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Genesis 31

31
Time to Leave—Jacob Runs Away
1One day Jacob heard Laban’s sons talking. They said, “Jacob has taken everything that our father owned. He has become rich—and he has taken all this wealth from our father.” 2Then Jacob noticed that Laban was not as friendly as he had been in the past. 3The Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to your own land where your ancestors lived. I will be with you.”
4So Jacob told Rachel and Leah to meet him in the field where he kept his flocks of sheep and goats. 5He said to them, “I have noticed that your father is not as friendly with me as he used to be. But the God of my father has been with me. 6You both know that I have worked as hard as I could for your father. 7But he cheated me. He has changed my pay ten times. But during all this time, God protected me from all of Laban’s tricks.
8“At one time Laban said, ‘You can keep all the goats with spots. This will be your pay.’ After he said this, all the animals gave birth to spotted goats, so they were all mine. But then Laban said, ‘I will keep the spotted goats. You can have all the striped goats. That will be your pay.’ After he said this, all the animals gave birth to striped goats. 9So God has taken the animals away from your father and has given them to me.
10“I had a dream during the time when the animals were mating. I saw that the only male goats that were mating were the ones with stripes and spots. 11The angel of God spoke to me in that dream. The angel said, ‘Jacob!’
“I answered, ‘Yes!’
12“The angel said, ‘Look, only the striped and spotted goats are mating. I am causing this to happen. I have seen all the wrong things Laban has been doing to you. I am doing this so that you can have all the new baby goats. 13I am the God who came to you at Bethel, and there you made an altar, poured olive oil on it, and made a promise to me. Now I want you to be ready to go back to the country where you were born.’”
14Rachel and Leah answered Jacob, “Our father has nothing to give us when he dies. 15He treated us like strangers. He sold us to you, and then he spent all the money that should have been ours. 16God took all this wealth from our father, and now it belongs to us and our children. So you should do whatever God told you to do.”
17So Jacob prepared for the trip. He put his children and his wives on camels. 18Then they began traveling back to the land of Canaan, where his father lived. All the flocks of animals that Jacob owned walked ahead of them. He carried everything with him that he had gotten while he lived in Paddan Aram.
19While Laban was gone to cut the wool from his sheep, Rachel went into his house and stole the false gods that belonged to her father.
20Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean. He did not tell Laban he was leaving. 21Jacob took his family and everything he owned and left quickly. They crossed the Euphrates River and traveled toward the hill country of Gilead.
22Three days later Laban learned that Jacob had run away. 23So he gathered his men together and began to chase Jacob. After seven days Laban found Jacob near the hill country of Gilead. 24That night God came to Laban in a dream and said, “Be careful! Be careful of every word you say to Jacob.”
The Search for the Stolen Gods
25The next morning Laban caught up with Jacob. Jacob had set up his camp on the mountain, so Laban and all his men set up their camp in the hill country of Gilead.
26Laban said to Jacob, “Why did you trick me? Why did you take my daughters like they were women you captured during war? 27Why did you run away without telling me? If you had told me, I would have given you a party. There would have been singing and dancing with music. 28You didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters goodbye. You were very foolish to do this! 29I have the power to really hurt you. But last night the God of your father came to me in a dream. He warned me not to hurt you in any way. 30I know that you want to go back to your home. That is why you left. But why did you steal the gods from my house?”
31Jacob answered, “I left without telling you, because I was afraid. I thought you would take your daughters away from me. 32But I did not steal your gods. If you find anyone here with me who has taken your gods, they will be killed. Your men will be my witnesses. You can look for anything that belongs to you. Take anything that is yours.” (Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen Laban’s gods.)
33So Laban went and looked through Jacob’s camp. He looked in Jacob’s tent and then in Leah’s tent. Then he looked in the tent where the two slave women stayed, but he did not find the gods from his house. Then he went into Rachel’s tent. 34Rachel had hidden the gods inside her camel’s saddle, and she was sitting on them. Laban looked through the whole tent, but he did not find the gods.
35And Rachel said to her father, “Father, don’t be angry with me. I am not able to stand up before you. I am having my monthly time of bleeding.” So Laban looked through the camp, but he did not find the gods from his house.
