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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
1But after that he heard the words of the sons of Laban, saying: Jacob hath taken away all that was our father's, and being enriched by his substance is become great.
2And perceiving also that Laban's countenance was not towards him as yesterday and the other day,
3Especially the Lord saying to him: Return into the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred, and I will be with thee.
4He sent, and called Rachel and Lia, into the field, where he fed the flocks,
5And said to them: I see your father's countenance is not towards me as yesterday and the other day: but the God of my father hath been with me.
6And you know that I have served your father to the utmost of my power.
7Yea, your father also hath over-reached me, and hath changed my wages ten times: and yet God hath not suffered him to hurt me.
8If at any time he said: The speckled shall be thy wages: all the sheep brought forth speckled. But when he said on the contrary: Thou shalt take all the white ones for thy wages: All the flocks brought forth white ones.
9And God hath taken your father's substance, and given it to me.
10For after that time came of the ewes conceiving, I lifted up my eyes, and saw in my sleep that the males which leaped upon the females were of divers colours, and spotted, and speckled.
11And the angel of God said to me in my sleep: Jacob? And I answered: Here I am.
12And he said: Lift up thy eyes, and see that all the males leaping upon the females, are of divers colours, spotted, and speckled. For I have seen all that Laban hath done to thee.
13I am the God of Bethel, where thou didst anoint the stone, and make a vow to me. Now therefore arise, and go out of this land, and return into thy native country.
14And Rachel and Lia answered: Have we any thing left among the goods and inheritance of our father's house?
15Hath he not counted us as strangers and sold us, and eaten up the price of us?
16But God hath taken our father's riches, and delivered them to us, and to our children: wherefore do all that God hath commanded thee.
17Then Jacob rose up, and having set his children and wives upon camels, went his way.
18And he took all his substance, and flocks, and whatsoever he had gotten in Mesopotamia: and went forward to Isaac his father to the land of Chanaan.
19At that time Laban was gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole away her father's idols.
20And Jacob would not confess to his father-in-law that he was flying away.
21And when he was gone, together with all that belonged to him, and having passed the river, was going on towards mount Galaad,
22It was told Laban on the third day that Jacob fled.
23And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days; and overtook him in the mount of Galaad.
24And he saw in a dream God saying to him: Take heed thou speak not any thing harshly against Jacob.
25Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountain: and when he with his brethren had overtaken him, he pitched his tent in the same mount of Galaad.
26And he said to Jacob: Why hast thou done thus, to carry away, without my knowledge, my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?
27Why wouldst thou run away privately and not acquaint me, that I might have brought thee on the way with joy, and with songs, and with timbrels, and with harps?
28Thou hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and daughters: thou hast done foolishly: and now, indeed,
29It is in my power to return thee evil: but the God of your father said to me yesterday: Take heed thou speak not any thing harshly against Jacob.
30Suppose thou didst desire to go to thy friends, and hadst a longing after thy father's house: why hast thou stolen away my gods?
31Jacob answered: That I departed unknown to thee, it was for fear lest thou wouldst take away thy daughters by force.
32But whereas thou chargest me with theft: with whomsoever thou shalt find thy gods, let him be slain before our brethren. Search, and if thou find any of thy things with me, take them away. Now when he said this, he knew not that Rachel had stolen the idols.
33So Laban went into the tent of Jacob, and of Lia, and of both the handmaids, and found them not. And when he was entered into Rachel's tent,
34She in haste hid the idols under the camel's furniture, and sat upon them: and when he had searched all the tent, and found nothing,
35She said: Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise up before thee, because it has now happened to me, according to the custom of women. So his careful search was in vain.
36And Jacob being angry, said in a chiding manner: For what fault of mine, and for what offence on my part hast thou so hotly pursued me,
37And searched all my household stuff? What hast thou found of all the substance of thy house? Lay it here before my brethren, and thy brethren, and let them judge between me and thee.
38Have I therefore been with thee twenty years? Thy ewes and goats were not barren, the rams of thy flocks I did not eat.
39Neither did I shew thee that which the beast had torn. I made good all the damage: whatsoever was lost by theft, thou didst exact it of me.
40Day and night was I parched with heat, and with frost; and sleep departed from my eyes.
41And in this manner have I served thee in thy house twenty years; fourteen for thy daughters, and six for thy flocks: thou hast changed also my wages ten times.
42Unless the God of my father Abraham, and the fear of Isaac had stood by me, peradventure now thou hadst sent me away naked: God beheld my affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesterday.
43Laban answered him: The daughters are mine and the children, and thy flocks, and all things that thou seest are mine: what can I do to my children, and grandchildren?
44Come therefore, let us enter into a league: that it may be for a testimony between me and thee.
45And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a title.
46And he said to his brethren: Bring hither stones. And they gathering stones together, made a heap, and they ate upon it.
47And Laban called it, The witness heap: and Jacob, The hillock of testimony: each of them according to the propriety of his language.
48And Laban said: This heap shall be a witness between me and thee this day; and therefore the name thereof was called Galaad, that is, The witness heap.
49The Lord behold and judge between us when we shall be gone one from the other,
50If thou afflict my daughters, and if thou bring in other wives over them: None is witness of our speech but God, who is present and beholdeth.
51And he said again to Jacob: Behold, this heap, and the stone which I have set up between me and thee,
52Shall be a witness: this heap, I say, and the stone, be they for a testimony, if either I shall pass beyond it going towards thee, or thou shalt pass beyond it, thinking harm to me.
53The God of Abraham, and the God of Nachor, the God of their father, judge between us. And jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac.
54And after he had offered sacrifices in the mountain, he called his brethren to eat bread. And when they had eaten, they lodged there:
55But Laban arose in the night, and kissed his sons, and daughters, and blessed them: and returned to his place.