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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.
31
1Now he heard the words of Labans sonnes, saying, Iaakob hath taken away all that was our fathers, and of our fathers goods hath he gotten all this honour. 2Also Iaakob beheld the countenance of Laban, that it was not towards him as in times past: 3And the Lord had said vnto Iaakob, Turne againe into the lande of thy fathers, and to thy kinred, and I wilbe with thee. 4Therefore Iaakob sent and called Rahel and Leah to the fielde vnto his flocke. 5Then sayde hee vnto them, I see your fathers countenance, that it is not towardes me as it was wont, and the God of my father hath bene with me. 6And yee knowe that I haue serued your father with all my might. 7But your father hath deceiued me, and changed my wages tenne times: but God suffred him not to hurt me. 8If he thus sayd, The spotted shall be thy wages, then all the sheepe bare spotted: and if he sayd thus, the party coloured shalbe thy rewarde, then bare all the sheepe particoloured. 9Thus hath God taken away your fathers substance, and giuen it me. 10For in ramming time I lifted vp mine eyes and saw in a dreame, and beholde, ye hee goates leaped vpon the shee goates, that were partie coloured with litle and great spots spotted. 11And the Angel of God sayde to mee in a dreame, Iaakob. And I answered, Lo, I am here. 12And he sayde, Lift vp nowe thine eyes, and see all the hee goates leaping vpon ye shee goates that are partie coloured, spotted with litle and great spots: for I haue seene all that Laban doeth vnto thee. 13I am the God of Beth-el, where thou anoyntedst the pillar, where thou vowedst a vowe vnto me. Nowe arise, get thee out of this countrey and returne vnto ye land where thou wast borne. 14Then answered Rahel and Leah, and sayde vnto him, Haue wee any more porcion and inheritance in our fathers house? 15Doeth not he count vs as strangers? for he hath solde vs, and hath eaten vp and consumed our money. 16Therefore all the riches, which God hath taken from our father, is ours and our childrens: nowe then whatsoeuer God hath saide vnto thee, doe it. 17Then Iaakob rose vp, and set his sonnes and his wiues vpon camels. 18And he caried away all his flockes, and al his substance which he had gotten, to wit, his riches, which he had gotten in Padan Aram, to goe to Izhak his father vnto the land of Canaan. 19Whe Laban was gone to shere his sheepe, Then Rahel stole her fathers idoles. 20Thus Iaakob stole away ye heart of Laban the Aramite: for he told him not that he fled. 21So fled he with all that he had, and he rose vp, and passed the riuer, and set his face towarde mount Gilead. 22And the third day after was it told Laban, that Iaakob fled. 23Then he tooke his brethren with him, and followed after him seuen dayes iourney, and ouertooke him at mount Gilead. 24And God came to Laban the Aramite in a dreame by night, and sayde vnto him, Take heede that thou speake not to Iaakob ought saue good. 25Then Laban ouertooke Iaakob, and Iaakob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban also with his brethren pitched vpon mount Gilead. 26Then Laban sayde to Iaakob, What hast thou done? thou hast euen stolen away mine heart and caried away my daughters as though they had bene taken captiues with the sworde. 27Wherfore diddest thou flie so secretly and steale away from me, and diddest not tel me, that I might haue sent thee foorth with mirth and with songs, with timbrel and with harpe? 28But thou hast not suffered me to kisse my sonnes and my daughters: nowe thou hast done foolishly in doing so. 29I am able to do you euill: but the God of your father spake vnto me yesternight, saying, Take heed that thou speake not to Iaakob ought saue good. 30Nowe though thou wentest thy way, because thou greatly longedst after thy fathers house, yet wherefore hast thou stollen my gods? 31Then Iaakob answered, and said to Laban, Because I was afraid, and thought that thou wouldest haue taken thy daughters from me. 32But with whome thou findest thy gods, let him not liue. Search thou before our brethre what I haue of thine, and take it to thee, (but Iaakob wist not that Rahel had stolen them) 33Then came Laban into Iaakobs tent, and into Leahs tent, and into the two maides tentes, but founde them not. So hee went out of Leahs tent, and entred into Rahels tent. 34(Nowe Rahel had taken the idoles, and put them in the camels litter and sate downe vpon them) and Laban searched al the tent, but found them not. 35Then said she to her father, My Lord, be not angrie that I cannot rise vp before thee: for the custome of women is vpon me: so he searched, but found not the idoles. 36The Iaakob was wroth, and chode with Laban: Iaakob also answered and sayd to Laban, What haue I trespassed? what haue I offended, that thou hast pursued after me? 37Seeing thou hast searched all my stuffe, what hast thou foud of all thine houshold stuffe? put it here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may iudge betweene vs both. 38This twenty yere I haue bin with thee: thine ewes and thy goates haue not cast their yong, and the rammes of thy flocke haue I not eaten. 39Whatsoeuer was torne of beasts, I brought it not vnto thee, but made it good my selfe: of mine hand diddest thou require it, were it stollen by day or stollen by night. 40I was in the day consumed with heate, and with frost in the night, and my sleepe departed from mine eyes. 41Thus haue I bene twentie yeere in thine house, and serued thee fourteene yeeres for thy two daughters, and sixe yeeres for thy sheepe, and thou hast changed my wages tenne times. 42Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the feare of Izhak had bene with me, surely thou haddest sent me away nowe emptie: but God behelde my tribulation, and the labour of mine hads, and rebuked thee yester night. 43Then Laban answered, and saide vnto Iaakob, These daughters are my daughters, and these sonnes are my sonnes, and these sheepe are my sheepe, and all that thou seest, is mine, and what can I doe this day vnto these my daughters, or to their sonnes which they haue borne? 44Nowe therefore come and let vs make a couenant, I and thou, which may be a witnes betweene me and thee. 45Then tooke Iaakob a stone, and set it vp as a pillar: 46And Iaakob sayde vnto his brethren, Gather stones: who brought stones, and made an heape, and they did eate there vpon the heape. 47And Laban called it Iegar-sahadutha, and Iaakob called it Galeed. 48For Laban sayd, This heape is witnesse betweene me and thee this day: therefore he called the name of it Galeed. 49Also he called it Mizpah, because he said, The Lord looke betweene me and thee, when we shalbe departed one from another, 50If thou shalt vexe my daughters, or shalt take wiues beside my daughters: there is no man with vs, beholde, God is witnesse betweene me and thee. 51Moreouer Laban sayd to Iaakob, Beholde this heape, and behold the pillar, which I haue set betweene me and thee, 52This heape shall be witnesse, and the pillar shall be witnesse, that I will not come ouer this heape to thee, and that thou shalt not passe ouer this heape and this pillar vnto me for euill. 53The God of Abraham, and the God of Nabor, and the God of their father be iudge betweene vs: But Iaakob sware by the feare of his father Izhak. 54Then Iaakob did offer a sacrifice vpon the mount, and called his brethren to eate bread. and they did eate bread, and taried all night in the mount. 55And earely in the morning Laban rose vp and kissed his sonnes and his daughters, and blessed them, and Laban departing, went vnto his place againe.