36Then Jacob became very angry and said, “What wrong have I done? What law have I broken? What right do you have to chase me and stop me? 37You looked through everything I own and found nothing that belongs to you. If you found something, show it to me. Put it here where our men can see it. Let our men decide which one of us is right. 38I have worked 20 years for you. During all that time none of the baby sheep and goats died during birth. And I have not eaten any of the rams from your flocks. 39Any time a sheep was killed by wild animals, I always paid for the loss myself. I did not take the dead animal to you and say that it was not my fault. But I was robbed day and night. 40In the daytime the sun took away my strength, and at night sleep was taken from my eyes by the cold. 41I worked 20 years like a slave for you. For the first 14 years I worked to win your two daughters. The last six years I worked to earn your animals. And during that time you changed my pay ten times. 42But the God of my ancestors, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac,#31:42 Fear of Isaac A name for God. was with me. If God had not been with me, you would have sent me away with nothing. But he saw the trouble that I had and the work that I did, and last night God proved that I am right.”
Jacob and Laban’s Treaty
43Laban said to Jacob, “These women are my daughters. These children belong to me, and these animals are mine. Everything you see here belongs to me, but I can do nothing to keep my daughters and their children. 44So I am ready to make an agreement with you. We will set up a pile of stones to show that we have an agreement.”
45So Jacob found a large rock and put it there to show that he had made an agreement. 46He told his men to find some more rocks and to make a pile of rocks. Then they ate beside the pile of rocks. 47Laban named that place Yegar Sahadutha.#31:47 Yegar Sahadutha Aramaic words meaning “rock pile of the agreement.” But Jacob named that place Galeed.#31:47 Galeed Another name for Gilead. This Hebrew name means “rock pile of the agreement.”
48Laban said to Jacob, “This pile of rocks will help us both remember our agreement.” That is why Jacob called the place Galeed.
49Then Laban said, “Let the Lord watch over us while we are separated from each other.” So that place was also named Mizpah.#31:49 Mizpah This means “a place to watch from.”
50Then Laban said, “If you hurt my daughters, remember that God will punish you. If you marry other women, remember that God is watching. 51Here are the rocks that I have put between us, and here is the special rock to show that we made an agreement. 52This pile of rocks and this one special rock both help us to remember our agreement. I will never go past these rocks to fight against you, and you must never go on my side of these rocks to fight against me. 53May the God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, and the God of their ancestors judge us guilty if we break this agreement.”
Jacob’s father, Isaac, called God “Fear.” So Jacob used that name to make the promise. 54Then Jacob killed an animal and offered it as a sacrifice on the mountain. And he invited his men to come and share a meal. After they finished eating, they spent the night on the mountain. 55Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters goodbye. He blessed them and went back home.
31
Jacob Leaves Secretly for Canaan
1Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying: “Jacob has taken away everything that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has acquired all this wealth and honor.” 2Jacob noticed [a change in] the #Lit face.attitude of Laban, and saw that it was not friendly toward him as before. 3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your people, and I will be with you.” 4So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to his flock in the field, 5and he said to them, “I see [a change in] your father’s attitude, that he is not friendly toward me as [he was] before; but the God of my father [Isaac] has been with me. 6You know that I have served your father with all my strength. 7Yet your father has cheated me [as often as possible] and changed my wages ten times; but God did not allow him to hurt me. 8If he said, ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then the entire flock gave birth to speckled [young]; and if he said, ‘The streaked shall be your wages,’ then the entire flock gave birth to streaked [young]. 9Thus God has taken away the flocks of your father and given them to me. 10And it happened at the time when the flock conceived that I looked up and saw in a dream that the rams which mated [with the female goats] were streaked, speckled, and spotted. 11And the #See note 16:7. Note especially Gen 31:13, where the Angel says, “I am the God of Bethel.”Angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12He said, ‘Look up and see, all the rams which are mating [with the flock] are streaked, speckled, and spotted; for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar, and where you made a vow to Me; now stand up, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’ ” 14Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? 15Are we not counted by him as foreigners? For he sold us [to you in marriage], and has also entirely used up our purchase price. 16Surely all the riches which God has taken from our father are ours and our children’s. Now then, whatever God has told you to do, do it.”
17Then Jacob stood [and took action] and put his children and his wives on camels; 18and he drove away all his livestock and [took along] all his property which he had acquired, the livestock he had obtained and accumulated in Paddan-aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. 19When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel [went inside the house and] stole her father’s #Possession of these pagan figurines implied or conferred a right of inheritance.household gods. 20And Jacob #Lit stole the heart of.deceived Laban the Aramean (Syrian) by not telling him that he intended to leave and he slipped away secretly. 21So he fled with everything that he had, and got up and crossed the river [Euphrates], and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead [east of the Jordan River].
Laban Pursues Jacob
22On the third day [after his departure] Laban was told that Jacob had fled. 23So he took his relatives with him and pursued him for seven days, and they overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob, either good or bad.”
