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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.

Berĕshith (Genesis) 31

31
1And he heard the words of Laḇan’s sons, saying, “Ya‛aqoḇ has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has made all this wealth.”
2And Ya‛aqoḇ would look at the face of Laḇan and see that it was not toward him as before.
3And יהוה said to Ya‛aqoḇ, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives. And I am with you.”
4And Ya‛aqoḇ sent and called Raḥĕl and Lĕ’ah to the field, to his flock,
5and said to them, “I see your father’s face, that it is not toward me as before, but the Elohim of my father has been with me.
6“And you know that I have served your father with all my strength.
7“Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but Elohim did not allow him to do evil to me.
8“When he said this, ‘The speckled are your wages,’ then all the flocks bore speckled. And when he said this, ‘The streaked are your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked.
9“So Elohim has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me.
10“And it came to be, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and looked in a dream and saw the rams which leaped upon the flocks were streaked, speckled, and mottled.
11And the Messenger of Elohim spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Ya‛aqoḇ.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ ”
12“And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laḇan is doing to you.
13I am the Ěl of Bĕyth Ěl, where you anointed the standing column and where you made a vow to Me. Now rise up, get out of this land, and return to the land of your relatives.’ ”
14And Raḥĕl and Lĕ’ah answered and said to him, “Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house?
15“Are we not reckoned by him as strangers? For he has sold us, and also entirely consumed our silver.
16“For all the wealth which Elohim has taken from our father is ours and our children’s. Now then, do whatever Elohim has told you.”
17So Ya‛aqoḇ rose and put his sons and his wives on camels,
18and he drove off all his livestock and all his possessions which he had acquired, his property of the livestock which he had acquired in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Yitsḥaq in the land of Kena‛an.
19And when Laḇan had gone to shear his sheep, Raḥĕl stole the house idols that were her father’s.
20And Ya‛aqoḇ deceived Laḇan the Aramean, because he did not inform him that he was about to flee.
21And he fled with all that he had. And he rose up and passed over the river, and headed toward the mountains of Gil‛aḏ.
22And on the third day Laḇan was told that Ya‛aqoḇ had fled.
23Then he took his brothers with him and pursued him for seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the mountains of Gil‛aḏ.
24But in a dream by night Elohim came to Laḇan the Aramean, and said to him, “Guard yourself, that you do not speak to Ya‛aqoḇ either good or evil.”
25Then Laḇan overtook Ya‛aqoḇ. Now Ya‛aqoḇ had pitched his tent in the mountains, and Laḇan with his brothers pitched in the mountains of Gil‛aḏ.
26And Laḇan said to Ya‛aqoḇ, “What have you done, that you have deceived me, and driven my daughters off like captives taken with the sword?
27“Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and not inform me, and I would have sent you away with joy and songs, with tambourine and lyre?
28And you did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters. Now you have been foolish to do this.
29“It is in the power of my hand to do evil to you, but the Elohim of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Guard yourself, that you do not speak to Ya‛aqoḇ either good or evil.’
30“And now you have gone because you greatly long for your father’s house, but why did you steal my mighty ones?”
31And Ya‛aqoḇ answered and said to Laḇan, “Because I was afraid, for I said, ‘Lest you tear your daughters away from me.’
32With whomever you find your mighty ones, do not let him live. In the presence of our brothers, see for yourself what is with me and take it with you. For Ya‛aqoḇ did not know that Raḥĕl had stolen them.
33And Laḇan went into Ya‛aqoḇ’s tent, and into Lĕ’ah’s tent, and into the tents of the two female servants, but he did not find them. And he came out of Lĕ’ah’s tent and entered Raḥĕl’s tent.
34Now Raḥĕl had taken the house idols and put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. And Laḇan searched all about the tent but did not find them.
35And she said to her father, “Let it not displease my master that I am unable to rise before you, for the way of women is with me.” And he searched but did not find the house idols.
36And Ya‛aqoḇ was wroth and contended with Laḇan, and Ya‛aqoḇ answered and said to Laḇan, “What is my transgression? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me?
37“Now that you have searched all my goods what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my brothers and your brothers, and let them decide between the two of us!
38“These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried their young, and I have not eaten the rams of your sheep.
39“That which was torn by beasts I did not bring to you, I myself bore the loss of it. You required it from my hand, whether stolen by day or stolen by night.
40"Thus I was! By day the heat consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.
41“These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.
42“Unless the Elohim of my father, the Elohim of Aḇraham and the Fear of Yitsḥaq, had been with me, you would now have sent me away empty-handed. Elohim has seen my affliction and the labour of my hands, and rendered judgment last night.”
43And Laḇan answered and said to Ya‛aqoḇ, “These daughters are my daughters, and these children are my children, and this flock is my flock, and all that you see is mine. But what shall I do today to these, my daughters or to their children whom they have borne?
44And now, come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and it shall be a witness between you and me.
45So Ya‛aqoḇ took a stone and set it up as a standing column.
46And Ya‛aqoḇ said to his brothers, “Gather stones.” And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there on the heap.
47And Laḇan called it Yeḡar Sahaḏutha, but Ya‛aqoḇ called it Gal‛ĕḏ.
48And Laḇan said, “This heap is a witness between you and me today.” That is why its name was called Gal‛ĕḏ,
49also Mitspah, because he said, “Let יהוה watch between you and me when we are out of each other’s sight.
50If you afflict my daughters, or if you take other wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us; see, Elohim is witness between you and me!
51And Laḇan said to Ya‛aqoḇ, “See this heap and see this standing column, which I have placed between you and me.
52“This heap is a witness, and this standing column is a witness, that I do not pass beyond this heap to you, and you do not pass beyond this heap and this standing column to me, for evil.
53“The Elohim of Aḇraham, the Elohim of Naḥor, and the Elohim of their father rightly rule between us!” And Ya‛aqoḇ swore by the Fear of his father Yitsḥaq.
54And Ya‛aqoḇ slaughtered a slaughtering on the mountain, and called his brothers to eat bread. And they ate bread and spent the night on the mountain.
55And Laḇan rose up early in the morning, and kissed his sons and daughters and blessed them. And Laḇan left and returned to his place.