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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
1And he heard the words of Lavan’s sons, saying, Ya’akov has taken away all that [was] our father’s; and of [that] which [was] our father’s has he gotten all this glory.
2And Ya’akov beheld the Countenance (Face, appearance; show favor) of Lavan, and, behold, it [was] not toward him as before.
3And the Lord-Yehōvah (Messiah Pre-Incarnate) said unto Ya’akov (he who holds onto the heel of), Return unto the land of youri fathers, and to youri family; and I will be with youi.
4And Ya’akov sent and called Rachel and Le’ah (weary; grieved) to the field unto his flock,
5And said unto them, I see youri father’s Countenance (Face, appearance; show favor), that it [is] not toward me as before; but the God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] of my father has been with me.
6And youf know that with all my power I have served youri father.
7And youri father has deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] suffered him not to hurt me.
8If he said in this way, The speckled shall be youri wages; then all the cattle bore speckled: and if he said in this way, The marked with circular stripes shall be youri hire; then bore all the cattle marked with circular stripes.
9In the following manner God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] has taken away the cattle of youri father, and given [them] to me.
10Once, when the animals were mating, I had a dream: I looked up and there in front of me the male goats which mated with the females were streaked, speckled and mottled.
11And the angel of God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] spoke unto me in a dream, [saying], Ya’akov: And I said, Here [am] I.
12And he said, Lift up now youri eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle [are] marked with circular stripes, speckled, and grizzled: for I have seen all that Lavan does unto youi.
13I [am] the God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] of Beit-El, where youi anointed the pillar, [and] where youi vowed a vow unto me: now arise, get youi out from this land, and return unto the land of youri family.
14And Rachel (ewe) and Le’ah (weary; grieved) answered and said unto him, [Is there] yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house?
15Are we not counted of him strangers? for he has sold us, and has quite devoured also our money.
16For all the riches which God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] has taken from our father, that [is] ours, and our children’s: now then, whatsoever God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] has said unto youi, do.
17Then Ya’akov (he who holds onto the heel of) rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels;
18And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten, the cattle of his getting, which he had gotten in Paddan-aram (a place of height; field; plain), for to go to Yitz’chak [Laughter] his father in the land of Kena’an (merchant; trader; or that humbles and subdues).
19And Lavan went to shear his sheep: and Rachel had stolen the images that [were] her father’s.
20And Ya’akov stole away unawares to Lavan the Arami [Arami [exalted]], in that he told him not that he fled.
21So he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and passed over the river [Euphrates], and set his face [toward] the mount Gil’ad (hill of testimony or mound of witness).
22And it was told Lavan (to be white; white guy) on the third day that Ya’akov (he who holds onto the heel of) was fled.
23And he took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gil’ad (hill of testimony or mound of witness).
24And God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] came to Lavan (to be white; white guy) the Arami [Arami [exalted]] (level plain) in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that youi speak not to Ya’akov (he who holds onto the heel of) either good or bad.
25Then Lavan overtook Ya’akov. Now Ya’akov had pitched his tent in the mount: and Lavan with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gil’ad (hill of testimony or mound of witness).
26And Lavan said to Ya’akov, What have youi done, that youi have stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives [taken] with the sword?
27For what reason did youi flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and did not tell me, that I might have sent youi away with gladness, and with songs, with tambourine [a small drum], and with harp?
28And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? youi hast now done foolishly in [so] doing.
29It is in the power of my hand to do youi hurt: but the God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] of youri father spoke unto me last night, saying, Take youi heed that youi speak not to Ya’akov either good or bad.
30And now, [though] youi would needs be gone, because youi [have] sore longed after youri father’s house, [yet] For what reason hast youi stolen my gods?
31And Ya’akov answered and said to Lavan, Because I was afraid: for I said, Perhaps youi would take by force youri daughters from me.
32With whomsoever youi find youri gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern youi what [is] yoursi with me, and take [it] to youi. For Ya’akov (he who holds onto the heel of) knew not that Rachel (ewe) had stolen them.
33And Lavan went into Ya’akov’s tent, and into Leah’s tent, and into the two maidservants’ tents; but he found [them] not. Then went he out of Leah’s tent, and entered into Rachel’s [ewe] (ewe) tent.
34Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel’s furniture, and sat upon them. And Lavan (to be white; white guy) searched all the tent, but found [them] not.
35And she said to her father, Let it not displease my lord that I cannot rise up before youi; for the custom of women [is] upon me. And he searched, but found not the images.
36And Ya’akov (he who holds onto the heel of) was exceedingly angry [exceedingly angry], and expressed disapproval [scolded, reproached] with Lavan: and Ya’akov answered and said to Lavan, What [is] my trespass? what [is] my sin, that youi have so hotly pursued after me?
37Whereas youi have searched all my stuff, what have youi found of all youri household stuff? set [it] here before my brethren and youri brethren, that they may judge between us both.
38This twenty years [have] I [been] with youi; youri ewes and youri she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of youri flock have I not eaten.
39That which was torn [of beasts] I brought not unto youi; I bore the loss of it; of my hand did youi require it, [whether] stolen by day, or stolen by night.
40 [In the following manner] I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from my eyes.
41In the following manner have I been twenty years in youri house; I served youi fourteen years for youri two daughters, and six years for youri cattle: and youi hast changed my wages ten times.
42Except the God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] of my father, the God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] of Avraham [exalted father/Fly They Will], and the fear of Yitz’chak [Laughter], had been with me, surely youi had sent me away now empty. God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] has seen my affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked [youi] last night.
43And Lavan answered and said unto Ya’akov, [These] daughters [are] my daughters, and [these] children [are] my children, and [these] cattle [are] my cattle, and all that youi see [is] my: and what can I do this day unto these my daughters, or unto their children which they have born?
44Now therefore come youi, let us make a covenant, I and youi; and let it be for a witness between me and youi.
45And Ya’akov (he who holds onto the heel of) took a stone, and set it up [for] a pillar.
46And Ya’akov said unto his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap: and they did eat there upon the heap.
47And Lavan called it Y’gar-Sahaduta [pile of witness]: but Ya’akov called it Gal-’Ed [pile of witness].
48And Lavan said, This heap [is] a witness between me and youi this day. Therefore was the name of it called Gal-’Ed;
49And HaMitzpah; for he said, The Lord-Yehōvah (Messiah Pre-Incarnate) watch between me and youi, when we are absent one from another.
50If youi shall afflict my daughters, or if youi shall take [other] wives beside my daughters, no man [is] with us; see, God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] [is] witness between me and youi.
51And Lavan (to be white; white guy) said to Ya’akov (he who holds onto the heel of), Behold this heap, and behold [this] pillar, which I have cast between me and youi;
52This heap [be] witness, and [this] pillar [be] witness, that I will not pass over this heap to youi, and that youi shall not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me, for harm.
53The God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] of Avraham [exalted father/Fly They Will], and the God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] of Nokhor (a snort, a snorting; charred, scorched), the God-Elōhīm [The Living Word - The Many Powered] of their father, judge between us. And Ya’akov (he who holds onto the heel of) swore by the fear of his father Yitz’chak [Laughter].
54Then Ya’akov offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount.
55And early in the morning Lavan rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and Blessed (Favored by God; appy; prosperous) them: and Lavan (to be white; white guy) departed, and returned unto his place.