Exit Parallel Mode
 

Genesis 31

31
1 But afterwards, he heard the words of the sons of Laban, saying, "Jacob has taken all that was our father's, and being enlarged by his ability, he has become famous."
2 Likewise, he observed that Laban's face was not the same toward him as it was yesterday and the day before.
3 Most importantly, the Lord was saying to him, "Return to the land of your fathers and to your generation, and I will be with you."
4 He sent and called for Rachel and Leah, in the field where he pastured the flocks,
5 and he said to them: "I see that your father's face is not the same toward me as it was yesterday and the day before. But the God of my father has been with me.
6 And you know that I have served your father with all my strength.
7 Even so, your father has circumvented me, and he has changed my wages ten times. And yet God has not permitted him to harm me.
8 Whenever he said, 'The speckled will be your wages,' all the sheep gave birth to speckled newborns. Yet truly, when he said the contrary, 'You will take whatever is white for your wages,' all the flocks gave birth to white ones.
9 And it is God who has taken your father's substance and given it to me.
10 For after the time had arrived for the ewes to conceive, I lifted up my eyes, and I saw in my sleep that the males climbing on the females were of variegated, and spotted, and diverse colors.
11 And the Angel of God said to me in my sleep, 'Jacob.' And I responded, 'Here I am.'
12 And he said: 'Lift up your eyes, and see that all the males climbing on the females are variegated, spotted, and also speckled. For I have seen all that Laban has done to you.
13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the stone and made a vow to me. Now therefore arise, and depart from this land, returning to the land of your nativity.' "
14 And Rachel and Leah responded: "Have we anything left behind among the resources and inheritance of our father's house?
15 Has he not considered us as foreigners, and sold us, and consumed our price?
16 But God has taken our father's riches and handed these to us and to our sons. Therefore, do all that God has instructed you."
17 And so Jacob rose up, and having placed the children and his wives upon camels, he went forth.
18 And he took all his substance and flocks, and whatever he had acquired in Mesopotamia, and he journeyed to his father Isaac, in the land of Canaan.
19 At that time, Laban had gone to shear the sheep, and so Rachel stole her father's idols.
20 And Jacob was not willing to confess to his father-in-law that he was fleeing.
21 And when he had gone away with all such things that were justly his, and, having crossed the river, was continuing on toward Mount Gilead,
22 it was reported to Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled.
23 And taking his brothers with him, he pursued him for seven days. And he overtook him at Mount Gilead.
24 And he saw in a dream, God saying to him, "Beware that you not speak anything harsh against Jacob."
25 And now Jacob had pitched his tent at the mountain. And when he, with his brothers, had overtaken him, he set his tent at the same place at Mount Gilead.
26 And he said to Jacob: "Why have you acted this way, departing from me in secret, with my daughters like captives of the sword?
27 Why would you want to flee without my knowledge and without telling me, though I might have led you forward with gladness, and songs, and timbrels, and lyres?
28 You have not permitted me to kiss my sons and daughters. You have acted foolishly. And now, indeed,
29 my hand has power to repay you with harm. But the God of your father said to me yesterday, 'Beware that you not speak anything stern against Jacob.'
30 It may be that you desired to go to your own, and that you longed for the house of your father. But why have you stolen my gods?"
31 Jacob answered: "I set out, unknown to you, because I feared that you might take away your daughters by violence.
32 But, since you accuse me of theft, with whomever you will find your gods, let him be slain in the sight of our brothers. Search; anything of yours that you will find with me, take it away." Now when he said this, he did not know that Rachel had stolen the idols.
33 And so Laban, entering the tent of Jacob, and of Leah, and of both the handmaids, did not find them. And when he had entered the tent of Rachel,
34 she quickly hid the idols under the camel's bedding, and she sat upon them. And when he had searched the entire tent and found nothing,
35 she said: "Do not be angry, my lord, that I am unable to rise up in your sight, because it has now happened to me according to the custom of women." So his careful search was thwarted.
36 And Jacob, being inflated, said with contention: "For which fault of mine, or for what sin of mine, have you become so enraged against me
37 and searched all the items of my house? What have you found from all the substance of your house? Place it here before my brothers, and your brothers, and let them judge between me and you.
38 For what reason have I been with you for twenty years? Your ewes and she-goats were not barren; the rams of your flocks I did not consume.
39 Neither did I reveal to you what was seized by the wild beast. I replaced all that was damaged. Whatever was lost by theft, you collected it from me.
40 Day and night, I was burned by heat and by frost, and sleep fled from my eyes.
41 And in this way, for twenty years, I have served you in your house: fourteen for your daughters, and six for your flocks. You have also changed my wages ten times.
42 If the God of my father Abraham and the fear of Isaac had not been close to me, perhaps by now you would have sent me away naked. But God looked kindly on my affliction and the labor of my hands, and he rebuked you yesterday."
43 Laban answered him: "My daughters and sons, and your flocks, and all that you discern are mine. What can I do to my sons and grandchildren?
44 Come, therefore, let us enter into a pact, so that it may be a testimony between me and you."
45 And so Jacob took a stone, and he set it up as a memorial.
46 And he said to his brothers, "Bring stones." And they, gathering together stones, made a tomb, and they ate upon it.
47 And Laban called it, 'Tomb of Witness,' and Jacob, 'Pile of Testimony;' each of them according to the fitness of his own language.
48 And Laban said: "This tomb will be a witness between me and you this day." (And for this reason, its name has been called Gilead, that is, 'Tomb of Witness.')
49 "May the Lord consider and judge between us, when we will have withdrawn from one another.
50 If you afflict my daughters, and if you bring in other wives over them, no one is a witness of our words except God, who understands beforehand."
51 And again he said to Jacob. "Lo, this tomb and the stone that I have set up between me and you,
52 will be a witness. This tomb," I say, "and the stone, they are for testimony, in case either I cross beyond it going toward you, or you cross beyond it thinking to harm me.
53 May the God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us." Therefore, Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac.
54 And after he had immolated sacrifices on the mountain, he called his brothers to eat bread. And when they had eaten, they lodged there.
55 In truth, Laban rose up in the night, and he kissed his sons and daughters, and he blessed them. And he returned to his place.
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.