daughters, these children are my grandchildren, and these flocks are my flocks—in fact, everything you see is mine. But what can I do now about my daughters and their children? 44So come, let’s make a covenant, you and I, and it will be a witness to our commitment.”
45So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a monument. 46Then he told his family members, “Gather some stones.” So they gathered stones and piled them in a heap. Then Jacob and Laban sat down beside the pile of stones to eat a covenant meal. 47To commemorate the event, Laban called the place Jegar-sahadutha (which means “witness pile” in Aramaic), and Jacob called it Galeed (which means “witness pile” in Hebrew).
48Then Laban declared, “This pile of stones will stand as a witness to remind us of the covenant we have made today.” This explains why it was called Galeed—“Witness Pile.” 49But it was also called Mizpah (which means “watchtower”), for Laban said, “May the Lord keep watch between us to make sure that we keep this covenant when we are out of each other’s sight. 50If you mistreat my daughters or if you marry other wives, God will see it even if no one else does. He is a witness to this covenant between us.
51“See this pile of stones,” Laban continued, “and see this monument I have set between us. 52They stand between us as witnesses of our vows. I will never pass this pile of stones to harm you, and you must never pass these stones or this monument to harm me. 53I call on the God of our ancestors—the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of my grandfather Nahor—to serve as a judge between us.”
So Jacob took an oath before the fearsome God of his father, Isaac,#31:53 Or the Fear of his father, Isaac. to respect the boundary line. 54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice to God there on the mountain and invited everyone to a covenant feast. After they had eaten, they spent the night on the mountain.
55#31:55 Verse 31:55 is numbered 32:1 in Hebrew text.Laban got up early the next morning, and he kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.