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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.

Genesis 31

31
1And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob has taken away all that was our father's, and of what was our father's he has acquired all this glory. 2And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and behold, it was not toward him as previously. 3And Jehovah said to Jacob, Return into the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee. 4And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the fields to his flock, 5and said to them, I see your father's countenance, that it is not toward me as previously; but the God#GodHebrew: Elohim of my father has been with me. 6And you know that with all my power I have served your father. 7And your father has mocked me, and has changed my wages ten times; but God#GodHebrew: Elohim suffered him not to hurt me. 8If he said thus; The speckled shall be thy hire, then all the flocks bore speckled; and if he said thus: The ringstraked shall be thy hire, then all the flocks bore ringstraked. 9And God#GodHebrew: Elohim has taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me. 10And it came to pass at the time of the ardour of the flocks, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams that leaped upon the flocks were ringstraked, speckled, and spotted. 11And the Angel of God#GodHebrew: Elohim said to me in a dream, Jacob! And I said, Here am I. 12And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see: all the rams that leap upon the flock are ringstraked, speckled, and spotted; for I have seen all that Laban does to thee. 13I am the ·God#GodHebrew: El of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, where thou vowedst a vow to me. Now arise, depart out of this land, and return to the land of thy kindred. 14And Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house? 15Are we not reckoned of him strangers? for he has sold us, and has even constantly devoured our money. 16For all the wealth that God#GodHebrew: Elohim has taken from our father is ours and our children's; and now whatever God#GodHebrew: Elohim has said to thee do.
17And Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels, 18and carried away all his cattle, and all his property that he had acquired — the cattle of his possessions that he had acquired in Padan-Aram, to go to Isaac his father, into the land of Canaan. 19And Laban had gone to shear his sheep. And Rachel stole the teraphim that belonged to her father. 20And Jacob deceived Laban the Syrian, in that he did not tell him that he fled. 21And he fled with all that he had; and he rose up and passed over the river, and set his face toward mount Gilead. 22And it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled. 23And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days' journey, and overtook him on mount Gilead. 24And God#GodHebrew: Elohim came to Laban the Syrian in a dream by night, and said to him, Take care thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.
25And Laban came up with Jacob; and Jacob had pitched his tent on the mountain; Laban also with his brethren pitched on mount Gilead. 26And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast deceived me, and hast carried away my daughters as captives of war? 27Why didst thou flee away covertly, and steal away from me, and didst not tell me, that I might have conducted thee with mirth and with songs, with tambour and with harp; 28and hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Now thou hast acted foolishly. 29It would be in the power of my hand to do you hurt; but the God#GodHebrew: Elohim of your father spoke to me last night, saying, Take care that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad. 30And now that thou must needs be gone, because thou greatly longedst after thy father's house, why hast thou stolen my gods? 31And Jacob answered and said to Laban, I was afraid; for I said, Lest thou shouldest take by force thy daughters from me. 32With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, he shall not live. Before our brethren discern what is thine with me, and take it to thee. But Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them. 33And Laban went into Jacob's tent, and into Leah's tent, and into the two handmaids' tents, and found nothing; and he went out of Leah's tent, and entered into Rachel's tent. 34Now Rachel had taken the teraphim and put them under the camel's saddle; and she sat upon them. And Laban explored all the tent, but found nothing. 35And she said to her father, Let it not be an occasion of anger in the eyes of my lord that I cannot rise up before thee, for it is with me after the manner of women. And he searched carefully, but did not find the teraphim.
36And Jacob was angry, and he disputed with Laban. And Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my fault, what my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me? 37Whereas thou hast explored all my baggage, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? Set it here before my brethren and thy brethren, and let them decide between us both. 38These twenty years have I been with thee: thy ewes and thy she-goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock I have not eaten. 39What was torn I have not brought to thee; I had to bear the loss of it: of my hand hast thou required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40Thus it was with me: in the day the heat consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep fled from mine eyes. 41I have been these twenty years in thy house: I have served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy flock; and thou hast changed my wages ten times. 42Had not the God#GodHebrew: Elohim of my father, the God#GodHebrew: Elohim of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, been with me, it is certain thou wouldest have sent me away now empty. God#GodHebrew: Elohim has looked upon my affliction and the labour of my hands, and has judged last night.
43And Laban answered and said to Jacob, The daughters are my daughters, and the sons are my sons, and the flock is my flock, and all that thou seest is mine; but as for my daughters, what can I do this day to them, or to their sons whom they have brought forth? 44And now, come, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be a witness between me and thee. 45And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. 46And Jacob said to his brethren, Gather stones. And they took stones, and made a heap, and ate there upon the heap. 47And Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed. 48And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed, 49— and Mizpah; for he said, Let Jehovah watch between me and thee, when we shall be hidden one from another: 50if thou shouldest afflict my daughters, or if thou shouldest take wives besides my daughters, — no man is with us; see, God#GodHebrew: Elohim is witness between me and thee! 51And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold the pillar which I have set up between me and thee: 52let this heap be witness, and the pillar a witness, that neither I pass this heap to go to thee, nor thou pass this heap and this pillar to come to me, for harm. 53The God#GodHebrew: Elohim of Abraham, and the God#GodHebrew: Elohim of Nahor, the God#GodHebrew: Elohim of their father, judge between us! And Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac. 54And Jacob offered a sacrifice upon the mountain, and invited his brethren to eat bread: and they ate bread, and lodged on the mountain. 55And Laban rose early in the morning, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them; and Laban went and returned to his place.