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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 Separates from Laban
1Now Jacob heard what Laban’s sons were saying: “Jacob has taken all that was our father’s and has built this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2And Jacob saw from Laban’s face that his attitude toward him was not the same as before.
3The Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your ancestors and to your family, and I will be with you.”#Gn 28:15; 32:10
4Jacob had Rachel and Leah called to the field where his flocks were. 5He said to them, “I can see from your father’s face that his attitude toward me is not the same as before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6You know that with all my strength I have served your father#Gn 30:29 7and that he has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God has not let him harm me. 8If he said, ‘The spotted sheep will be your wages,’ then all the sheep were born spotted. If he said, ‘The streaked sheep will be your wages,’ then all the sheep were born streaked.#Gn 30:32 9God has taken away your father’s herds and given them to me.
10“When 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 of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12And he said, ‘Look up and see: all the males that are mating with the flocks are streaked, spotted, and speckled, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you.#Gn 30:37–40; Ex 3:7 13I am the God of Bethel, where you poured oil on the stone marker and made a solemn vow to me.#Gn 28:18–19 Get up, leave this land, and return to your native land.’”
14Then Rachel and Leah answered him, “Do we have any portion or inheritance in our father’s family? 15Are we not regarded by him as outsiders? For he has sold us#Gn 29:19–30 and has certainly spent our purchase price. 16In fact, all the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. So do whatever God has said to you.”
17So Jacob got up and put his children and wives on the camels. 18He took all the livestock and possessions he had acquired in Paddan-aram, and he drove his herds to go to the land of Canaan, to his father Isaac. 19When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father’s household idols.#Jdg 17:5; 1Sm 15:23; 19:13; Ezk 21:21; Hs 3:4; Zch 10:2 20And Jacob deceived#31:20 Lit And he stole the heart of Laban the Aramean, not telling him that he was fleeing. 21He fled with all his possessions, crossed the Euphrates, and headed for#31:21 Lit and set his face to the hill country of Gilead.
Laban Overtakes Jacob
22On the third day Laban was told 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 God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night. “Watch yourself!” God warned him. “Don’t say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”#Gn 24:50; 31:29; 2Sm 13:22
25When Laban overtook Jacob, Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban and his relatives also pitched their tents in the hill country of Gilead. 26Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done? You have deceived me and taken my daughters away like prisoners of war! 27Why did you secretly flee from me, deceive me, and not tell me? I would have sent you away with joy and singing, with tambourines and lyres, 28but you didn’t even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters. You have acted foolishly. 29I could do you great harm, but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Watch yourself! Don’t say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.’ 30Now you have gone off because you long for your father’s family — but why have you stolen my gods?” #Gn 31:19; Jos 24:2; Jdg 18:24
31Jacob answered, “I was afraid, for I thought you would take your daughters from me by force. 32If you find your gods with anyone here, he will not live!#Gn 44:9 Before our relatives, point out anything that is yours and take it.” Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the idols.
33So Laban went into Jacob’s tent, Leah’s tent, and the tents of the two concubines,#31:33 Lit servants but he found nothing. When he left Leah’s tent, he went into Rachel’s tent. 34Now Rachel had taken Laban’s household idols, put them in the saddlebag of the camel, and sat on them. Laban searched the whole tent but found nothing.
35She said to her father, “Don’t be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence;#Lv 19:32 I am having my period.” So Laban searched, but could not find the household idols.
Jacob’s Covenant with Laban
36Then Jacob became incensed and brought charges against Laban. “What is my crime?” he said to Laban. “What is my sin, that you have pursued me? 37You’ve searched all my possessions! Have you found anything of yours?#31:37 Lit What have you found from all of the possessions of your house? Put it here before my relatives and yours, and let them decide between the two of us. 38I’ve been with you these twenty years. Your ewes and female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams from your flock. 39I did not bring you any of the flock torn by wild beasts; I myself bore the loss. You demanded payment from me for what was stolen by day or by night. 40There I was — the heat consumed me by day and the frost by night, and sleep fled from my eyes. 41For twenty years in your household I served you — fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks#Gn 29:27,30  — and you have changed my wages ten times! 42If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, certainly now you would have sent me off empty-handed. But God has seen my affliction and my hard work,#31:42 Lit and the work of my hands and he issued his verdict last night.”
43Then Laban answered Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters; the children, my children; and the flocks, my flocks! Everything you see is mine! But what can I do today for these daughters of mine or for the children they have borne? 44Come now, let’s make a covenant, you and I.#Gn 21:27,32; 26:28 Let it be a witness between the two of us.”
45So Jacob picked out a stone and set it up as a marker.#Jos 24:26–27 46Then Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a mound, then ate there by the mound. 47Laban named the mound Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob named it Galeed.#31:47 Jegar-sahadutha is Aramaic, and Galeed is Hb; both names = Mound of Witness
48Then Laban said, “This mound is a witness between you and me today.” Therefore the place was called Galeed 49and also Mizpah,#31:49 = Watchtower#Jdg 11:29; 1Sm 7:5–6 for he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are out of each other’s sight. 50If you mistreat my daughters or take other wives, though no one is with us, understand that God will be a witness between you and me.”#Jdg 11:10; 1Sm 12:5; Jb 16:19; Jr 42:5; Mc 1:2 51Laban also said to Jacob, “Look at this mound and the marker I have set up between you and me. 52This mound is a witness and the marker is a witness that I will not pass beyond this mound to you, and you will not pass beyond this mound and this marker to do me harm. 53The God of Abraham, and the gods#Jos 24:2 of Nahor — the gods of their father#31:53 Two Hb mss, LXX omit the gods of their father  — will judge between us.” And 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. So they ate a meal and spent the night on the mountain. 55Laban got up early in the morning, kissed his grandchildren and daughters, and blessed them. Then Laban left to return home.