25Then Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent on the hill, and Laban with his relatives camped on the same hill of Gilead. 26Then Laban said to Jacob, “What do you mean by deceiving me and leaving without my knowledge, and carrying off my daughters as if [they were] captives of the sword? 27Why did you run away secretly and deceive me and not tell me, so that [otherwise] I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with [music on the] tambourine and lyre? 28And why did you not allow me to kiss my #Lit sons.grandchildren and my daughters [goodbye]? Now you have done a foolish thing [in behaving like this]. 29It is in my power to harm you, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30Now [I suppose] you felt you must go because you #Lit longed greatly.were homesick for your father’s house and family; but why did you steal my [household] #Laban was upset because possession of the father’s household gods played an important role in inheritance. In the region where Laban lived, a son-in-law who possessed the family gods could appear before a judge and make a claim to the estate of his father-in-law. Since Jacob’s possession of the household gods implied the right to inherit Laban’s wealth, one can understand why he followed Jacob to recover the idols.gods?” 31Jacob answered Laban, “[I left secretly] because I was afraid, for I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. 32The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our relatives [search my possessions and] point out whatever you find that belongs to you and take it.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the idols.
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them. Then he came out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddlebag and sat on them. Laban searched through all her tent, but did not find them. 35So Rachel said to her father, “Do not be displeased, my lord, that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is on me and I am unwell.” He searched [further] but did not find the household idols.
36Then Jacob became angry and argued with Laban. And he said to Laban, “What is my fault? What is my sin that you pursued me like this? 37Although you have searched through all my possessions, what have you found of your household goods? Put it here before my relatives and your relatives, so that they may decide [who has done right] between the two of us. 38These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not lost their young, nor have I eaten the rams of your flocks. 39I did not bring you the torn carcasses [of the animals attacked by predators]; I [personally] took the loss. You required of me [to make good] everything that was stolen, whether it occurred by day or night. 40This was my situation: by day the heat consumed me and by night the cold, and #Lit sleep fled from my eyes.I could not sleep. 41These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for [my share of] your flocks, and you have #I.e. cheated me as often as possible.changed my wages ten times. 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and [the Feared One] of Isaac, had not been with me, most certainly you would have sent me away now empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and humiliation and the [exhausting] labor of my hands, so He rendered judgment and rebuked you last night.”
The Covenant of Mizpah
43Laban answered Jacob, “These #Lit daughters.women [that you married] are my daughters, these children are my #Lit children.grandchildren, these flocks are [from] my flocks, and all that you see [here] is mine. But what can I do today to these my daughters or to their children to whom they have given birth? 44So come now, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between you and me.” 45So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a [memorial] pillar. 46Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a mound [of stones], and they ate [a ceremonial meal together] there on the mound [of stones]. 47Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha (stone monument of testimony in #The language of Laban, who was an Aramean (v 20). The two names chosen by Laban and Jacob were equivalent.Aramaic), but Jacob called it #Heb heap of witness.Galeed. 48Laban said, “This mound [of stones] is a witness [a reminder of the oath taken] today between you and me.” Therefore he [also] called the name Galeed, 49and Mizpah (#The stone mound evidently was tall enough to be considered a place from which one could see at a distance. The thought behind it was that the Lord would watch them when they could not watch each other, and He would see and deal with any mistreatment committed by either of them (see v 50).watchtower), for Laban said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent from one another. 50If you should mistreat (humiliate, oppress) my daughters, or if you should take other wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us [as a witness], see and remember, God is witness between you and me.” 51Laban said to Jacob, “Look at this mound [of stones] and look at this pillar which I have set up between you and me. 52This mound is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this mound to harm you, and that you will not pass by this mound and this pillar to harm me. 53The God of Abraham [your father] and the God of Nahor [my father], and the #Here “god” is put in lowercase because Joshua later declared that Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, was an idolater, serving “other gods” (Josh 24:2). The wording of the Hebrew here indicates that Laban equated the God of Abraham and Nahor with the god of Terah. Whether Laban actually made no distinction in his mind between the true God and false gods, or simply committed an oversight, is not clear. Jacob evidently recognized the ambiguity in Laban’s statement as well, so to avoid any possibility of swearing allegiance to a false god, he swore his own oath by the God of Isaac.god [the image of worship] of their father [Terah, an idolater], judge between us.” But Jacob swore [only] by [the one true God] the Fear of his father Isaac. 54Then Jacob offered a sacrifice [to the Lord] on the mountain, and called his relatives to the meal; and they ate food and spent the night on the mountain. 55Early in the morning Laban got up and kissed his #Lit sons.grandchildren and his daughters [goodbye] and pronounced a blessing [asking God’s favor] on them. Then Laban left and returned home.