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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 heareth the words of Laban's sons, saying, ‘Jacob hath taken all that our father hath; yea, from that which our father hath, he hath made all this honour;’
2and Jacob seeth the face of Laban, and lo, it is not with him as heretofore.
3And Jehovah saith unto Jacob, ‘Turn back unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred, and I am with thee.’
4And Jacob sendeth and calleth for Rachel and for Leah to the field unto his flock;
5and saith to them, ‘I am beholding your father's face — that it is not towards me as heretofore, and the God of my father hath been with me,
6and ye — ye have known that with all my power I have served your father,
7and your father hath played upon me, and hath changed my hire ten times; and God hath not suffered him to do evil with me.
8‘If he say thus: The speckled are thy hire, then bare all the flock speckled ones; and if he say thus: The ring-streaked are thy hire, then bare all the flock ring-streaked;
9and God taketh away the substance of your father, and doth give to me.
10‘And it cometh to pass at the time of the flock conceiving, that I lift up mine eyes and see in a dream, and lo, the he-goats, which are going up on the flock, [are] ring-streaked, speckled, and grisled;
11and the messenger of God saith unto me in the dream, Jacob, and I say, Here [am] I.
12‘And He saith, Lift up, I pray thee, thine eyes, and see — all the he-goats which are going up on the flock [are] ring-streaked, speckled, and grisled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to thee;
13I [am] the God of Bethel where thou hast anointed a standing pillar, where thou hast vowed a vow to me; now, arise, go out from this land, and turn back unto the land of thy birth.’
14And Rachel answereth — Leah also — and saith to him, ‘Have we yet a portion and inheritance in the house of our father?
15have we not been reckoned strangers to him? for he hath sold us, and he also utterly consumeth our money;
16for all the wealth which God hath taken away from our father, it [is] ours, and our children's; and now, all that God hath said unto thee — do.’
17And Jacob riseth, and lifteth up his sons and his wives on the camels,
18and leadeth all his cattle, and all his substance which he hath acquired, the cattle of his getting, which he hath acquired in Padan-Aram, to go unto Isaac his father, to the land of Canaan.
19And Laban hath gone to shear his flock, and Rachel stealeth the teraphim which her father hath;
20and Jacob deceiveth the heart of Laban the Aramaean, because he hath not declared to him that he is fleeing;
21and he fleeth, he and all that he hath, and riseth, and passeth over the River, and setteth his face [toward] the mount of Gilead.
22And it is told to Laban on the third day that Jacob hath fled,
23and he taketh his brethren with him, and pursueth after him a journey of seven days, and overtaketh him in the mount of Gilead.
24And God cometh in unto Laban the Aramaean in a dream of the night, and saith to him, ‘Take heed to thyself lest thou speak with Jacob from good unto evil.’
25And Laban overtaketh Jacob; and Jacob hath fixed his tent in the mount; and Laban with his brethren have fixed [theirs] in the mount of Gilead.
26And Laban saith to Jacob, ‘What hast thou done that thou dost deceive my heart, and lead away my daughters as captives of the sword?
27Why hast thou hidden thyself to flee, and deceivest me, and hast not declared to me, and I send thee away with joy and with songs, with tabret and with harp,
28and hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? — now thou hast acted foolishly in doing [so];
29my hand is to God to do evil with you, but the God of your father yesternight hath spoken unto me, saying, Take heed to thyself from speaking with Jacob from good unto evil.
30‘And now, thou hast certainly gone, because thou hast been very desirous for the house of thy father; why hast thou stolen my gods?’
31And Jacob answereth and saith to Laban, ‘Because I was afraid, for I said, Lest thou take violently away thy daughters from me;
32with whomsoever thou findest thy gods — he doth not live; before our brethren discern for thyself what [is] with me, and take to thyself:’ and Jacob hath not known that Rachel hath stolen them.
33And Laban goeth into the tent of Jacob, and into the tent of Leah, and into the tent of the two handmaidens, and hath not found; and he goeth out from the tent of Leah, and goeth into the tent of Rachel.
34And Rachel hath taken the teraphim, and putteth them in the furniture of the camel, and sitteth upon them; and Laban feeleth all the tent, and hath not found;
35and she saith unto her father, ‘Let it not be displeasing in the eyes of my lord that I am not able to rise at thy presence, for the way of women [is] on me;’ and he searcheth, and hath not found the teraphim.
36And it is displeasing to Jacob, and he striveth with Laban; and Jacob answereth and saith to Laban, ‘What [is] my transgression? what my sin, that thou hast burned after me?
37for thou hast felt all my vessels: what hast thou found of all the vessels of thy house? set here before my brethren, and thy brethren, and they decide between us both.
38‘These twenty years I [am] with thee: thy ewes and thy she-goats have not miscarried, and the rams of thy flock I have not eaten;
39the torn I have not brought in unto thee — I, I repay it — from my hand thou dost seek it; I have been deceived by day, and I have been deceived by night;
40I have been [thus]: in the day consumed me hath drought, and frost by night, and wander doth my sleep from mine eyes.
41‘This [is] to me twenty years in thy house: I have served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy flock; and thou changest my hire ten times;
42unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Fear of Isaac, had been for me, surely now empty thou hadst sent me away; mine affliction and the labour of my hands hath God seen, and reproveth yesternight.’
43And Laban answereth and saith unto Jacob, ‘The daughters [are] my daughters, and the sons my sons, and the flock my flock, and all that thou art seeing [is] mine; and to my daughters — what do I to these to-day, or to their sons whom they have born?
44and now, come, let us make a covenant, I and thou, and it hath been for a witness between me and thee.’
45And Jacob taketh a stone, and lifteth it up [for] a standing pillar;
46and Jacob saith to his brethren, ‘Gather stones,’ and they take stones, and make a heap; and they eat there on the heap;
47and Laban calleth it Jegar-Sahadutha; and Jacob hath called it Galeed.
48And Laban saith, ‘This heap [is] witness between me and thee to-day;’ therefore hath he called its name Galeed;
49Mizpah also, for he said, ‘Jehovah doth watch between me and thee, for we are hidden one from another;
50if thou afflict my daughters, or take wives beside my daughters — there is no man with us — see, God [is] witness between me and thee.’
51And Laban saith to Jacob, ‘Lo, this heap, and lo, the standing pillar which I have cast between me and thee;
52this heap [is] witness, and the standing pillar [is] witness, that I do not pass over this heap unto thee, and that thou dost not pass over this heap and this standing pillar unto me — for evil;
53the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, doth judge between us — the God of their father,’ and Jacob sweareth by the Fear of his father Isaac.
54And Jacob sacrificeth a sacrifice in the mount, and calleth to his brethren to eat bread, and they eat bread, and lodge in the mount;
55and Laban riseth early in the morning, and kisseth his sons and his daughters, and blesseth them; and Laban goeth on, and turneth back to his place.